Monday, August 29, 2011

Why the Church Needs Bioethics, ed. by John F. Kilner--Review


Zondervan, ISBN 9780310328520, June 2011

This is a collection of essays built around three case studies, illustrating why the Church needs to study and explore bioethics. Each of the case studies presents a moral and ethical dilemma which the affected parties are not handling well. Each situation is then examined in several essays from a variety of perspectives, by experts from different fields: legal, medical, business, multicultural, bioethics, psychology, pastoral care.

The three case studies are a couple trying to have a baby via egg donation from the  wife's sister; four graduate students who have been told by their very distinguished
and powerful thesis advisor that they can help him make the critical breakthroughs in cold fusion, but only if they take a brain stimulant that's illegal in the US and is "reasonably safe"; and a man dying a painful death of pancreatic cancer, whose teenage daughter is angry and resentful because he has stopped chemotherapy, and whose wife is wondering if assisted suicide can end his suffering and give him a good death. The essayists are all Christians, and all approach these issues from a Christian perspective. Their professional backgrounds, and hence much of their viewpoint apart from religion, varies widely. Individually and collectively, they make clear why the Church needs to address issues of bioethics, and how informed and thoughtful bioethical guidance from religious leaders, fellow parishioners, and others can help believers who face moral and ethical dilemmas relating to modern medical technology, as well as the doctors, lawyers, counselors, and others who must assist them in these decisions.

This is a serious, thoughtful, well-written book that does not provide simple answers or suggest that simple answers are possible. There is not one unified viewpoint here, except as the essayists share the Christian faith. The essays are not all equally good, and sadly, I have to say that Mr. Kilner's is the weakest, but they are all well worth reading, and will lead you to think seriously about the issues involved.

Recommended.

Hear John Kilner talk about the book:


I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.