From Christ to the World: Introductory Readings in Christian Ethics

Written by Wayne G Boulton, Thomas D Kenndy, and Allen Verhey Reviewed By Michael L. Westmoreland-White

Those who teach courses in Christian ethics no longer need to require four to five books for an introductory course in order to cover the necessary topics. Editors Wayne G Boulton, Thomas D Kenndy, and Allen Verhey have provided the best collection of readings in Christian ethics available in English. Here in one place are classic readings from Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Aristotle, Martin Luther, Francis of Assisi, and John Calvin.

Intermixed with these classic voices are contemporary voices ranging from Walter Rauschenbusch to James Gustafson, from Margaret Farley to Stanley Hauerwas, Pope John Paul II to Reinhold Niebuhr to Carol Robb. Catholics, mainline Protestants, evangelicals, two Eastern Orthodox Christians, and even one Jewish political philosopher, are all represented. Feminists and traditionalists, pacifists and just war theorists, teleological, deontological, virtue, and narrative approaches, are placed in written conversation. Further, the quality of the excerpts is uniformly high, many of them precisely the essays one would want to have students read.

This wonderful reader is organised in three major sections with several subsections or chapters under them, and multiple readings in each subsection. Under the major section of Sources of Christian Ethics, there are sections on ‘Scripture and Christian Ethics’, ‘Tradition and Christian Ethics’ ‘Philosophy and Christian Elhics’, and ‘Science and Christian and Ethics’. In the second section of Features of Christian Ethics, the editors have given us excerpts in ‘The Forms of Christian Ethics’, ‘The Norms of Christian Ethics’, and ‘The Contexts of Christian Ethics’. Finally, in the Issues of Christian Ethics, the text surveys ‘Christian Sexual Ethics’, Christian Medical Ethics’, ‘Christian Political Ethics’, ‘Christian Economic Ethics’, and ‘Christian Environmental Ethics’.

One could use From Christ to the World either as the main (or only) text in an introductory Christian ethics course, or as a supplementary reader. The former option is aided by an extensive introductory chapter by the editors, biblical excerpts, and ‘Try it Yourself’ case studies scattered throughout the book. In the latter use, the book would make a good supplementary text not only for introduction courses, but also courses in the history of Christian ethics, courses in various ethical topics or approaches, or even courses in the history of Christian thought. It is difficult to see how such a work could be improved. I recommend it enthusiastically.

Michael L. Westmoreland-White

Spalding University Louisville, KY