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The book aims to answer key questions that students and the general reader may have about Christian ethics.
The most common approach to the subject is usually to adopt a 'string of beads' approach, going through key subjects such as: scripture, natural law, virtue ethics; other ethical theories and so on.
This is practical in terms of structuring ethical courses, but often leaves students struggling to see how the subject ties together, what is distinctive about Christian ethics and particularly why Christians disagree amongst themselves.
This book adopts a narrative and 'concentric ring' approach, giving the overall picture right from the start, and expanding out from there, giving progressively more detail which can then be fitted into the overall picture, so that the initial picture can be seen more and more clearly.An overall picture of Christian ethics is given in Chapter 1, with key historical and theological issues also being introduced.
Themes related to these issues are reinforced and developed in Chapters 2 and 3.
The ground is then prepared for these to be integrated and contrasted with more contemporary ideas and developments in Chapter 4. Having focussed on differences (which also helps to further clarify the subject outline) in Chapters 3 and 4, Chapter 5 focuses on similarities, whilst still giving more insight into some differences.
The topic of natural law is picked up again, and linked to issues of pluralism, whilst also serving as a basis for deeper discussion of both social justice, and global, medical and sexual issues.These are discussed in Chapters 6 to 8 where differences among Christians will be brought out in terms of the principles already explained, as also differences with non-Christian perspectives are referred to.
The end of Chapter 8 links into Chapter 9 with an emphasis on the connection between the material and the spiritual.
Chapter 9 explores this in terms of Christian spirituality seen in part as accessing the presence of the Spirit.
Pastoral issues, including issues of suffering are commented on, before a sketch is given of the relationship between Christian ethics and Christian hope for the life to come.
Finally, some signposts for further reflection and reading are given."Continuum's Guides for the Perplexed" are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging - or indeed downright bewildering.
Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.
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