Book Note: “Why the Church Needs Bioethics”

Just received a copy of Why the Church Needs Bioethics: A Guide to Wise Engagement with Life’s Challenges (Edited by John F. Kilner; published 2011, Zondervan). Using 3 case studies, a wide variety of authors discuss “better birth” (fertility), “better life”, and “better death.”

Authors include Richard Averbeck (OT and Counseling), Kevin Vanhoozer (theology), DA Carson (NT), and Stephen Greggo and Miriam Stark Parent (Counseling). In addition, there are business, law, medical, education, pastoral care, bioethics, and intercultural ministry authors.

I got a little chance to play a part in this book as a “critiquer” (p. 9) Stephen Greggo authors chapter 3, “Wisdom from Counseling” as a counseling response to the case study of Betty and Tom, a couple who are considering using Betty’s sister’s eggs and Tom’s sperm and to implant embryos into Betty. I got a chance to read and react to this chapter some time ago all because of a little article my wife and I wrote in 2002 and published in 2005.

On page 71, Greggo and Parent say,

A recent search of the leading peer-reviewed journals that inform Christian MHPs [mental health providers] and pastoral counselors yielded only a single article to guide a Christian counselor who might be dialoging with  Betty and Tom.

Their footnotes reveal that they searched The Journal of Biblical Counseling, The Journal of Psychology and Christianity and the Journal of Psychology and Theology between the years 2000 and 2009.

I find it surprising that there are no other articles than ours (full text here) and gratifying to see our essay summarized in this volume. While there are a number of good full length books, there is a serious need for good Christian counseling articles dealing with infertility and assisted reproductive technology (ART) because this is where many counselors start their study on a given topic.


Filed under christian counseling, christian psychology, Christianity, ethics, monroe

4 responses to “Book Note: “Why the Church Needs Bioethics”

  1. A guide to “Bioethics”… wouldn’t that be the Bible?

  2. Don, I’m not sure from your comment whether you find this book unnecessary since the bible is already the guide? Am I reading you right? In answer to your question, let me ask you…does the bible give you specific application on whether to use ARTs (Assisted Reproductive Technologies)? I would argue no, but yet the Bible still gives us indirect guidances. Mature believers who make applications may develop a set of directions or guides for others to follow. There is no harm in collating these wise thoughts into a field of study, called bioethics. Not every believer has to create a new systematic theology for themself and so not every believer ought to try to create their own bioethics.

    Maybe I’m reading you wrong…

    • Phil, Let me elaborate on my admittedly curt-sounding post.. I believe that the bible, the Holy Spirit and, as required, godly counsel can indeed answer all of these questions. All of them! A set of “guidelines” for any decision that people can consider for any issue can be helpful as long as they are supported by scripture and not a conglomeration of secular humanism views with a few bible passages to support a particular viewpoint. My frame of reference is as a pastoral counselor who is distressed when I see this happen. A set of bioethics guidelines.. to be considered.. in light of the above can certainly be helpful if done properly. Hope that clarifies.

  3. Bioethics is a neat term. I am interested in reading this book! I am a birth doula and hope to soon be earning degrees in Christian Psychology. This book seems to mesh my life’s calling… I will definitely look into reading this book.

    There really is so much that the Bible says about childbirth, infertility, and parenting. There just isn’t enough (In my opinion) people out there who are willing to lay down and be vessels to the world with this information. Allowing God to influence the crazy practices we see in the world. Things DO need to change… I hope to be a part of it.

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