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Christian Ethics and Moral Philosophy

An Introduction to Issues and Approaches

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Theology and philosophy have both shaped contemporary culture and how people actually think about moral issues. This introductory textbook engages both traditions to present Christian philosophical and theological approaches to ethics.

Combining their expertise in philosophy and theology, Craig Boyd and Don Thorsen explain the beliefs, values, and practices of various Christian ethical viewpoints, addressing biblical teachings as well as traditional ethical theories that contribute to informed moral decision-making. Each chapter begins with Words to Watch and includes a relevant case study on a vexing ethical issue, such as caring for the environment, human sexuality, abortion, capital punishment, war, and euthanasia. Designed for use in the classroom, the book includes end-of-chapter reflection questions, illustrations, and additional information tables.

1. Varieties of Ethics and Moral Thought
Case Study: Violence against Women and Children
2. Ethics in the Hebrew Scriptures
Case Study: Care for the Environment
3. Ethics in the Christian Scriptures
Case Study: The Nearest and the Neediest
4. Divine Command Theory
Case Study: Intervention, Exemptions, and Conscience
5. Natural Law Ethics
Case Study: Human Sexuality
6. Individualistic Ethics
Case Study: Abortion
7. Kantian Ethics
Case Study: Capital Punishment
8. Utilitarianism
Case Study: War
9. Continental Ethics
Case Study: Euthanasia
10. Virtue Ethics
Case Study: Lying
Epilogue: Love and Christian Ethics
Further Reading


"Christian Ethics and Moral Philosophy helps readers understand and engage a range of approaches to ethics in an inviting and accessible fashion. More than a descriptive enterprise, this book will help all who read it to grow in their capacity for moral discernment."

Vince Bacote, associate professor of theology and director of the Center for Applied Christian Ethics, Wheaton College

"Too often ethics gets placed into theology or philosophy to the exclusion of the other, when what we actually need is dialogue between the two fields. Boyd and Thorsen expertly bring theology and philosophy into conversation with each other in a volume that lucidly explains the varying theories while also offering case studies in applied ethics. Students and a broader audience will greatly benefit from this work."

Mary Veeneman, associate professor of biblical and theological studies, North Park University

"This is an excellent introduction to Christian ethics and moral philosophy. It is clear, comprehensive, and accessible with many illuminating examples and clearly explained central concepts. The book would be excellent for college students taking a related course or for anyone wanting to learn more about how morality and ethics are central to the Christian life. I highly recommend it."

Michael S. Burdett, assistant professor of Christian theology, University of Nottingham

"The relationship between theological ethics and philosophical ethics is complicated. Christians claim a unique source of moral knowledge in revelation, yet even the apostle Paul formulated his ethical thought in conversation with the best philosophical wisdom. Furthermore, what counts as 'pure' philosophical ethics today is deeply indebted to the moral impulses unleashed by Christianity. Mapping out the connections between these two approaches to moral knowledge is therefore a challenge. Craig Boyd and Don Thorsen have given us an accessible introduction to this difficult intellectual terrain, one that orients students to the key typologies and terms necessary to think as a Christian about the moral life today. Their use of case studies to show the difference Christianity might make to the moral life is especially helpful and commendable."

Kent Dunnington, associate professor of  philosophy, Biola University

"At last, an introduction to ethics that is simultaneously scholarly, comprehensive, and accessible. The authors have crafted together a well-written and engaging book that is aimed at students with little philosophical or theological background. Each chapter describes difficult concepts and issues in a clear and concise manner that avoids becoming simplistic. Boyd and Thorsen are to be thanked for writing a text that should make teaching ethics much more enjoyable and effective for both students and teachers."

Brent Waters, Stead Professor of Christian Social Ethics and director of the Stead Center for Ethics and Values, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

"Boyd and Thorsen have given us an excellent treatment of moral philosophy and moral theology from an explicitly Christian perspective. The authors have a masterful grasp on moral theory and how those theories relate to the Christian faith. While rigorous, the text is approachable and applicable and illuminates many of the ethical issues that we face today. Christian Ethics and Moral Philosophy is an excellent resource for students as well as for all interested clergy and laity in the church."

Kevin Timpe, William H. Jellema Chair in Christian Philosophy, Calvin College

"Boyd and Thorsen have created the perfect text in Christian moral theory. Employing a holistic approach that combines both philosophical and theological perspectives in the Christian tradition, this book is a remarkably comprehensive study of all major ethical positions. Guided by clear commitment to the teachings of Jesus on love, the book analyzes utilitarian ethics, natural law ethics, virtue ethics, and more at both theoretical and practical levels. In addition to lucid treatments of the topics, the book contains all the accoutrements that make a great text, including engaging case studies and listings of key terms for each chapter."

Michael L. Peterson, professor of philosophy of religion, Asbury Theological Seminary

"With attention squarely directed to the introductory reader, Boyd and Thorsen carefully lay out the terrain of moral philosophy and moral theology. Reason and faith are closely coordinated in a fair and broad yet precise manner. They skillfully deploy examples to show how Christian and philosophical thought handle difficult issues, such as euthanasia, abortion, lying, and the quality of moral concern in addressing the despoliation of nature. This is a textbook as well as a primer for the field of Christian ethics. It will serve as the standard in its class for many years to come."

Paul Allen, professor of theological studies, Concordia University

The Authors

  1. Craig A. Boyd

    Craig A. Boyd

    Craig A. Boyd (PhD, Saint Louis University) is professor of philosophy at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the coauthor of several books, including Faith and Reason: Three Views and Virtues and Their Vices. He has also...

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  2. Don Thorsen

    Don Thorsen

    Don Thorsen (PhD, Drew University) is professor of theology at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California. His previous books include An Exploration of Christian Theology, What Christians Believe about the Bible, and The Wesleyan...

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