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By Gilbert Meilaender 138 pp., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, $15.00, 2005, paperback.


Review:Bioethics, first published in 1996 and chosen by World magazine as one of the top 100 books of the twentieth century, offers discerning guidance to help Christians think about pressing bioethical issues of our day. In clear, understandable language, Meilaender discusses abortion, assisted reproduction, genetics, prenatal screening, care for the dying, euthanasia, human experimentation, embryonic stem cell research, and more. He begins by presenting a Christian perspective about core ethical concepts, helping the reader understand how Christian beliefs differ from the culture in which we live. The Christian concept of person as beings made in God's image and for him, whose individuality only is established in community with God and other believers, is addressed.

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Meilaender helps us think about complex ethical problems in light of a Christian, biblical view. For example, he suggests that Christians cannot approach suicide and/or euthanasia as an act of individual autonomy, thinking in terms of a "right to life" or a "right to die" with dignity. Rather, life belongs to God and my life or the life of another is not mine or theirs to do with as we please. Christian beliefs about suffering call us to enter into compassionate care and serve those who are suffering, looking to Jesus who in Gethsemane shrank back from the suffering to come but then accepted it as part of his calling and obedience to God. We believe that suffering and death, while real, are not ultimate, in that the death of our finite bodies is not the last word.


I like how Meilaender helped me consider modern day bioethical technologies from a biblical perspective. Although scrutiny of the many facets of even one bioethical issue is complex, this author never loses his readers but gently and thoughtfully guides us through each thorny ethical labyrinth. His approach is not only quite helpful, it is refreshing to those of us who encounter bioethical dilemmas in everyday practice.




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