Biblically Inspired Ethics or On the Person and Teachings or Story, Message, Doctrine
Christopher Hitchens (Twelve Books, Hachette: May 1, 2007), 307 pages.
Hitchens, one of our great political pugilists, delivers the best of the recent rash of atheist manifestos. The same contrarian spirit that makes him delightful reading as a political commentator, even (or especially) when he's completely wrong, makes him an entertaining huckster prosecutor once he has God placed in the dock. And can he turn a phrase!: "monotheistic religion is a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion, extending all the way back to a fabrication of a few nonevents." Hitchens's one-liners bear the marks of considerable sparring practice with believers. Yet few believers will recognize themselves as Hitchens associates all of them for all time with the worst of history's theocratic and inquisitional moments. All the same, this is salutary reading as a means of culling believers' weaker arguments: that faith offers comfort (false comfort is none at all), or has provided a historical hedge against fascism (it mostly hasn't), or that "Eastern" religions are better (nope). The book's real strength is Hitchens's on-the-ground glimpses of religion's worst face in various war zones and isolated despotic regimes. But its weakness is its almost fanatical insistence that religion poisons "everything," which tips over into barely disguised misanthropy. ~ Publisher's Weekly
Paul K. Moser, ed. (Cambridge University Press: Oct 20, 2008), 248 pages.
What, if anything, does Jesus of Nazareth have to do with philosophy? This question motivates this collection of new essays from leading theologians, philosophers, and biblical scholars. Part I portrays Jesus in his first-century intellectual and historical context, attending to intellectual influences and contributions and contemporaneous similar patterns of thought. Part II examines how Jesus influenced two of the most prominent medieval philosophers. It considers the seeming conceptual shift from Hebraic categories of thought to distinctively Greco-Roman ones in later Christian philosophers. Part III considers the significance of Jesus for some prominent contemporary philosophical topics, including epistemology and the meaning of life. The focus is not so much on how "Christianity" figures in such topics as on how Jesus makes distinctive contributions to such topics. ~ Product Description
Norman L. Geisler (Baker Academic: Sep 1, 1989), 336 pages.
An introductory presentation of Christian ethics, where the Bible is taken as the authoritative text for discussing issues such as homosexuality, abortion, war/civil disobedience, and other similar ethical issues. "This book is the most current of Geisler's books on ethics and incorporates many of the points of previous works such as Ethics: Alternatives & Issues, Options in Contemporary Christian Ethics, and The Christian Ethic of Love. The book is, as the title suggests, a presentation of Christian ethics, so the Bible is taken as the standard text for discussing certain issues such as homosexuality, abortion, war/civil disobedience, and other similar ethical issues. But scientific and rational arguments are also used in addition to Biblical exposition to reach conclusions." ~ Cameron B. Clark @ Amazon.com
Frederick Buechner (Paraclete Press: Sep 2005), 97 pages.
With timeless insight, Frederick Buechner introduces us to the Jesus of the Gospel. The old, old story begins to ring new as Buechner revisits the ancient stories and shows us different aspects of the face of Jesus. Here we see the story behind the story. The story which we are invited into. Our story. If occasionally you find that the stories of Jesus found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have become so familiar they fall flat, this book will help you experience the wonder of reading them again as if for the first time. The faces of Jesus, his "ways of being and being seen" are illuminated in six chapters: Annunciation, Nativity, Ministry, Last Supper, Crucifixon, and Resurrection. The focus of the faces of Jesus is that whatever else he may have been, he was a man once and had a "man's face, a human face." ~ G. Richard Wheatcroft
Jaroslav Pelikan (Yale University Press: Nov 10, 1999), 304 pages.
Ask anyone to name the most influential person in history, and chances are the reply will be, simply, "Jesus." Here, Yale historian Pelikan ably explores the universe of power and influence embedded in that revered five-letter name, as he surveys the role of the carpenter from Galilee in "the general history of culture." Pelikan proceeds from the premise that the "image" of Jesus - his identity as perceived by successive epochs - is a mirror reflecting the course of Western civilization, and that tracing that image through time will reveal the "continuities and discontinuities" of the past two millennia. His project uncovers mostly discontinuities; Western culture's christological imagery changes dramatically from age to age. Pelikan begins by looking at the early concept of Jesus as prophet and and rabbi, prevalent in the first century. Subsequent chapters cover in chronological order 17 other major representations of Jesus. These include Jesus as Logos, as "bridegroom of the soul," as "Universal Man," and so on. Behind these wildly divergent images, however, a rainbowlike pattern emerges: Jesus's prestige arches steeply upwards from his humble origins as a crucified wonder-worker, reaches its apogee in his medieval elevation to alpha and omega of the cosmos, declines in modern times to his quasi-mundane role as prototypical social liberator. This man, it seems, can be all things to all people; like the Beauty he embodied for the Romantics, Jesus lies in the eyes of the beholder.
Arthur F. Holmes, 2nd edition (IVP Academic: Jan, 2008), 150 pages.
With over 60,000 copies in print since its original publication in 1984, Ethics has served numerous generations of students as a classic introduction to philosophical ethics from a Christian perspective. Over the years the philosophical landscape has changed somewhat, and in this new edition Arthur Holmes adjusts the argument and information throughout, completely rewriting the earlier chapter on virtue ethics and adding a new chapter on the moral agent. The book addresses the questions: What is good? What is right? How can we know? In doing so it also surveys a variety of approaches to ethics, including cultural relativism, emotivism, ethical egoism and utilitarianism all with an acknowledgment of the new postmodern environment. Features: 1) Introduces various ethical systems, 2) Contrasts a Christian ethic with other ethical systems, 3) Deals with contemporary moral dilemmas, 4) Includes a new chapter on the moral agent, 5) Features adjusted and updated arguments and information to reflect the current philosophical landscape.
The Moral Vision of the New Testamant Community, Cross, New Creation, An Introduction to New Testament Ethics
Richard B. Hays (Harper San Francisco: September 1996), 528 pages.
This is an amazing book — solid scholarship and well thought-out interpretation delivered with a sense of urgency and sincerity. If you are at all interested in Ethics or the state of New Testament scholarship, this book is an absolute necessity. Hays sees distinct (though overlapping) tasks in the process of "doing ethics" and is able to explain and apply them clearly. His emphasis on seeing ethical questions through the "focal lenses" of Cross, Community and New Creation is a wonderful guidepost for anyone concerned with faithful, Spirit-driven scholarship. He stresses that an "integrative act of the imagination" is required to be able to apply the Scripture to our world and suggests methods for achieving it. Hays analyzes five theologian/ethicists in light of his approach (including Barth, Hauerwas, and Schussler-Fiorenza) and, in doing so, further clarifies how his approach can be used by others. The final section of the book applies Hays' approach to contemporary issues. Partly because of his obvious authority in Greek and New Testament scholarship, and partly because of his honest, passionate approach, his conclusions are bold and very persuasive.
Gabriele Finaldi (National Gallery Publications: May 2000), 224 pages.
The Image of Christ by Gabriele Finaldi is a beautifully illustrated, colorful history of how Christ has been portrayed by artists from the early church to the present. It is not, however, a life of Christ told in pictures. Instead, the book explores the challenges Christian artists have faced as they have tried to imagine what Jesus looked like. Since no eyewitness descriptions of Jesus' physical appearance survived, the earliest artists' depictions of Christ played on the symbols and images that he used in his parables--such as the Good Shepherd, the Light, and the Vine. Later, artists became concerned with capturing Christ's true physical likeness, based on miraculous relics such as the cloth that Saint Veronica offered him on his way to Calvary, which was believed to be imprinted with an image of his face. These stages in the history of Christian art are described by several art historians in brief essays, each of which is lavishly illustrated. The book, which was inspired by Seeing Salvation: The Image of Christ, an exhibition at the National Gallery, London, will be treasured by secular and believing readers alike. A deeper understanding of the religious context of these works will sharpen viewers' experience of their universal relevance. The dozens of pictures, paintings, and sculptures reproduced here bear profound witness not only to the events of Jesus' life, but also to the enduring power of a mother's love for her children, the suffering of innocents, and love's triumph over death. ~ Michael Joseph Gross
N.T. Wright (HarperSanFrancisco: Mar. 14, 2006), 256 pages.
Why do we expect justice? Why do we crave spirituality? Why are we attracted to beauty? Why are relationships often so painful? And how will the world be made right? These are not simply perennial questions all generations must struggle with, but, according to N. T. Wright, are the very echoes of a voice we dimly perceive but deeply long to hear. In fact, these questions take us to the heart of who God is and what He wants from us. For two thousand years, Christianity has claimed to solve these mysteries, and this renowned biblical scholar and Anglican bishop shows that it still can today. Not since C. S. Lewis's classic summary of the faith, Mere Christianity, has such a wise and thorough scholar taken the time to explain to anyone who wants to know what Christianity really is and how it is practiced. Wright makes the case for Christian faith from the ground up, assuming that the reader has no knowledge of (and perhaps even some aversion to) religion in general and Christianity in particular. Simply Christian walks the reader through the Christian faith step by step and question by question. With simple yet exciting and accessible prose, Wright challenges skeptics by offering explanations for even the toughest doubt-filled dilemmas, leaving believers with a reason for renewed faith. For anyone who wants to travel beyond the controversies that can obscure what the Christian faith really stands for, this simple book is the perfect vehicle for that journey. ~ Product Description
Lesslie Newbigin (Eerdmans: Dec 1989), 255 pages.
How does the gospel relate to a pluralist society? What is the Christian message in a society marked by religious pluralism, ethnic diversity, and cultural relativism? Should Christians encountering today’s pluralist society concentrate on evangelism or on dialogue? How does the prevailing climate of opinion affect, perhaps infect, Christians’ faith? These kinds of questions are addressed in this noteworthy book by Lesslie Newbigin. A highly respected Christian leader and ecumenical figure, Newbigin provides a brilliant analysis of contemporary (secular, humanist, pluralist) culture and suggests how Christians can more confidently affirm their faith in such a context. While drawing from scholars such as Michael Polanyi, Alasdair MacIntyre, Hendrikus Berkhof, Walter Wink, and Robert Wuthnow, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society is suited not only to an academic readership. This heartfelt work by a missionary pastor and preacher also offers to Christian leaders and laypeople some thoughtful, helpful, and provocative reflections.