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What Could I Do? A handbook for making hard choices (Book Review)

winter 2004

From triple helix - winter 2004 - What Could I Do? A handbook for making hard choices (Book Review) [pp18-19]

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What Could I Do? A handbook for making hard choices - Peter Hicks - IVP 2003 - £9.99 Pb 352pp - ISBN 0 85111 299 4

This book follows on from 'What Could I Say?' by the same author (Triple Helix 2003; Spring:19). While there is some overlap between the two books, 'What Could I Do?' shifts the emphasis to the hard choices we all face by seeking to offer biblical guidance on a variety of difficult areas. The diverse range of topics covered includes environmental issues, sexuality, money and the use of time. The initial section deals generally with decisionmaking and is probably the only part of the book that would be read as a whole; the remainder is more likely to be dipped into rather than be read in one sitting.

My main criticism of the author's approach in this book is that he appears reluctant to offer any definitive guidance. The introduction states, 'there's only one person who has the right to tell you what to do and that's God'. There is no mention of the authority delegated to others such as consultants, teachers, police and pastors. Therefore, in a messy and complex world, it all appears to come down to the individual Christian's personal view on the right course to take. To illustrate this, I was somewhat startled to see the following advice given to a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy: 'In the last analysis it is you who have the right and responsibility to choose to have an abortion or to have your baby.' Yet this appears to run contrary to the author's stated view that abortion conflicts with 'Christian morality and principles' (p191) and his use of the example of the misuse of abortion legislation when he argues against legalising euthanasia (p114). It is clear that he does not advocate abortion; it is just a pity that he hasn't stated this more clearly.

It would be unfair to write this book off on the basis of a CMF live issue - parts of it are excellent and in general the issues surrounding a broad range of topics are covered well. It is certainly useful to have a selection of compiled Scripture passages for each of the issues covered. Some readers will find that the range of options presented is a helpful approach; others, however, may be frustrated by this attempt to provide non-directional advice.

Reviewed by
Tim Lewis

former CMF staffworker and currently working with the Leprosy Mission in Nepal

More from triple helix: winter 2004

  • Abortion for 'serious handicap' - An important case to win
  • HFEA ban on sex selection - The right decision for the wrong reason
  • Aromatherapy
  • The AIDS pandemic - Prevention is the cornerstone of an effective strategy
  • Bullying in the NHS
  • Conscientious Contraception
  • Does prayer work?
  • Frozen embryos - The tip of a huge iceberg
  • How I'd Handle It! - Fasciculations
  • Head to head - Should we prescribe contraception for unmarried patients?
  • Eutychus
  • The R Option (Book Review)
  • What Could I Do? A handbook for making hard choices (Book Review)
  • Curing the heart - a model for biblical counseling (Book Review)
  • Prayers for healing: A Burrswood companion (Book Review)
  • Prayer Life. How your personality affects the way you pray (Book Review)
  • Letters
  • Death of a tea lady
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