Biblically Inspired Ethics or On the Person and Teachings or Story, Message, Doctrine
What the Bible Really Teaches About Crucifixion, Resurrection, Salvation, the Second Coming, and Eternal Life
Keith Ward (Crossroad Publishing: October 2005), 224 pages.
Anglican philosopher-theologian Keith Ward, recently retired professor of divinity at Oxford, has published a book called What the Bible Really Teaches (about Crucifixion, Resurrection, Salvation, the Second Coming, and Eternal Life) that is a charitable but firm rebuke to fundamentalist readings of the Bible. Ward considers himself a "born-again" Christian, but says that fundamentalist interpretations of Scripture fail on the Bible's own terms. In Chapter 1, "Fundamentalism and the Bible," Ward investigates the nature of the Bible and argues that it's incompatible with the doctrine of verbal inerrancy as that is usually understood. He points out that the Bible itself nowhere claims to be inerrant, or that all its stories must be read literally. He contrasts that nature of the Christian Bible with that of the Koran; the latter purports to be a word-for-word dictation from God, while the former is a collection of writings from varied periods and viewpoints that represent a response to God's self-revelation. Ward's argument is that the Bible doesn't even purport to be the kind of word-for-word dictation from God that fundamentalists tend to treat it as. ~ Reviewed by Lee McCracken at 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
David Dark (Westminster John Knox Press: Mar. 1, 2005), 200 pages.
Readers of Dark's book Everyday Apocalypse know that this high school English teacher is a passionate, articulate, absurdly well-read interpreter of popular culture. But even the forewarned may be astonished by this latest effort. Dark's skill at probing the spiritual resonances of American culture — in forms high and low, from Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville to Bob Dylan and David Lynch — is matched by his uncanny ability to select telling moments from America's common story. Whether it's Elvis taking a shotgun to his television sets, Dylan confessing a sense of common humanity with Lee Harvey Oswald or George Washington treating British prisoners of war with unprecedented civility, Dark excavates a series of witnesses who speak prophetically to what he sees as our media-saturated overconfidence in our own righteousness. Moreover, he offers a convincing and unsettling account of the gospel itself — the "Jewish Christian" story of forgiveness and human dignity that, Dark argues, has animated America's ideals even as it has continually critiqued America's practices. Dark's Southern heritage is evident in his literary allusions (the subtitle echoes Flannery O'Connor) and in his affection for egalitarian conversation. Nearly every page has something to make readers pause, laugh, think or pray; perhaps most amazing is Dark's skill at burying layers of meaning for the reader to discover. It's hard to imagine a better tonic for our age than this unblinkingly honest exercise in faithful patriotism. ~ Publishers Weekly
Jean Porter (Eerdmans: January 2005), 436 pages.
This noteworthy book develops a new theory of the natural law that takes its orientation from the account of the natural law developed by Thomas Aquinas, as interpreted and supplemented in the context of scholastic theology in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Though this history might seem irrelevant to twenty-first-century life, Jean Porter shows that the scholastic approach to the natural law still has much to contribute to the contemporary discussion of Christian ethics. Aquinas and his interlocutors provide a way of thinking about the natural law that is distinctively theological while at the same time remaining open to other intellectual perspectives, including those of science. In the course of her work, Porter examines the scholastics' assumptions and beliefs about nature, Aquinas's account of happiness, and the overarching claim that reason can generate moral norms. Ultimately, Porter argues that a Thomistic theory of the natural law is well suited to provide a starting point for developing a more nuanced account of the relationship between specific beliefs and practices. While Aquinas's approach to the natural law may not provide a system of ethical norms that is both universally compelling and detailed enough to be practical, it does offer something that is arguably more valuable — namely, a way of reflecting theologically on the phenomenon of human morality. ~ Product Description
John Stott (InterVarsity Press: Jan 2004), 128 pages.
In a time when many Christian authors recommend the claims of Christian faith by descriptions of faith encounters and invitations to "dance with the mystery," Stott, author of many foundational apologetic works, offers a clear and compelling account of the theological basis for his own belief. He begins by explaining the sense of God's own pursuit of him, providing illustrations from the lives of famous Christians with similar experiences. He continues with a logical examination of the claims and character of Jesus as seen in Scripture. The last section discusses the nature and needs of human beings, explaining how those needs are fully met through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The book concludes with a simple invitation for the reader to respond to the claims of Christ personally, offering a sample prayer. For some readers, the book will seem overly structured, since Stott frequently reviews the logical points of each section. For those accustomed to arguments conducted by way of emotive stories, his reliance on logic may feel a bit dry. But readers of a more analytical temperament will find a compelling discussion of the claims of Christ in a remarkably readable, brief form. It's the sort of book that Christians who need a more reasoned, thoughtful approach to their faith will read and then pass along to skeptical friends. ~ Publishers Weekly
William E. May (Our Sunday Visitor: September 2003), 314 pages.
An Introduction to Moral Theology, offers a clear, complete, and convincing examination and explanation of Catholic doctrine. Here — carefully documented, annotated, and indexed — is not only what the Church teaches but also why it is obligated to do so. And why its members are obligated to examine and to apply that teaching. This updated and expanded edition of a text long trusted and widely used in colleges, universities, and seminaries, as well as in high schools and parish religious education programs, offers the latest Catholic teaching on moral theology, including: Moral theology: its nature, purpose, and biblical foundation, Human dignity, free human action, virtue, and conscience, Natural law, moral absolutes, and sin, Christian faith and our moral life. Read why — and how — living what the Church teaches can transform hearts, minds, and souls. ~ Product Description
Mark C. Murphy (Cornell University Press: August 2002), 224 pages.
In the first book wholly concerned with divine authority, Mark C. Murphy explores the extent of God's rule over created rational beings. The author challenges the view-widely supported by theists and nontheists alike-that if God exists, then humans must be bound by an obligation of obedience to this being. He demonstrates that this view, the "authority thesis," cannot be sustained by any of the arguments routinely advanced on its behalf, including those drawn from perfect being theology, metaethical theory, normative principles, and even Scripture and tradition. After exposing the inadequacies of the various arguments for the authority thesis, he develops his own solution to the problem of whether, and to what extent, God is authoritative. For Murphy, divine authority is a contingent matter: while created rational beings have decisive reason to subject themselves to the divine rule, they are under divine authority only insofar as they have chosen to allow God's decisions to take the place of their own in their practical reasoning. The author formulates and defends his arguments for this view, and notes its implications for understanding the distinctiveness of Christian ethics. ~ Product Description
Douglas Groothius (Wadsworth Publishing: June 2002), 96 pages.
Like other titles in the Wadsworth Philosopher's Series, On Jesus offers a concise, yet comprehensive, introduction to this philosopher's most important ideas. Presenting the most important insights of well over a hundred seminal philosophers in both the Eastern and Western traditions, the Wadsworth Philosophers Series contains volumes written by scholars noted for their excellence in teaching and for their well-versed comprehension of each featured philosopher's major works and contributions. These titles have proven valuable in a number of ways. Serving as standalone texts when tackling a philosophers' original sources or as helpful resources for focusing philosophy students' engagements with these philosopher's often conceptually daunting works, these titles have also gained extraordinary popularity with a lay readership and quite often serve as "refreshers" for philosophy instructors. ~ Product Description
David Instone-Brewer (Eerdmans: June 2002), 368 pages.
To many, the New Testament's teaching on divorce and remarriage seems to be both impractical and unfair. The "plain" meaning of the texts allows for divorce only in cases of adultery or desertion, and it does not permit remarriage until the death of one's former spouse. But are these proscriptions the final word for Christians today? Are we correctly reading the scriptures that address these issues? By looking closely at the biblical texts on divorce and remarriage in light of the first-century Jewish and Greco-Roman world, this book shows that the original audience of the New Testament heard these teachings differently. Through a careful exploration of the background literature of the Old Testament, the ancient Near East, and especially ancient Judaism, David Instone-Brewer constructs a biblical view of divorce and remarriage that is wider in scope than present-day readings. Among the important findings of the book are that both Jesus and Paul condemned divorce without valid grounds and discouraged divorce even for valid grounds; that both Jesus and Paul affirmed the Old Testament grounds for divorce; that the Old Testament allowed divorce for adultery and for neglect or abuse; and that both Jesus and Paul condemned remarriage after an invalid divorce but not after a valid divorce. Instone-Brewer shows that these principles are not only different from the traditional church interpretation of the New Testament but also directly relevant to modern relationships. Enhanced with pastoral advice on how to apply the biblical teaching in today's context, this volume will be a valuable resource for anyone seeking serious answers about married life. ~ Product Description
Robert Merrihew Adams (Oxford University Press: May 2002), 424 pages.
Renowned scholar Robert Adams explores the relation between religion and ethics through a comprehensive philosophical account of a theistically-based framework for ethics. Adams' framework begins with the good rather than the right, and with excellence rather than usefulness. He argues that loving the excellent, of which adoring God is a clear example, is the most fundamental aspect of a life well lived. Developing his original and detailed theory, Adams contends that devotion, the sacred, grace, martyrdom, worship, vocation, faith, and other concepts drawn from religious ethics have been sorely overlooked in moral philosophy and can enrich the texture of ethical thought. ~ Product Description