C. Ben Mitchell and D. Joy Riley. Christian Bioethics: A Guide for Pastors, Health Care Professionals, and Families. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2014. 224 pp. $24.99.
There are bioethical issues that each and every Christian have to face. Abortion, organ donation, and end of life issues are just a few of the matters about which Christians have to make moral judgments. This is one of the main reasons why C. Ben Mitchell and D. Joy Riley have written an introductory book to bioethical issues from a Christian perspective. Each chapter is set up as a dialogue between Mitchell and Riley.
In part 1, Mitchell and Riley discuss the Hippocratic Oath and the role this tradition has played in medical history. After this important discussion, they spend time explaining how the Bible can still inform our views on bioethical issues in the 21st century. Part 2 focuses in on the issue of abortion and dying with dignity. One of the statements that stood out in this section was when Mitchell said, “The imago Dei is, therefore, the foundation of the doctrine of the sanctity, or sacredness, of every human life” (55). Every human is created in the image of God, and this is why no baby should ever be aborted.
Part 3 discusses assisted reproductive technology, organ donation, and cloning ethics. Since infertility is an issue that many Christian couples have to face, many will benefit from reading through this discussion. Part 4 examines life-extension techniques and bio-technical issues humanity may face in the future. Mitchell and Riley conclude that Christians must remain at the forefront of modern medicine and, in doing so, remain boldly founded on biblical ethics.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
Christian Bioethics is a great introduction to contemporary bioethical issues. One of the strengths of this book is that Mitchell and Riley unapologetically operate within a Christian worldview. They deal with a lot of difficult questions facing Christians in today’s modern world. Their book should be seen as an introductory text to bioethical issues (However, if you are interested in furthering your study, they provide suggested resources at the end of every chapter). If there were any weaknesses to this book, I would say that they were mainly due to the conversational style that the book was written in. Honestly, I sometimes I just felt lost in the conversation.
Mitchell and Riley also offer readers a book that is extremely practical. The goal of their book is to “help readers discover how biblical theology, Christian ethics, and contemporary science and medicine intersect in the real world where people are making life-changing decisions” (2). I truly believe that this is one of the main reasons why pastors will benefit from reading their book.
Many pastors will find this book invaluable. Another one of the main reasons why this book is so important is because of the difficulties that many Christians face when it comes to such challenging ethical dilemmas. Pastors must be able to wisely counsel members of their churches and communities who come before them with such hard questions. Mitchell and Riley have an extremely authentic conversation about bioethics, and I believe that their book is a vital contribution to this important field.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
Christian Bioethics is a great introductory text into modern-day bioethical dilemmas facing Christians.