Intersections

Bioethics, Thoughtful Christians, and the Church

by: 
David S. Dockery, PhD

The 21st-century world of medicine and biotechnology is simultaneously characterized by hopeful promise and the challenging threats. The issues swirling in our culture at this time represent larger worldview issues. The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity at Trinity International University seeks to address these many and complex issues by helping Christians raise the right questions in the midst of a morally indifferent culture. Involved in these meaningful, thoughtful, and difficult explorations is a need to help followers of Christ develop a coherent and comprehensive way to see and understand the changing world in which we live.

The intersection where medicine and technology meet requires Christians to address significant issues many of which are filled with unimaginable possibilities. The list of significant issues being explored at this time is quite lengthy and includes: what it means to be human, complex matters of medical research and human progress, the possibility of genetic enhancement, global considerations of biotechnology, and the ongoing issues of life and death.

What is more, many approach these dilemmas from a smorgasbord of natural, supernatural, premodern, modern, and postmodern frameworks. One distinctive to CBHD’s work at Trinity, however, is a recognition that an examined and thoughtful approach to these questions involves more than personal or private viewpoints.

It is important for the church to recognize that there are distinctively Christian approaches to the bioethical dilemmas of our day. What is needed, to borrow a phrase from T. S. Eliot, is a commitment to learn to think "in Christian categories." This means being able to see life from a Christian vantage point; it means thinking with the mind of Christ.

The beginning point for shaping such a Christian framework is a confession that we believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth, as expressed in the Apostles' Creed. We recognize that "in him all things hold together" (Col. 1:15-18), for all true knowledge flows from the One Creator to his one creation. Such a framework offers a different perspective from that of modern and postmodern culture, which often finds itself ill-equipped to deal with the far-reaching questions that currently surround the field of bioethics. Aware of the challenges within our context and culture, including the loss of plausibility structures, Christians need distinctive Christian thinking, a frame of reference that tells a coherent story while illuminating the actual world in which we live.

Such a framework offers a way to live that is consistent with reality by seeking to present a comprehensive understanding of all areas of life and thought, which unquestionably includes bioethical thinking. As we grapple with the challenges before us, we must not shy away from this task, for we understand that humans created in the image of God are essentially moral beings. Let us ask the Lord to raise up and develop a new generation of thoughtful, convictional, and committed believers who will go forth in wisdom, humility, and confidence to serve the church and engage these bioethical issues for the glory of God.

David S. Dockery, PhD

David S. Dockery, PhD

Dr. Dockery currently serves as the fifteenth President of Trinity International University and is recognized as a leader in Christian higher education across the country. He is the author or editor of more than thirty books, including Renewing Minds, Faith and Learning, New Testament Interpretation and Criticism, Biblical Interpretation Then and Now, and the Holman Bible Handbook. He is currently the New Testament editor for the New American Commentary and general editor for Crossway’s series on Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition. Dr. Dockery has contributed to more than sixty other volumes and has published more than one hundred articles and reviews for a variety of periodicals. Dr. Dockery and his wife, Lanese, have been married for forty-one years and live in the Chicagoland area.