Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 16:2 (Spring 1973)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Ethics: Alternatives and Issues, by Norman L. Geisler. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1971.) 270 pages. $6.95. Reviewed by Harold B. Kuhn, Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky.

A study of titles of recent books in Christian Ethics reveals that the central issue facing the ethicist of our day is that of the basis for moral authority. To locate and substantiate authoritative norms for belief and action has always posed problems; but these problems seem to proliferate as the electronic media bring instant and worldwide information. To visualize the world’s cultural differences tempts many to the easy solution—that all things, behavior included, are totally relative.

The volume, Ethics: Alternatives and Issues, addresses itself primarily to the problem of ethical norms and their justification. The author opts for “norms” rather than “ends” early in the discussion, and considers in turn the manner in which a normative ethic has been treated in recent times. Included in his investigation are, especially, the following: situationism, generalism, the several variant forms of universalism, alternate forms of idealism, and hierarchicalism. These are considered largely within the context of the question, What Is Man?, with a view to discovering parallels between that which will serve to human self-realization, on the one hand, and the mandates of the Biblical revelation on the other.

In Part II (Chapters 8–14), our author turns to the treatment of a number of empirical issues which are “alive” in our time. Building upon his conclusion derived from the discussions of Part I, that the Christian ethical stance is best understood in terms of “the hierarchical arrangement of the many relationships of love,” (p. 137), he seeks to discover the appropriate attitudes of the Christian toward war, toward social responsibility, toward sex, toward contraception, toward euthanasia, and toward man’s environment on this moist, blue spaceship Earth.

Beginning with the Biblical mandate to self-love, Professor Geisler moves into the areas just noted, attempting to show that the individual acts in legitimate self-interest when he assumes valid social postures. The use of Scripture in these chapters or the author’s conclusions may not please all Evangelicals. To this reviewer, it seems that our author has used scriptural texts carefully, with a due regard for the rightness of God’s creation, and for the dignity of persons and of personhood. He has attempted fearlessly to think through areas of perplexity, and to suspend judgment in cases in which the evidence is only partly available.

Parts of the volume are not easy...

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