This book is a timely one, in that it is poised to make a highly significant contribution to current debates in medical bioethics. It is adventurous on two grounds. First, it challenges the common assumption that Western approaches to bioethics, dominated by secular principled approaches, most notably the school of thought pioneered by Beauchamp and Childress, is all sufficient. Secondly, it refuses to accept that only a specific Christian denominational approach has coherence, given the diversity between different Christian traditions, quite apart from their differences with other religious traditions. Instead, having faced the former challenge through being inspired by Jeffrey Bishop’s significant contribution to the debate, and the latter challenge by facing up honestly to the critique of the project as a whole offered by Tristram Engelhardt, the argument proceeds to be built that actually finding those who are prepared to engage in common ground across disciplines and across religious disciplines is a genuinely worth while and fruitful exercise.
Two articles have captured my attention, and I read recently with interest. The first was published in The Economist, “Liberty Moves North: Canada’s example to the world” (Oct. 2016). The second, “The Canada Experiment: Is this the world’s first ‘post-national’ country?” (Jan. 2017) was published in The Guardian. These essays … stand out as pieces that are wrestling to understand the particularity of Canada and Canada’s socio-political ethos on the global stage—a particularity that is championed and beloved also in this tome of Dart’s. Yet, for Dart, such particularity must be discovered again and against the allure of modern Western liberalism.
Moyse makes a convincing case … showing how theology can interrupt and potentially transform bioethics in a way that refuses to retreat into abstractions and instead meets individual patients where they are: in the heat of crisis.
This remarkable collection of essays … the idea of sobornost, with its remarkable Trinitarian, ecclesiological, and anthropological implications, has yet to be discovered in its full theological import, which will clear the path for ever deeper mutual understandings between different ecclesial communities.
The strength and brilliance of Reading Karl Barth is the intricate and meticulous way that Ashley Moyse has integrated (in a way few do or can) an approach to Barth that interrogates and interrupts a questionable way of doing biomedical ethics (which tends to be more fixated on technique and skill manipulation). Needless to say, as the title of the books suggests, the task of Moyse is to transform biomedical ethics by taking the dialogue to a deeper and more demanding theological place—Barth is, for Moyse, the guide to such a destination.