What Is Human?

Charles Baldanza, MDiv
Nathan Barczi, PhD

You are standing in front of a large tub. It has, say, 6 gallons of water, 37 lbs. of carbon, 6.5 lbs. of nitrogen, 3 lbs. of calcium, 2 lbs. of phosphorus, and about 4 lbs. of some other trace elements. Ethically, you could do anything you wanted to that soup—buy it, sell it, experiment on it. But, if that same material were rearranged very precisely, it would be your neighbor. She would have autonomy and dignity; no one could buy or sell or experiment on her without her consent, even if she had died. Why? What is so special about that particular configuration of matter?

A Review of Christian Bioethics

Rebecca Hacker, MA (Bioethics)

My first introduction to bioethics came from Dr. C. Ben Mitchell when he gave me his newly published book, Christian Bioethics: A Guide for Pastors, Health Care Professionals, and Families (with Joy Riley). I was considering grad school and wondered if bioethics was the path that God was leading me towards. I devoured the book in a few days and then sent an application into Trinity Graduate School’s bioethics program. Two years later, I received my MA in Bioethics and have read countless books on the subject. While it’s unlikely that many pastors will run to graduate school like I did, it is almost guaranteed that people in their congregations will benefit from their giving this book a careful reading.

What Is the Christian Obligation to a Friend in Pain?

Kelly Kapic, PhD

When we see people in pain we rightly want to help. We want to make everything better. That is a noble intuition that reflects a good Creator God.

When Jesus encountered people dealing with hurts, he very often brought his healing touch. He restored sight to the blind, enabled the lame to walk, and opened the ears of the deaf, indicating the nature of his kingship and his Kingdom. His life and proclamation promised a new creation where there will be no pain, fear, or tears. Nevertheless, it was but a taste. Those he healed still died; their temporary healing pointed toward a full and final renewal that has not yet come.

It makes sense that followers of Jesus want to proclaim and offer hope and full healing. Still, this good instinct can easily go astray. Sometimes, even though there may be good intentions behind this impulse, we can really hurt those who face suffering.

Death and the Church, Part III

Robert C. Kurka, DMin

I have intentionally titled this series, “Death and the Church.” Given the highly individualistic character of Western culture, many complex human issues are viewed as personal concerns to be dealt with in a manner that keeps friends, neighbors, and even family at a distance. The well-known expression “It is none of your business,” epitomizes an isolationism that has become a core value of American culture. Indeed, “individual autonomy” is given first place among bioethical principles in the so-called “Georgetown Mantra."