Is God as Pro-Life as Christian, faith-based Pro-Life organizations?
Let’s begin by defining terms.
What is faith?
In the book of Hebrews (11:1, Berean Literal Translation) “faith” is defined as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not being seen.”
If you support or participate in an organization in favor of life, and this organization upholds a certain set of beliefs or doctrines, then it follows that the organization’s beliefs or doctrines should also be in favor of life. The Pro-Life movement consists mainly of evangelical Protestants and Catholics.
So, what exactly, do evangelical Protestants and Catholics hope for? Of what “things not (yet) being seen” are they convinced?
Three tools to share faith…
In Good News at Life’s Choices I wrote,
To both my relief and delight, Life’s Choices of Lake County does NOT require peer counselors to believe and teach the doctrine of eternal torment in Hell — something that happens behind the scenes in many Pro-Life ministries, which automatically excludes believers like me who reject the doctrine.
Marcia explained that procedures and practices have evolved over the past decade. Currently, peer counselors at Life’s Choices may use one of three “tools” to share their faith (none of which mention eternal torment in Hell), or they can choose not to use tools at all, and just tell their story in their own words. The idea is to introduce each woman to the Maker of the baby inside her and invite her into a relationship with the Creator of all life.
The three tools have commonalities that reveal the hope of evangelical Protestants and Catholics:
- Tool 1: “everlasting life… heaven”
- Tool 2: “gift of eternal life”
- Tool 3: “the gift of eternal life”
Evangelical Protestants and Catholics who use these or similar tools share their hope with the women who visit crisis pregnancy centers in order that these women might avoid consequences:
- Tool 1: “we deserve to die and be separated from God forever”
- Tool 2: “God’s punishment for your sin is death and separation from God forever”
- Tool 3: “the soul that sins, it shall die… [God] is just and must punish sin”
Do aborted babies have eternal life? Do aborted babies go to heaven?
Most evangelicals would either say “yes” outright, or lean very heavily toward “yes.” The theological problem with the auto-yes response is the doctrine of original sin. Care Net, one of the largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America (Life’s Choices is part of this network), indirectly references original sin in its statement of faith:
4. We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful man, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential, and that this salvation is received through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and not as a result of good works.
The fate of babies who grow up and reject God…
Traditional evangelical Protestants and Catholics believe sin is both inherent and personal, in other words, if you are human, you are a sinner, even if you are not old enough to have ever personally committed any sins. There are differing views on exactly how or why unborn babies, as well as infants, children, and adults who do not have the ability to reason go to heaven. For more information, read this article. For our purposes, we can focus on babies whose lives do not end in natural or clinical abortion, who grow and mature to gain the ability to reason, and according to number four of Care Net’s statement of faith, must receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord or be damned:
6. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation.
What is this damnation? According to the “tools” we examined earlier, damnation is the punishment for sin: death followed by conscious eternal separation from God. The prevailing doctrine embraced by evangelical Protestants and Catholics defines eternal separation from God as eternal torment in hell or the Lake of Fire. A less popular but tolerated view of separation from God is annihilationism, the belief that damned souls, being separated from God, cease to exist. A growing minority of evangelical Protestants and Catholics believe in a more hopeful third view, which is, unfortunately, systematically condemned in many churches. You can read about it in Julie Ferwerda’s book, Raising Hell available in print or free PDF download. See also the list of resources on the home page of WhatGodDoes.com.
Examining abortion in light of doctrine…
Andrea Yates who killed all five of her children, said:
The way I was raising them, they could never be saved. They were doomed to perish in the fires of hell.
If it is true that unborn babies, infants, children, and adults who do not have the ability to reason go to heaven, then didn’t Andrea Yates technically do her children a favor by drowning them one by one in the bathtub? Otherwise, they might have grown up and rejected the plan of salvation. Don’t her actions ensure their place in heaven? Isn’t it true that no one needs to worry about the eternal destiny of her children, since they died before reaching the age of accountability? (If you haven’t heard about the age of accountability, please do your homework.)
Some readers may feel a sense of outrage at the previous paragraph. It’s as if I’m condoning murder. How comfortable and convenient it is to be outraged at hard questions! Outrage deflects attention away from the questions themselves and toward the question-asker.
This is the approach Randy Alcorn, author and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries, takes in his article, If an unborn baby is better off in God’s presence, then why do Christians consider abortion a crime against the unborn? Alcorn presents a series of questions that make an argument condoning abortion, and then he says:
This argument is based on a sterile logic so chilling as to suggest its place of origin—the pit of hell.
His article purports to answer questions, but it really just uses sanctimonious outrage to avoid questions. Sure, the questions can be considered offensive, but that doesn’t mean the questions aren’t legitimate and can be dismissed unanswered.
Let’s stop deflecting and avoiding hard questions. Instead we should bring each and every argument to its logical conclusion. In doing so, we will discover the inevitable outcome — we need to reexamine traditional Christian doctrines. Pro-Life efforts will continue to be hindered otherwise.
In the next blog post we’ll look at Alcorn’s article.