Results tagged “Life” from Reformation21 Blog

The Consequences of Ideas in New York

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By now, most Christians in America have seen the images: thunderous applause at the New York State Assembly and a festively decorated World Trade Center spire. And what is the great deliverance celebrated by this applause? The legal freedom to terminate babies until the moment they are born. One wonders how such a large segment of society - in New York and across America - could embrace such a diabolical legislation, against all scientific proof of sustainable human life within the womb?

One essential answer is that attitudes and behaviors are formed from ideas. And behind the gleeful celebration of the slaughter of pre-born babies is the idea that there is no God. The chief doctrine of secular humanism - embedded in the very expression - is that life does not originate as the creation of a personal and moral deity. The consequence of this denial of God is not only the rebellious egocentricity by which men and women would terminate their own children for the sake of convenience but also the loss of the very idea of humanity. Francis Schaeffer pointed out the consequences of atheistic naturalism forty-five years ago: "if we begin with an impersonal universe, there is no explanation of personality." His point was that our conception of human experience is tied to our conception of God: "when men try to explain man on the basis of an original impersonal, man soon disappears."1 Thus a society founded on the "no God" idea cannot fail to descend into a culture of death, so that life becomes a pawn in calculations of utility and contests of power.

Proof of Schaeffer's prediction is seen all around us. Not only do our fellow citizens rejoice in the slaughter of infants, but the language of violence and murder increasingly fills our political debate. In service of this dehumanizing of society we find not only the ultimate idea in the denial of God, but supporting ideas that buttress an ungodly worldview. Political violence is supported by identity politics and the ideas of cultural Marxism. The standard argument for abortion is the claim that women must have the right over their own body - a claim rendered illogical by the reality that a baby inside her is the body of another person. So it is that not only ultimate ideas but also supporting doctrines have deadly consequences. Out of ideas flow results, and by the pen the savage scalpel is unleashed.

Yet another way ideas have consequences is that there is, in truth, a God. Moreover, this God inflicts righteous judgment on those who deny him. This consequence of ideas - the wrath of God on idolatrous rebellion - also is necessary to account for the spectacle of a great city and state rejoicing for the right to slay innocents. Romans 1:21 says that "although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." Here is an explanation for the irrationality inherent to the pro-abortion position. More than the mere moral consequence of unbelief, Scripture shows that in judgment "God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false" (2 Thess. 2:11). Is this not a likely explanation for the moral insanity of the New York pro-abortion law and its adoring applause? After all, here are secularists who claim science for their beliefs, while the overwhelming consensus of science declares the full humanity of preborn infants. Thus, as Christians watch bewildered, we should realize that the consequences of ideas involve a spiritual dimension of cursing and bondage. The apostle John reminds that there is more than one spirit in the world, so that to turn from God in faith is to secure a dark enslavement to the personal spirit of evil that is at work in this world (1 John 4:1-3).

Because ideas have consequences, it is as important as ever that Christians learn how to discern truth from error and that we become again a people of truth from God's Word. But discernment is not enough - there must be courage as well. Now is not the time for cultural accommodation and dreading fears that our tone might be thought unkind. As we witness the brutalization of our culture and tearfully wonder how our fellow citizens can celebrate such slaughter, the Christian response must include a commitment to speak truth fearlessly from God's Word. We are staring the consequences of ideas in the face. And while a spirit of evil is at work through the ideas of death and darkness, the Bible reminds us of the great power at work through the ideas of biblical truth: "he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

1. Francis A. Schaeffer, Collected Works (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1982), 2:11.

No Mere Morality Issue

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I was gutted this week when I heard that the New York State Senate passed the Reproductive Health Act, giving women the right to abortion up to the point of birth. I welled up with grief imagining the thousands of boys and girls who will be killed as a consequence of this expanded abortion law.

Why am I experiencing such grief over this? The answer is simple. I believe in the sanctity of human life. I believe that human life is carefully fashioned by God as a reflection of Himself (Genesis 1:26-28) and is to be treated with dignity and respect--and that dignity and respect extends to the baby in the womb.

The historic Christian perspective of life beginning at conception has been the position of the church throughout the centuries. Why has the church believed this? Because the Bible teaches it. No place is this more clear than in the Psalm 139. David writes, "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them" (Psalm 139:13-16).

Notice how David speaks of his preborn self as being personally and intimately formed by God Himself. Before he was born, God was intimately acquainted with all his ways and days. Even when he was an "unformed substance" (i.e. embryo), he speaks with the personal pronoun "me."

The prophet Jeremiah uses similar language. Jeremiah writes, "Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:4-5). Remarkably, before he was formed in the womb, Jeremiah was known by God and set apart as a prophet. His life and calling as a mouthpiece for God were in place before Jeremiah took his first breath.

These words from Jeremiah remind me of that wonder filled moment in Luke 1 when Mary visits Elizabeth. In utero, John the Baptist leaps at the presence of Jesus Christ, who is also in utero. It's as if preborn John is already fulfilling his prophetic mission by preparing the way of the Lord with that leap inside Elizabeth (see Luke 1:39-43).

Behind David's words, Jeremiah's call, and John the Baptist's leap is this settled biblical conviction: life and personhood exist before birth. And since that's the case, every child in the womb deserves the respect and dignity of being treated like a human being made in the image of God.

Before I close, something needs to be said. I realize that for some believers, the topic of abortion is no mere morality issue or a piece of legislation. It's a personal and painful part of your story. If that's true for you, please don't think I am condemning you for having an abortion. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let's remember that the Apostle Paul was once named Saul. He was a persecutor of the church and responsible for Stephen's murder in Acts 7. He wrote these words: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). No matter what you've done, if you are in Christ, those words are true of you. Walk in the freedom of knowing that your abortion is no match for the atonement won for you in Christ's blood. Rejoice in knowing that your sin has been nailed to the cross, and you bear it no more. And let's together praise the Lord.