Friday, November 9, 2012

Abortion and evangelicals

Responding to the argument that evangelical opposition to abortion is recent and grew from political rather than biblical or theological origins, Mark Galli at Christianity Today explains that it wasn't The Moral Majority of Jerry Falwell that convinced most of us and quotes David Neff in illustration:
I know that my own conversion on the abortion issue was not at all influenced by Jerry Falwell or by Franky Schaeffer. It was influenced by C. Everett Koop and by Michael Gorman's InterVarsity Press book, Abortion and the Early Church. Koop provided a cultural argument and Gorman grounded it firmly in the Christian tradition.
My own pro-life convictions date from the 1960s, well before Roe v Wade, resulting from my understanding of human development as well as rather strong opinions about the value of that human life, reinforced by my understanding of Christian doctrine.

Galli:
...[I]t is fair to say that the Bible does not teach that "life begins at conception." We cannot find a verse that puts it so simply and clearly. But evangelicals are not wooden literalists. ....

The Bible teaches that God forms us in the womb (Job 31:15, Ps. 139:13) and affirms the value of human life ("You shall not murder"). The great tradition of the church has from the beginning condemned the evil of abortion; for example, The Didache, written in the first century, is one of dozens of early church documents that explicitly rule out abortion for believers. So, it's hardly a stretch for Christians to conclude that perhaps life begins at conception. Christians of good conscience can disagree about when exactly human life begins, but the vast majority of Christians, Catholic and Orthodox and Protestant, across long stretches of time (2 millennia) have said that abortion is a grave evil, and grounded that in their interpretation of the biblical command that forbids murder. The remarkable historical thing is not that evangelicals came to believe this, but that at one time many didn't believe it. One reason they didn't believe it was because, well, it was a Catholic thing. But once they began to appreciate the teachings and resources of this great tradition, they could see and appreciate those theological and biblical arguments afresh. .... [more]
I can affirm based on conversations with theologically liberal clergy in my grandfather's generation that at least part of their resistance to being anti-abortion was, in fact, that it was a "Catholic thing."

Does It Matter that Evangelicals Became Prolife R... | Christianity Today
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