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Defeating Abortion by Strengthening the Church, Strengthening the Church through Apologetics

I am kicking around doing my master’s thesis on this issue and have been thinking about it for some time. Most recently I was led to reflect on it when I noted a pattern among some of my friend’s experiences as well as my own. Namely, our parents were generally liberal, or Democratic, or generally skeptical of conservatism bordering on outright derision and dismissal. Yet, in varying degrees we would all be considered conservative, though a strong streak of libertarianism pokes through as well. We all have a well thought out Christian world view in common, and, incidentally, Christian schooling.

We all reject in no uncertain terms abortion on demand. Most of us would even reject abortion even in cases of rape, incest, and the health of the mother, although we might be less willing to legislate against those scenarios. This is not to say that a Democrat can’t be pro-life. However, in my experience (eg, in conversation with the president of the Democrats for Life chapter a few years back), if one has an overtly Christian world view, that is the deciding factor.

It would seem that there is a correlation between a well thought out Christian world view and one’s position on abortion. In my ten years of ministry I’ve seen evidence of that on numerous occasions. One reason why I would like to tackle the matter for my master’s thesis is because I’d like to transcend the anecdotal. I think there is a correlation and I think further study would vindicate that analysis.

If it is indeed the case that there is a correlation, then it follows that one way to transform the abortion debate in favor of the pro-life position is to create more Christians with well thought out, overtly Christian world views.

Christian apologetics- my passion and expertise- is one way we can pursue such a program. When you are contending for individual souls one reminds himself that the goal is to redeem that man and not to win him over to a position just for the sake of ending an American holocaust. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that once redeemed, people tend to change their minds on abortion. (See for example atheist turned Christian Anne Rice’s comments about her belief that Hillary Clinton is best suited to make abortion rare.)

Over the last few years I’ve realized that apologetics cannot be considered merely an intellectual defense against nonChristians, atheists, and secularists, but also that it is a critical need for existing Christians and those being brought up in the faith. The mainlines are losing by attrition. Yes, we care about the souls of those who leave our midst, but we can also point to the continuing abortion nightmare that persists because our society doesn’t have enough like-minded individuals to win the day on the matter in the secular arena. I gather that we’re in this mess in the first place because Christians didn’t work on the ‘hearts and minds’ of Americans very well following World War 2.

When I was attending the International Academy for Apologetics and Human Rights a couple of years back we reflected on the fact that the Church was slow to move from purely legislative counter-attacks to reaching out to the women facing a difficult decision, many of whom were in unfortunate circumstances. We also talked about the unexpected surprise that resulted from fertility research- which Christians generally don’t object to- and the creation of embryos that now form the basis of our embryonic stem cell issue. I thought this illustrates well the importance of having a grounded perspective on what one’s Christian views entail but also the need for churches around the country to spend more time loving their members and showing them how to love each other- and sinners, and those in unfortunate circumstances.

A legislative approach to undermining abortion and other related issues is certainly needed and required. It is noble work. However, as we all concede that even if abortion were legal there would still be people tempted to get abortions, there will always be a need for informed, concerned, compassionate Christians to act out the Christian walk in radical love. I contend that informed, concerned, compassionate Christians acting in radical love now can buttress the legislative approach and steadily ensure its success.

There is one difference: we were always called to be informed, concerned, and compassionate. This call wasn’t meant to be a strategy by which we transform our culture so that at the very least millions of unborn aren’t dying right in front of our eyes. It was meant to be the way we live as Christians in the first place. Our failure to do so, I believe, had the additional consequence of producing legalized ‘abortion on demand.’

There is much more that could be said and I think there are other valid ways of looking at this issue, as well. I will add in conclusion that people are leaving our churches in droves for a variety of reasons. They leave because they find the service on Sunday to be a sterile expression of Christianity. They leave because of perceived hypocrisy. They leave because of church council politics. They leave because they feel intellectually defrauded.

The status quo will produce more of the same. It is time for a hard look at how we do ‘church.’ As I hope this essay illustrates, what is at stake is not just those who leave, but also generations to come- and even generations that have been cutoff and never allowed even a single gasping breath.

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