Human Cloning: Papers from a Church Consultation
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What would a group of Lutherans say if they got together to discuss the prospect of human cloning? Human Cloning: Papers from a Church Consultation answers that question. The Consultation was held by the ELCA's Division for Church in Society, October 13-15, 2000. It gathered together a representative group of theologians, scientists, ethicists, doctors, pastors, counselors, and others to address from the viewpoint of faith the challenges posed by cloning for procreative, therapeutic, and research purposes. The result is a resource that can educate, facilitate deliberation, and help Christians think through what individuals and the church should be saying in this matter of social debate.
The dialog that followed each presentation at this consultation served to advance understanding of the issues and perspectives. In order to capture some sense of that important conversation, I have culled this set of observations from the weekend. The fact that discussion developed along the threads highlighted below suggests their merit for attention in further deliberation. (Some items have been moved from their original context or collated for the sake of good order.) Some of the material below offers additional insights raised in discussion. Some suggest areas of contention or points where further dialog is clearly needed. Finally, some of these points warrant what I have called agreement because the comments around the table seemed to tend toward a common, if general, understanding. These items I have indicated by the notation Agreement... and placed in italics. Yet, the words are mine and the consultation included no organized attempt to hammer-out assent. This effort does not represent a comprehensive report, nor do the paragraphs incorporate every aspect of any specific conversation. I do hope, though, that the notions expressed below are relatively faithful pointings to the lively conversation among participants and that identifying them will help sharpen the deliberation this consultation intends to foster.
As noted at the consultation, the participants shared sufficient agreement to make a consultation possible and ample diversity to make it both necessary and lively.1 The first set of observations, then, are several convictions about cloning that I believe created the common framework for such a conversation. These may well stand in contrast to convictions sometimes present in other discussions of human cloning in church and society.