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From a Pastor to Pastors --
Will You Defend Life?
F. Earle Fox
Click for PDF format of letter to pastors -- See also: A New Reformation
The following is a letter which I leave at churches where I visit. It is an invitation to break the silence of clergy across America on the abortion issue. Many pastors will say they are pro-life. But very few are in fact openly and urgently encouraging their people to stand for the lives of those in the womb -- (or, for that matter, for the elderly or invalid who are likewise being told to get out of the way and stop consuming the scarce goods of life -- as indicated by the so-called "death panels" mandated by "ObamaCare"). A culture without the God of the Bible will drift in such an evil direction.
I am working with Crusade for Life which is promoting a new website aimed at helping and inspiring clergy to take to the streets and by-ways of life with the pro-life message. On the whole, we clergy do not show a willingness to put our reputations, our time, our congregations on the line for truth and justice, not for the mothers involved any more than for the infants involved. But clergy, as noted below, have an enormous potential impact -- which we are studiously avoiding.
It is time that changed.
I am an Anglican pastor working with Crusade for Life ( www.CrusadeforLife.org ), a pro-life organization providing a website ( www.PastorsProlife.org ) and other resources to equip pastors with information, data, testimonies from pastors, women, and others, to deal with the varied challenges abortion puts into our laps.
Please read on. We must do some serious theological work to help the Church get a grip on its ministry to the pre-born.
1. Defeat..., & the Way Forward
We are not winning the abortion war. Over 3000 human beings are killed surgically every day. 125 every hour, 2 every minute all across America. Over 1,000,000 every year. Many more are killed by chemical birth-controls. We hear that “the time is not right”, i.e., for us to do something about the killing of little children. But when human life is threatened, the time is now, not later.
We can end
government sanction (and even promotion) of such killings if the Church of God
(1) the truth of what is happening,
(2) the will of God on the matter, and
(3) insistently promote what we can do about it.
That is nothing extraordinary, just Godly common sense. Pastors have more potential clout than any other voice in America because all over America we speak weekly to a significant percentage of local residents. No one else has that opportunity.
But from those to whom much is given, much is required. Jesus warned, “If they hated me, they will hate you....” We will get bruised.
2. Temptation: Peace at the Cost of Truth
Pastors, like everyone else, are besieged by temptations, typically: More concern for opinions of the congregation than of God; Valuing the budget bottom line more than the spiritual bottom line of souls; and, Valuing peace in the congregation more than the peace of God which passes all understanding.
Nevertheless, God has us right where we need to be to do our own personal growing. Pastors rightly want peaceful congregations, but the peace of God comes only as the Sword of the Spirit divides the sheep from the goats. (Ezekiel 33-34, Luke 12:49-52, Matthew 10:34 and 25:31 ff., John 3:19)
When Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword," (Matthew 10:34), He must have been referring to the kind of situation we face today when we want to "keep the peace" at the cost of truth. But Jesus shows us by both word and deed that He is (sword of the Spirit) forcing us to decide by insisting on the truth. As in John 3:19, the Light is coming into the world, compelling us to choose between light and darkness. By our own reactions, we thereby judge ourselves.
So we pastors are under the highest obligation to speak the truth in love, at any cost to ourselves. Anything less is to muddy the waters so that we cannot support judgement by truth. Until God Himself steps in, that leaves only judgement in darkness. When God steps in, there will be light whether or not anyone likes it.
There will be much resistance within ourselves, so things will not change until pastors and people begin personally to identify with the humanity of the pre-born child, to care and grieve for those aborted children. Every pre-born child is an alive human being made in the Image of God. As the Body of Christ begins to see that, things will change. Surely God wants us, His Christian people, to use our abilities to save the lives of innocent victims, whose lives are brutally canceled without due process of law to convict of a capital crime.
3. Spiritual Warriors
Those in the womb have protection by law – “Thou shalt do no murder...” because babies in the womb are persons. The law of God by logical necessity supersedes any contrary human law. That is as true today as at our founding when Americans understood and supported that principle.
One wants to be helpful to women (or men) caught in an unplanned and unwanted situation. One can gently respond, "Abortion is perfectly OK – (a) if the entity in the womb is not a person, or, (b) if God says that it is OK to take someone else's life to solve your problem." That puts the issues in a non-judgemental way, but makes the essential point perfectly clear: personhood and the will of God. “But is not this my body?” Yes indeed..., yours to love the Lord and to love your tiny neighbor (the two great Commandments).
Rather than protect our congregations from the shocks of spiritual warfare, we should train them to become battle-hardened warriors, as did Jesus with His disciples. Spiritual warfare, the Way of the Cross, is founded on truth-seeking and truth-speaking, wielding the Sword of the Spirit. Christians are committed to speaking with love -- the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help us God.
Early Christians often had a year or more of discipling before they could even be baptized. They understood that they were leaving the world, the flesh, and the devil (the unholy trinity) for the original and real world of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (the Holy Trinity). They knew that they could be risking their lives, as now Christians do daily in Communist or Islamic areas. They were on the offensive, aggressively challenging the world's status quo.
We heard not long ago of the tragic movie house killings. Yet not far down the road was an abortion clinic contributing to that slaughter of 3000 per day. But no public outcry... and what from the Church? Where is the national outrage for the littlest ones? It has been said that many abortion clinics could post a sign: "This clinic operates with the permission of the local churches."
Movie theater, school house, and other killings are taking place because many, if not most, pastors, preachers, and priests have a hard time in their pulpits standing for objective truth, morality, and spirituality, and requiring their congregations to do the same.
4. Proclaiming the Whole Gospel - Personal and Public
Martin Niemoller, German pastor and resistance leader against Nazism, reportedly said that the Christian Church in Germany was more responsible for Nazism than was the Gestapo. A ready and united German Church could have prevented the Nazi holocaust. A ready and united American Church can end the American abortion holocaust (1 million+ every year). The politicians cannot and will not -- until they get a morally united message from we, the people, a unity which can come only under God, and most likely through the pulpits. The moral unity of We, the People, which only God can supply, is the key to disciplining our Government to being a servant of God and thus also of the people.
We might experience that unity in church on Sunday, but many Christians go out the church doors and begin again acting, talking, voting like atheists. Various polls have found -- except for a committed core -- little difference between the lifestyles of Christians and non-Christians. Christian people will not be substantially reunited until the Church of God is substantially reunited -- preaching the whole Gospel, personal and public.
So, without Godly pastoral/prophetic leadership, babies will continue to die. If pastors are not proclaiming the lordship of Jesus over Caesar, they are not proclaiming the whole of the Good News. Jesus is not Lord over just the spiritual part of creation, but all of it, including the political and legal part -- which controls most of the world's coercive power. That is a piece of Very Good News (who could make a better Lord over power than Jesus?). If Jesus is not Lord, then civil government will be -- which is Very Bad News for the powerless and vulnerable.
A primary purpose of civil government is thus to put the use of coercive power under the law and grace of God. We are in rebellion when we knowingly do otherwise. That is a message which must ring from the pulpits.
5. Two Heresies: the Rejection of Reason... & Pietism
Why do so many Christians hear a Gospel message in their churches and then pass through the church doors transformed back into secular/pagan behaving people?
A good part of the answer is the common contrary to Scripture and heretical rejection of reason by Christians. Reason is part of the Image of God.
But as the secular world appeared to gain intellectual traction over the 17- and 1800’s, Christians gave away reason to the secular folks and thought revelation functioned on its own. So the use of revelation became increasingly unreasonable, chaotic, pitched against itself (over 2000 conflicting denominations), and rightly rejected by the public. Christians, with tails between their legs, retreated from the public arena.
A new theology was invented to justify this retreat, sometimes called “pietism”, the belief that God is not interested in the public arena, only in our personal and private religion. Pietism implies the heresy that God is not sovereign (not in practice, at least) over all of creation, notably the public domain and civil government. “Separation of Church and State...!” we keep hearing. Church and State are indeed different entities with different tasks, but complementary and both under God.
Pietism is not the message of the Bible, nor probably of any Christian body until the threat in the 19th century of secularism, and then the invention of "relative" truth in the 20th century -- a way of justifying lies. But enough Christians are now substantially affected by pietism and relative truth that pastors themselves often have a hard time holding firmly to the full Gospel: God is the source both of our personal salvation and of the health and wholeness of societies and political orders. That was a major theme of Augustine’s City of God. Only a saved people can create and hold onto a just social and political order – of, by, and for the people (as first noted by John Wycliffe in the introduction to his Bible translated in the 14th century for English-speaking people).
6. Your Worldview Makes a
to the Goodness of Your News
Christian population in the West over the 1800's rapidly lost their ability to
defend their own Biblical worldview which can be stated very simply:
(1) God created the cosmos ex nihilo, and
(2) He alone rules over the whole of creation as absolute sovereign. In the Bible, to be God, you must be those two things, Creator and Sovereign.
As Christians lost their ability to defend against the rising tide of secularism and Darwinian evolution theory, they lost their grip on how to explain their Good News as well. The Biblical Good News makes no sense without the undergirding worldview -- Creator and Sovereign. The secular/pagan worldview has no creator or sovereign, only mindless and chaotic evolution, and thus no news that is very good because it has no objective moral order, which only God can give. It is therefore limited to power struggle, deceit, and little bit o' luck to to establish any kind of social or political order, which will always thus drift towards tyranny -- as we see growing today in America.
But secular and pagan believers have been very good at pretending to hold the moral high ground, largely through their false claim to be the "reasonable" ones, and successfully (with the help of Christians) painting Christianity as irrational.
The Bible is clear that reason and revelation are complementaries, not opposites. Neither reason nor revelation will survive without the other. As the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) indicates, evangelism means not only the conversion of sinners to Jesus Christ, but the invasion of the secular/pagan worlds (“all nations”) to convert them to all, not just some, of God’s ways. That includes civil government, which holds a near monopoly on coercive force, and is thus by far the greatest single force for evil when in unGodly hands.
Pietistic theology sees the Church as a life boat bubble of spiritual safety floating on a sea of pagan/secular chaos, with the task of saving individuals out of that chaos into the life boat, not to transform the chaotic society or government.
On the contrary, the Gospel message is that we are to win souls for Christ precisely because it is those souls alone who will have the spiritual fortitude, moral stability, and intellectual clarity to successfully reclaim the public arena, including politics, for Christ. The battle will not be won until the King returns, but Christians can put a serious dent into the plans of the Evil One.
All these factors have contributed to why most churches are not deeply committed to a pro-life prayer foundation and an active intellectual, moral, and spiritual assault on abortion (only one of the many disasters happening in the West today). There are good answers to challenges from secular/pagan directions, or from Christians wary of political involvement, readily available for those who will do their homework.
One day we will all be standing before the Lord in one of two groups. We might hear Him asking, "Where were you when my body was being butchered with a razor sharp knife, burned with salt solution, or smashed to pieces in a suction tube?"
Jesus, I think, does not consider these Catholic, Protestant, or Charismatic issues, but survival issues. Survival not only for the little ones, but also survival for us in His Kingdom. He seems to consider how we treat the hurting and abused as how we treat Him also. Let us show our people how to find themselves in that blessed group at the right hand of Jesus – by ministering to Jesus in our little neighbors. (Matthew 25:31 ff.).
7. Working Together
Crusade for Life has been at this work for four decades and is committed for the long haul with mutually respectful and clearly spoken truth to ending the abortion holocaust. Truth persistently spoken in love, at any cost to oneself, is an unbeatable weapon.
We hope your church will join us and others who share our discernment. Might your church wish to sponsor a seminar on the subject to which other pastors and their churches could be invited? There are practical things we can do together that cannot be done alone.
I will visit or call to make an appointment, hopefully with you and your youth pastor, or you can contact me at the above number.
Abortion, the Bible, & America at http://www.emmausmall.org/AbortBbl&Amer.html
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Date Posted - 08/08/2012 - Date Last Edited - 10/27/2012