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This Mortal Flesh: Incarnation and Bioethics
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This Mortal Flesh: Incarnation and Bioethics


Brazos 2009

Runs on Windows, Mac and mobile.


We may be entering a golden age in healthcare thanks to dramatic improvements being made in diagnostic procedures and therapies. Many individuals will soon live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. But do these advances also bring the risk of losing one’s humanity? Could this progress require the transformation of humans into a new and different species?

In many respects, medicine serves as a surrogate religion in today’s societies. Although a proper concern for health is compatible with Christian faith, recent and anticipated advances in extending human longevity are often based on philosophical presuppositions and religious values that are adverse to core Christian beliefs and convictions. In This Mortal Flesh, theologian and ethicist Brent Waters examines the Christian moral life in light of critical bioethical issues, such as biotechnology and physical/cognitive enhancement, reproductive technology, human genetics, embryonic stem cell research, and regenerative medicine. He also examines the “posthuman project,” exploring what it means to be human in light of the denial of mortality. Grounding his theological reflections in the doctrine of the incarnation, Waters argues that it is good to be embodied, finite, and mortal.

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Key Features

  • Reviews the moral presuppositions of scientific advancements in healthcare
  • Affirms the gift of healthcare but balances it with God’s intentions for human well-being
  • Examines healthcare from both a practical-ethical and existential-theological perspectives


  • How Brave a New World? God, Technology, and Medicine
  • A Theological Reflection on Reproductive Medicine
  • Are Our Genes Our Fate? Genomics and Christian Theology
  • Persons, Neighbors, and Embryos: Some Ethical Reflections on Human Cloning and Stem Cell Research
  • What is Christian about Christian Bioethics
  • Revitalizing Medicine: Empowering Natality vs. Fearing Mortality
  • The Future of the Human Species
  • Creation, Creatures, and Creativity: The Word and the Final Word

Praise for the Print Edition

This Mortal Flesh represents the distillation of much fine thinking. Brent Waters is concerned less with resolving bioethical dilemmas and more with probing the significance for medicine of the fundamental Christian claim that the Word became flesh. The result is an unusually illuminating display of Christian wisdom concerning technological ambitions that puts in question the meaning of humanity itself.

Robert Song, senior lecturer in Christian ethics, Durham University

Waters warns us not to be seduced by postmodern aspirations. While the healing powers of medicine and biotechnology may be welcome, salvation is not from medicine and biotechnology. His is a powerful warning to Christians not to succumb to idolatry and the worship of false gods.

—Agneta Sutton, Ethics & Medicine

Waters not only considers some of the specific choices in medicine and technology facing people today, but he also offers a systematic way of thinking about bioethics that can help people consider how their choices will affect attitudes about what it means to be human in the future.

—Mary L. Vanden Berg, Calvin Theological Journal

Product Details

About Brent Waters

Brent Waters is Jerre and Mary Joy Stead Professor of Christian Social Ethics at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, where he also directs the Jerre L. and Mary Joy Stead Center for Ethics and Values. He is ordained in the United Church of Christ, has authored, edited, or contributed to many books, including The Authority of the Gospel: Explorations in Moral and Political Theology in Honor of Oliver O’Donovan.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition

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