Thursday, October 16, 2008

Regaining Our Prophetic Voice

I hope you will take the time to listen to a powerful message by Dr. Russel Moore delivered at Southern Seminary's chapel. Dr. Moore dismantles the idea that abortion is simply one issue among many others.

“There are churches, and there are pastors, and there are young evangelical leaders who are saying to us, ‘We ought not be single-issue evangelicals. We ought to be concerned about more issues than simply abortion.’ Which means that we ought to be willing to join ourselves and to vote for and to support candidates who will support legalized abortion, who will deny the personhood of children who are still in the womb, because we are able to support them on other issues . . . Many of them are in a desperate quest to say to their congregations and to people potentially in their congregations, ‘I’m not Jerry Falwell.’ And many of them believe that it is missional to speak to people while blunting or silencing a witness about the life of children so that you can reach them with the gospel. . . Some will tell us there are many other issues: economics, global warming—issues I’m very concerned about too. Previous generations have said that as well. Previous generations of preachers have stood in the pulpit and preached until they were red in the face about card-playing and movie-going and tax-policy and personal morality and tobacco-smoking and a thousand other issues, but would not speak to the fact that there were African-American brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus swinging in the trees! And there is judgment of God upon that. And there is here too.”

You can download Dr. Moore's entire message HERE.

20 comments:

rmkton said...

if there is one thing I really get exasperated about with evangelical Christians it is what I call the sin of oversimplification....which is exactly what this argument does. Abortion is a much more complicated issue than murder...and to continue to view it as such ends what might be progress on this issue. We need to take a different tact if there ever is to be headway.

This oversimplification shows itself in many hot button issues that Christians get their knickers in a twist about...abortion, homosexuality, addiction and others. When are we going to stop giving oversimplified explanations to these issues and really start wrangling with some of these century perspective?

Mike

rmkton said...

last sentence should read "...and really start wrangling with some of these issues from a 21st century perspective"

sorry it is late and I am tired...

Todd Pruitt said...

Mike,

With all respect I am more interested in dealing with these issues from a biblical perspective. I do not find the typical 21st century perspective to be all that impressive.

I am afraid that your attitude illustrates what I have written before about Christians losing their prophetic voice. We are now seeing a rising tide of evangelicals that are getting "their knickers in a twist" about global warming but not killing tens of millions of babies in the womb.

By the way, did you notice that the glaciers in Alaska are increasing in size? Meanwhile America has aborted about 50 million of her citizens.

rmkton said...

I think there is lack of understanding on the part of many Christians in the example you give...e.g. if I care about the environment somehow I don't care about abortion...which could not be further from the truth.

That is why this idea of being a one-issue voter is completely absurd to me...I will go even further to say that to be a one-issue voter is immoral. Why would I say that? many reasons...but I can give you one example (and the one that is cited here). If we elect a candidate who is pro-life who is able to end all abortions in the U.S. (which won't happen... but for the sake of argument let's say it does) but that candidate does nothing about what is happening in Darfur, or the Congo, with HIV, or does not effectively deal with Russia, or the economy, or global warming (which is real) we can all stand up and shout "we have ended abortion"...meanwhile the other issues allow the world (or country) to go to hell in a handbasket...what have we accomplished? It will make ending abortion seem like a very very small moral victory.

There are many issues that claim the lives of innocents such as abortion that to make this a one issue election is obscene.

You may vote one issue and that is your right to do so...but I guarantee you that you will not elect a one issue president.

Todd Pruitt said...

Mike,

With all respect I think to make abortion just one issue among many is obscene.

It's aking to saying, "Other than THAT Mrs. Lincoln how did you enjoy the play?"

Todd Pruitt said...

I meant to write, "akin". I'm not sure what "aking" means.

Todd Pruitt said...

Also, concerning Darfur, etc.

Are you aware that to stop those acts of violence we would have to deploy our military to kill the bad guys? How many should we kill? How many American soldiers should we offer up to go into Darfur (as many of them surely would be killed)?

As an aside: why are some so concerned about the atrocities in Darfur but could not care less about the atrocities under Sadam Hussein?

What is happening in Darfur is EVIL. It is evil because it is murder. It is one group of evildoers killing vulerable human beings. Sound familiar?

rmkton said...

Todd,

With all respect, don't think the Lincoln analogy is anything close to fair...it makes a good sound bite (which I find Christians particularly susceptible to) but is no where close to the situtation.

If we are systematically altering the planet (and I know there is debate about that) so that future generations have to deal with some really nasty consequences which may include some areas where human survival may be in jeopardy how does abortion measure up to that? I don't want to minimize abortion but this seems like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. As Christians we have to care about many things...but it does not mean I become singularly focused to the ignorance and importance of others.

for example, I care about animals because I think it is biblical (i.e. "not muzzling the ox...") but it does not mean that I don't care about unborn children as well. And I care a lot more about children than I do animals...yet it is not justification for me to beat my dog mercilessly.

When we become hyperfocused on an important issue to the exclusion of other important issues we won't see the bigger picture.

Todd Pruitt said...

Mike,

We are agreed! Dont' beat your dog.

Your example of not muzzling the ox has nothing to do with animal cruelty. The context is taking care of those who have given themselves to be gospel ministers. Of course, that is beside the point.

I would challenge your assertion that you are not minimizing abortion. Your analogy of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic is a minimizing of abortion. That analogy is used to demonstrate how we get preoccupied with things that are not important while the truly important matters are neglected. So which is it? Is abortion a truly vital moral issue or is it akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic?

The Lincoln analogy is very fitting. "Other than the single issue of your husband getting assasinated Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? After all, we don't want to lose the forest for the trees." In this sense the illustration is quite fitting.

Instead of just saying it doesn't fit please back it up. How is it not fitting? I've shown how your Titanic analogy is actally a contradiction to what you said.

Those of us who are pro-life do not for one moment say that it is the only moral issue to which we must speak. But we have to practice some moral triage. Which matters are most pressing? Do you not answer that in your comment? Children are more important oxen and dogs.

I am saying that abortion is not an issue that is morally indistinguishable from other issues (a point with which you seem to agree). Christians should be able to say that abortion is more pressing morally than whether or not someone drives an SUV.

rmkton said...

Todd, the Lincoln analogy is not fitting because you are comparing the relative effects of the murder of Lincoln to Mrs. Lincoln's enjoyment of the play in the context of the moral weight of abortion as compared to other moral issues....What you are suggesting is that abortion is to the murdur of Lincoln as the tragedy in Darfur is to enjoying watching "My American Cousin". That is why I don't think it is a fair analogy. It doesn't match up.

Abortion is one of many great moral issues which I do not find obscene to say so.

Agree that muzzling the ox is in reference to ministering to those who preach the gospel but the underlying assumption is that one would never think to do such a thing which to me means that humane treatment of working animals is assumed in this passage not that the passage particularly speaks to treating animals humanely.

Agree with you that my Titanic analogy is overstated. Will have to think of a better one.

Also agree that we have to do some moral triaging here as well but I feel that Christians have done this lopsidedly with abortion...to the detriment of other issues. I think the SUV statement is a straw man argument.

Todd Pruitt said...

Mike,

You're missing the point of the Lincoln analogy. It has nothing to do with Mrs. Lincoln's enjoyment of the play but the moral ignorance of anyone who would ask such a question. It is intentionally absurd in order to illustrate the absurdity of being unable to make certain moral judgements.

It sounded to me like you were unwilling to rank abortion as a top tier moral issue. Perhaps you are and I am just not listening well.

Also, I do not find it obscene to say that abortion is one of many great moral issues. I do find it obscene to lessen its severity by standing along side HIGHLY disputable issues such as man-made global warming.

Harley A. said...

Mike, you overcomplicate the issue, which is a common tactic used to avoid taking a stand.

Also you err in being overly pragmatic (which is the crux of your 21st century perspective). Right is right and wrong is wrong. It doesn't mean there aren't associated issues to address, but these have no bearing on the wrongness (sin) of abortion. To attempt to make an argument that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned is simply absurd morally and logically unless you feel that murder is just fine.

Truth is, we are already reaping what we've sown from the practice. We have a nation of moral and ethical bankruptcy. Our young people (40 yrs and younger) are the most cynical and jaded generations - and for good reason. The moral stops have all been pulled through the sexual revolution, Roe v. Wade, the pill, extreme secularization of our culture in general. Our generation has no bounds and is falling headlong into barbarism (if it's not already there). What it needs is the truth - but the truth has been taken from it and replaced with over-complicated pragmatic "solutions" that solve nothing - they are a farce without the truth.

rmkton said...

Harley,

I understand your point of view...really I do except if you feel that I overcomplicate the issue I feel that you oversimplify it...case in point...your statement "right is right and wrong is wrong" (now I am really showing my postmodern colors!). Real life (unfortunately) is not that simple.

I would also say that to keep calling abortion murder is to impede on any progress that might be made. You can charge me with opting out of the "truth" if you want to on this but if you want to talk about real progress on this issue you just shut the door. This tact has shown no effectiveness. Incidentally did you know that most abortions happen naturally? It is estimated that 25% of all pregnancies in the U.S. end in spontaneous abortion. Is God at fault then?

When we take an unnuanced view of truth we make mistakes in the application of that truth. Christians (not all that long ago) used to justify owning slaves with their understanding of the "truth".

I don't agree that this generation is any more or less moral than those in the past. Abortion (if that is a litmus test for moral bearings) has been around since recorded history. The fact that we have made it legal simply acknowledges what we already know to be true...that women get abortions and will continue to get them even if outlawed.

I think somehow this notion that if we outlaw abortion then somehow we get "points" with God for being a righteous nation is ridiculous. Really doing something about that reasons that women seek abortion is what matters whether legal or illegal.

I hope after all this that you do not think I am in favor of abortion...I am not; but I don't think how we as Christians have attempted to reduce it have really helped much. I finacially support our local Crisis Pregnancy Center which is a start...but their focus is intervention and education...not legislation.

Todd Pruitt said...

Mike,

Whether you admit it or not you do believe that "right is right and wrong is wrong." For instance, where are the gray areas concerning Darfur or Rwanda? How would you "nuance" what has happened in those nations? What is the "nuance" of Stalin's gulags in the 1930s?

It makes me sad that you think it is too simplistic to call "wrong" the things God calls "wrong". It seems incredibly arrogant to call into question what God has made plain.

Caring for women in the midst of "crisis" pregnancies and delcaring the truth about abortion are not anti-thetical. In Wichita we have ministries that do just that. I am sorry that you think loving people and retaining a prophetic voice are incompatable.

rmkton said...

Todd,

I would agree with you I do have a sense of what is right and what is wrong...yet to only see black and white in terms of what is considered right and wrong is unworkable....what about capital punishment, divorce, politics, homosexuality, birth control, war just to name a few. These are very complex issues that should not be viewed reductionistically.

Do you know Al Mohler's views on birth control? or the fact that even James Dobson has stated that at least some homosexual behavior has a genetic basis...what are the implications of that? is the war in Iraq God's plan (as Palin has suggested in her simplistic view of the world). We gave into the notion of a black and white world view 8 years ago and we end up with George W. Bush...yikes!

I think both of us see what we want to see. You see the black and white (and the evidences for that view)....I see the gray )and the evidences for that view).

Harley A. said...

Mike -

I am sorry, my friend, but your first thought makes absolutely no sense. Buy you've (very honestly) admitted to a post-modern worldview, so I'll leave it alone.

I wonder, though, do you feel God is black and white about right and wrong and that we are just unable to find that black and white (an epistemological problem)? And, if so, then what are you relying on as a guide/standard as you search through all the complex issues ?

Or, do you think that God is not necessarily black and white nor the eternal and immutable standard of truth - that He can and does learn, improve, tweak, change, etc... ? aka open theism

I'm just really curious to understand where you're coming from...

rmkton said...

Harley,

You are correct in that my thinking has been very profoundly affected by the postmoderns...I don't apologize for that. I would suggest however that all of us have been affected to some degree by postmodernism but perhaps some more than others. It is everywhere whether we realize it or not...in science, art, literature, education, politics, philosophy, and religion. However, unless you live like the Amish, you have been touched by and affected by postmodernist thought. Don't know what age your kids are (if you have them) but I would venture to say that they are most likely postmodern thinkers.

I think God knows and sees all and can rightly apply justice and mercy. I don't think we can...we can try to do the best we know how to but we are limited. I realize our limitations in these judgments...but that doesn't mean that I think we should just give up and sit down in sackcloth and ashes and do nothing because we don't trust our judgments. We have to make the best decisions we can with the knowledge that we have...knowing that that knowledge may not be perfect.

I can agree that God is eternal immutable truth...what I can't agree on is our ability to always discern what that means (to your epistemology point). That being the case we move forward with the knowledge that we have and with what we don't know or can't know...may God in his immutable eternal truth be truly merciful to us.

I know this comment completely oozes postmodern thought...but that is how I see it. It actually allowed me to move forward in my faith in ways that I could not before because I could not get a handle on a coherent modern view of Christianity that seemed internally and externally consistent when you start asking the hard questions...after a while you become immune to the pat, unsatisfying answers offered up by those who mean well, but don't seem satisfied with the answers either but are willing to accept them for a sense of inner peace. I would argue that this is not really peace at all but rather capitulation.

I know from a modern point of view this seems to be lacking in a foundation from which to act upon...but it frees me up to know that I do not have to have all of the answers or right judgments to express the love of God in a way that is meaningful to my fellow man.

Does that make some sense?

Harley A. said...

I'm very encouraged to hear that you are coming more from the perspective of my first choice and not the latter.

And, to a certain point, I do agree that God and His ways are unsearchable. In the sense that we as jars of clay cannot obtain (or contain) a full knowledge of Him this side of Glory.

But, I think what needs to give us pause and fear is when He teaches us that "there is a way that seems right to man...". I think that is more than a trite, pithy little saying - I think it is a very serious warning. What it tells me is that often the truth is going to rub me the wrong way a bit - it isn't going to appeal to my human sensibilities since they are stained and twisted by sin. So, I am driven to depend on the testimony of scripture for that truth and ask for wisdom. If I cannot do that, I am lost and dependent upon the way of man - the one that more often than not leads to destruction.

As for postmodernism, I'd agree that we all are influenced by it (just part of that way that seems right to man). But we're not the only generation that has been - the ancient Greeks were eaten up with it - " there's nothing new under the sun".

Are you sure you are really "post-modern" ? If you are holding up Christ as the immutable and eternal truth, you're not going to make many friends at your post-modern meetings !

rmc said...

It is so sad to see Christians divide the body of Christ over political issues, as if there were a Jesus party or a Jesus candidate that every devoted and intelligent follower of Jesus should vote for. The abortion issue is not as clear as some would make it. After all, it was legal in some states before Roe vs Wade, and no doubt would continue to be legal in most states in today's moral climate even with the repeal of Roe vs. Wade, which would simlpy send the issue back to the states. The real issue, the honest issue, is what are the most effective means of reducing the abortion rate. When looked at this way, the issue is not so simple and there is room for differences in the body of Christ. For example, there is plenty of inteliigent evidence and statistics to suggest there is a strong economic side to abortion. This then raises questions like what is the relationship between trickle down economics and abortion, affordable healthcare and abortion, minimum wage and abortion, laws that protect women's jobs for maternity leave and sick time for their infant children. Does economic policy or conservative judges have more potiential for reducing the abortion rate? The fact that all Christians should hate abortion is clear enough. The best means to reduce the abortion rate in a nation in which abortion is not going to become illegal, even if Roe vs Wade were repealed, is not. However, it is very clear from scripture that we are to honor and respect one another and not be dividers of the body of Christ.

Harley A. said...

First - abortion is not merely a political issue - it is first and foremost a moral issue. It spits in the face of God's moral Law. That is not up for debate I'm afraid. If someone disagrees with that, we are divided on that issue for sure. Christ NEVER called for unity at the expense of His word.

Second, I'd guess that 99% of Christians would be strongly for repealing Roe vs. Wade to the extent they'd refuse to vote for a candidate who was "pro choice". I'd say Christians are probably more solidified on this issue than any other issue there is.

Explain to me how the richest nations in the world have the highest abortion rates in the world? Surely you understand that America's poor are richer than the majority of the rest of the world. Your assertion for a strong economic link is unfounded if not out and out wrong...

Consider this though. A factor you don't mention is that Planned Parenthood has and continues to target poor and minority populations, in the spirit of their founder, Margaret Sanger, who was committed to reducing populations of what she considered to be less desirable humans - the "feeble-minded", black people, etc... They started out and remain committed to eugenics - though that is not on the promotional literature. If we really wanted to reduce the abortion rate, we'd have followed her advice to just sterilize all these feeble-minded folks who keep popping out all these babies. But that sounds so bad. Instead we started calling abortion a "choice" and just another alternative and making it okay.

In the interest of not hijacking Todd's blog, I'll leave off this discussion now. I suspect it will continue to go in circles...