Issue Group 29: Bioethics: Opportunity or Obstacle for the Gospel?

Identify how Christians may confront contemporary medical ethical issues in such a way that the gospel is not invalidated. 

Bioethics examines ethical issues relating to emerging biomedical technologies and research, as well as those to do with the provision of health care. It does this from both individual and social perspectives. Some important themes which emerge are:

a. What it means to be human;

b. The value of human life;

c. The tension between ‘playing God’ and responsible creative

d. The tension between individual liberty and communal responsibility;

e. The just allocation from a global perspective of health care

Bioethics intersects with evangelism in three domains—the professional, the apologetic, and the pastoral. Each provides both obstacles and opportunities for the gospel.The church has traditionally been at the forefront of health care, as a powerful witness to the love of Christ.

However, Christian health care professionals today face increasing difficulties working in secular institutions, and ‘traditional’ medical ethics based on Hippocratic/Judeo Christian synthesis is increasingly under attack.

Apologetically, theologians can easily appear as technological Luddites, while the church’s stance on abortion and euthanasia, for example, is often perceived as pastorally harsh and insensitive. Yet the profound questions of bioethics, namely the meaning of human life, freedom, illness and death, and the importance of easing human suffering, are part of the traditional domain of theology and the mission of the church.The church ought to have something important to say (and do) about these things, and it ought to be good news!

Expected outcomes for this group included:

  1. Apologetics: Identification of helpful (and unhelpful) ways in which the church at all levels may engage with the community and media on bioethical issues.
  2. Pastoral: Identification of strategies for churches at different levels of organization to engage in creative and pastorally sensitive ministries for those who have bioethical ‘issues’.
  3. Professional: Identification of strategies for Christian health care professionals to maintain and commend Christian values in their practice, as a witness to patients and colleagues.


Andrew Fergusson, UK
Head of Policy,
Centre for Bioethics and Public Policy

Denise Cooper, Australia
Lecturer in the Medical Faculty, University of Melbourne

John Kilner, USA
President, The Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity 

Read the Lausanne Occasional Paper (LOP) produced by this Issue Group:

LOP 58: Bioethics: Obstacle or Opportunity for the Gospel? (.pdf format; 404 KB)