Book Review: Ethics for a Brave New World

Did I mention that I’m doing some book reviews for Crossway? They let me pick a book or 2 a month and they send me a reviewer’s copy. Given my love of reading, and my love of Crossway’s authors, it’s a great little agreement.

This month (or last month?) one of the books I picked out was Ethics for a Brave New World (2nd edition), by the Feinbergs – John and Paul. It’s a new edition of the book originally published in 1993. I wanted to review it because I’ve always loved ethics, but I have to say that when the 800+ page treatise arrived in the mail I seriously considered returning it to sender. I’m long past my academic days of wrestling with lofty topics for the mere purpose of debate and discourse.

But I steeled myself and sat down with the massive text and a cup of tea. What I found was pleasantly surprising. The book tackles a number of hot-button issues, including:

  • Abortion
  • Homosexuality
  • Stem cell research
  • Capital punishment
  • Euthanasia
  • Divorce
  • War/Pacifism
  • Birth control

It isn’t the type of reading I’d plow through for the fun of it, but each chapter (or set of chapters) gives systematic, full-range coverage of the topic at hand, all with a solid theological and biblical backing. It’s a comprehensive reference for those rough topics, and I think what I like best is how the Feinberg brothers give fair hearing to each side of the equation.

They do so well enough that certain questions that have plagued me for years have now been answered. Each topic has sides presented from the Bible, history, statistics, logic, philosophy… Different sides are heard, and what I like (though some people might not), is that each chapter concludes with a definitive answer. I’m the type who wants to know, is it right or wrong? And while the authors give clear evidence and backing for each side, they give the reader strong guidance as to the final reckoning.

I’ve turned the tide from wanting to distance myself from this giant ‘paperweight’ to giving it a prized position on my bookshelf as a top reference for my family as we track through major issues. You can check it out (and purchase the paperback or e-book) at Crossway’s website.


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