Last week, I started a 2-part series on how to talk to other human beings about Abortion, and I think I owe two clarifications before we go on.
Clarification #1: There's no question Dan and I (and Phil, in spite of his internet retirement) are ardent proponents of the humanity of the unborn, and therefore the right to life of the unborn. However, to be fair to Dan and Phil, they probably don't share my opinion on the use of Presuppositional apologetics in dealing with this issue. Please keep your hate-mail contained.
Clarification #2: I'm not an enemy of Presuppositional apologetics. I think that the idea that Christians have been given The Truth, and The Truth is utterly embodied in Christ, and that we shouldn't pretend like other explanations of reality have any worth because they have no eternal worth is, at its core, the only true monotheism. It's unquestionable that this is the reason we evangelize and not merely discuss our faith as if it was one of several viable choices.
But, last week set the hairs on fire of people who, in all good intentions, use the highest-minded version of theology and philosophy to try to convince other people that they must repent and become disciples of Christ in order that those converted people will stop killing babies via abortion. Of course, in their view, they are not "convincing" anyone of anything -- that's too synergistic a word. They are declaring and demanding what God demands, they say.
And, of course, I am personally notorious for perpetuating the idea that "the Gospel is the Solution to Culture." I believe it. I think the history of the church demonstrates it. There's no question that the Culture in the West has followed where the Christian faith has lead -- even over the cliff in the last 200 years, and now it has followed the church into a post-Christian age.
Abortion is a great place to notice this -- because the culture followed us over the cliff in seeing abortion as terrible but plausible. Now that it is beyond plausible to being a required convenience, having us lead them back to something less barbaric is going to be quite a long and serious slog.
So in some sense, we have to have sympathy for our Presuppositional comrades: the change needed is radical, and they are presenting the only radical solution which can be tenable: repent and believe, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.
In the best possible case, this is what that can look like:
UPDATED: Before you read another word, this video is an example of a perfectly-good method of declaring the Law for the sake of convicting sinner of their wrong-doing. It's perfectly-good. This is the right-sided example of using the Law.
It's the total package -- it bases the entire argument on the truth of Scripture, declares the truth, calls sin sin, and calls the sinner to repentance When God wills it, that kind of preaching wins the sinner eternally, and also saves the baby, right? When it doesn't yield converts, it yields condemnation, and that's all we can expect, I guess: either the redeemed or the reprobate. Those doing it can boast of Christ alone, and can count themselves faithful.
Here's what worries me about
But what if, following their demands, this happens?
Now, Look: everything after that question is no longer about sin and repentance. If it is, I suggest that the evangelist is not hardly listening to the person he or she is preaching to -- and is missing the point of what he or she has set out to do. The person asking a question like that is trying to listen and explain, and when the other party is not willing to engage, it is the end of the conversation.
That's at the actual clinic. But what if you're having this conversation with a senator or a congressman, or some lobbyist? The point in that discussion may be to convert that one person to a living faith -- but the context of the discussion is policy in a society where there are both believers and unbelievers. In that context, demonstrating that they know God's righteous decrees, and that those who practice such things deserve to die is an urgent matter -- but that's just one quip from Romans 1 dislocated from the rest of that chapter and the following chapter. They know these things because God has shown it to them. These things have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.
That is: there is a common basis for human discussion of what is right and wrong because of the way God made the world. That's true presuppositionalism -- not just that God is transcendent, but that He is Creator and Sustainer, and that human beings have no excuse for denying his moral law.
So pointing out, for example, that only 4% of abortions are due to the endangered life of the mother or the equally-tragic condition of incest or rape is an entirely-cogent and biblical rebuttal of the idea that abortion ought to be practices because it is somehow more humane. And it is equally-cogent and biblical to point out that 86% of doctors who are informed about this procedure and the contents of the womb will not perform this procedure because they have all the observational facts. The facts in a sovereignly-run universe are on display to that end.
True presuppositionalism assumes all the things the Bible assumes about people and the world, and works from that -- not from the few verses that are declarative of God's decrees and man's unwillingness.
Which brings us to the part I promised last week: when the empirical facts of abortion are evident, it's the end of the line for the advocate for "choice." And we know this becuase of what they are willing to say when it's all said and done.
For example, Mary Elizabeth Williams seems quite pleased with herself to discuss the state of the abortion debate in this country. This is her lead thesis:
I know that throughout my own pregnancies, I never wavered for a moment in the belief that I was carrying a human life inside of me. I believe that’s what a fetus is: a human life. And that doesn’t make me one iota less solidly pro-choice.From there, she is in 110%. Her first waypoint is public opinion in spite of the state-level activism which has enacted the highest number of abortion restrictions since Roe v. Wade was decided. Her second waypoint is that all life is not equal. How she justifies this is chilling:
We can’t have it if those of us who believe that human life exists in utero are afraid we’re somehow going to flub it for the cause. In an Op-Ed on “Why I’m Pro-Choice” in the Michigan Daily this week, Emma Maniere stated, quite perfectly, that “Some argue that abortion takes lives, but I know that abortion saves lives, too.” She understands that it saves lives not just in the most medically literal way, but in the roads that women who have choice then get to go down, in the possibilities for them and for their families. And I would put the life of a mother over the life of a fetus every single time — even if I still need to acknowledge my conviction that the fetus is indeed a life. A life worth sacrificing.You know: wow. If you want to get after Rom 1:21-23, it's not for the person who has a legitimate question about the ethics involved. It's for people like this who have inverted the priorities of life which are transparently evident to them -- that it is the parent who ought to sacrifice for the sake of the child -- especially when the so-called "sacrifice" is merely economic freedom.
It's with a person like this that we ought to unleash the reproach on her own self-invented moral order. It's here where we ought to ask the question, "you're saying some people are going to be too poor to live? Or that somehow perceive economic advantages ought to dictate the value of human lives? How have you decided that economic scales are the best arbiter of the life-worthiness of a human being?"
The person who is confused or mis-informed doesn't need their foundations of epistemology undone: they need to see the facts for what they are. For the person who sees and accepts the facts and still embraces moral quackery for the sake of a purely-political agenda? Those people require the heavy equipment to move in.