Not too long ago I posted an essay asserting that ‘apologetics is the answer to everything.’ Even then I had in mind to discuss the relationship between apologetics and life issues such as abortion, euthanasia, eugenics, etc, but fought off the urge to elaborate on it. Now is my chance.
You know, for most of my life, even during my ‘liberal’ years, I have more or less been pro-life. This became personal when the doctors asked my wife and I if we wanted to ‘terminate’ our child, diagnosed that morning with spina bifida. But I have always been pro-life. Why? The answer has come together in my head over the years: One of my fundamental beliefs has been that humans are creations of God, made in his image. It is clear from the Scriptures that God’s creative act begins at the moment of conception and continues on in our lives, right up to the very end. As such, one cannot blithely regard any human as expendable, as a commodity, as a mere sack of cells, just one more species of animal, or something similar. Moreover, the taking of a human life is an extremely serious matter that is justifiable only in a very narrow set of circumstances.
People who do not have this view of human life will usually not be pro-life.
Apologetics ministries tend to focus on issues such as God’s existence or the fact of the resurrection or the Bible’s reliability. These are all very important. Indeed, they bear directly on the issues at hand- for if there is no God, it obviously follows that we cannot be made by him in his image. Further, Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection on behalf of a fallen human race is an emphatic testament to how much God himself values each human life. Dispense with these, and there are ripples down the line.
There, however, is where I wish to make the point: there are ripples down the line.
Somewhere I read once that in the 1700s they went after God. In the 1800s, they went after Jesus. In the 1900s, they went after Man. The sequence is logical, rational, and predictable. One would like to think that they can dispense with God without there being practical effect, but the 1900s have shown otherwise.
Now, one of the reasons why apologetics ministries do focus on ‘abstract’ issues is because they most directly bear on one very practical effect, that is, the salvation of souls. Christian apologetics recognize that each human being will live forever, “There are no mere mortals,” as C. S. Lewis said, rather we are each either “immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.” (The Weight of Glory).
There may have been a time (but I doubt it) when we could have kept our attention focused on this level of concern and considered our duty fulfilled. However, our immortal nature increasingly needs defense, too. Recent history shows that the temporal stakes of thinking otherwise are quite high. As Joseph Keysor documents in his book, Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible, the Nazi worldview was fueled by stridently atheistic, nihilistic philosophy, with a fair bit of ‘paganism’ rushing in to fill in the gaps that even the Nazis knew could not be filled by their philosophical materialism. The resulting worldview concoction perceived that Jews, blacks, gypsies, disabled people… well, anyone who was not blue eyed and blond… were not actually persons… so, it wasn’t all that big of a deal if you throw them into ovens, which was done by the hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
On top of that we need not wonder what attitude and belief that the communists had about the nature of their fellow man. They were not to be outdone by the Nazis. Millions and millions more died at the hands of communists in the 20th century than died at the hands of the Nazis. This did not happen in the ‘distant past’ of the 1950s, but persisted up through the 70s and early 80s in Cambodia’s killing fields.
Not to be outdone by the Nazis or the communists, the West, including the United States of America and the nations of Europe, and elsewhere, has decided in all of their wisdom that people are not persons until other persons say so, resulting in abortions- in the US alone- topping 50,000,000 in just about 35 years. This mass slaughter flows from the exact same kinds of reasoning that drove Nazism and communism (see, for example, Maafa 21). It flows from the idea that one group of people can decide whether or not other people should be treated as people. It flows from the idea that there is no other higher authority to appeal to in order to make that decision; that is, there is no God to answer the question, so we must answer it ourselves.
There are ripples.
Now, as it happens, many if not most if not all of the apologetics ministries that I am aware of are stridently pro-life and advocate for pro-life positions fairly frequently. This essay is not a missive to them. It’s a missive to the common Christian and the overall leadership in the Church.
To the common Christian I say: you are not common. It is your job to know what you believe and why you believe it. It is your job to transmit this robust understanding to your own kids. It is your job, not the pastor’s. Not the bishop’s. Not the DCE or youth director. It’s yours. As this essay and the one I cited at the beginning argue, there are severe consequences, both eternally and temporally, if the job is not done.
To the leadership I say: these are not mere ‘political’ issues. Many shy away from these topics in the pulpit and elsewhere on the view that they are nothing more than divisive political issues and not the sort of thing that should sully the good feelings of unity within the congregation. I hate to say it, but this approach tacitly fuels the notion that people- not God- are the ones who decide when people are people. It tacitly says that the question of God’s existence is still an open question. It subtly allows that the resurrection may not have happened- except, maybe, ‘spiritually.’ It gives cover to those who figure that maybe the Bible is outdated and bigoted, and what is written within it about Mankind, about men and women, about marriage, about life, isn’t accurate, or might be a function of a past barbaric society. Or it might be true- we won’t speak of it too emphatically, but will let each people decide the matter without input from us and vote that decision at the ballot box.
Some will say that the only thing that ought to be preached from the pulpit is the Gospel, in all its purity. I say that if your Gospel does not explicitly hold that it shows just how much God values Man that he was willing to suffer to redeem us, it is no Gospel at all. Will you really omit from your preaching the consequences of viewing Mankind as less than redeemed children of God who were made in his image? Do not be surprised if there are temporal consequences.
But perhaps a word to my fellow apologists is in order: there are ripples; it is part of our work to point that out to fellow believers, to the common man and to the leadership, without compromise. More, it is part of our work to give an apologetic for the proposition that Man is made in the image of God, just as it is to give an apologetic that there is a God at all, and furthermore, that God double down on his valuing of Mankind by redeeming us on the cross, followed by the defeat of death- all actual, physical, historical realities- thus showing that apologetics is not incompatible with the Gospel, but is central to it.
For more information about how the culture of death has come about and continues on today, I strongly suggest that you look at a presentation I recently gave. This presentation comes at it from the other side, showing how a godless evolutionary perspective and statism gave rise to the calamities of the 20th century. Anyway, here it is.
Also, consistent with my own view that apologetic endeavors need to be applied to the entire Bible and the whole scope of human existence, I strongly urge you to register and participate in ACM’s online apologetics conference, where this year we will be giving an apologetic for the Biblical family within the culture at large. Dr. Gene Edward Veith is keynoting. Here is the link: http://onlineapologeticsconference.com/