CHRISTIAN ETHICS by J. PHILIP WOGAMANN

*** (of 5)

The bottom line: An adequate, although not comprehensive, introduction to Christian ethics that provides a synopsis of the major thinkers and movements.

 

Christian Ethics moves in a linear fashion throughout history and successively builds upon prior ideas in order to display the progression of Christian ethics—uniquely characterized by the influence of theology on moral values—through the ages. Wogamann begins with the foundations of Western ethical thought in Ancient Greece, and from there moves on to the early Christian Church, then to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, rationalism, and finally ends with contemporary ethics with a look toward future eras. With very few exceptions, Christian Ethics covers all the bases and highlights the chief players that have shaped the ethical dialogues then and now. Some individuals (e.g. Luther and Calvin) are given substantially more attention than others (e.g. Jonathan Edwards) but the reader will come away with a general idea about the key players and their influences.

Because the book’s scope is broad, it often tends to oversimplify some of the arguments for the sake of inclusion. Luther and Calvin, for example, have both written a plethora of material that illustrates their perceptions of ethical behavior from a Christian standpoint. To assume that one chapter (<20 pages) would give the reader a proper hold on their unique ideologies would be incorrect.

This book was required as part of a graduate level seminary course that I took, and the my professor (who holds a doctorate in philosophy and ethics) did choose to use this text for her course, yet made frequent mention that she either disagreed with some of Wogamann’s points, or that his treatment of some subject matter was lacking. In the end, I think this book will serve as a decent introduction as the title suggests. Those studying in seminary or in some form of graduate theological program will likely derive the greatest benefit.

 

Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal

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