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).
For 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.