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Christian Ethics and Human Nature (John Albert Hall Lecture Series) [Paperback]

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Item Number 120342  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   114
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.73" Width: 5.29" Height: 0.37"
Weight:   0.27 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2000
Publisher   Trinity Press International
ISBN  1563383276  
EAN  9781563383274  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
In Christian Ethics and Human Nature Terence Penelhum identifies the characteristics that set Christian ethics apart from secular ethics in a world that commonly thinks it has adopted Christian principles. He traces the Christian understanding of human nature to it's roots in basic Christian teaching, and compares that view with the views of other religions. Finally, Penelhum suggests that the Christian perspective of human nature should incorporate our place in the natural world as a whole. Throughout the book, Penelhum places Christian ethics in dialogue with science, psychology, and religious pluralism in a way that challenges the reader to rethink traditional ideas about Christian ethics and the nature of being human.

Publishers Description
Originally delivered as the John Albert Hall Lectures in 1999, these essays examine the relationship between the secular view of human nature and Christian views of human nature. Having done so, the essays go on to explore the ways that the differences between the two views affect the ethics that inform both Christian activity and non-Christian activity. The author sets out first to identify characteristics that distinguish Christian ethics from secular ethics in a world that commonly sees itself as having adopted Christian ethics. Second, Penelhum analyzes the understanding of human nature that is implied by Christian ethics. Third, he identifies the ways that the Christian view of human nature responds to other religions' views of human nature. Finally, he identifies how the Christian view of human nature ought to be affected by the recognition that human nature is a part of Nature as a whole. Throughout the book, Penelhum places Christian ethics in dialogue with science, psychology, and religious pluralism in an engaging and highly productive way. Terence Penelhum is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary. He is the author of God and Skepticism.

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Product Categories
1Books > Special Features > New & Used Textbooks > Humanities > Religious Studies > Christianity   [2832  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Ethics & Morality   [3234  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > General   [31520  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Not a Raving Review  Nov 21, 2005
This is a brief series of four lectures, each twenty five pages in length. The first, "What is the Christian Ethic," proposes that Chrsitian moral convictions and actions may be identical with those of nonChristians. Both have been endowed with a moral conscience (following Butler), which need not make any reference to meta-ethical with theological content as criteria for what to do (what is the good act?). What are distinctively Christian are the *inner attitudes* by the believer that have content including what God has done and will do with the kingdom, and the belief in God's providence. These inner attitudes about God's relation in bringing about a kingdom on earth are what are central - as opposed to just being a moralist (or legalist).

Second, "Human Nature and its Needs - The Christian Diagnosis" paints a picture of the Christian internal struggle (c.f. Romans 7) and references the diagnosis as freedom in Christ. Penelhum then notes some problems surrounding this answer that have arisen throughout ecclesiastic history.

Third: "The Pluralist Challenge." Penelhum presents three approaches to religious diversity and sides (to my surprise) with the pluralist - if I've read him right. His first two essays struck me as conservative (or traditional) of Anglican theology, which in the preface he says he writes as an Anglican. Basically, he takes the first two chapters about human fallenness and tries to find correlates in alternate religions, attempting to see what could be made of the search for redemption. This occurs by finding analogues. The idea here is to reduce the problem of how one is to practice in one's own tradition while remaining a sympathetic pluralist, and this is done by minimizing differences but focusing on ways to redemption as different means to the same basic end. (I hope I've accurately understood him here).

Fourth: "Humans and the Natural World." Nothing new here. Penelhum builds an argument that Christians are to be concerned with nature, not because God has made us part of it and commanded to keep it (have dominion over it), but more because we - as Darwin's children - have descended from nature and ascended to be more than mere animals, higher order beings with obligation to care for it as denizens of the world.

I found this book disappointing. There was nothing very novel. Of course, lots of books say nothing new. But this book added nothing substantively new to the issues he addresses that couldn't be found in lots of other books. And his chapters are shrot, so the topics are dealt with in a cursory manner. Moreover, his first two chapters make use of Genesis 3 and the Fall, but when he addresses our origins in the final chapter, he says we know better than to believe Paul's explanation of Genesis 3 or take Genesis 3 literally. That is, he takes the traditional lessons from Genesis 3 while ignoring how those lessons are concluded. This strikes me as internal tension in his book.

Finally, the one thing I thought was interesting was the second chapter. There, Penelhum admits that we do experience alien desires (aka external desires). I think this is significant because Harry Frankfurt's famous work on external desires casts Penelhum as an objector to their being. So, either Frankfurt got him wrong or Penelhum changed his view. In either case, the second lecture is clear evidence he considered them part of human psychology. Is the book worth buying? Not for 20 bucks. But it might be worth a *very* quick glance at a library. It is not a horrible book. It is just not on the top of my recommendations for the reasons adumbrated above.

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