Easter, New Creation, and Pro-Life

In the weeks leading up to Easter I like to set aside time to reflect on the resurrection of Christ, how it inaugurates the New Creation, and how this profound moment in cosmic history shapes all the Christian life and ethics. I’ll have more on this later (and an ebook to share on March 5th).

easter-bookFor now, here’s a gem from Russell Moore’s article, “The Gospel According to Jane Roe: Abortion Rights and the Reshaping of Evangelical Theology,” published in The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 7.2 (2003): 44–45.

Evangelicals do not have biblical warrant to disengage from the life-and-death issues of the public square in order to pursue an “other-worldly” and “wholly spiritual” endeavor of rescuing souls from the created order. The Christian doctrine of salvation is rooted in the creation purposes of God, as well as in the eschatological telos of creation in the restoration of the image of God (Rom 8:29) and the regeneration of the entire cosmos (Eph 1:10).

The two come together in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the decisive act of redemptive history that confirms the Kingdom purposes of God for the whole of humanity, body and soul, as well as for the whole of the created order. The resurrection of Jesus, as the righteous human firstborn of the new creation (Col 1:18; Heb 5:7–9) along with the future resurrection of the Messiah’s joint-heirs is a resounding confirmation that God still deems His cosmos — including His justified image-bearers — as “good” (Rom 8:19–23).

This informs evangelical engagement on issues such as abortion because, as ethicist Oliver O’Donovan observes, the resurrection does away with any notion that Christian theology mandates a negation of the bodily and material aspects of created reality.

A creational understanding of the gospel as revealed in the new creation begun in the resurrection, therefore, demands that Christians embrace a holistic concern for humanity. By refusing to bifurcate the body from the soul, a Kingdom-oriented soteriology might have well served an evangelical theology taken off-guard by Roe.

By envisioning the mission of the Kingdom as encompassing concern for both body and soul, and by seeing Kingdom priorities as including both the justification of the wicked and justice for the innocent, evangelical theology might have been better prepared for the cultural upheaval that led to the debate over abortion rights.

This holistic interrelationship between creation and salvation would also serve as an impetus for evangelical theology to engage vigorously other matters of human dignity, which are mounting as reproductive and human cloning technologies proliferate.

One-Issue Politics

Theologian Dr. John Frame:

“…in some cultures (like the ancient Roman, in which the New Testament was written) there is not much that Christians can do, other than pray, to influence political structures and policies. But when they can influence them, they should. In modern democracies, all citizens are ‘lesser magistrates’ by virtue of the ballot box. Christians have an obligation to vote according to God’s standards. And, as they are gifted and called, they should influence others to vote in the same way.

This is not to say that political choices are always obvious. Often we must choose the lesser of two evils. Candidate Mershon may have a better view of one issue than Candidate Beates, while Beates has a better view on a different issue. It is an art to weigh the importance of different issues and to come to a godly conclusion. Each of us should have a large amount of tolerance for other Christians who come to conclusions that are different from ours. Rarely will one issue trump all others, though I must say that I will never vote for a candidate who advocates or facilitates the killing of unborn children.” [The Doctrine of the Christian Life (P&R 2008). p. 617.]

Preacher/author Dr. John Piper:

“…When we bought our dog at the Humane Society, I picked up a brochure on the laws of Minnesota concerning animals. Statute 343.2, subdivision 1 says, ‘No person shall . . . unjustifiably injure, maim, mutilate or kill any animal.’ Subdivision 7 says, ‘No person shall willfully instigate or in any way further any act of cruelty to any animal.’ The penalty: ‘A person who fails to comply with any provision of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.’

Now this set me to pondering the rights of the unborn. An eight-week-old human fetus has a beating heart, an EKG, brain waves, thumb-sucking, pain sensitivity, finger-grasping, and genetic humanity, but under our present laws is not a human person with rights under the 14th Amendment, which says that ‘no state shall deprive any person of life . . . without due process of law.’ Well, I wondered, if the unborn do not qualify as persons, it seems that they could at least qualify as animals, say a dog, or at least a cat. Could we not at least charge abortion clinics with cruelty to animals under Statute 343.2, subdivision 7? Why is it legal to ’maim, mutilate and kill’ a pain-sensitive unborn human being but not an animal?

These reflections have confirmed my conviction never to vote for a person who endorses such an evil—even if he could balance the budget tomorrow and end all taxation.”

Princeton prof Dr. Robert George on 10/14/08:

“Barack Obama is the most extreme pro-abortion candidate ever to seek the office of President of the United States. He is the most extreme pro-abortion member of the United States Senate. Indeed, he is the most extreme pro-abortion legislator ever to serve in either house of the United States Congress…”