Of Political and Theological Divides - A Way Forward on Abortion
by Pastor Cary Gordon
There is a divide that now noticeably exists among Christian political activists across the United States surrounding the answer to the question: should activists demand abortion be outlawed outright, or should they choose instead to incrementally reduce abortion out of existence by the application of varying degrees of aggravating regulatory laws? One side we will call the “incrementalist” insists the use of a method intended to gradually regulate abortion into oblivion, and the other we will call the “purist” demands incremental strategy be abandoned in favor of straight-forward legislation that clearly and entirely outlaws murder of the unborn at once. The strident and ongoing disagreement between these two factions, ironically, guarantees the abortionist continues to win, as he has for the past 38 years since Roe v. Wade. A solution MUST be reached. Lives are literally at stake.
For example, the purists accuse the incrementalists of “having no intention of stopping the evil, because their profitable organizations are raising so much money supporting the ongoing battle.” Therefore, if the battle were to be finally won, the money would stop coming in by the millions, and the professional regulator of abortion would be unemployed. This accusation is very similar to that made by some concerning the medical community. Doctors, they say, “secretly hide the cure for chronic diseases for the purpose of guaranteeing daily revenue earned by the never-ending treatment of its victims.” The incrementalists accuse the purists of being character assassins, conspiracy theorists, and unhinged bomb-throwers oozing with the vomitous varnish of puritanical self-righteousness. Verbal grenades are thrown, and the shrapnel painfully lodges itself in the flesh of them both. Meanwhile, the abortionist sits perched on the highest plain of the battlefield chortling at the sight of his sworn enemies’ infighting.
In this regard, I am inclined to explain a way forward based upon my own analysis of the situation. My goal is to prescribe the proverbial medicine of mutual understanding that is evidently as lacking as it is necessary if festering wounds on both sides of the argument can be healed. Point of fact: neither side is without merit. Both sides operate within a particular paradigm that limits their understanding of the lay of the battlefield and misses the chortling target. If the wounds on both sides can be allowed to begin to heal and the sick on both sides can refrain from the temptation to pick at their own sores, these two warring factions may be brought together once again around what should be a common goal – the victorious end of a satanic, government-endorsed American holocaust.
While this article will uncover the issues of this dispute in a way that will certainly have national implications for the Christian political movement as a whole, I wish to focus specifically and primarily upon the recent situation concerning abortion regulation that broke out this past year among Christian conservatives in the state of Iowa. The animus surrounded the single question of whether or not abortion should be outlawed wholesale or regulated incrementally.
The root of our political divides within the church family of Iowa and elsewhere is ultimately theological. I would be remiss if I did not also point out that the political rifts that exist exclusively without the church, among the ranks of the unchurched biblically illiterate, are also equally theological. (Think “atheist” or “secularist” or “humanist” as competitive theologies, but I digress. In this article, we will focus on the mind of the churched population within Iowa, with obvious implications upon the state of our national abortion strategy.)
I believe the present Christian disharmony specifically stems from the activist’s views of free-will and what he or she believes is meant by the common Christian phrase, “the sovereignty of God.” There are three general categories within which most Christian activists eventually fit, and this writing will attempt to simplify the subject by drawing a broad three-way distinction. It is my hope that each reader might better understand himself, but more importantly, the differing paradigm of his brother-at-arms.
With that said, I acknowledge that human beings are often as individually unique in their appearance and personal theology as are snow-flakes and their geometric patterns. So, while I will use this writing to categorize believers into three general groups, I also wish to concede, right at the onset, that many variations, flavors, and hybridized versions of each division certainly exist on a case by case basis. While a hundred groups at odds with most others could be described and contrasted, for the sake of time and efficiency we must resist the temptation to unnecessarily complicate our subject by adding more than three layers to a review of the problems now faced by those who wish to end abortion in Iowa and America. It is true that some Catholics embrace Pelagian or semi-Pelagian theology[i], but others do not.[ii] It is true that Dutch Reformed, a growing number of Southern Baptist[iii], and Presbyterian believers tend to Calvinist theology, but some do not. It is true that Methodist, Free-Will Baptist, Wesleyan and Pentecostal believers are usually associated with Arminian theology, but some are not. So it is also best that we not attempt to describe the Body of Christ merely in terms of sectarian denominational brandings, lest the paradigm problem Christians create within the political world become far too complex to explore.
The first group where many Christian activists fit in the state of Iowa is entitled “Calvinist.” The Calvinist generally teaches that sin was universally imputed upon the entire human race through Adam’s sin.
Every human being is believed to be born in sin and naturally evil until and unless the person is transformed by the power of God’s grace through repentance.
As a result of Adam’s transgression, he further believes man’s free moral agency was and is so totally depraved he cannot use his human will to “choose” to obey God unless God first sovereignly manipulates his human will to do so. In short, it is alleged by the Calvinist that the human will was so corrupted by the fall of Adam it ceased to be capable of any other choice than evil. It is further assumed that God chose who would go to heaven and who would go to hell, long ago, before the foundations of the world, according to Ephesians 1:4-8. Thus, Christ Jesus’ sacrificial atonement made on the cross at Calvary is believed to have only been made for those pre-chosen for eternal salvation. To be clear, the Calvinist often does not believe that Christ’s death was substitutionary and universal on behalf of the whole human race. He generally believes that God is in total control of both evil and good at all times.[iv] Every political decision made by the Calvinist will be filtered through his or her theological assumptions.
The second group where many other Christian activists fit in Iowa is called by the name “Arminian.”
The Arminianist believes that man’s free moral agency is inherent in his corporeal design as demonstrated in the Garden of Eden. He trusts that since God is “sovereign,” He must also, by the very definition of the word, possess the power to create other “sovereign” creatures. He further contends that such is precisely what God demonstrated in the Genesis story, when Adam was created “after His likeness and in His image.” Therefore, the Arminianist believes it is God’s sovereign will and design that mankind be completely capable of using free will, and thus, is directly responsible for his own actions.
In short, the Arminianist believes it was God’s sovereign choice that man be made sovereignly responsible for the results of his own dominion of earth. He further believes that sin was totally imputed upon the entire human race through Adam’s transgression of God’s law. Like the Calvinist, he, too, believes every human being was born in sin and remains naturally evil until and unless the person is transformed by the power of God’s grace through repentance. Therefore, man is inarguably depraved, but not so “totally depraved” (as the Calvinist describes) that he is somehow disabled from the essential ability to choose good or evil. Thus, “depravity” to the Arminianist, correctly describes a human born into sin and destined for hell, but it does not necessarily include the loss of his own powers of free will, as is purported by the Calvinist. Free will is argued by the Arminianist to have been part of the human design both before and after the fall to sin, so it stands to reason, he claims, that the imputation of sin does not possess the power to displace the free will of a man any more than the salvation of a lost soul could remove the free will afterwards. In other words, the depraved man can still choose to repent of his sins and yield to God before he is saved by grace, in the same way he may also improperly choose to sin after he has been saved by grace. In each case, repentance and a deliberate yielding of the human will is a prerequisite of forgiveness, according to 1 John 1:9.
To contrast the two, when the Calvinist presents John 15:16, in which Jesus states, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” as an alleged proof that God pre-determined who would or would not be redeemed from hell, the Arminianist explains the same verse, and other similar passages (like Ephesians 1:4-8), as little more than a reference to God’s prehistoric decision to universally die for the sins of the world, “before the ages were framed.” In that way, the Arminianist contends God universally chose all men long before any were ever born, according to Colossians 1:15-18, Ephesians 1:4-8 and Ephesians 3:9. In other words, had God not chosen to die for mankind, before the foundations of the ages, no man would now enjoy the opportunity to choose Him in response to the preaching of the cross. This scenario, espoused by the Arminianist, does not preclude the legitimacy and existence of a functional and free human will.[v] Every political decision made by the Arminianist is filtered through these theological assumptions.
The third school of thought, as it relates to man’s possession of a free will and God’s sovereignty is called by the name Pelagian. Theopedia defines it: “Pelagianism views humanity as basically good and morally unaffected by the Fall. It denies the imputation of Adam’s sin, original sin, total depravity, and substitutionary atonement.
It simultaneously views man as fundamentally good and in possession of libertarian free will. With regards to salvation, it teaches that man has the ability in and of himself (apart from divine aid) to obey God and earn eternal salvation.”[vi] The Catholic pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes (one of the four Apostolic Constitutions resulting from the Second Vatican Council) is seen by its critics as Semipelagian. In his 1969 commentary on the document, Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) accused parts of it of using “downright Pelagian terminology” in its discussion of free will. (See Allen, John L. (2005). Pope Benedict XVI: A Biography of Joseph Ratzinger. London: Continuum. p. 81. ISBN 0826417868).
Unconventional Mormon theologian Sterling M. McMurrin stated “The theology of Mormonism is completely Pelagian”, i.e., Mormons do not believe in original sin. It is doubtful that many Latter-day Saints would think of themselves as “Pelagians,” or express their beliefs in the traditional terms used in the theological debates surrounding Pelagianism. However, McMurrin’s statement is true to the extent that they do not believe in “original sin.” However, Latter-day Saints’ belief differs from Pelagianism in that they believe that personal, individual perfection is only possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. (See McMurrin, Sterling M. The Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion 1965). Every political decision made by the Pelagianist is filtered through these theological assumptions.
Three Theologies Reacted Within WW2 Germany
In order to understand how these three schools of theological thought may respond to a modern crisis of political and civic life, I propose a hypothetical review of the rise of Adolf Hitler in World War II Germany. Despite the fact that both John Calvin and Luther strongly advocated interposition against tyrants,[vii] the popular Calvinist teacher Pastor John MacArthur once publicly remarked about his own interpretation of Romans 13, “Now listen to this. It doesn’t matter whether your ruler is Caesar, Herod, Pilate, Felix, Festus, Agrippa, Stalin, Hitler, Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton, it doesn’t matter who it is, he says be subject, you teach them to be subject.”[viii]
If adherents of the kind of teaching espoused by John MacArthur were inserted into the events of 1930s Germany, they might have believed, for example, that God had sovereignly chosen to use Hitler as a tool of judgment against the world, and, therefore, might also have voted for Hitler’s rise to power, following the death of President John Hindenburg. (All this while personally believing Hitler was evil and unworthy of public office).
The Pelagianist might just as well have thought Hitler to have good intentions, but perhaps lacking understanding on some important biblical truths, and graciously supported him choosing only to speak of his positive attributes, rather than focus upon his faults. There exists no shortage of happy photos of Adolf frolicking with both religious leaders of the Pelagian and semi-Pelagian persuasions.[ix]
The Arminianist might have determined Hitler to be purely evil, and therefore, empowered by satanic influence. This philosophy would require the Arminianist to offer Adolf absolute civil-resistance to the extent of assassination, if deemed necessary, to save human lives. In fact, participation in a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler is precisely what the Lutheran theologian, Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, attempted to do – an effort for which he was eventually hung upon the Nazi gallows.[x]
Transfer your general knowledge of these three broad-stroked Christian positions on human responsibility as it relates to God’s sovereignty, and you may begin to understand the anger and frustration that has recently surfaced in the State of Iowa on the issue of outlawing abortion. Generally speaking, the Christian view of infanticide in all its forms calls for legal purity before both God and the American Constitution. It is agreed that only one kind of law could properly and righteously reflect the Divine Law of God – one that codifies the act as murder – plain and simple.
It is further argued that the Declaration plainly states the greatest purpose of our government to be the protection of life. Further still, the Declaration is the “legal organic law” of our entire nation and rationale for its existence, whilst the Constitution merely organizes the power drawn from the Declaration. Since these things are true, it is resolved that life should be protected at every level of American government – local, state and federal. Abortion should never be validated, funded, or in any way promoted by the government. As was established by force during the surrender of the south and closing of the American Civil War, state’s rights (think 10th Amendment) should never be allowed to trump those inalienable rights promoted by our Declaration. Man-created ordinances are subordinate to God’s Law-Word. States don’t have a right to chain African natives inside their barns after a long hard day of servitude, so it stands to reason they do not either have a right to murder babies (or become a miniature North Korea, endangering us all with an inescapable radioactive cloud). The conclusion is simple: all innocent life must be completely protected by government. Since it is scientifically and intellectually clear that life begins at conception (fertilization in the womb), then no exceptions should be given in the case of rape or incest, as the child is not guilty of the crime and remains an innocent victim along with the mother.
After reading the expression of this clear and simple position on paper, is the reader hard-pressed to understand how another Christian could disagree? Not so fast. For the last 38 years since Roe v. Wade, anti-abortion activists have primarily ceded both the legal and constitutional ground, as well as the high and lofty moral ground upon which the entire movement ironically claims to stand (life begins at conception, and therefore, taking it at any point after it begins is murder), by agreeing with the enemies of life.
How could this be true?
It was first made possible by a rogue Supreme Court whose justices failed to uphold their own sworn oaths to uphold a Constitution – the supreme law of our nation – designed, according to the rationale given in the Declaration, to preserve LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, none of which can be enjoyed by the murdered human soul.
Since that time, abortions continue because those activist groups allegedly devoted to defeating the evil empowered by a rogue court have come into some intellectual agreement with the very evil they seek to conquer. In the first generation of Roe v. Wade’s 1973 assertions, three things should have happened:
1) The law-making and/or executive branches of the American government could have and should have taken appropriate measures to rebuff a rogue and unconstitutional ruling from our Supreme Court. They should have done so with reference to the authority of the organic law’s stated purpose for America, following the example of President Andrew Jackson, but neither the executive branch nor the legislative branch asserted their own legal right to question the constitutionality of a decision made within the judicial branch. Why? Nearly all judges today believe their interpretation of the Constitution is binding on the other branches, and most in the legislative and executive branches have pretty much accepted that assertion. Yet, in 1832 Andrew Jackson’s Veto Message to Congress vetoing their establishment of a national bank makes this point very clear. In Jackson’s rebuffing of the Supreme Court he wrote:
“It is maintained by the advocates of the bank that its constitutionality in all its features ought to be considered as settled by precedent and by the decision of the Supreme Court. To this conclusion I cannot assent.
Mere precedent is a dangerous source of authority, and should not be regarded as deciding questions of constitutional power except where the acquiescence of the people and the States can be considered as well settled…The Congress, the Executive, and the Court must each for itself be guided by its own opinion of the Constitution. Each public officer who takes an oath to support the Constitution swears that he will support it as he understands it, and not as it is understood by others. It is as much the duty of the House of Representatives, of the Senate, and of the President to decide upon the constitutionality of any bill or resolution which may be presented to them for passage or approval as it is of the supreme judges when it may be brought before them for judicial decision. The opinion of the judges has no more authority over Congress than the opinion of Congress has over the judges, and on that point the President is independent of both. The authority of the Supreme Court must not, therefore, be permitted to control the Congress or the Executive when acting in their legislative capacities, but to have only such influence as the force of their reasoning may deserve.”[xi]
By default, the inaction following the 1973 Roe V. Wade decision further enshrined an earlier historic usurpation made by the Warren court (1953-1969) which pretended the judicial branch’s “supreme court” not only to be the “supreme” of its own branch, but the alleged “supreme branch” of all three branches – a tyrannical oligarchy.
2) In reaction to the lethargy of both the sitting executive and legislative branches at that time, and in response to the unconstitutionality of the judicial branch’s 1973 violation of their own limitations (referring in their ruling to silly “penumbras and emanations”), the citizens of our Republic could have and should have reacted by strongly ejecting all elected officials guilty of indecision. They did not do so.
3) Because the illegitimate act of the Roe v. Wade oligarchical court was allowed to survive, additional court decisions acknowledging and further ensconcing a perceived legal legitimacy of that de-stabilizing 1973 decision began to pile into our entire legal system. This sullied and undermined our system of law by strengthening the illegitimate Roe v. Wade decision through case precedents cemented into our legal process known as “stare decisis.”[xii] Stare decisis helps clarify the law in borderline situations and makes justice more predictable, but it is not supposed to be an absolute. One problem today is the Canons of Professional Responsibility say a lawyer or judge should not argue or rule against an established decision unless he has a good possibility of getting the decision overruled. As a result, if a lawyer goes to court and argues against an established precedent, his argument is likely to be judged frivolous and dilatory, and he will be assessed court costs and the other side’s attorney fees. This is wrong; it prevents lawyers from examining established precedents and considering whether they are correct. In my opinion, regardless of the fact that many of those opportunities missed by the first-generation responders of the 1973 decision are still technically available today – because of the inescapable burden created by thirty eight years of stare decisis – a combination of good law-making in the legislative branch, along with aggressive executive interposition against further misbehavior within the judicial branch will be necessary for permanent protection of the unborn.
Thirty-eight years later, instead of simply outlawing the illicit extermination of blameless life, the extermination is…regulated. Perhaps our pro-life movement has been confused? After all, it is very true that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness each require some form of regulation. What is a self-governed individual soul if not a self-regulated man? What is a happy family if not a family ruled by loving parents? What is a civil society if not a society that abides by rules of acceptable conduct? What is a stable galaxy if not a solar system regulated by the invisible laws of physics as they relate to the divine power of gravity?
It is true that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness go hand-in-hand with the general concept of regulation. But let us deconstruct its inappropriate application in the case of abortion. Regulation – the provision of rules – is quite appropriate on a road with congested traffic. In such a case, their existence facilitates the protection of public life. Regulation – the provision of “Robert’s Rules” – is certainly appreciated during a public meeting. In such a case, their existence facilitates the protection of the workings of liberty. Regulation – the provision of rules – is something good and reasonable for those who wish to enjoy a fair game of tennis. In such a case, their existence facilitates one’s personal pursuit of happiness. The same might be said of any variety of fun-loving games created by Milton Bradley. (With respect to the actual meaning of the phrase “pursuit of happiness,” we acknowledge it is a reference to the right of private property ownership, and that neither tennis nor a Milton Bradley board game can provide much entertainment, without land upon which the tennis court must sit, or in the case of Milton Bradley games, a nice table placed upon a floor which is placed upon the property in order for the board game to be enjoyed).
But regulations, my dear reader, are not always appropriate. In many cases, they are entirely absurd. For example, suggest the provision of regulations – the provision of rules – on how to properly rape an unwilling lady, and you’ll be discarded from the room and labeled a dangerous and imbecilic pervert. Dare you suggest the provision of regulations – the provision of rules – on the particular times of the morning when bank-robbing should be considered legal, and when it might later be deemed criminal again (don’t be late!), and expect an intervention from loved-ones praying you’ll visit the psychiatrist. Yet, it is strangely now the norm, not only among those who make regulated murder a profitable business for licensed killers, but among those who tearfully desire to end it. Regulation of the murder of children is apparently the most socially acceptable path to its eventual end. The antagonist and protagonist alike argue it to be the pragmatic and politically reasonable compromise to make “if you ever wish it to end.” It is a truth to say that for some evils regulation is not enough; prohibition is required. For example, rather than saying murder is prohibited, why don’t we just regulate murder, saying that no one may commit murder unless he has a murderer’s license, has gone through 50 hours of murderer training, uses registered guns or knives, follows approved methods, and undergoes a three-day waiting period to reflect on whether murder is really what he wants to do?
Dear reader, I mean you no offense and certainly wish to avoid reopening any wound already inflicted by any other party in this war, but the bitter medicine that must be swallowed by the mature if any wound can ever heal is just this cold hard fact: the alleged regulation of what should be a criminal act, beloved, is something tolerated only by a society of unjust fools. It is nothing more and nothing less.
Sometimes, you see, a child can be murdered one calendar day prior to the twentieth week of life. Sometimes they can’t. It just depends on the calendar-games played in the guidelines provided to the state-licensed murder mill. What could better illustrate the truth of the idiom, “compromise is not a virtue”?
As was stated at the outset of this writing. In this article we are deliberately making three simple distinctions of Christian theology. We recognize there are more than a billion variations of these three, and that exceptions must exist. Moreover, it stands to reason that the reader may find himself squarely fitting into none of our three proposed square holes, but this is beside the point. With that said, let us continue with what happens to the truths expressed about our three categories of theology on the Christian view of abortion:
1) The Calvinist position, in the specific case of those who follow the doctrines of John MacArthur, might be prone to do little or nothing to end abortion, believing it probably the sovereign will of God, or in other cases, Calvinists who reject MacArthur’s view of authority (thankfully there are those who do) might demonstrate they are righteously and inflexibly anchored to the absolute position: incrementalism is evil, and abortion should be ended without compromise. The fallout of his justified unwillingness to sign an incremental bill (deaths of children) can be accepted as God’s jurisdiction and responsibility. Thus, he will lose no sleep following his refusal to sign a partial birth abortion ban. Alas, I know a Calvinist who passionately supports incrementalism. (As I said earlier, theology is to individuals as geometry is to snowflakes.)
2) The Arminianist, however, feels extraordinary responsibility if he is presented with an opportunity to save some lives. He elects to place the “spirit of the law” above the “letter of the law,” according to the demonstrations of Jesus’ handling of the spirit of the law in front of the legalists of Matthew 15 and Mark 7. An Arminianist would usually sign a partial birth abortion ban, for failing to intervene would violate his conscience. He would see himself as guilty of putting Constitutional arguments above the more important issue of saving the lives of some late-term babies, the very act for which he rejects the philosophy of Ron Paul. (The Arminianist typically believes it is wrong that the libertarian candidate promotes decentralized virtues above the need for a federal abortion ban and federal marriage protection.)
3) Wedged between the Calvinist and the Arminianist resides the Pelagianist (and semi-Pelagianist). It is difficult for the Pelagianist to accept the reality that some portions of those caught within this argument are “evil persons” and that a counter-insurgent “scorched-earth” political strategy should be used against the efforts of “evil.” The Pelagianist, by definition, does not believe that man is born with an inherent sin-nature. Quite the opposite is believed – that all men are inherently good. Therefore, the Pelagianist instinctively and compassionately excuses errors in his political opponents as “fear” or “ignorance,” but rarely will acknowledge his antagonist as being truly “evil.” He is prone to support and author incrementalism more consistently than the other two.
It is certainly true that different schools of thought can read the same simple Bible command and arrive at a different conclusion. One reads “thou shalt not murder” and tearfully protests against capital punishment. Perhaps the protester has not understood God’s command in Genesis chapter nine? Without a direct discussion, we are left to presumption. Does the emotional and pious protester violate their conscience? They are not in violation of their conscience, per se, though their actions, in my opinion, are emotion-based and ill-formed upon unstable scriptural misunderstandings.
Another reads “thou shalt not murder” and lives the kind of Army life of which movies are made. He refuses to hold a gun, much less fire one. He refuses to obey his commanding officers, appealing to the higher authority of “God’s Law” as justification for his refusal to obey a direct order. He gets cussed-out by layers of superior officers and treated like an enemy by his fellow soldiers throughout his military experience. He is hated until a day on a battlefield, when he miraculously rescues around seventy-five wounded infantrymen (one at a time dragging them through walls of gun fire) against impossible odds…as if he is divinely protected - seemingly bullet-proof. He is revered as a truly great hero. He becomes an American legend. He was and is admirable to the utmost. The application of his firm and childlike faith in God shames the wisest. Yet, his childlike understanding of the command was clearly wrong. He need not necessarily repent for his ignorance. His name is Desmond T. Doss. He is a conscientious objector and the only one drafted into WW2 to receive the nation’s highest honor. The citation for his honored service reads, “His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far and beyond the call of duty.”
Others read “thou shalt not murder”, and they agree to sign a partial-birth abortion ban. In their minds and consciences, they only accept responsibility for the part of the bill that saves the lives of some children and subsequently blame the rebellious men on the other side of the negotiating table for refusing to allow them to move the target of the legal protection time-line all the way back to the point of conception.
They are convinced that the sinner’s power over the negotiating process is responsible (not them) for the ugliness that remains in the final compromise which inevitably still allows innocent children to be exterminated. In his mind and heart, the Christian incrementalist fights for as many lives as he can save and only takes moral responsibility for the portion secured.
In all cases cited above, the following is true: ignorance is not malevolence until determined to be willful. An ignorant man needs instruction. A malevolent man needs rebuke. “Father forgive them, for they know NOT what they do” still resounds in the valley below Golgotha.
In the end, it is possible – even likely – that all three paradigms we have now reviewed seek to end abortion, agree that abortion itself is evil, and desire to please God with all of their hearts. Where all sides can come together will most likely NOT be in theology; therefore, the issue of what is or is not the most legitimate and sensible STRATEGY must come to the FOREFRONT if the Christian political movement is to unite powerfully enough to dislodge government-sanctioned abortion. It is possible for an Arminianist, Calvinist, and a Pelagianist to concur on strategy, if it can be explained clearly and the three can agree to employ the objective use of deductive reasoning.
From these three main theological divisions within the Christian community, two generally accepted political strategies have evolved. Though the purist approach and incremental approach are at variance with one another, each prescribes a plan to end abortion in America. My observation has been that both the Arminianist and Pelagianist have demonstrated a proclivity toward the concept of what is called “political incrementalism,” whereas some Calvinists have demonstrated an inclination toward the letter of the law both biblically and constitutionally. I acknowledge there are exceptions to what I have described, yet the inclinations remain clear.
Although I am Arminian with regard to free moral agency, it just so happens, so far as strategy is concerned, that I personally agree with the Calvinist proclivity demonstrated by some who approach the politics of abortion with unbending puritanical truth. Why? Besides the most obvious point already made – that it is logically, theologically, morally, legally, and constitutionally inconsistent to “provide rules for proper murder.” Someone MUST champion the ROOT of the moral argument upon which we are standing…that all abortion is evil and all abortions are acts of murder. Truth without confusion and contradiction is precisely what society needs – not only from its religious leaders, for God requires it of His civil rulers. God still demands that Caesar render unto Him due reverence.
I’m not entirely sure what must be done to heal the pain between these frustrated sides, but healed they must become before they will likely embrace a unified and effective political strategy.
Naturally, there also exists a fourth group – a political subset of the three we are discussing in this article – consisting of every stripe of believer-in-Christ and non-believer-in-Christ. Their existence, stirred into the three categories we have discussed, creates confusion and animosity within the anti-abortion movement. We will call them “defeatists.” In their hearts, they DO NOT BELIEVE it is possible to outlaw abortion, and they are content to play “calendar games” on the issue, using it as a political football. When the date that prohibits murder moves closer toward conception, they cheer a victory and raise money. When the date moves further away from conception, they decry it and raise money. The bottom line is they do not believe it can be won, and they are not willing to stake their political career on a pipe-dream.
This group is made up of apathetic unbelievers who don’t care and defeatist Christians who don’t care enough. They are all sinners who deserve to be publicly repudiated. The trouble with repudiating them is that, in most cases, only God knows the motivation of their heart. Unless they reveal their motivation outright, on our best day, with few exceptions, we can only guess. Our recognition of corrupt men among us must not cause us to alienate those who possess sincerity; though we may believe they are mistaken to continue a failed strategy of incrementalism. We must not alienate the sincere people spoken of in the previous remarks, because alienation, ironically, guarantees that abortionists will continue to win.
The first and foremost problem with the incremental strategy is simple. The past 38 years serve as the proof that it doesn’t work. In response to this fact, I have personally witnessed advocates of pro-life incrementalism argue a few fleeting examples where it has “saved lives.” Ironically, that very argument is precisely the proof necessary to solidify my previous hypothesis. It did not save the overwhelming majority of lives. Thus, the fair and non-emotional charge is re-stated and proven to be true by the antagonist and protagonist alike: “Incrementalism does NOT work! Period!”
The second problem with the incremental strategy is also simple. It empowers the pro-abortion candidates, who aggressively and willfully resist our efforts to end the holocaust, to remain in office by pretending they are NOT pro-abortion candidates (think “Bart Stupak”)![xiii] How? We provide them with opportunities to vote in favor of extremely weak incremental bills that statistically save few, if any, babies. They vote in favor of the bill because they know the bill will do little, if anything, to hinder the ongoing abortion industry. Afterward, the pro-abortionist representative purposely confuses both sides of their electorate as a means to guarantee re-election.
How is this done? This is also quite simple: if the bill is toothless and does not really “take away a woman’s right to choose,” the leftist can argue he is “pro-choice” when he finds it expedient. This is particularly helpful when speaking to an audience representing the pro-choice voting block. If the “toothless” bill is also an emotion-based attempt to press the women in question to re-consider their decision, then the leftist can argue that the same bill is also “pro-life.” Again, this will be blissfully helpful when he speaks to constituents representing the pro-life voting block. When caught telling two audiences completely different things, the disingenuous politician replies, “Not so! I am personally against abortion, but I don’t want the government interfering in personal decisions! I have told the truth to both audiences!”
In review, incrementalism has been employed by well-meaning Calvinists, Arminianists, and Pelagianists alike over the last 38 years. It has failed. Abortions continue every day across our land. Incrementalism has also provided re-election cover for wicked men who, rather than ending it, have perfected the art of pretending, pacifying two opposing sides of a life and death battle. Therefore, a new strategy must be adopted post-haste. This strategy is very simple and has five steps:
1) Reject the poor politics of incrementalism and refuse to provide cover for chameleons.
2) Propose a “purist” bill which recovers the moral position upon which the entire movement has claimed to stand, stating the truth – abortion is murder and must be outlawed, with no exceptions for rape and incest, because the baby didn’t commit the crime.
3) Bring the bill to a simple up or down vote. If it passes, Christians may celebrate. If it does not pass into law, proceed to step 4.
4) Expose every pro-abortionist voting record to his or her constituents, and let the informed and not-so-easily fooled electorate replace them with a pro-life representative.
5) Repeat the previous four steps until the battle is won.
Many state-level gun-lobby groups have made great progress using the very method proposed above. Purist bills expose who the true enemies of an issue are and make it much more likely they can be defeated in future elections. The pro-life movement could learn a great deal from single-issue second-amendment groups. Until they do, the pro-life movement will continue to underwhelm with a lack of progress. On the day Christian conservatives come together around the simple and honest strategy outlined above, progress toward legitimately outlawing abortion will finally begin, and abortion will be defeated within a few years, and in some cases, only a few months.
Whether you be a Calvinist, Pelagianist, or Arminian Christian, I pray you will join me in an effort to stand once again upon the legal, constitutional, moral, and divine truth we claim to believe. Let us abort all agreements with our enemies that end with the words, “and then you can still kill the child,” and give birth to a restored American republic, where LIFE, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are hallowed once again.
[ii] The Catholic pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes (one of the four Apostolic Constitutions resulting from the Second Vatican Council) is seen by its critics as Semipelagian. In his 1969 commentary on the document, Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) accused parts of it of using “downright Pelagian terminology” in its discussion of free will. Allen, John L. (2005). Pope Benedict XVI: A Biography of Joseph Ratzinger. London: Continuum. p. 81. ISBN 0826417868.
[vii] Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. IV, § 20
[xii] Stare decisis is a legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedents established by prior decisions. In a legal context, this is understood to mean that courts should generally abide by precedents and not disturb settled matters. See it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stare_decisis