Previous | Next

Fall 2003 · Vol. 32 No. 2 · pp. 243–244 

Book Review

Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World

Dennis P. Hollinger. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2002. 299 pages.

Reviewed by Will J. Friesen

Dennis Hollinger (Ph.D., Drew University), vice-provost, campus pastor, and professor of Christian ethics at Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania, in this book offers the Christian college audience a serious and wide-ranging introduction to the field of Christian ethics. In the first two sections, Hollinger introduces the reader to various ethical approaches, both modern and postmodern, that are embraced by both Christian and secular ethicists. For example, he reviews the modern debate between consequentialism and principle-oriented perspectives, and the more recent “virtue ethics” criticism of this foundational approach by developmental psychologist Carol Gilligan, the Aristotelian philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, and theologian Stanley Hauerwas.

While Hollinger offers a helpful analysis of these various ethical perspectives, his ultimate intention is to provide a uniquely Christian worldview for dealing with the complex world of postmodernism. With this distinctly Christian vantage point, readers are invited in the second half of the book to consider how to make and apply ethical decisions. Here Hollinger proposes that historical paradigms, Scripture, and empirical factors must all be considered when choosing the good. In the chapter, “The Bible in Ethical Decision,” he explores the complex yet necessary resource the Bible provides both for the individual Christian {244} and for the community of faith. Then in the final chapters, he examines how to apply a Christian worldview in the mix of a pluralistic and complex world.

Hollinger is to be commended for his fair treatment of a broad range of theologians and ethical perspectives. Additionally, he does not shy away from controversial issues, nor from a variety of alternative ethical viewpoints. Conversely, his intention to ground ethical decision making in a foundational Christian worldview is sometimes obscured by his insistence upon documenting the complexity of ethics. Yet, this is why Hollinger’s book is an excellent introduction to the complex expanse of Christian ethics.

Will J. Friesen
Prof. of Biblical and Religious Studies
Fresno Pacific University, Fresno, California

Previous | Next