The Physician as Political Actor: Late Abortion and the Strictures of Liberal Moral Discourse (Brian Brock, 2006)

By examining the range of factors pressing on medical professionals faced with a decision in a case of late-term abortion, it becomes apparent that the theological resources ruled out of bounds by the standard account can be
considered an essential part of a truly liberating and properly supple moral account of medical decision-making. Close attention to the social, political and legal context of contemporary medicine reveals that the standard account of medical ethics, Principles of Biomedical Ethics by Beauchamp and Childress, despite its universalist aspirations, disempowers rather than empowers moral decision-making by medical professionals.

Genetics, Conversation and Conversion: A Discourse at the Interface of Molecular Biology and Christian Ethics (Brian Brock)

This chapter reports on an experimental conversation between a practicing molecular biologist and a Christian ethicist. It arose in the form of joint lectures in which the presentation of the technical state of the art in genetic science proceeded hand in hand with a theological analysis of the moral implications of its scientific models, discourses, and hermeneutic claims. The impulse to open such dialogue was a sense from both sides that there is a serious deficit of detailed interaction between the two disciplines, creating a critical lack of relevant ethical discussion of issues related to human genetics. As a result, popular and academic discussions of ethical
issues in human genetics have drifted apart to the point of absurdity. Yet rather than responding to this estrangement by embarking on the popular ‘scientific education’ approach, we felt that a concerted
attempt was needed not simply to express the science to the public, but to try to understand the moral implications of the science by struggling to articulate theologically expressed questions and criticisms in the course of discussion about the science.

Brian Brock, Walter Doerfler & Hans Ulrich

Praise: The Prophetic Public Presence of the Mentally Disabled (Brian Brock)

I grew up in a Christian home on a dead end street. Around the corner was what we used to call a “home”—a group home for the mentally disabled sited in a typical residential house. Its residents didn’t seem to get out much, leaving only a thin residue of childhood memories. They shuffled by the end of our street in single file in the company of a single caregiver. These incongruous moments lodged in a child’s mind as spectral and discomforting reminders that the world is full of strange and unmentionable things. It was only in such public spaces that I ever rubbed shoulders with the mentally disabled, for this was the end of a long age in the developed West of hiding them away (Schweik, 2009). Such people were to be kept in “homes” and special schools and largely away from churches. (The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, Chapter 11)

Autism, Care and Christian Hope (Brian Brock, 2009)

This article takes a Christian theological approach to autism to re-narrate the relationship of carers for individuals with autism. The discussion displays concrete ways that our care for those with autism is reshaped by being set within ontologies that privilege engaged self-investment, within a cultural context that rarely transcends its desire to study phenomenon through highly self-aware and disengaged description. Also presented is a phenomenological exploration of the challenges for carers by the experience of caring for those with autism, and the article concludes by entering a theological debate about how best to conceive our relationship to them.

Being Disabled in the New World of Genetic Testing: A Snapshot of Shifting Landscapes (Brian Brock)

This paper speaks biographically in order to introduce a real time snapshot of the forces genetic technologies bring to bear on the disabled and their families. We do so as an academic theologian and a neo-natal nurse experiencing the joys and frustrations of first-time parenthood. Our son, Adam, now two years old, has Down’s syndrome, and it is the events of his first six months on which our account draws. This paper will outline the
pressures we experienced as parents of a ‘genetically handicapped’ child, and then, in conclusion, offer a few theological reflections.

Supererogation and the Riskiness of Human Vulnerability (Brian Brock, 2007)

What does it mean to investigate human fragility? And what counts as knowledge or results from such investigations? Theology and the empirical sciences will give different but related answers to these questions, answers which will, we hope, mutually illumine one another.

What Role Ought the Bible to Play in Christian Ethics? ‘Developing a Hermeneutic’ vs. ‘Immersion in Tradition’ (Brian Brock, 2007)

The contemporary rediscovery of ancient sources of biblical exegesis makes an important contribution to the renewal of Christian ethics. This rediscovery is motivated by a dissatisfaction with modern critical commentaries on Scripture and by a desire to re-engage with the biblical text itself, allowing it to speak to our contemporary ethical challenges in fresh and surprising ways. The article sets out the key objectives and contributions of this new approach to biblical ethics. The heart of the challenge it brings is to encourage us to move beyond a preoccupation with questions of hermeneutical methodology and towards a properly theological appreciation of the role of ʹtraditionʹ in our ethical reading of Scripture.

Rethinking the Role of Scripture in Christian Ethics: A Précis of Singing the Ethos of God (Brian Brock, 2008)

Singing the Ethos of God is a meditation on an interconnected set of problems modern western Christians encounter when trying to bring Scripture to bear on the moral questions of the day. My sense that such a book needed to be written crystallized in an Oxford seminar on the use of the Bible in Christian ethics. In that seminar several world-class biblical scholars and moral theologians gathered with a room full of the English-speaking world’s future pastors and academic theologians, attempting to discern the ethical implications of a few classic biblical passages.

The results were disastrous. Occasional flashes of insight emerged, but the participants were left with the overwhelming impression that so much complicated critical machinery has been interposed between us and Scripture that we (i.e., primarily academically trained theologians) no longer have the skills to handle it directly.

Made Strange by the Word in a Technological Age (Brian Brock, 2003)

FOR MOST OF US THERE IS SOMETHING GENUINELY EXCITING ABOUT NEW TECHNOLOGY. What child is not viscerally attracted to the gleaming rows of cars at a new car show, or amazed at the world to come promised in science fiction? Even our adult imagination boggles at what is being made possible today by technology, a fact marked by the stories of new hi-tech feats that now regularly appear on the front pages of our newspapers.

Almost all of us are used to having our attention grabbed by new technologies. We are part of a social milieu in which a host of social and cultural forces have succeeded in linking these developments with excitement, a sense of exploring the unknown, a touch of entrancing menace, and aesthetic progress.

But, in this general excitement, have we directed attention away from the miracle at the heart of the universe? In asking about the relationship between the Bible, technology and human identity, the Bible presses us to ask this question. It does so by indicating that human identity can be understood as being formed by that which excites it, because where our interest is engaged, “there will your heart be also” (Mt 6.21).