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Where is the Evangelical Church? (Part One)

Where is the Evangelical Church?

(Part One)

“The words of the wicked are, ‘Lie in wait for blood,’ but the mouth of the upright will deliver them” (Proverbs 12:6, NKJV).

 

I. INTRODUCTION

Since 1969, we, in Canada, have brutally put to death almost four million pre-born children.1 Some of these children were poisoned and burned to death with a concentrated salt solution (Saline abortion). Others were suctioned limb by limb from the womb (Suction abortion). Still others were cut up into pieces with a sharp curette (D & C and D & E abortions). Clearly, the plight of the pre-born is an emergency that calls for extraordinary action by the church of Jesus Christ. Yet, despite the fact that the evangelical church of Canada (henceforth simply referred to as the “church”) has known about the monstrous evil of abortion for almost half a century, it continues to treat this issue as if it were one of peripheral importance. I am ashamed that the church has not been “the salt of the earth” that Jesus called it to be, at least with regard to abortion. As such, in this paper I, respectfully, throw down the gauntlet to the church: either refute my contention that the plight of the pre-born is an emergency that calls for extraordinary action by the church, or join with believers like myself in fighting this evil.

I realize that the challenge I issue in this paper is a bold one. However, as I will argue in the following pages, I believe that my audaciousness is justified for, at least, three reasons: first, the church’s apathy concerning the plight of the pre-born is, I believe, a sin—the sin of omission; second, it is a sin, that, as the reader will see, some of the international evangelical church’s most prominent leaders have been chastening the Western evangelical church about for decades; third, the nationwide practice of abortion in Canada, far from being a small matter, is the mass shedding of innocent blood.

In this paper I will ask two basic questions:

 

1. Is there warrant for the claim that the plight of the pre-born is an emergency that calls for extraordinary action by the church?

2. Is there warrant for the claim that the plight of the pre-born is not an emergency that calls for extraordinary action by the church?

 

The Church Father, Cyprian of Carthage, says that no one can have God as a Father who does not have the church as a mother.2 Despite the evangelical church’s many faults, I am proud to say that, for most of my life, it has been my mother. (I, along with my family, attend a Nazarene church in Collingwood, Ontario.) In this paper, I am an evangelical writing to evangelicals. As such, my criticisms of the church are intended to be constructive, not destructive and to build-up, not tear-down. My sincere hope in writing this paper is to help the church become, not lesser, but greater.

Before we proceed further, to avoid misunderstanding, let me offer a number of points that, hopefully, will clarify the position that I am defending in this paper. First, I am not contending that the church is not pro-life. For I believe that, for the most part, it, probably, is. Although I was unable, for obvious reasons, to look at the official positions on abortion of all of the thousands of evangelical denominations in Canada, I did look at some of them. The following one, taken from the official webpage of the Church of the Nazarene, is, I suspect, representative:

 

“Life is a gift from God. All human life, including life developing in the womb is created by God in His image and is, therefore, to be nurtured, supported, and protected…. We oppose induced abortion by any means, when used for personal convenience or population control. We oppose laws that allow abortion.”3

 

Rather, what I am claiming, in this paper, is that the church is guilty of failing to recognize that the plight of the pre-born is an emergency that calls for extraordinary action.

Second, it should also be understood that, in making the claims that I do about the church, I am speaking in broad, general terms. For I am well aware of the dedicated service on behalf of the pre-born, today, by such organizations as the Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.

Lastly, when I say that the church has an obligation to respond to the plight of the pre-born, I am speaking of the church in general. I am not contending that God has laid this duty upon every individual within the church. For all I know, there may be some within the church who, because of extenuating circumstances, are exempt from this duty.

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Points of Clarification

 

1. I am not contending that the evangelical church is not pro-life.

2. In making the claims that I do about the church, I am speaking in broad, general terms.

3. When I say that the church has an obligation to respond to the plight of the pre-born, I am speaking of the church in general.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

II. THE PROBLEM

 

At the 2012 National Pro-Life Conference, sponsored by Life Canada and Alliance for Life Ontario, Jim Hughes, the long-time national president of Campaign Life Coalition, asked a conference room full of people, including myself, “How many priests and pastors are here?” Not a single person raised his or her hand. Hughes then said, “This is the problem. It’s like this all across Canada. We need the spiritual leadership of our priests and pastors.”

It is a well-known fact within the pro-life community—though one that is seldom talked about—that, when it comes to the abortion conflict, the church has been conspicuously absent. As evidence of this, consider the following statements by leaders within the pro-life community:

 

  • “While the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada has consistently and emphatically denounced the evil of abortion over the past several decades, the same cannot be said of all-too-many Evangelical pastors. They know the truth about the sanctity of all human life, yet have rarely, if ever, decried the legalized mass slaughter of babies in the womb for fear of alienating some members of their congregation. These errant pastors and their church elders would do well to heed the wisdom of the late Charles Colson, who admonished time and again that what matters for the evangelical church is not man-made growth but biblical fidelity”—Rory Leishman (Pro-life speaker and author).4

 

  • “Institutionally many evangelical leaders and organizations haven’t shown the leadership on this issue that many of us would like to see”—Paul Tuns, (Editor-in-chief of ‘The Interim’).5
  • “Most evangelical Christians I know are pro-life, but they don’t know what to do. They support crisis pregnancy centres. They might participate in a march. But they often feel helpless. Many feel embarrassed by those who carry or display photos of aborted fetuses. But they care deeply about the unborn.”—Janet Epp-Buckingham (Former director of the Ottawa office of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada).6

 

  • “The lack of evangelical response to abortion is symptomatic of a bigger problem that has intensified in recent years. Many Christians now view politics in general as a liability to the Gospel. Issues like abortion are seen as a distraction from spreading the Good News,… There are many in the evangelical community who care deeply about preborn rights but struggle with knowing what to do about unrestricted abortion. There is a pressing need for all Christians to translate these concerns into a grace-filled witness in the public square.”—Mark Penninga (Executive Director, ARPA Canada).7

 

III. IS THERE WARRANT FOR THE CLAIM THAT THE PLIGHT OF THE

PRE-BORN IS AN EMERGENCY THAT CALLS FOR EXTRAORDINARY ACTION BY THE CHURCH?

 

In this section I will defend the contention that there is warrant for the claim that the plight of the pre-born is an emergency that calls for extraordinary action by the church. In so doing, I will appeal to three broad lines of evidence: Scripture, church tradition, and the testimony of contemporary evangelical leaders.

 

A. Scripture

 

  1. Lessons From the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus’ “Parable of the Good Samaritan” contains several lessons that the church today—faced, as it is, with the mass killing of pre-born children—would do well to take to heart.

Before we look at a few of these lessons, let us, briefly, reacquaint ourselves with the basic facts of Jesus’ story. Jesus told this story in response to the question, asked by a lawyer, “Who is my neighbour?” The story begins with a man walking on the, notoriously, dangerous road that joined Jerusalem and Jericho. (The road was so dangerous, in fact, that it was called “The Bloody Way.”) A band of robbers ambush him and after taking his money, leave him for dead. A Jewish priest, then, comes across the wounded man, but after moving to the other side of the road, he hurries on his way. Shortly afterwards, a Levite does the same thing. However, fortunately, for the wounded man, a Samaritan comes along the road, and upon seeing him is moved by compassion to help him.

Now, let us, briefly, look at the, aforementioned, lessons contained in the story, especially as they apply to the plight of the pre-born.

 

a. Our neighbour is anyone in need. Our neighbour, as the late Christian scholar         John Stott (1921–2011) says, “… is a fellow human being in need, whose need    we know and are in a position in some measure to relieve.”8 By this criterion,        there can be no doubt that the pre-born child—who continues to be brutally       put to death at a rate of, approximately, 100,000 a year9—is our neighbour.

 

b. Having pity for our neighbour is not enough. In his book, And Jesus Said, the            Bible scholar William Barclay (1907–1978) says, “Doubtless both the priest            and the Levite felt a pang of pity for the injured traveler, but they did nothing       to translate that pity into action.”10 Barclay, then, goes on to say, “The pity        which remains merely an emotion is actually a sin because it is always sin to experience high emotion and do nothing to turn it into action.”11 Most            evangelical Christians likely feel pity for the aborted pre-born. But if this pity        merely stays on the level of an emotion and never translates into action, then it is, as Barclay says, a sin. Specifically, it is the sin of omission.

 

c. Emergencies sometimes arise that require immediate action. Barclay says, “To         [the priest] religion meant that the sacrifices must be absolutely properly made, that the incense must be meticulously burned, that the liturgy must be       nobly correct.”12 Religious rituals have their place. Otherwise, God would not   have instructed Moses about the temple rituals (see Exodus 29). But as James 1:27 says, religious rituals must take a back seat to helping those in need.      “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after     orphans and widows in their distress…. (NIV). This is especially true in the case    of an emergency that is a matter of life and death.

 

                        The persecution of the Jews, and others, by the Nazis, was just such an emergency. However, apart from a few notable exceptions, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945), Martin Niemoller (1892–1984), and Helmut Thielicke (1908–1986), the German evangelical church failed to see this and went about “business as usual.” As a result, leaders of this church, following the war, felt compelled to issue the “Stuttgart Confession of Guilt” in which it confessed its complicity for the Holocaust. (More will be said about this below.) I believe that, like the evangelical church of Nazi Germany, the church is guilty of failing to recognize an emergency when it is staring them in the face.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Lessons from the Parable of the Good Samaritan

 

1. Our neighbour is anyone in need.

2. Having pity for our neighbour is not enough.

3. Emergencies sometimes arise that call for extraordinary action.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

  1. Innocent Blood Pollutes a Land.Numbers 35:33, 34 says, “Do not pollute the land where you are. Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it.13

Since 1969 we, in Canada, have killed, almost, four million pre-born children.14 That is, as many people as live in the province of Alberta. As the above passage from Numbers makes clear, this mass shedding of innocent blood has polluted the country.

 

  1. God Hates the Shedding of Innocent Blood. The Bible teaches, implicitly, that God hates abortion. Proverbs 6:16a says that “There are six things the LORD hates…” (NKJV). One of these things is, “… hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17b, NKJV). This raises the question: how can the church be apathetic about that which God hates?

 

4. The Shedding of Much Innocent Blood Incurs God’s Judgment. The Bible scholar John Stott (1921–2011) says, “Human blood is sacrosanct because it is the life of Godlike human beings. To shed the blood of the innocent is therefore the gravest social sin….”15 The shedding of much innocent blood is so great a sin, in fact, that, according to Scripture, the nations that practice this evil invite God’s judgment upon themselves. For example, Ezekiel describes Jerusalem as “… this city of bloodshed?” and describes it as “… the city that brings on herself doom by shedding blood in her midst….” (22:2, 3). This prophesy was fulfilled when Judea, of which Jerusalem was the capital, was conquered by Babylon in 587 B.C. Unless Canada repents of the great evil of shedding innocent blood, I believe that it too will bring God’s judgment down upon itself.

  1. Abortion Is an Attack Upon God’s Sovereignty. According to the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, God rules, and has authority over, all things. To quote Psalms 103:19, “… his kingdom rules over all” (NIV). As such, it follows that God’s authority extends over human life. Since God gives life, only He—and the state to whom He has given “the sword” (Romans 13:4)—has the authority to take it.

Abortion is an implicit denial of the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. To quote Mother Teresa (1910–1997), “Only God can decide life and death.… That is why abortion is such a terrible sin. You are not only killing life, but putting self before God; yet people decide who has to live and who has to die. They want to make themselves almighty God. They want to take the power of God in their hands. They want to say, ‘I can do without God. I can decide.’ That is the most devilish thing that a human hand can do.”16

 

6. God commands us to defend the defenseless. In Proverbs 31:8, we are told, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute” (NIV). The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer appealed to this verse when he tried, unfortunately in vain, to persuade the evangelical church of Nazi Germany to come to the defense of the Jews.17 Similarly, I would argue that since the pre-born, obviously, have no voice with which to plead their own cause, we are obligated to do this for them.

 

7. Abortion Is an Attack Upon the Doctrine of the Sanctity of Life. Although the phrase the “sanctity of life” is nowhere found in Scripture, it is, nonetheless, clearly, a biblical doctrine. The phrase refers to the dignity of persons that is possessed by all human beings. There are, at least, three reasons found in Scripture to think that human beings have dignity. Scripture says: first, that human beings have been made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–27; 9:6); second, that human beings are the objects of God’s love (John 3:16); and, lastly, that human life is a gift from God (Acts 17:25).

Abortion treats the pre-born as a thing, rather than as a person. Following the Roe v. Wade decision, Archibald Cox, Watergate special prosecutor, had the following harsh words to say to the U.S. Supreme Court justices responsible for this decision:

 

“The decision fails even to consider what I would suppose to be the most compelling interest of the State in prohibiting abortion: the interest in maintaining that respect for the paramount sanctity of human life which has always been at the centre of Western civilization.”18

 

8. Lessons from the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. In this parable, which the Bible scholar William Barclay says “has become the very centre of Christian faith and practice,”19 Jesus says that on the day of judgment, God will separate people just as a shepherd separates sheep and goats. He will place the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. He will say to those on His right that they may enter heaven because, in showing love to those in need, they were, also, loving Him. However, Jesus will tell those on His left that, to them, the gates of heaven are shut because, in failing to react to the needs of others, they were, also, failing to react to Him.

Several lessons can be drawn from this parable. Let us, briefly, look at a few of these lessons, especially as they apply to the plight of the pre-born.

 

a. A standard that Jesus will use on the Day of Judgment is our reaction to the needs of others.20 In this parable Jesus, in no uncertain terms, lays down a    standard that He will use on the Day of Judgment, saying, “Inasmuch as ye             have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto      me.… Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did             it not to me” (Matthew 25:40b, 45b, KJV).

 

The pre-born in Canada can, surely, be included among “the least of these.” Like blacks in antebellum America, and Jews in Nazi Germany, they are legal nonpersons. From this, it follows that the church today will be judged, among other things, on the basis of its response to the plight of the pre-born.

 

b. We must make helping those in need a priority. In his book Lessons from the            Parables, the New Testament scholar, Neil Lightfoot (1929–2012), says, “The    really important thing, according to Jesus [in the ‘Parable of the Sheep and             Goats’], is how we have responded to the needs of our brothers.”21

 

Since, as the “Parable of the Sheep and the Goats” makes clear, God’s standard on the Day of Judgment will be our reactions to the needs of others, it is clear that the church should make helping those who are in need a priority. And since there is no victim group who is in greater need than the pre-born, defending them should, as the Christian scholar John Stott says, be “at the top of [the evangelical church’s] agenda.”22

 

c. We should treat those in need in the same way that we would treat Jesus       Himself. In this parable Jesus says that when we minister to those in need, we are, also, ministering to Him. That is why Mother Teresa said that the poor, she       dedicated her whole life to helping, were Jesus in “distressing disguise.”23

It is not clear what Jesus meant when He says that, by helping those in need we are, also, helping Jesus. Some, like Lightfoot, have suggested that since God is our Father and we are all His children, we can love God by loving His children.24 However, I respectfully disagree. For it seems to be the teaching of Scripture that to be a child of God, one must be born again. For example, Galatians 3:26 says, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith….” (NIV). Perhaps what Jesus has in mind, here, is that, by showing love to those in need we are loving God because, like all human beings, they are the image-bearers of God.

Since we should treat those in need in the same way that we would treat Jesus Himself, and the pre-born are, obviously, in need, it follows, logically, that we should treat the pre-born in the same way that we would treat Jesus Himself. This raises the question: has the church, in fact, treated the pre-born in this way? Clearly the answer to this question is: No, it has not.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Lessons from the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats

 

  1. God’s standard on the Day of Judgment will be our reaction to the needs of others.

2. We must make helping those in need a priority.

3. We must treat those in the same way that we would treat Jesus Himself.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

9. Social concern is part of the church’s mission. Stott says that mission means “everything the church is sent into the world to do.”25 This understanding of mission is based on Jesus’ statement in John 20:21, in which He says: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” (NIV). “The church’s mission,” then, as Stott says, “is to be modeled on Christ’s mission.”26 What was Jesus’ mission? It consisted of, both, evangelism and social action. For, on the one hand, Scripture says that Jesus “went throughout Galilee, teaching … and preaching” (Matthew 4:23, 9:35, NIV), while, on the other hand, it says that Jesus “went about doing good and healing” (Acts 10:38, NIV).

It is clear from the passages cited above that Jesus’ mission involved, both, evangelism and social concern. And since the church’s mission is to be modeled on Jesus’ mission, it follows that its mission must, also, involve evangelism and social concern. The International Congress on World Evangelization that was held in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974, endorsed this position in the so-called ‘Lausanne Covenant.’ It says that, “… evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty.”26 The Grand Rapids Report on Evangelism and Social Responsibility, written in 1982, goes even further, saying that evangelism and social action are, “… like the … two wings of a bird.28

As examples of the “good” that Jesus did, Scripture says that He identified with the poor (cf. Luke 14:13, 21), showed concern for outcasts (cf. Luke 7:36–50; Mark 40:41), and denounced corruption and exploitation (cf. Matthew 21:12–13; 23:1–36). In so doing, Jesus carried on the tradition of the eighth century social prophets, such as Amos, Micah, and Isaiah. “It is within this tradition [the tradition of the eighth century social prophets],” says the Old Testament scholar Bruce Birch, “that Jesus stands in his radical ministry to the outcasts and the dispossessed of New Testament times.”29 A large portion of the message of these prophets consists of denouncing injustice wherever it was found. Amos, for example, condemned:

 

  • Damascus for its cruelty to Gilead (1:3).
  • Gaza for capturing whole communities and selling them as slaves (1:6).
  • Tyre for capturing whole communities and selling them as slaves, and for breaking a promise of brotherhood (1:9).
  • Edom for its cruelty to Israel (1:11).
  • Ammon for atrocities it committed in times of war (1:13).
  • Moab for desecrating the remains of a neighbouring king (2:1).

 

Similarly, many of Isaiah’s “woes” in 5:8–23 are social in nature. For example, verse 20a says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,” and verse 23b proclaims, “Woe to those who … deny justice to the innocent” (NIV). Given these facts, I think that Raymond Johnston, former director of CARE Trust, is, likely, correct when he says, “I personally am convinced that the destruction of the unborn on this massive, deliberate scale is the greatest single offence regularly perpetuated in Britain today, and would be the first thing an Old Testament prophet redivivus would reproach us for.”30

Social action, then, is part of the mission of the church. And since there is no more pressing social issue today than abortion—What other social issue involves the mass shedding of innocent blood?—it follows that responding to the plight of the pre-born should be a part of the church’s mission today.

10. The metaphor of salt refers, at least in part, to the Christian’s responsibility to engage in social action. Stott says, “Putting the two metaphors [of salt and light] together, it seems legitimate to discern in them the proper relation between evangelism and social action in the total mission of Christ in the world—a relation which perplexes many believers today. We are called to be both salt and light to the secular community.”31 To be effective as a preserving agent, salt must be rubbed into meat. As such, to be the “salt of the earth,” the church must immerse itself in society. It follows from the implicit teaching of this parable that, by failing to respond to the plight of the pre-born, the church is failing in its responsibility to be salt.

 

11. Scripture teaches that one of the two greatest commandments is to love our neighbour. Jesus, in reply to a question by a scribe as to what the greatest commandment is, says: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22: 37–40, NIV). The theologian David Clyde Jones, speaking of this passage, says, “… there is not just one great commandment but two. The first commandment is inseparable from its close second; the whole biblical revelation (“all the Law and the Prophets”) swings as a gate on these two hinges.”32

It is my contention in this paper, that, by failing to see in the plight of the pre-born an emergency that calls for extraordinary action, the church is guilty of breaking the second greatest commandment in Scripture: to love our neighbour. For the pre-born child, as we saw above, is our neighbour.

 

12. The sixth commandment requires, not only that we not murder, but that we, also, defend innocent life. Jesus not only interpreted the sixth commandment very broadly, but also taught that it has both negative and positive aspects. For example, He summarized the Old Testament Law—and, hence, the sixth commandment—with the commandments to love God and neighbour (Matthew 22: 37–40). Similarly, the Westminster Larger Catechism, written in 1648, interpreted the sixth commandment, in part, as follows:

 

“Catechism #135: What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?

‘… protecting and defending the innocent.’

 

“Catechism #136: What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?

‘… all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense….’”34

            By turning a blind eye to the mass homicide of the pre-born, then, the church is guilty of violating the sixth commandment. Although not directly responsible for this evil, the church, nonetheless, bears indirect responsibility for it.

 

B. Testimony of Contemporary Evangelical Leaders

 

Many of the evangelical church’s most prominent and respected leaders have, for the past several decades, pleaded with the evangelical church to make the plight of the pre-born a matter of high priority. Let us look at a few such individuals.

 

1. Billy Graham (born 1918) is recognized as one of the greatest evangelists, not only of modern times, but of all time. Literally millions have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through his ministry. He also has a heart that grieves for the plight of the pre-born. In the mid-1970s, he was instrumental in founding the Christian Action Council, which would later become Care Net, a network of 1,100 independently owned crisis pregnancy centres scattered throughout North America. On July 19, 2012, Graham wrote a prayer letter to America entitled, “My Heart Aches for America.” In it he describes a time when his late wife, Ruth, was reading the draft of a book he was writing. When she finished reading a section in which Graham describes America’s increasing moral decadence, she exclaimed, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” Graham, then, goes on to say, “I wonder what Ruth would think of America if she were alive today. In the years since she made that remark, millions of babies have been aborted and our nation seems largely unconcerned….”35

 

2. When he was alive the author, English cleric, and Bible scholar, John Stott (1921–2011), was widely regarded as the leader of the evangelical church. David Brooks, the New York Times journalist, famously commented that if evangelicals elected a pope, “Stott is the person they would likely choose.”36 Stott says that the fact that abortion challenges, both, the doctrine of God’s sovereignty and human dignity “should bring it to the top of our agenda.”37

 

3. R.C. Sproul (born 1939) is an American theologian. He is the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries. In his book Abortion—A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue, he says, “The world still recoils in horror at the reality of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. Yet I believe we are in the midst of a new and more evil holocaust, which sees the destruction of 1.5 million unborn babies every year in the United States alone…. If you care about the slaughter of the innocent, then for God’s sake, speak up….”38 In September of 1987, Sproul was invited to deliver an address for Congress on the Bible II. He, no doubt, shocked many when he concluded his talk with the following words: “I am supposed to be a theologian by profession, maybe with not all the dignity a theologian is supposed to manifest—and maybe no one will take me seriously—but I have the privilege of being able to study the things of God as my life’s vocation. I am sure there are errors in my theology…. But I do know this. If I know anything about the character of Almighty God … I know that God hates abortion on demand…. I can’t believe that all Christians are not literally screaming, ‘Bloody murder!’ every day. Because when we allow this to happen, we have surrendered the sanctity of human life.”39

 

4. Charles Colson (1931–2012) was a nationally respected author, speaker, and founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries. In his book The God of Stones and Spiders, he compares Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that helped to usher in abortion on demand, with Dred Scott, the 1857 ruling by the same institution that declared that blacks were not, and never would be, legal citizens. After stating that nothing short of a constitutional amendment “will bring an end to a practice as morally offensive as slavery,” Colson goes on to say, “The question that Christians must ask is whether or not we have the courage and perseverance to sustain a protracted national campaign for such an amendment…. If I am correct that Roe v. Wade cannot be upset in the Court, then it must be upset in the Constitution. To thus end the killing of the unborn, we must exercise the same holy tenacity demonstrated by those who fought slavery. The immensity of the task ahead is sobering. We have no alternative but to persevere.”40

 

5. The much-loved pastor, author, and radio preacher, Chuck Swindoll (born 1934), is the founder of Insight for Living, a radio program of the same name that airs on 2,000 stations around the world in 15 languages. In his book, The Sanctity of Life—The Inescapable Issue, he says, “But wait. Just how widespread is the practice of abortion? Are we making much ado about nothing, or do we have a full-scale issue deserving of our immediate attention? You decide. Only the senseless, faithless, heartless, and ruthless could read the following statistical facts and remain unmoved…. Worldwide, 55 million unborn children are killed every year. If you are like me, you can’t get your arms around that large a number. To help us do so, let me break it into days, hours, and minutes. Around the world, every day 150,685 children are killed by abortion; every hour, 6,278; and every minute, 105.”41

 

6. James Dobson (born 1936) is the founder of Focus on the Family. He writes, “But on this issue of abortion, we are confronted with one of the most terrible evils of all times. The Nazis killed six million Jews and ‘undesirables’ during World War II, but we in the United States—this great bastion of liberty and protection for the weak—have now slaughtered more than twenty million innocent babies! We have mercilessly torn them to pieces without anesthetic and poisoned them within their mothers’ wombs. My God! Forgive us for this wickedness…. How can we as Christians continue to sit in our services and ignore this unprecedented crime against humanity?”42

 

  1. Perhaps the person most responsible for mobilizing American evangelical Christians to fight against abortion after the Roe v. Wade decision, is Francis Schaeffer (1912–1984). This was done, largely, through the book, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, that Schaeffer co-wrote with Dr. C. Everett Koop (1916–2013), the future Surgeon General of America, and the film series by the same name that he made with Koop and his son Frank. In the aforementioned book, he and Koop say, “If, in this last part of the twentieth century, the Christian community does not take a prolonged and vocal stand for the dignity of the individual and each person’s right to life—for the right of each individual to be treated as created in the image of God, rather than as a collection of molecules with no unique value—we feel that as Christians we have failed the greatest moral test to be put before us in this century.”43 There can be little doubt that Schaeffer believed the church was failing this test. For in his last book, The Great Evangelical Disaster, written, as he lay dying from cancer, he wrote:

 

“And now we must ask where we as evangelicals have been in the battle for truth and morality in our culture. Have we as evangelicals been on the front lines contending for the faith and confronting the moral breakdown over the last forty to sixty years? … Sadly we must say that this has seldom happened. Most of the evangelical world has not been active in the battle, or even been able to see that we are in a battle. And when it comes to the issues of the day the evangelical world most often has said nothing; or worse has said nothing different from what the world would say. Here is the great evangelical disaster—the failure of the evangelical world to stand for truth as truth. There is only one word for this—accommodation; the evangelical church has accommodated to the world spirit of the age….there has been accommodation on the issues, with no clear stand being taken even on matters of life and death.”44

 

C. Church Tradition

 

            The church, possibly from as early as the end of the first century, has strongly opposed abortion. In his book Abortion & the Early Church, the New Testament scholar, Michael J. Gorman (born 1955), says, “The tests of universality and time reveal that during the first five centuries (and until quite recently) abortion was rejected by Christians everywhere.”45 The earliest Christian writings that explicitly condemn abortion are the Didache and the Epistle of Barnabas. Both of these writings date from the early second century. However, the authors of these writings, Gorman says, likely relied on Christian sources from the first century.46 The Didache says, “Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion/destruction.”47 A list of the early Christian leaders who opposed abortion include: Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, Ambrose, Jerome, Chrysostom, Augustine, Clement, and Athenagoras.48 Tertullian (155–240), for example, condemned the Roman law on abortion.49 As well, Gorman and the historian William E. H. Lecky (1838–1903), both, believe there is reason to think that the early church was influential in having abortion outlawed throughout the Roman Empire in the third-century.50

George H. Payne, in the following passage from his book The Child in History (1916), describes how the church, in the first couple of centuries of its existence, defended the defenseless, such as children:

 

“Its impassioned preachers and apostles vaunted the humanity of their new faith; for cast-out infants and the despised slaves the new priests fought such a battle of perseverance and martyrdom as the world had never seen before…. Every human being had a soul that was a vital point in their fight. They asserted that children had souls, to which religious doctrine probably more is due in the way of checking the practice of infanticide than any other single idea…. The Fathers won the battle in that they convinced the Roman world that children had souls.”51

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Evidence in Support of My First Main Point

 

1. Scripture

2. The testimony of contemporary evangelical leaders

3. Church tradition and history

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

IV. EXPLAINING THE CHURCH’S APATHY

 

In his book Open Thy Mouth for the Dumb: The German Evangelical Church and the Jews 1870–1950, Richard Gutteridge, commenting on the German evangelical church’s response to the Holocaust, says, “The Church as Church did not find a decisive word from Scripture as a whole to embrace the issue as a whole…. Throughout the conflict nobody in a position of authority made a full and plain denunciation of anti-semitism as such.”52 As a result, following the war, the leaders of the church thought it necessary to issue the Stuttgart Confession of Guilt. In it they said, in part, “… it is our self-indictment that we have not made a more courageous confession.”53 The German theologian Helmut Thielicke paraphrased the Confession as follows: “We have believed too little, confessed too little, loved too little; otherwise all this could not have happened.”54

Why did the evangelical church of Nazi Germany fail to oppose the Holocaust? There are several reasons. However, one of the most important of these was an unbiblical overemphasis upon Paul’s teaching in Romans 13. In verse one of this chapter, Paul says that all authorities—and, as such, even dictators like Hitler—are appointed by God, and, therefore, should not be resisted. However, this admonition was never intended by Paul to be absolute. For there are times when, as Peter and John say in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than human beings” (NIV)! This poor example of exegesis by the German evangelical church has been, rightly or wrongly, traced back to Martin Luther (1483–1546) and, among other things, his response to the German peasant rebellion of 1524–1526. Not surprisingly, Hitler exploited the unwillingness of the German Christians to oppose civil authority. For example, new pastors were required to swear an oath that said, “I swear before God … that I … will be true and obedient to the Fuhrer of the German people and state, Adolf Hitler.”55

Bonhoeffer often spoke out against the misinterpretation of Romans 13 by his fellow believers. To a friend he wrote: “It is … high time we broke with our theologically based restraint towards the state’s actions….”56 It was, at least in part, because of theological errors like this, that the evangelical church of Germany lacked the theological resources to respond to the plight of the Jews and other victims of Hitler’s killing machine.

I am concerned that theological errors, on the part of the church, have, similarly, left it without the theological resources to oppose the mass homicide of the pre-born. Let us look at two theological errors, in particular, that, I believe, go a long way towards explaining the church’s apathy concerning this monstrous evil. They are, first, pietism and, second, pessimism about human history. I will also, in this section, discuss the church’s conformity to society. Though not a theological error, per se, I am in agreement with Stott and Schaeffer, who, among others, say that the evangelical church’s worldliness is, at least in part, responsible for its apathy concerning abortion.

 

A. Pietism

 

In their book Turning Point, the Christian scholars, Herbert Schlossberg and Marvin Olasky (born 1952), distinguish between “piety” and “pietism.” According to them “piety” is, “A reverence for God, as evidenced in prayer, Scripture reading, and doing mercy to others.”57 They define “pietism”, in contrast, as, “A belief that the practice of piety is all the Christian has to do, and that it is all right to ignore the larger concerns of society.”58 They argue that while piety is a good thing, and something that all true followers of Christ should practice, pietism, in contrast, contradicts Scripture. For, as we have seen, this belief is diametrically opposed to the life and teachings of Christ to whom righteousness was not, simply, private, but social. I concur with Robert Sanders, who says, “A one-sided adherence to the personal aspect of the gospel in this day has caused the church to skirt the crying issues of our generation.”59

Pietism also stands in stark contrast to the rich heritage of social concern left to us by the evangelical church of previous centuries. John Wesley (1703¾1791), for example, as well as being a great evangelist, was also “one of the foremost social reformers of his century.”60 He was a harsh critic of slavery, which he described, in a letter to William Wilberforce as “that execrable villainy, which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature.”61 In a small book that he wrote on the subject, called Thoughts on Slavery, he finished with this prayer: “O thou God of love…. have compassion upon these outcasts of men, who are trodden down as dung upon the earth! Arise and help these that have no helper, whose blood is spilt upon the ground like water! Thou Saviour of all, make them free that they may be free indeed!”62

It was, perhaps, in answer to Wesley’s prayer, just cited, that God called William Wilberforce (1759–1833) to take up the cause of the African slave. Like Wesley before him, Wilberforce published a small book, Appeal in Behalf of the Negro Slaves in the West Indies, in which he argued against slavery. It is said to have “had a profound effect in Britain and throughout Europe.”63 For 40 years, Wilberforce, the leader of the Clapham Sect in Parliament, worked tirelessly for the abolition of, first, the slave trade, and, second, slavery. Mercifully, God allowed him to live long enough to see his hard work rewarded when, twenty-six years after the abolition of the slave trade, slavery itself was abolished in the United Kingdom in 1833, just days before he died. (It is interesting to note that Fr. Gerard Wilberforce, William’s great-great-grandson, says that if his famous relative was alive today, he would “almost certainly” make fighting abortion a priority.)64

 

B. Pessimism About Human History

          

            It is the view of many evangelicals that, because these are the End Times, the world is going to continue to get worse until Christ returns. That being the case, our time would be best spent evangelizing and practicing piety, rather than engaging in social concern. Why polish the brass on the Titanic? This pessimistic view of human history is especially common among premillennialists. For example, Jack Van Impe (born 1931), an American televangelist, says, “One who honestly feels that Christ may come at any moment is not involved with this world.”65

There are several problems with this position. First, Scripture says that the End Times began in the first century (Acts 2:14–21), almost two millennia ago, but knowledge of this fact did not stop the first century church from engaging in social action (Acts 4:32–35). Second, to quote the ethicists Paul and John Feinberg, “No one knows exactly when Jesus will return, but we do know that he has called believers to be light and salt to society until he does.”64 Third, in ‘The Parable of the Talents’ (Matthew 25:14–40), Jesus condemns the servant who buried the talent for not trying. To quote Barclay, “The condemnation of the unworthy servant was that he never tried.”67 The two other servants, in contrast, were praised for being “faithful.”

 

C. Conformity

 

I would argue that the church has become too conformed to society to take a strong stand against social evils, such as the mass homicide of the pre-born. Stott says, “Probably the greatest tragedy of the church throughout its long and chequered history has been its constant tendency to conform to the prevailing culture instead of developing a Christian counter-culture.”68 Also, as previously stated, Schaeffer, in his last book entitled The Great Evangelical Disaster, argued thatthe evangelical church has been a failure, in part, because of its conformity with regard to such life and death issues as abortion. Similarly, Harry Blamires (born 1916), in his influential book The Christian Mind, says, “… the Christian mind has succumbed to the secular drift with a degree of weakness and nervelessness unmatched in Christian history.”69

Several studies have been done recently that give evidence of the evangelical church’s worldliness. For example, commenting on a 2006 survey by the Barna Group that looked at the lifestyles of Americans, including such things as the use of profanity, levels of volunteerism, viewing pornography, alcohol consumption, drug use, illicit sexual relationships, etc., an article in Christianity Today says, “The differences, however, between the self-oriented behavior of born again Christians and that of national norms were small.”70Similarly, George Barna and William Paul McKay, in their book Vital Signs: Emerging Social Trends and the Future of American Christianity, say, “Survey data supply ample evidence of the bankruptcy of the commonly held world views of Christians. It is undeniable that as a body, American Christians have fallen prey to materialism, hedonism, secular humanism, and even to a jaded form of Christianity that rejects much of the commitment required of faithful servants.”71

Since the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s abortion law in 1988, the Canadian public—and, as such, the church—has been under constant pressure to accept the status quo concerning abortion. Much of this pressure has come from the all-pervasive influence of radical feminism.72 Such has been the influence of this movement, for example, that, in the eyes of many, if not most, Canadians today, to oppose abortion means to oppose women’s rights. Unfortunately, the church, it would seem, has caved in under this pressure. It has “accepted the unacceptable” (Stott), which is the very definition of apathy.73

However, the church would do well to heed the words of Solomon when he says, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.” (Proverbs 25:26, NIV). Whittaker Chambers (1901–1961), the American writer and editor, who, after renouncing communism, first exposed and, then, testified against the Soviet spy, Alger Hiss, in ‘The Trial of the Century,’ says, “Evil can only be fought.”74 It must not be accepted. This is especially true, I would argue, of a monstrous evil like abortion.75

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Three Factors That Help to Explain the Church’s Apathy

 

1. Pietism

2. Pessimism about human history

3. Conformity

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

To be continued

June 11th, 2016|Categories: The Project||Comments Off on Where is the Evangelical Church? (Part One)

The Abortion Interviews

The Abortion Interviews

 

The following accounts are the result of interviews of aborted women conducted by Donna Wilson, B.A., M.Div, MALM. pastor of the Erie Street Community Church in Collingwood, Ontario.

 

Story 1 (March 2014):

I grew up in the city. My family attended church where my father was an elder. He held a particular stand on abortion. He believed women should make their own choice, but he was against the actual decision to abort a child.

As the oldest of four siblings, I grew up feeling a lot of pressure in this role. Our home life was very unsettled, and in my high school years, I began to act out. I was in a relationship with a boy when I discovered I was pregnant. I experienced morning sickness but would feel better during the day. I left on a school band trip, experiencing the same symptoms but no one seemed to notice. By the time I returned, I assumed I was pregnant. I could not tell my parents, because of my difficult home situation.

One day, while walking home from school, I saw a billboard which read, “Pregnancy Crisis line”. I tried the number at home, but unfortunately only listened to a voice on the answering machine. In my shame and guilt, I could not leave my name and number. I wonder if I had heard a real voice on the line, if my story would be different.

I had one option. I knew the stories in my family and felt I could go to my Aunt for help. My grandmother had been pregnant at age 16, birthed two children consecutively, and then married. Years later, my aunt became pregnant at age16, and because of her own experience, my grandmother had taken her to a clinic to have an abortion, to avoid repeating the same mistake in the family line.

I wrote a letter to my Aunt and in response, she picked me up and I spent a couple of weekends at her place as we contemplated the next step. In my aunt’s mind, everything had worked out following her own (her mother’s) decision to abort her baby. She had finished high school, had a family and lived a wonderful life since. I wondered if I would feel the same, but I agreed to let her take me to a nearby clinic.   The Doctor said it was early on in the pregnancy and the procedure could be done. I now question this, as I feel I was past my first trimester. Following this initial appointment, my Aunt suggested we give my parents an opportunity to know what was happening and be a part of the decision. Together we told my parents. They responded in anger. My Father was furious I was pregnant and he had not been involved in the decision from the beginning. In his mind, it was a little too late. He called me every name in the book and spoke to me little, only when necessary, for many months. I will never forget this night.

The day I was taken to the hospital, was July 4th, Independence Day in the US, but a date that would become a life sentence for me. My mother conceded to come with me to the clinic. I did not feel I had a choice in the matter and we kept moving toward the dreaded moment. I had been to the appointment and now it was time to carry it through. Everything felt very cold. I went in, was put under with antiseptic, and then sent home. A sadness came over me. I was numb. It was done.

I attended an alternative school. In that time, I disclosed what had happened to a teacher. I had reached out for help before when I asked my father if I could speak to our pastor. My father had refused, saying, “he was not going to burden the pastor with my problem”. The teacher listened to my pain, and arranged for me to speak with a Catholic priest. Surprisingly, he was very caring, and not condemning. He listened, and spoke helpful words to me. This was the start to a lifelong healing process. Although, this was helpful, day to day, I continued to live a carefree and reckless life. I just used more caution to avoid another pregnancy.

I met my husband while attending university. We married and I was pregnant at age 22. During this pregnancy, my aunt who had assisted with my abortion, contacted me and told me her daughter, my cousin (21) was pregnant. She wanted her daughter to have an abortion, and asked if I would speak with her. Waves of emotion flooded over me. I assured her, I would NOT be telling her daughter what she had said to me. I was not the same person, had become stronger in my faith, and was carrying a child myself. My aunt understood, but she still wanted me to speak to her daughter. I shared my secret with my cousin, and was honest about how it had affected me. I shared with her Psalm 139 “…you are fearfully and wonderfully made….I knit you together in your mother’s womb.” My cousin chose to keep her baby! This situation left a strain between my aunt and myself for years to come. We were not as close after my cousin’s pregnancy, and my aunt would express much delight in this grandchild.

I had some complications with my early pregnancies. One night, the Lord helped me come to a personal acknowledgement of my wrongful choice, years previously, and I found myself weeping in sorrow. As I cried out to the Lord, I felt a strange tug in my stomach, and felt God heal my womb. I no longer had complications during subsequent pregnancies.

Even though I have experienced physical and spiritual healing, the emotional pain is still there and July 4th comes every year. I experienced a miscarriage several pregnancies later. I felt the pain of loss, but it was different this time. It felt like God was in control and my loss was not the result of my own choice. Yet I know, in both situations, my babies are in heaven and I will see them again.

By sharing my experience with other women who are at risk, I have been able to offer choices and support. As my children have grown older, I have shared my experience with them, to keep them from living the pain I have endured.

 

Story 2 (March 2014):

 

I was in my early 20’s when I had an abortion. I discovered I was pregnant, and I told my boyfriend and we were both elated. I then told my mom. Here reaction took me by surprise. My mom had been the mother figure, when any of my friends had been in crisis, but this was not her response to me. She told me my life would be ruined, and I would always be in poverty. I would be out on the street and would not be able to support myself and the baby. I was extremely surprised and hurt by her words. My boyfriend was very hurt too. I was in absolute shock and feeling the initial emotional pain, that would remain with me until today. My boyfriend and I were devastated. We did not stay together.

When I was 8 weeks along, my mom took me to Toronto. I remember we had to push a button to go in the unmarked building. Then we went in another door. It was a rigorous admission process. I went through three interviews. Along the way, I lied and said it was my choice. In reality, it was not my choice but under the pressure, I did not feel that I had a choice. Either I abort my baby or I would be disowned my mother. In one room, I had an ultrasound with the option of seeing my baby and knowing how far along I was. My mother was in the first room and then I proceeded to the other rooms alone. I was in a waiting room waiting to be called in. There were magazines, and though there were other women in the room, no one talked. Silence. When I was called in, it was a very cold procedure, much like having an annual exam. The doctor performed the procedure and then immediately left. I was then moved to a recovery room and was feeling sick. I felt very sad. The nurse handed me anti-anxiety pills on our way out, as if it was a normal part of the procedure, with the expectancy of the anxiety the day would conjure.

I do not share this experience with anyone My mom does not talk about it, and unbelievably, she has suggested the same advise with subsequent pregnancies. I do not respond to her, because I do not want to talk about it, but her suggestions makes me sick. The pain never goes away. I always feel my little one with me. Last year, I experienced a miscarriage. I was sad about this new loss but it was not the same. I knew it was God’s choice, and not mine. I did not murder this child.

 

Story 3 (March 2014):

 

I grew up very much pro-life. Unfortunately, it was not long before pro-choice entered my world. In our early adult years, my brother and his girlfriend discovered she were pregnant. Going against my brother’s choice, his girlfriend aborted their baby. I was young, but was aware of the situation. It was a helpless feeling. This baby was my little nephew or niece but we could not protect them. It was very hurtful to my brother and our family.

Years later my cousin disclosed to me she had an affair, and was pregnant with her partner’s baby. Her husband of many years, had a vasectomy, and their children were getting older. She was heartbroken and had come to me, but I didn’t know what to say. Under the circumstances, there did not seem to be any other option. I had no words for her. I listened, as she told me she would make plans to abort the baby. Against my own personal values, I chose to walk this journey with her so she would not be alone. We went to a clinic, and I was in the room. As the procedure took place, the technician, said “It’s done.” It was a moment, as simplified as a pap test. My only thought was should there not be more to this? A life was just taken. I felt sick inside.

We left. We have never spoken of this incident since. My cousin made this choice to save her marriage and family, however, they eventually split for a while. I wonder what her future would have held if she had chose to keep her baby. I think God would have made a way. Before this incident we were close, but since walking through this brokenness with her, we have grown apart. I am a painful reminder of the path that was taken.

 

June 11th, 2016|Categories: Testimonials||Comments Off on The Abortion Interviews

Where is the Evangelical Church? (Part Two)

Where is the Evangelical Church?

(Part Two)

V. IS THERE WARRANT FOR THE CLAIM THAT THE PLIGHT OF THE PRE-BORN IS NOT AN EMERGENCY THAT CALLS FOR EXTRAORDINARY ACTION BY THE CHURCH?

 

In this section we will examine several of the most commonly raised arguments in support of the position that the church should not make the plight of the pre-born a matter of high priority. I will attempt to show that none of these arguments is warranted.

 

A. Argument: Despite the fact that abortion was widely practiced in the Roman Empire, Jesus said nothing about it, leading one to think that He did not consider the issue to be of great importance.

 

Rebuttal: There are, at least, a couple of problems with this argument. First, although abortion, as the Christian scholar Michael J. Gorman, in his book Abortion & The Early Church, says, was widespread in the Roman Empire, nonetheless, “… the witness of antiquity is that Jews, unlike pagans, did not practice deliberate abortion.”76 And since Jesus, as He Himself says, “… was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matt. 15:24, NIV)—not to pagans—it is not at all surprising that he was silent about the pagan practice of abortion. However, it wasn’t long after Jesus’ ascension that his followers began to speak out in defense of the pre-born. In fact, as we saw above, both Gorman and the historian William E. H. Lecky, in his book History of European Morals, claim that there is reason to think that the early church was influential in having abortion outlawed throughout the Roman Empire in the third-century.

Second, to quote Stott, “It is irrelevant to reply that Jesus and his apostles … neither required nor even commended political action, let alone engaged in it themselves. This is true. They did not. But we have to remember that they were a tiny, insignificant minority under the totalitarian regime of Rome. The legions were everywhere and under orders to suppress dissent, crush opposition, and preserve the status quo.77 But, obviously, just because Jesus was unable to engage in political action about some issue, such as abortion, because he lived in a totalitarian regime, it does not follow that we, who live in a democracy, cannot, or should not, do so.

 

B. Argument: The church should not make the plight of the pre-born a matter of high priority as long as there is the possibility that doing so will offend aborted women (i.e., women who have had abortions) within the church.

Rebuttal: In response to this objection, several things should be noted. First, by this criterion, the church would not now, or ever,make responding to the plight of the pre-born a matter of high priority, for the possibilityof offending aborted women within the church can never, completely, be eliminated. However, such a position, as I have argued above, is contrary to the implicit teaching of Scripture.

The following words by Stott are, I think, pertinent here:

“… when the church concludes that biblical faith or righteousness requires it to take a public stand on some issue, then it must obey God’s Word and trust him with the consequences.”78

Second, the example of Jesus exemplifies the principle that, given the choice between speaking the truth and offending someone, one should speak the truth (cf. Matthew 15:1–14; John 6:51–66; Mark 3:1–6). To do otherwise, I would argue, would fail to show a high regard for truth.

Third, it is unwise to try to hide the truth about abortion from women who may have obtained them. For as Randy Alcorn, the award-winning author, says, “There can be no healing without forgiveness, no forgiveness without confession and repentance, and no confession and repentance until abortion is clearly seen to be sin.”79

C. Argument: The reform of Canada’s policy concerning abortion will, likely, only come about as the result of a nationwide revival.

Rebuttal: There are, at least, two problems with this objection. First, it only contains the truth of a half-truth. It is surely no coincidence that the abolishment of slavery and the slave trade in Great Britain that occurred, largely, through the work of the Clapham Sect (under Wilberforce’s leadership), was preceded by the Evangelical Revival (associated, primarily, with the preaching of John Wesley and George Whitefield). In fact, the last letter that Wesley is known to have written was addressed to Wilberforce, in which, speaking of slavery, he says:

“Unless the divine power has raised you up to be an Athanasius contra mundum [i.e., give you the courage to act], I see not how you can go through with your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils; but if God is with you, who can be against you? Are all of them stronger than God? Oh, be not weary in well doing. Go on, in the name of God and in the power of His might, till even American slavery, the vilest that ever saw the sun, shall vanish away before it.”80

However, it does not follow from the fact that the reform of Canada’s policy concerning abortion will, likely, only come about as the result of a nationwide revival that the church should not make responding to the plight of the pre-born a matter of high priority. For Scripture says that revival must be preceded by repentance (cf. 2 Chronicles 7:14; Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 58:6), and repentance, the Bible teaches, is a two-step process. It involves, first, turning away from sin, and, second, turning to God (which includes doing His will). But if the case that I present in this paper is correct, then it is God’s will—what theologians call God’s preceptive willfor the church to make, responding to the plight of the pre-born a matter of high priority.

Second, there can still be reform without revival. Evidence of this is the encouraging progress achieved in recent years by the pro-life movement in the United States. For example, in 2015, they succeeded in getting passed 47 pro-life bills nationwide.81

D. Argument: The church’s first order of business should be trying to fulfill the Great Commission, not responding to the plight of the pre-born.

 

Rebuttal: The Great Commission says not only that the church should “make disciples of all the nations,” but that it should “teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19–20, NKJV). And the latter, as we have seen, includes Jesus’s teaching that the church is to be “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13a, NKJV), which, as we saw above, includes fighting social evils, such as abortion.

 

E. Argument: The abortion controversy is a spiritual problem. To win this battle, therefore, the church must use spiritual weapons.

 

Rebuttal: The great Russian novelist, Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918¾2008), in his 1983 Templeton Prize speech, said, “More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”82 Solzhenitsyn believed that there was a cause-and-effect relationship between the Gulag Archipelago, which, according to him, claimed the lives of 60 million, and his nation’s rejection of God.83 Though Canada, unlike the former Soviet Union, is not communist, nonetheless, it has, like the country that Solzhenitsyn loved so dearly, rejected God. A Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, for example, described Canada as a “secular nation.”84 And Harry Antonides, former director of the Work Research Foundation (now called Cardus), says that, “What is unfolding with great speed [in Canada] is a radical secularization of life….”85 But what, the reader may wonder, does the term “secular” mean? The historian James Hitchcock, says, “To call someone secular means that he is completely timebound, totally a child of his age, a creature of history, with no vision of eternity. Unable to see anything in the perspective of eternity, he cannot believe that God exists or acts in human affairs.”86 Like Solzhenitsyn, I would argue that abortion in Canada is merely a symptom, or effect, of Canada’s rejection of God. I would agree with this objection, then, that the abortion issue is a spiritual problem.

            However, the fact that the abortion conflict is, at root a spiritual problem, in no way, negates my claim that theplight of the pre-born in Canada is anemergency that requires extraordinary action by the church. The reason for this is that the abortion conflict is not simply a spiritual problem. It is, also, a moral and political issue.87 For as Schaeffer, speaking, in part, of the abortion issue, says, “The primary battle is a spiritual battle in the heavenlies…. The spiritual battle has its counterpart in the visible world, in the minds of men and women, and in every area of human culture.”88 The abortion conflict, then, must be waged on two levels: on one level it is a spiritual battle that must be fought in the heavenly realm, using such spiritual weapons as those mentioned by Paul in Ephesians 6:10–18; on another level it is a visible battle that must be conducted on earth, using such weapons as political agitation, protests, boycotts, etc.

 

F. Argument: For the church to make the plight of the pre-born a matter of high priority would confuse the kingdom of this world with the Kingdom of God, which Jesus says we should “seek first.”

 

Rebuttal:There are, at least, three problems with this argument. First, what Jesus says is that we should “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33, NIV) (emphasis mine), and “righteousness” consists, in part, of social righteousness, which can include fighting abortion. Second, as Augustine (354–430) says in his masterpiece, The City of God, Christians are citizens, not just of one “city” (kingdom), but of two—the “City of Man” and the “City of God.”89 I would hasten to add, however, that our first allegiance must be to the City of God. Third, although our first allegiance must be to the City of God, it is one of the messages of the “Parable of The Good Samaritan” that, as I argued above, emergencies can arise in the City of Man that call for immediate action by the church. And the mass killing of the pre-born, I would argue, is just such an emergency.

 

G. Argument: For the church to treat the plight of the pre-born as an emergency that calls for immediate action on its part would be a violation of the separation of church and state.

 

Rebuttal: In answering this objection, I can do no better than to quote the following statement by Sproul:

 

“When the church calls on the state to prohibit abortion…. [t]he church is simply asking the state to be the state. If it is the role of the state to protect, sustain, and maintain human life, and if it is the conviction of the church that abortion involves the destruction of human life, then it follows that the church has the right to call the state to outlaw abortion.”90

 

H. Argument: Instead of condemning abortion, which is a negative action, pastors should be positive and stick to preaching about the doctrine of the sanctity of life.

 

Rebuttal: It is true that condemning abortion is negative, but so is the action of salt. To quote Stott, “… we Christian people should be more courageous, more outspoken in condemning evil. Condemning is negative, to be sure, but the action of salt is negative.”91

 

I. Argument: Some members of the evangelical church, especially in the United States, have, while fighting against abortion, done a poor job of dispensing grace, and, in so doing, have damaged the church’s witness and integrity. For this reason, the church should think twice about treating the plight of the pre-born as an emergency that calls for immediate action on its part.

 

Rebuttal: In his book What’s So Amazing About Grace, the award-winning writer, Philip Yancey, tells of a conference in Great Britain, several years ago, in which the question under discussion was, “What, if any, Christian belief is unique to Christianity.” Among some of the Christian beliefs that were suggested, but rejected, were the Incarnation and Resurrection; other religions had versions of these beliefs. After the discussion had dragged on for some time, C.S. Lewis, the famous Christian writer and medieval scholar, joined in by asking, “What are you discussing?” After being told, he replied, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”92

Unfortunately, as this objection points out, the manner in which some evangelical Christians have expressed their opposition to abortion can, accurately, be described as grace-less. At times, these Christians seem more interested in playing power games than dispensing grace. The angry rhetoric of some of these Christians stands in stark contrast to Paul’s admonition to, “… [speak] the truth in love….” (Ephesians 4:15, NIV).

With that having been said, however, there are several problems with this argument. First, it is not so much an objection to my claim that the church should make the plight of the pre-born a matter of high priority, as it is a complaint—albeit a valid one—about the way that some evangelicals in the United States have opposed abortion. Second, this objection presupposes that responding to the plight of the pre-born is an optional activity for the church, when, as I have argued above, nothing could be further from the truth. Third, as Augustine said, one should not judge a philosophy by its abuse.93 As should be obvious to the reader, those evangelical Christians, who in their opposition to abortion, exhibit a lack of grace, are not being faithful to the teaching of Scripture.

J. Argument: Abortion is a political issue, and the church should stay out of politics.

 

Rebuttal: If what is meant by this objection is that the church lacks the authority to formulate public policies, then I agree with it, in part. To quote Donald Bloesch (1928–2010), an American evangelical theologian, “The church as a church must speak to the critical moral issues in society through its preaching of the law. It must point directions, but as a general rule, it should not issue political directives nor try to determine policy.”94 Similarly, William Temple (1928–2010), the former Archbishop of Canterbury, says, “The Church is committed to the everlasting Gospel and to the Creeds which formulate it; it must never commit itself to an ephemeral programme of detailed action.”95 Put another way, “… the Church is concerned with principles and not with policy.”96, 97

However, as an objection to my claim that the church should make the plight of the pre-born a matter of high priority, this argument fails for, at least, two reasons. First, it falsely assumes that the abortion controversy is, simply, a political issue. For, as we have seen, this conflict is, primarily, a spiritual issue. It is also, secondarily, a moral issue. This is because it involves the question: Is abortion morally right, wrong, or indifferent? Hence, because abortion, as well as being a political matter, is also, a spiritual and ethical issue, it follows that the church can, without going beyond its authority, oppose this practice.

Second, although the church as church should stay out of politics that is not to say that individual Christians, acting as private citizens, should do so. For like Wilberforce, who served in the British House of Commons, from which, for over three decades, he introduced several resolutions and gave numerous speeches for the purpose of outlawing slavery and the slave trade in the United Kingdom, Evangelicals in Canada, today, who work to end abortion, should, similarly, take advantage of the democratic process.

 

K. Argument: The church should not oppose abortion if there is the possibility that doing so will hinder the spread of the Gospel.

 

Rebuttal: In response to this argument, three things should be noted. First, this objection seems to downplay the importance of social action. But, as Stott stated above, Jesus’ metaphors of salt and light, which comprise the church’s responsibilities in the world, refer to social action and evangelism, and nowhere does Scripture suggest that one metaphor should take precedence over the other. To quote Stott:

 

“… we should never put our two vocations to be salt and light, our Christian social and evangelistic responsibilities, over against each other as if we had to choose between them. We should not exaggerate either, nor disparage either, at the expense of the other. Neither can be a substitute for the other. The world needs both. It is bad and needs salt; it is dark and needs light. Our Christian vocation is to be both. Jesus Christ said so, and that should be enough.”98

 

Second, this objection fails to take into consideration that, as the Parable of the Good Samaritan teaches, emergencies sometimes arise that require immediate action on the part of the church. This is true even if these emergencies, for whatever reason, inhibit, temporarily, the church’s ability to share the Gospel. The theologian, Ronald Sider (born 1939), says, “In times of emergency, it is entirely proper to feed the starving and cloth the naked without speaking of Christ. At other times, it will be just as appropriate to invite people to accept our Lord before any social action is undertaken. It all depends on the circumstances.”99

Consider, for example, the actions taken by Pastor Andre Trocme and the small, Protestant Huguenotcongregation that he pastored in the village of Le Chambon, France, during the occupation of their country by Nazi Germany. During this time they harbored hundreds of orphaned Jewish children whose parents had been sent to death camps. Their actions, no doubt, offended some in the village who were anti-Semitic, especially since what they were doing was illegal and could have brought harsh reprisals down upon the whole village.100 Furthermore, the time and energy required to protect these children would also have impeded their ability to evangelize. But even though the actions of Trocme and his congregation may have, temporarily, hindered the spread of the Gospel in Le Chambon, most Christians, I think, would agree that this was a price worth paying in order to rescue these children.

Lastly, it could be argued that not responding to the plight of the pre-born could hurt the church’s ability to evangelize—at least in the long run. For example, Curt Young, former executive director of Care Net (formerly Christian Action Council) says, “Some Christians no doubt will see the question of abortion as a peripheral matter to the ‘business of the church.’ They will not recognize that the integrity of the church and its witness for generations is at stake.”101 Similarly, Francis Schaeffer and C. Everett Koop say, “Future generations will look back, and many will either scoff or believe in Christ on the basis of whether we Christians of today took a sacrificial stand in our various walks of life on these overwhelmingly important issues.”102 Consider, for example, how the integrity of the evangelical church of Germany has been affected by its guilty silence during the Holocaust, and of how this has, likely, hindered its ability to be a witness for Christ.

 

L. Argument: Most churches have too much on their plate as it is right without adding another program to their agenda.

 

Answer: There are several problems with this objection. First, it misses the point. For, in reminding the church of its responsibility to the pre-born, I am not so much suggesting that the church take on another program as I am calling upon the church to be the church. Bonhoeffer, similarly, argued that the German evangelical church of Nazi Germany, by ignoring the plight of the Jews, had ignored its true identity.103

Second, this objection fails to appreciate the enormity of the evil of abortion. For, as I said above, since 1969 almost four million pre-born Canadian children have been killed by abortion. It is, in other words, the mass shedding of innocent blood.

Lastly, this objection overlooks the fact that the plight of the pre-born, as I have argued above, is an emergency that calls for extraordinary action by the church. As such coming to the pre-born’s aid is not an option. It is something that the church must do if it wishes to be faithful. If the church does not have the time to do this, then it must, somehow, make the time.

 

M. Objection: Condemning abortion, more often than not, just evokes hostility.

 

Answer: In response to this objection several things should be noted. First, Scripture teaches that speaking the truth, whether it is by claiming that “One can only be saved through Jesus Christ,” or by saying that “Abortion kills children,” often evokes hostility. For example, in John 15:18, Jesus says, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” Jesus’ teachings often enraged his listeners, especially the Pharisees. He was not crucified for being nice, after all! In their book Resident Aliens, Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon recall hearing someone suggest that the Prayer for Enemies should be removed from the Book of Common Prayer because those in this person’s denomination are so nice now that they no longer make enemies.104 These authors, then, state the following truism: “Truth makes its own enemies.”105 Jesus did not let other people’s angry reactions deter Him from speaking the truth, and neither should we.

Second, even if true, this objection does nothing to refute my claim that the plight of the pre-born is an emergency that calls for extraordinary action by the church. For, as Mother Teresa, said, God has called us to be faithful, not successful. Furthermore, nowhere does the Bible teach that a criterion for measuring whether or not Christians are successful is the positive responses of others. On the contrary, the Bible defines success as being faithful.106 From this, it follows that even if our defense of the pre-born does, largely, evoke hostility, we were, nonetheless, successful because we were faithful.In other words, the assumption behind this objection—that we have failed if our defense of the pre-born, largely, evokes hostility—is false.

Third, what is the evidence that condemning abortion, more often than not, evokes hostility? Without question, this activity does evoke some hostility, but it is not at all obvious that it mostly evokes hostility. For example, I know, personally from having participated in a couple of dozen Life Chain protests through the years, and to a less extent, the March for Life demonstrations in Ottawa, they often generate a favourable response. For example, at the last Life Chain protest, I observed that the positive responses from motorists outnumbered the negative ones by a ratio of, about, 2/1.

 

VI. CONCLUSION

 

In this paper I have attempted to prove two main points. First, drawing upon Scripture, the testimony of contemporary evangelical leaders, and church tradition, I argued that there is warrant for the claim that the plight of the pre-born is an emergency that calls for extraordinary action by the church. Second, by examining, and offering rebuttals of, all of the most common arguments in support of the position that the plight of the pre-born is not an emergency that calls for extraordinary action by the church, I have tried to show that this position is not warranted.

James Boswell, in his famous biography of Samuel Johnson, records Johnson as responding to his detractors in the following way:

 

“Sir, I consider myself as entrusted with a certain portion of truth. I have given my opinion sincerely; let them show where they think me wrong.”107

 

If past experience is any indication, many readers of this paper, and, in particular, evangelical leaders, will take issue with some of the claims contained within it, especially my two main points. To such detractors I would, as I stated above, respectfully issue—Johnson-like—the following challenge:

 

Either refute my case that the plight of the pre-born in Canada is an emergency that calls for extraordinary action by the church, or join with believers like myself in opposing this evil.

 

Let me close with the following, pertinent, words by Martin Luther (1483–1546):

 

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”108

 

_____________________

References

 

1) “Annual Abortion Rates.”

http://abortionincanada.ca/stats/annual-abortion-rates/Web.

2) “On the Unity of the Church.”

https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/incontext/article/cyprian/Web.

3) “Doctrinal and Ethical Positions Church of the Nazarene.”

www.crivoice.org/creednazarene.html#Human_Life. June, 2015. Web.

4) Personal correspondence, June 12, 2013.

5) Personal correspondence, June 12, 2013.

6) Personal correspondence, June 12, 2013.

7) Personal correspondence, June 17, 2013.

8)John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1978) 118.

9) “Annual Abortion Rates.” http://abortionincanada.ca/stats/annual-abortion-rates/

10) William Barclay, And Jesus Said (Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1970) 83.

11) Ibid, 83.

12) Ibid, 80.

13) The claim made here—that the shedding of innocent blood pollutes a land—was written with Israel in mind. That being the case, some readers may question the legitimacy of applying it to other nations. I think that it can legitimately be applied to other nations for, at least, three reasons. First, the city of Ninevah is, similarly, denounced, in the book of Nahum, as a “city of blood” (3:1). Second, John Gill, in his commentary on this passage, interprets it as applying to any nation (http://biblehub.com/commentaries/numbers/35-33.htm). Third, this claim alludes back to the prohibition against the shedding of innocent blood in Genesis 9:6, which applies, not simply to Jews, but to all human beings.

14) “Annual Abortion Rates.” http://abortionincanada.ca/stats/annual-abortion-rates/Web.

15) John Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1992) 93.

16) Desmond Doig, Mother Teresa—Her People and Her Work, (Glasgow, Great Britain: William Collins Sons & Co Ltd., 1981)142.

17) Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer—Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010) 247.

18) Harold O.J. Brown, Death Before Birth (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc. Publishers, 1977) 85.

19) William Barclay, And Jesus Said (Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1970) 106.

20) As an evangelical I hold to the Reformed formula that says, “We are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.” See R.C. Sproul, Essential truths of the Christian Faith (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992) 191. That is, although faith should, necessarily, produce good works, nonetheless “… it is the work of Christ, not our own, that justifies us.” R.C. Sproul, Faith Alone—The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1995) 160. Hence, I believe that what Jesus, in this parable, is saying to the sheep and goats, is that their actions towards those in need are, simply, confirmation of what He already knew about them (i.e., that they either were, or were not, His children).

21) Neil R. Lightfoot, Lessons from the Parables (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1965) 180.

22) John Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1992) 308.

23) Brian Kilodiejchuk, M.C., ed., Mother Teresa—Where There is Love There is God (New York, NY: Doubleday Religion, 2010) 15.

24) Neil R. Lightfoot, Lessons from the Parables (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1965)182.

25) Ronald Sider, Evangelism & Social Action (London, England: Hodder & Stoughton, 1993)167.

26) John Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1992) 21.

27) “The Lausanne Covenant.” https://www.lausanne.org/content/covenant/lausanne-covenant. August 1, 1974. Web.

28) “Evangelism and Social Responsibility: An Evangelical Commitment.”

https://www.lausanne.org/content/lop/lop-21 June 25, 1982. Web.

29) Bruce C. Birch, What Does the Lord Require?—The Old Testament Call to Social Witness (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 1985) 39.

30) John Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1992) 330.

31)John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1978) 65.

32) David Clyde Jones, Biblical Ethics (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1994) 43.

33) Some readers may question my contention that the church as a whole, as opposed to individuals within the church, can be guilty of a particular sin. However, such readers should bear in mind that in this paper, as previously stated, I am speaking in broad, general terms. Furthermore, there is Scriptural precedent for ascribing guilt to a large group of people. For example, Daniel, in his prayer for the restoration of the Jews who were in captivity, says, “… we have sinned and done wrong” (Daniel 9:5a, NIV) (emphasis mine). Furthermore, as previously stated, the authors of the Stuttgart Confession of Guilt declared that the German evangelical church was guilty of the sin of omission for its failure to respond to the plight of the Jews and other victims of the Third Reich.

34) “The Westminster Larger Catechism.”

http://www.epc.org/file/main-menu/beliefs/catechisms/wcf-lc-modern-2011.pdf

35) “Billy Graham: ‘My Heart Aches for America.’”

http://billygraham.org/story/billy-graham-my-heart-aches-for-america/July

19, 2012. Web.

36) “Who Is John Stott?”

www.christianpost.com/news/the-john-stott-the-world-knew-little-about-52970/

2016. Web.

37) John Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1992) 308.

38) R.C. Sproul, Abortion—A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1990) 151.

39) James M. Boice, Transforming Our World (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1988)79.

40) Charles Colson, The God of Stones & Spiders—Letters to a Church in Exile (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1990) 25–26.

41) Charles R. Swindoll, Sanctity of Life—The Inescapable Issue (Dallas, TX: Word Publishing, 1990) 11, 13.

42) Ibid, x.

43) Francis A. Schaeffer, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer—A Christian Worldview, Vol. 5 (Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982) 409.

44) Francis A. Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1992) 37.

45) Michael J. Gorman, Abortion & the Early Church (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1982) 93.

46) Ibid, 49.

47) Ibid, 49.

48) Ibid, 17.

49) Ibid, 58.

50)Michael J. Gorman, Abortion & the Early Church (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1982) 61-62;Harold O.J. Brown, Death Before Birth (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc. Publishers, 1977) 123.

51) William Brennan, Dehumanizing the Vulnerable (Chicago, Ill: Loyola University Press, 1995) 220.

52) John Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1992) 49.

53) Ibid, 50.

54) Helmut Thielicke, Nihilism: Its Origin and Nature¾With a Christian Answer (New York, NY: Schocken Books, 1969) 37.

55) Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer—Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010) 235.

56) Ibid, 247.

57) Herbert Schlossberg and Marvin Olasky, Turning Point—A Christian Worldview Declaration (Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1987) 152.

58) Ibid, 152.

59) Robert Sanders, Radical Voices in the Wilderness—The Social Implications of the Prophets (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1970) 123.

60) John D. Woodbridge, ed., Great Leaders of the Christian Church (Chicago, Ill: Moody Press, 1988) 293.

61) Ibid, 294.

62) “Thoughts Upon Slavery.”

http://www.umcmission.org/Find-Resources/John-Wesley-Sermons/The-Wesleys-and-Their-Times/Thoughts-Upon-Slavery2016. Web.

63) Kevin Belmonte, William Wilberforce—A Hero for Humanity (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007) 275.

64) “William Wilberforce’s Great-Grandson: He Would Have Fought Abortion.”

www.lifenews.com/2013/07/29/william-wilberforces-great-grandson-he-would-have-fought-abortion/. July 29, 2013. Web.

65) B.J. Oropeza, 99 Reasons Why No One Knows When Christ Will Return (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1994) 174.

66) John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics for a Brave New World (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1993) 394.

67) William Barclay, And Jesus Said (Edinburgh: The Saint Andrew Press, 1970) 172.

68) John Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1992) 63.

69) Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind—How Should a Christian Think? (Marleybone Road, London: Servant Publications, 1963) 3.

70) As evidence of this, Mary A. Kassian, in her book The Feminist Gospel, a book that Dr. Wayne House, past president of the Evangelical Theological Society, calls “… the best contemporary critique of feminism in the church,” says, “[Feminism is causing a] major upheaval within the church” (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 33).

71) “Study Compares Christian and Non-Christian Lifestyles.” http://www.christiantoday.com/article/american.study.reveals.indulgent.lifestyle.christians.no.different/9439.htm. February 7, 2007, Web.

72) Michael S. Horton, Beyond Culture Wars (Chicago, Ill: Moody Press, 1994) 40.

73) John Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1992) 369.

74) D. Elton Trueblood, Philosophy of Religion (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1982) 238.

75)Another reason for the church’s apathy, that I could have mentioned, is anti-intellectualism. By this is meant that the intellectual life, or the pursuit of truth, is not valued as it ought to be. One must be careful, here, to distinguish between the pursuit of truth and the pursuit of a degree. For one may pursue higher education, not because one places a high value upon the pursuit of truth, but because one wishes, simply, to get a degree that will allow one to land a good job and earn a living. The theologian R.C. Sproul says, “We live in what may be the most anti-intellectual period in the history of Western civilization….” See J.P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind, Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress Publishing Group, 1997) 19. Unfortunately, anti-intellectualism, as Stott argues in his book Your Mind Matters, is also prevalent in the church today. See John Stott, Your Mind Matters (Leiscester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1972).

76) Michael J. Gorman, Abortion & the Early Church (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1982) 34.

77) John Stott, Decisive Issues Facing Christians Today (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell, 1992) 58.

78) Ibid, 13.

79) Randy Alcorn, ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments (Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1992) 222.

80) Clifford Hill, The Wilberforce Connection (Oxford, U.K.: Monarch Books, 2004) 53.

81) “States enacted 47 pro-life bills in 2015.”

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/states-enacted-47-pro-life-bills-in-2015-abortion-advocacy-organization 08/12/2015.

82) John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics for a Brave New World (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1993) 383.

83) Ibid, 383.

84) Ian Hunter, Three Faces of the Law—A Christian Perspective (Mississauga, ON: Work Research Foundation, 1996) 12.

85) Ibid, 10–11.

86) James Hitchcock, What is Secular Humanism? (Ann Harbor, MI: Servant Books) 1982.

87) Of course, in one sense, all of life is spiritual, because God, who is a spirit, created it. However, following Augustine, I am using the term “spirit,” here, in a more restrictive sense to mean things that pertain to the “city of God,” as opposed to “earthly,” by which is meant things that relate to the “city of man.”

88) Francis A. Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1992) 25.

89) Augustine, The City of God Against the Pagans (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 1998) 634.

90) R.C. Sproul, Abortion—A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 1990) 90.

91) John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1978) 65-66.

92) Philip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997) 45.

93) Ravi Zacharias, A Shattered Visage—The Real Face of Atheism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1990) 60.

94) Michael S. Horton, Beyond Culture Wars (Chicago, Ill: Moody Press, 1994) 103.

95) William Temple, Christianity & Social Order (London, England: Shepeard-Walwyn Publishers Limited, 1987)41.

96) Ibid, 45.

97) Temple gives a couple of reasons for why the church should not attempt to formulate policies. One is that doing so would be imprudent since the policy may be mistaken and the church blamed for its failure. Another reason is that some Christians will, likely, disagree with it, and it would be wrong to exclude their views. For example, the church can say that the government should join with other Western nations in trying to stop ISIS because of its, obvious, disregard for the principle of the sanctity of human life, but it should not say how, specifically, the government should go about doing this. With regard to abortion, this means that although the church can, and, as I have argued in this paper, should do everything within its means to persuade the government to provide legal protection for the pre-born, it should not attempt to tell the government how to do this.

98) John R. W. Stott, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1978) 67.

99) Ronald Sider, Evangelism & Social Action (London, England: Hodder & Stoughton, 1993)170.

100) Philip P. Hallie, Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed (New York, NY: Harper-Collins Publishers, Inc., 1994)

101) Paul B. Fowler, AbortionToward an Evangelical Consensus (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1987) 211.

102) Francis A. Schaeffer, The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer—A Christian Worldview, Vol. 5 (Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982) 409.

103) Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer—Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010) 156.

104) Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1989) 150.

105) Ibid, 150.

106) That God’s definition of success differs radically from the world’s is an idea that runs throughout the whole Bible. For example, Jesus says, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” (Matthew 19:30, NIV). Later, in the same chapter, Jesus explains what He means by being “first”, as follows: “… and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27–28, NIV). For more on this subject, see Charles Stanley, Success God’s Way (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000).

107) D. Elton Trueblood, General Philosophy (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1963) 111.

108)Francis A. Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1992) 51.

June 10th, 2016|Categories: The Project||Comments Off on Where is the Evangelical Church? (Part Two)

Facing up to the Horror of Abortion

A friend of mine sat across the desk from me, excitedly describing what he had learned about the development of his unborn child (15 weeks gestation). He was already a very active baby, moving around in his mother’s womb. His loving parents looked forward to seeing him as he was revealed to the world five months later.

Contrast that picture with the reality of what is happening in abortion clinics and hospitals around Canada. Even more disconcerting, a few articles have surfaced recently that have, once again, shed light on what has become our society’s dirty little secrets – “after-birth abortion” and “gendercide” – and the mainstream media’s extreme bias against the pro-life movement.

Let’s start with Canada, where columnist Warren Kinsella came out with gun’s ablazing against Canadian parliamentarians who dared to put forward a motion asking the House of Commons to condemn the practice that allows female fetuses to be aborted for the sole reason that they are female. He dismissed the motion as an attempt by backbench parliamentarians to get their name in the headlines and to bring the abortion debate in the back door. Other liberal commentators said the same thing when MP Stephen Woodworth put forward a motion calling for a review of Canada’s 400 year old law defining “human beings.”

“We’re not allowed to talk about abortion or changing the law – ever!”

The bottom line with Kinsella and others seems to be that we’re not allowed to talk about abortion or changing the law – ever! In their minds the issue has been resolved, not only for them, but for all of us. How dare we keep trying to bring it back up for debate! He resorted to name-calling, declaring them to be “dishonest,” “nobodies” and “pipsqueaks.” And, of course, he threw in the tried and true pro-abortion rant that they are trying “to move the country back to the bad old days, when the only choice women had were coat hangers in back alleys.”

Of course, none of this hyperbole actually dealt with the hard truth that, in Canada, an increasing number of women are now aborting their babies simply because they are girls. The American news outlet, The Economist, ran an article entitled “Gendercide in Canada,” detailing skewed birth rates in portions of the population whose country of origin was in the Far East (where sex-selective abortion is rampant). This evidence has lead to calls on the banning of revealing the sex of an unborn child until 30 weeks gestation.

“In Canada, an increasing number of women are now aborting their babies simply because they are girls”

This is all simply a side story to the truth that there has been NO LIMIT ON ABORTION in Canada. It is repugnant that our government(s) lack the courage to take a good, hard look at the evidence and protect those most innocent members of society.

Meanwhile in the U.S., the major media outlets brought shame on themselves by completely ignoring the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, an abortion doctor in Philadelphia. Gosnell was charged, and ultimately convicted, of killing seven babies who were born alive, and testimony revealed there were hundreds of others. He was also charged with the death of a woman under his care in his abortion clinic. According to FoxNews.com, neither NBC nor ABC carried any news on this story. CBS did not cover the trial and CNN almost completely ignored it. They were even critical of Fox News for its limited coverage.

“These babies are alive – they move away from the instruments that are trying to kill them.”

Perhaps the reason is that the details coming out of this are so horrific that people don`t want to know – crying babies killed with scissors, etc… Gosnell has been called the worst mass-murderer in U.S. history. How is it that his trial escaped mass publicity?
It has revealed the ugly reality that the abortion industry doesn`t want people to know: every abortion stops a beating heart. These babies are alive – they move away from the instruments that are trying to kill them. Their only crime is not being wanted.

If this is enough reason for someone to kill an unborn baby, then it makes sense that Alisa LaPolt Snow, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, defends “after-birth abortion” (the killing of a child born alive after a failed abortion). This is exactly the crime for which Gosnell was on trial, and Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion supplier in the U.S., is defending infanticide by saying, “the decision to kill an infant who survives a failed abortion should be left up to the woman seeking an abortion and her abortion doctor.”

We need to light up the blogosphere and let people know what is actually happening. As I post these and similar stories, I get replies like “hideous,” “heartless,” “awful,” and “monstrous.” Yes it is, and it must stop!

By Tony denBok

(Photography By: Leah denBok Photography)

 

June 3rd, 2014|Categories: Blog, Slider Right||Comments Off on Facing up to the Horror of Abortion

Teens Burn Body of Baby Killed by Abortion Drug, Receive Only a Warning

“Three teenagers in South Africa, where abortion is legal, burned the body of a baby victimized by abortion. Three young women were involved in the incident after one of the teens took the abortion drug to cause the death of her unborn child.

The three were accused of murder and appeared in the Ekangala Magistrate’s Court near Bronkhorstspruit today but the main case against the young woman having the abortion was postponed until Thursday while the other two teens involved in burning the baby’s body received merely a slap on the wrist and were let off with a warning.”

Read the full story by following the link below:

Teens Burn Body of Baby Killed by Abortion Drug, Receive Only a Warning.

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 6/2/14 3:39 PM

June 3rd, 2014|Categories: News, Slider Left||Comments Off on Teens Burn Body of Baby Killed by Abortion Drug, Receive Only a Warning

1,000 Texas Women Hospitalized Every Year After Botched Abortions

“A Dallas abortionist that was recently in the news when a hospital terminated his hospital privileges, sent a woman to a hospital one day before a judge ordered that the privileges be restored. On April 16, 2014, at 11:55 a.m., an ambulance was called to the Routh Street Women’s Clinic abortion facility in Dallas for a 42-year old woman who “was not feeling well” according to an Incident Detail Report obtained by Operation Rescue. Further information about the woman’s condition was redacted.”

“Operation Rescue previously reported that, according to statistics presented during a Fifth District Court of Appeals challenge to the Texas hospital privilege mandate, it is likely that nearly 1,000 women are hospitalized by Texas abortion clinics each year.”

“Women’s safety is simply not the first priority for abortionists, and hazardous conditions appear to be systemic throughout the abortion industry”

Click the below to read the full story:

1,000 Texas Women Hospitalized Every Year After Botched Abortions.

by Cheryl Sullenger | Austin, TX | LifeNews.com | 6/2/14 1:14 PM
Lifenews.com

June 3rd, 2014|Categories: News||Comments Off on 1,000 Texas Women Hospitalized Every Year After Botched Abortions

Abortion and Political Leadership in Canada

There is a disturbing reality in the modern political age, among leaders of all political stripes – rule by fiat, or decree, rather than by parliamentary debate and reason. We have seen this, particularly, in the issues surrounding abortion.

This reticence to debate the issue of abortion goes back decades but, recently, has transcended party lines to such an extent that today, in Canada, there is no major political party which will speak for the rights of the unborn. Not only is this true, but individuals within these parties risk censure or expulsion from cabinet for expressing pro-life sentiments publicly.

This inflexibility has been seen in our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who has been steadfast in his position that his government will not reopen the abortion debate. He has gone so far as to oppose his own backbenchers, such as Stephen Woodworth, who have tried to introduce pro-life private members bills.

Not surprisingly, the NDP has consistently taken a “hands-off” approach, stating as far back as the leadership of Ed Broadbent (1975-1989) that abortion is an issue between a woman and her doctor. There are no known pro-life NDP Members of Parliament.

“I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills.”

The latest move to stifle debate has come from new Liberal leader, Justin Trudeau. Speaking to the media at the time of the pro-life March in Ottawa in May, Trudeau declared that all Liberal candidates for the next election must be pro-choice, removing the previous freedom of conscience practiced in the Liberal party. In his own words: “I have made it clear that future candidates need to be completely understanding that they will be expected to vote pro-choice on any bills.”

This position statement immediately created backlash as there are currently several Liberal MPs who are pro-life. Trudeau clarified his position somewhat by declaring that current MPs would be able to run, but would be expected to vote pro-choice. He sent a letter to party faithful, assuring them that everyone had the right to their own views, then saying: “When it comes to actively supporting women’s rights, our party must speak with one voice.”

What the recent burst of news stories has succeeded in doing is shining a light on the dismal condition of the Freedom of Expression in Canada. The status quo – that a child in the womb can be aborted at any time for any reason up until the moment of birth – remains in place. Everyone who disagrees can line up somewhere outside of the chambers of power, your opinion does not matter.

We who are committed to the rights of the unborn have our work cut out for us.

By Tony denBok

(Photography by: Leah denBok Photography)

 

May 28th, 2014|Categories: Blog, Slider Right||Comments Off on Abortion and Political Leadership in Canada