Letters to the Editor – Thinking Theologically About Bioethics

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I would like to commend Dr. Hans Madueme and Dignitas for an outstanding article (Volume 18:3, Fall 2011). Dr. Madueme provides a thoughtful analysis and critique of bioethics from an Evangelical Christian Perspective. I believe that he correctly identified three topics where The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity can play an important role in creating a much needed dialogue within the Christian community. These areas are: 1) The role of common grace and natural law as Christians engage the world on bioethical issues, 2) How sin affects our intellectual lives (both believers and non-believers), i.e., the “noetics effects of sin,” and 3) a structured reflection of Christian doctrine and bioethics surrounding beginning-of-life issues such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

The notion of common grace is of value to the Christian bioethicist because it informs the Christian that God places within the non-believer a knowing of wrong doing, even if their thinking and behavior has been corrupted by sin. Without this understanding the Christian bioethicist is no different from any philosopher who via natural law relies solely on reasoning to analyze human behavior in order to deduce rules of moral behavior. However, the Christian is called to appropriately align his or her reasoning with biblical truth as revealed through the Holy Spirit. Likewise a Christian bioethicist should reflect on how sin affects his or her own thinking, as well as well as that of a non-believer. Such a process would be highly instructive and insightful for the engaged Christian bioethicist. Yet, the basis for all dialogue on ethical issues is the confidence that Christian bioethics has in the God-ordained truths of the natural universe (Romans 2:14-15).

Finally, I believe that Dr. Madueme identifies the need for a detailed, well-structured position surrounding the life issues of abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Such a position should be reflective of a Holy Spirit-led understanding of scripture and an accurate understanding of modern developmental biology. It is my experience that within the Christian community both are not at the spiritual, scriptural, or intellectual level of understanding that they should be. I hope that Dr. Madueme’s article and CBHD will stimulate and possibly lead such an undertaking.

Arnold G. Hyndman, PhD

Professor, Cell Biology & Neuroscience

Director, Organizational Leadership Program

Rutgers University