Freedom and the Moral Life

David Gushee reviews essay collection The Freedom of a Christian.
2006This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.

Steering between the extremes of legalism and libertinism, bioethicist (and Lutheran theologian) Gilbert Meilaender attempts to answer this question: "If the gospel announces that sinners are pardoned and that God is pleased with them, what more could possibly need doing?"

Drawing on Merlin, King Arthur, Sherlock Holmes, and Achilles, this accessible and well-informed essay collection looks at freedom through the lenses of grace, vocation, and human nature.

Meilaender advocates "the obedience of faith within a life of Christian freedom." He also examines the freedom inherent in God's call: "For large stretches of life, vocation becomes permission to determine the person we will be, and even our duties are transformed."

Meilaender reminds us that the moral life at its best is a natural response to a loving God: "Beyond principles, beyond law, beyond reason, lies a Person."

Finally, Meilaender ponders the notion of "embodied humanity" to reflect on bioethical issues such as genetic research, stem cells, and health care at the end of life. Following C. S. Lewis, Meilaender argues that the temptation to use our freedom to be more than human leaves us less so.

"Some exercise godlike mastery," Meilaender notes, "others (like the beasts) are put out of their misery."



Related Elsewhere:

The Freedom of a Christian is available at ChristianBook.com and other book retailers.

Gilbert Meilaender discussed life ethics with CT in "When to Pull a Feeding Tube."

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
More from this IssueRead This Issue
Read These Next
close