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Gospel + Safety + Time

Aug 26, 2015 | Justin Taylor

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John Calvin’s Beautiful Description of the Gospel-Centered Life

Aug 25, 2015 | Justin Taylor

From John Calvin’s preface to Pierre Robert Olivétan’s French translation of the New Testament (1534):


 

Without the gospel

everything is useless and vain;

without the gospel

we are not Christians;

without the gospel

all riches is poverty,

all wisdom folly before God;

strength is weakness, and

all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made

children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ,

fellow townsmen with the saints,

citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven,

heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom

the poor are made rich,

the weak strong,

the fools wise,

the sinner justified,

the desolate comforted,

the doubting sure, and

slaves free.

It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was

sold, to buy us back;

captive, to deliver us;

condemned, to absolve us;

he was

made a curse for our blessing,

[a] sin offering for our righteousness;

marred that we may be made fair;

he died for our life; so that by him

fury is made gentle,

wrath appeased,

darkness turned into light,

fear reassured,

despisal despised,

debt canceled,

labor lightened,

sadness made merry,

misfortune made fortunate,

difficulty easy,

disorder ordered,

division united,

ignominy ennobled,

rebellion subjected,

intimidation intimidated,

ambush uncovered,

assaults assailed,

force forced back,

combat combated,

war warred against,

vengeance avenged,

torment tormented,

damnation damned,

the abyss sunk into the abyss,

hell transfixed,

death dead,

mortality made immortal.

In short,

mercy has swallowed up all misery, and

goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit.

If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying,

O hell, where is thy victory?

O death, where is thy sting?

it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us;

and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it;

but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things.

And we are

comforted in tribulation,

joyful in sorrow,

glorying under vituperation,

abounding in poverty,

warmed in our nakedness,

patient amongst evils,

living in death.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

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The 8th Planned Parenthood Video + A Prayer at the Protest, and Counsel for Healing from an Abortion

Aug 25, 2015 | Justin Taylor

C. S. Lewis once wrote in the preface to the Screwtape Letters,

The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result.

But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices.

He could have been writing about Planned Parenthood and StemExpress.

Today (August 25, 2015), The Center for Medical Progress released its eighth video using undercover footage exposing the reality of what goes on behind these closed clinical doors.

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 25-The eighth video in the ongoing controversy over Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted fetal body parts shows the CEO of StemExpress, LLC, a major buyer of fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood, admitting the company gets “a lot” of intact fetuses, suggesting “another 50 livers a week” would not be enough, and agreeing abortion clinics should profit from the sale:http://www.centerformedicalprogress.o…

StemExpress is a for-profit biotech supply company that has been partnered with Planned Parenthood clinics across the country to purchase human fetal parts since its founding in 2010. StemExpress’ Medical Director, Dr. Ronald Berman, is an abortion doctor for Planned Parenthood Mar Monte.

In the video, actors posing as another human biologics company meet with StemExpress CEO Cate Dyer, plus Vice President of Corporate Development and Legal Affairs Kevin Cooksy, and Procurement Manager Megan Barr. StemExpress and the actors are discussing a potential partnership to supply extra fetal body parts to each other.

“So many physicians are like, ‘Oh I can totally procure tissue,’ and they can’t,” expresses Dyer, seeming to indicate that abortion doctors must do the procedure in a special way to obtain useable fetal parts. Federal law requires that no alteration in the timing or method of abortion be done for the purposes of fetal tissue collection (42 U.S.C. 289g-1).

“What about intact specimens?” asks one of the actors. “Oh yeah, I mean if you have intact cases, which we’ve done a lot, we sometimes ship those back to our lab in its entirety,” replies Dyer. “Case” is the clinical term for an abortion procedure. An “intact case” refers to an intact abortion with a whole fetus. “The entire case?” asks an actor. “Yeah, yeah,” says Dyer. “The procurement for us, I mean it can go really sideways, depending on the facility, and then our samples are destroyed,” she explains past botched fetal dissections, “so we started bringing them back even to manage it from a procurement expert standpoint.”

Feticidal chemicals like digoxin cannot be used to kill the fetus in a tissue procurement case, so a fetus delivered intact for organ harvesting is likely to be a born-alive infant.

“What would make your lab happy?” asks one of the actors. “Another 50 livers a week,” says Dyer. “We’re working with almost like triple digit number clinics,” Dyer explains, “and we still need more.” She later notes, “Planned Parenthood has volume, because they are a volume institution.”

Dyer also agrees that payments to abortion clinics for fetal body parts should be financially beneficial to them. “Do you feel like there are clinics out there that have been burned, that feel like they’re doing all this work for research and it hasn’t been profitable for them?” she asks. “I haven’t seen that.” StemExpress publishes a flyer for Planned Parenthood clinics that promises “Financial Profits” and “fiscal rewards” for clinics that supply aborted fetal tissue. It is endorsed by Planned Parenthood Mar Monte Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dorothy Furgerson: http://www.centerformedicalprogress.o…

The sale or purchase of human fetal tissue is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $500,000 (42 U.S.C. 289g-2). The Sacramento Business Journal reported in June that StemExpress has an annual revenue of $4.5 million.

The video is the eighth released by The Center for Medical Progress in its investigative journalism study of Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted baby parts. “StemExpress is the ‘weakest link’ that unravels Planned Parenthood’s baby parts chain-they readily admit the profit-motive that Planned Parenthood and their proxies have in supplying aborted baby parts,” notes David Daleiden, Project Lead for CMP. “Congress and law enforcement should immediately seize all fetal tissue files from StemExpress and all communications and contracts with Planned Parenthood. The evidence that Planned Parenthood profits from the sale of aborted baby parts is now overwhelming, and not one more dime of taxpayer money should go to their corrupt and fraudulent criminal enterprise.”

Since July 14, 2015, The Center for Medical Progress has posted the following undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s handing of the body parts of its victims:

  1. Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts (July 14, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  2. Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods (July 21, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  3. Human Capital, Episode 1: Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts (July 28, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  4. Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen (July 30, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  5. Intact Fetuses “Just a Matter of Line Items” for Planned Parenthood TX Mega-Center (August 4, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  6. Human Capital, Episode 2: Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site (August 12, 2015)
  7. Human Capital, Episode 3: Planned Parenthood’s Custom Abortions for Superior Product (August 19, 2015)

1. Protesting Planned Parenthood

John Piper’s recent engagement on this issue is worth noting and emulating.

First, read his piece, “Planned Parenthood: Invitation, Explanation, Indignation,” narrating why he has publicly protested against abortion in the past (including a night in jail for non-violent civil disobedience) and why the time is right to protest again. He was inviting readers to the Protest Planned Parenthood demonstrations across the country on Saturday, August 22. Over 65,000 peaceful protesters showed up this weekend at 320 Planned Parenthood clinics across the US, making it the single largest coordinated day of planned protest against abortion.

Second, listen to Piper’s  five-minute prayer at the protest (transcript here):

Finally, read his Saturday evening reflections about the protest that morning, where he offered seven short observations under the following heading:

  1. Christian and ecumenical
  2. Relatively sober
  3. Freedom on public property
  4. Legislators and pro-life leaders
  5. Counter-slogans
  6. Planned Parenthood responds
  7. First timers

I have traced and summarized the development of Piper’s preaching and activism in the essay “‘Abortion is About God: Piper’s Passionate, Prophetic Pro-Life Preaching,” in For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, ed. Sam Storms and Justin Taylor (Wheaton, IL: Crossway), 328-50. The link will take you to the essay available for free (courtesy of Crossway).

 

2. Healing from an Abortion

I’m aware that it’s possible that some are seeing the energy and momentum and passion and anger against Planned Parenthood and are not seeing much public effort right now to those in bondage to guilt over their complicity in the act of abortion.

David Powlison (executive director of CCEF) talks through how to heal from guilt and shame after an abortion:

You can read online the Personal Liturgy of Confession. Powlison begins:

When I counsel with people who struggle with deep feelings of shame, guilt, and regret, I sometimes suggest that they design a personalized liturgy. In what follows, I walk through the example of a woman who has had an abortion, and all that led up to that choice, and all that follows in someone whose conscience is alive. . . .

Designing your own liturgy of confession will help you to think through exactly what you need to bring to God, and what you need from God. It will give you serious words to express your sorrow, regret, guilt and pain over your abortion. It will lead you by the hand to God’s mercy and to his washing away of your sin and guilt. The parts of this liturgy in italics are taken and adapted from the General Confession of Sin inThe Book of Common Prayer. Even when your thoughts and feelings are chaotic, these words can serve as your guide. They are a channel for honesty. Instead of wallowing in misery and failure, these words help you to plan how you will walk in the direction of honesty, mercy, gratitude, and freedom.

I suggest that you pray out loud. It helps you to remember that you are talking with someone who is listening. You aren’t just thinking things inside your head. Use this prayer to express the gravity of what happened. Use it to remind yourself out loud that God’s mercies are deeper than what you did or failed to do. Read through this prayer and meditation first. Then go back through it, writing out your own words to personalize it. Express your honest story to God in response to hearing what he says to you.

You can print and read the whole thing here.

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3 Things to Remember Before You Criticize Someone’s Theology

Aug 21, 2015 | Justin Taylor

Critique—done well—is a gift to the one being criticized. (“Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” Prov. 27:6a). We should welcome the opportunity to have our thinking corrected and clarified. We see see in a mirror dimly and we know only in part (1 Cor. 13:12), but God has gifted the church with teachers who often see things more clearly than we do at present. In God’s providence and through the gift of common grace he may also use unbelievers to critique our views, showing our logical mistakes or lack of clarity.

Critique done poorly—whether through overstatement, misunderstanding, caricature—is a losing proposition for all. It undermines the credibility of the critic and deprives the one being criticized from the opportunity to improve his or her position.

It’s impossible in a blog post to set forth a comprehensive methodology of critique—if such a thing can even be done. But there are at least three exhortations worth remembering about criticism: (1) understand before you critique; (2) be self-critical in how you critique; (3) consider the alternatives of what you are critiquing.

1. Understand Before You Critique

Mortimer Adler makes the important point in  How to Read a Book:

Every author has had the experience of suffering book reviews by critic who did not feel obligated to do the work of the first two stages first. The critic too often thinks he does not have to be a reader as well as a judge. Every lecturer has also had the experience of having critical questions asked that were not based on any understanding of what he had said. You yourself may remember an occasion where someone said to a speaker, in one breath or at most two, “I don’t know what you mean, but I think you’re wrong.”

There is actually no point in answering critics of this sort. The only polite thing to do is to ask them to state your position for you, the position they claim to be challenging. If they cannot do it satisfactorily, if they cannot repeat what you have said in their own words, you know that they do not understand, and you are entirely justified in ignoring their criticisms. They are irrelevant, as all criticism must be that is not based on understanding. When you find the rare person who shows that he understands what you are saying as well as you do, then you can delight in his agreement or be seriously disturbed by his dissent. (pp. 144-145)

I do think we have to add at least one caveat to Adler’s perspective here. He is assuming goodwill upon the part of the one being criticized. In the last decade or so I’ve noticed theologians with novel interpretations or positions who perpetually protest that they are being misunderstood. At some point, we might judge that the theologian doth protest too much. If not even the most careful and considerate critiques can understand one’s point, it may be that there is some incoherence to the point itself. The idea that understanding and critiquing the theology of some folks is “like trying to nail jello to a wall” has now become a cliche—but the metaphor is apt and exists for a reason.

Nevertheless, Alder’s perspective is one we need to hear and to heed in so far as it depends on us. Viewed from a biblical perspective, there are moral imperatives bound up with the act of reading and critiquing. Jesus tells me to do unto others as I would have done unto me, and he tells me to love my neighbor as I love myself—and this includes how I interact and critique.

2. Be Self-Critical

John Frame, in a piece on “How to Write a Theological Paper,” makes the second point:

Be self-critical.

Before and during your writing, anticipate objections. If you are criticizing Barth, imagine Barth looking over your shoulder, reading your manuscript, giving his reactions. This point is crucial. A truly self-critical attitude can save you from unclarity and unsound arguments. It will also keep you from arrogance and unwarranted dogmatism—faults common to all theology (liberal as well as conservative).

Don’t hesitate to say “probably” or even “I don’t know” when the circumstances warrant. Self-criticism will also make you more “profound.” For often—perhaps usually—it is objections that force us to rethink our positions, to get beyond our superficial ideas, to wrestle with the really deep theological issues.

As you anticipate objections to your replies to objections to your replies, and so forth, you will find yourself being pushed irresistibly into the realm of the “difficult questions,” the theological profundities.

In self-criticism the creative use of the theological imagination is tremendously important. Keep asking such questions as these.

(a) Can I take my source’s idea in a more favorable sense? A less favorable one?

(b) Does my idea provide the only escape from the difficulty, or are there others?

(c) In trying to escape from one bad extreme, am I in danger of falling into a different evil on the other side?

(d) Can I think of some counter-examples to my generalizations?

(e) Must I clarify my concepts, lest they be misunderstood?

(f) Will my conclusion be controversial and thus require more argument than I had planned?

3. Offer Your Alternative

Millard Erickson, in an earlier edition of his Christian Theology (p. 61 in the 2nd edition) emphasizes an additional point:

In criticism it is not sufficient to find flaws in a given view. One must always ask, “What is the alternative?” and, “Does the alternative have fewer difficulties?” John Baillie tells of writing a paper in which he severely criticized a particular view. His professor commented, “Every theory has its difficulties, but you have not considered whether any other theory has less difficulties than the one you have criticized.”

Good criticism is hard work, and it’s necessary work until Christ returns. The above three points won’t prevent us from making every mistake, but they will help us be better critics and therefore better servants of God and truth.

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D. A. Carson: “Damn All False False Antitheses to Hell”

Aug 20, 2015 | Justin Taylor

FCD. A. Carson:

So which shall we choose?

Experience or truth?

The left wing of the airplane, or the right?

Love or integrity?

Study or service?

Evangelism or discipleship?

The front wheels of a car, or the rear?

Subjective knowledge or objective knowledge?

Faith or obedience?

Damn all false antitheses to hell, for

  • they generate false gods,
  • they perpetuate idols,
  • they twist and distort our souls,
  • they launch the church into violent pendulum swings whose oscillations succeed only in dividing brothers and sisters in Christ.

—D.A. Carson, Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church: Understanding a Movement and Its Implications (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 234.

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Perhaps My Favorite Interview: An Hourlong Conversation with John Piper and John MacArthur

Aug 20, 2015 | Justin Taylor

I think my favorite sit-down conversation was with two men I deeply admire: John Piper and John MacArthur. The interview took place on September 28, 2007, at the Desiring God 2007 National Conference in Minneapolis. (You can listen to the audio or read an edited transcript here.)

The conversation was noteworthy to me in how, despite some similarities, God calls and uses very different people to accomplish his purposes. Whether God has wired you more like Piper or more like MacArthur, I hope this encourages you.

Here are the 10 questions I asked them:

  1. Do you remember when you met each other for the first time or when you became aware of each other’s ministries?
  2. I was looking this morning at the dates for both of your fathers: Dr. Jack MacArthur, 1914-2005; Dr. Bill Piper, 1919-2007 — almost the exact same lifespan. They both had honorary doctorates from Bob Jones. They were both Baptists, and both traveling evangelists. Tell us about their examples, the lessons that you both remember from your dads on faithfulness and endurance, or particular things that stick out to you that have impacted your ministry and life.
  3. Did your fathers both want or expect you to be pastors? If so, did they ever express that desire to you?
  4. Dr. MacArthur, do you remember the conversation you had when you told him you felt called to gospel ministry?
  5. Dr. Piper, can you tell us about the time when you wrote a letter to your father telling him about your decision to go into pastoral ministry?
  6. If you could go back now to when you started pastoral ministry and talk to the thirty-four-year-old John Piper and the twenty-nine-year-old John MacArthur, knowing what you know now, what do you think would be the most important thing to tell them on the front end of their ministries?
  7. You both receive a tremendous amount of praise — and a tremendous amount of criticism. How do you personally handle both the reception of praise and the reception of criticism? How do you keep from being prideful on the one hand, and overly discouraged on the other hand? How do you process that when a high praise comes in or a harsh criticism so that you’re responding biblically?
  8. So many young pastors and missionaries look up to both of you and read your books. As you counsel young men and women on the mission field, it seems like one of the truisms is that circumstances often confirm our calling. And if you’re good at something, fruit often comes with that. You’ve both had incredibly fruitful ministries. How do you think through the issues of faithfulness and fruitlessness? Take someone out there is who is in a small church, or on the mission field, and a year goes by, two years go by with no converts, no apparent fruit. How should they think through the possibility that this might not be their gifting, they need to pull back from that, there’s no fruit being produced, versus the perspective that they need to stick it out for another ten years, twenty years, thirty years?
  9. When you personally get discouraged and want to throw in the towel, where do you go biblically? Is there a particular passage or book that you find yourself returning to over and over again? And where do you go outside the Bible? Is there a particular author or book that you return to over and over again when you’re discouraged or downcast?
  10. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to say about you when you die? What do you want to be known for?
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The 7th Planned Parenthood Video + 4 FAQs

Aug 19, 2015 | Justin Taylor

Today (August 19, 2015), saw the release of the seventh Planned Parenthood video: Human Capital—Episode 3: Planned Parenthood’s Custom Abortions for Superior Product.

Here is the summary:

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 19–The third episode in a new documentary web series and 7th video on Planned Parenthood’s supply of aborted fetal tissue tells a former procurement technician’s harrowing story of harvesting an intact brain from a late-term male fetus whose heart was still beating after the abortion.

The “Human Capital” documentary web series, produced by The Center for Medical Progress, integrates expert interviews, eyewitness accounts, and real-life undercover interactions to explore different themes within Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted fetal tissue. Episode 3, “Planned Parenthood’s Custom Abortions for Superior Product,” launches today. . . .

The series focuses on the personal narrative of Holly O’Donnell, a former Blood and Tissue Procurement Technician for StemExpress, a biotech start-up that until last week was partnered with two large northern California Planned Parenthood affiliates to purchase their aborted fetus parts and resell them for scientific experimentation.

O’Donnell describes the harvesting, or “procurement,” of organs from a nearly intact late-term fetus aborted at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s Alameda clinic in San Jose, CA. “‘I want to see something kind of cool,'” O’Donnell says her supervisor asked her. “And she just taps the heart, and it starts beating. And I’m sitting here and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don’t know what to think.”

The San Jose Planned Parenthood does abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. Referring to the beating heart of the aborted fetus, O’Donnell remarks, “I don’t know if that constitutes it’s technically dead, or it’s alive.”

State and federal law require that the same treatment be given to an infant born-alive after an abortion as to a normally delivered baby (1 U.S.C. 8, CA Health and Safety Code 123435). California law also prohibits any kind of experimentation on a fetus with a discernible heartbeat (CA Health and Safety Code 123440). StemExpress has been cited in published scientific literature as a source of fetal hearts used for Langendorff perfusion, which keeps a heart beating after it is excised from the body:http://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/…

O’Donnell also tells how her StemExpress supervisor instructed her to cut through the face of the fetus in order to get the brain. “”She gave me the scissors and told me that I had to cut down the middle of the face. I can’t even describe what that feels like,” she says.

The video also features recordings of Dr. Ben Van Handel, the Executive Director of Novogenix Laboratories, LLC, and also of Perrin Larton, Procurement Manager of Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc. (ABR). Novogenix is the company that has harvested fetal organs from abortions done by Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, in Los Angeles, while ABR is the oldest fetal tissue procurement company and works with Planned Parenthood in San Diego and other clinics around the country. Van Handel admits, “There are times when after the procedure is done that the heart actually is still beating,” and Larton describes abortions she has seen where “the fetus was already in the vaginal canal whenever we put her in the stirrups, it just fell out.”

CMP’s Project Lead David Daleiden notes, “Today’s video contains heartrending admissions about the absolute barbarism of Planned Parenthood’s abortion practice and baby parts sales in which fetuses are sometimes delivered intact and alive. Planned Parenthood is a criminal organization from the top down and should be immediately stripped of taxpayer funding and prosecuted for their atrocities against humanity.”

1. If I Haven’t Seen the Other Videos Yet, What Do I Need to Know?

Since July 14, 2015, The Center for Medical Progress has posted the following undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s handing of the body parts of its victims:

  1. Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts (July 14, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  2. Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods (July 21, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  3. Human Capital, Episode 1: Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts (July 28, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  4. Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen (July 30, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  5. Intact Fetuses “Just a Matter of Line Items” for Planned Parenthood TX Mega-Center (August 4, 2015) [full footage | complete transcript]
  6. Human Capital, Episode 2: Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site (August 12, 2015)

The following is a very helpful summary of what has happened thus far—both in terms of the undercover investigation and its effects so far:

2. Scientifically, Does Human Life Really Begin at Conception Or Is It Merely Potential Human Life?

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Three distinguished and brilliant professors:

  • Patrick Lee, the McAleer Professor of Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville (author of Abortion and Unborn Human Life)
  • Christopher O. Tollefsen, College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina,
  • Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University (co-author with Tollefsen of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life)

recently responded to the idea that there is no scientific consensus regarding the beginning of human life.

They point out that “there have been countless scientific monographs and scholarly articles—in embryology, developmental biology, and genetics—explicitly affirming that a human being at the earliest stage of development comes to be at fertilization.”

They cite three among many possible examples:

“Human life begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.” “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being (i.e., an embryo).” Keith L. Moore, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 7th edition. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2003. pp. 16, 2.

“Fertilization is the process by which male and female haploid gametes (sperm and egg) unite to produce a genetically distinct individual.” Signorelli et al., Kinases, phosphatases and proteases during sperm capacitation, CELL TISSUE RES. 349(3):765 (Mar. 20, 2012)

“Although life is a continuous process, fertilization (which, incidentally, is not a ‘moment’) is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is formed when the chromosomes of the male and female pronuclei blend in the oocyte” (emphasis added; Ronan O’Rahilly and Fabiola Mueller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 3rd edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2000, p. 8). (Many other examples could be cited, some of which may be found here.)

Lee, Tollefsen, and George write:

That is the authority of science. On request, we can cite dozens more examples. The authorities all agree because the underlying science is clear. At fertilization a sperm (a male sex cell) unites with an oocyte (a female sex cell), each of them ceases to be, and a new entity is generated. This new entity, initially a single totipotent cell, then divides into two cells, then (asynchronously) three, then four, eight and so on, enclosed all the while by a membrane inherited from the oocyte (the zona pellucida). Together, these cells and membrane function as parts of a whole that regularly and predictably develops itself to the more mature stages of a complex human body.

From the zygote stage onward

this new organism is distinct, for it grows in its own direction;

it is human—obviously, given the genetic structure found in the nuclei of its cells;

and it is a whole human organism—as opposed to what is functionally a part of a larger whole, such as a cell, tissue, or organ—since this organism has all of the internal resources and active disposition needed to develop itself (himself or herself) to the mature stage of a human organism.

Given its genetic constitution and epigenetic structure, all this organism needs to develop to the mature stage is what human beings at any stage need, namely, a suitable environment, nutrition, and the absence of injury or disease. So it is a whole human organism—a new human individual—at the earliest stage of his or her development.

This is why it is correct to say that the developing human embryo is not “a potential human being” (whatever that might mean) but a human being with potential—the potential to develop himself or herself (sex is established from the beginning in the human) through the fetal, infant, child, and adolescent stages and into adulthood with his or her identity intact.

You can read the whole thing here.

3. What Questions Are Lawmakers Asking the CEO of Planned Parenthood and the Secretary of US Health and Human Services?

Represenatives Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform recently sent letters to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Planned Parenthood President and CEO Cecile Richards about Planned Parenthood’s “potentially unlawful transactions involving fetal tissue.”

They wrote:

According to its 2013-14 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood received more than $500 million in government funding in the last fiscal last year alone, accounting for more than 40 percent of the organization’s total revenue. The Department of Health and Human Services provided a significant portion of the federal funds that Planned Parenthood received. It is not clear whether Planned Parenthood used any federal funds to support transactions involving fetal tissue.

They requested that Burwell:

1. Identify each agency within HHS that provides funding and/or support to Planned Parenthood or its affiliates, and the programs that each agency administers that provide such funding and/or support.
2. For each year 2010 through present, identify the total amount of federal funding that HHS provided to Planned Parenthood or its affiliates, broken down by agency, group, and program.
3. Identify what restrictions or regulations apply to the use of funding provided by HHS to Planned Parenthood or its affiliates.
4. Identify, specifically, what procedures, services, or other medical treatments are available only or exclusively at a Planned Parenthood affiliate or health center that are covered by either a state’s Medicaid program or a health plan sold via a state exchange or HealthCare.gov under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Do not include services or procedures that could otherwise be provided by a private health care provider.

And they asked that Richards:

1. For each year from 2010 through present, provide the cumulative amount of funding that Planned Parenthood received from the federal government, and identify all program(s), grant(s), and other sources of the federal funds.
2. For each year from 2010 through present, provide all financial statements and annual reports, including but not limited to Internal Revenue Service Form 990, Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax.
3. For each year from 2010 through present, identify and provide an accounting of all Planned Parenthood activities that were financed with federal funds, to include the specific amount of federal funds used for each expenditure.
4. For each year from 2010 through present, provide the cumulative amount of funding that Planned Parenthood received from Medicaid programs by state.
5. For each year from 2010 through present, provide a list of the 50 highest-paid Planned Parenthood employees. Include the individual’s title, annual salary, bonuses and any other compensation.
6. According to the 2013-2014 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood ‘supports 66 independently incorporated affiliates, operating approximately 700 health centers across the U.S.’ Provide a list of these affiliates and health centers including a contact with phone number or email for each.
7. Identify, specifically, what procedures, services, or other medical treatments are available only or exclusively at a Planned Parenthood affiliate or health center that are covered by either a state’s Medicaid program or a health plan sold via a state exchange or HealthCare.gov under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Do not include services or procedures that could otherwise be provided by a private health care provider.

Both Richards and Burwell have until August 28 to provide this information to the committee.

4. If Planned Parenthood Were Ever to Be Shut Down, Where Would Women Go for Contraception, Mammograms, and Health Care?

Here’s a helpful graphic to pass along to others, showing that there are 20 comprehensive care clinics for every Planned Parenthood:

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For more information on this, go here.

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On Misunderstanding the Bible: “Parts of Any Complex Story Will Seem Absurd If You Don’t Know How to Interpret It”

Aug 18, 2015 | Justin Taylor

This is under two minutes and is worth watching from Dr. John Stackhouse, the Samuel J. Mikolaski Professor of Religious Studies and Dean of Faculty Development at Crandall University in Moncton, New Brunswick:

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The Bible Project: Free, Animated Biblical Theology

Aug 14, 2015 | Justin Taylor

The Bible Project is producing some great, free resources for the church. Because the medium they use is animation, you might assume (without watching it) that this is only for kids. But it’s really something that could profit all of us.

(To find out more about how to provide donor support for this free resource, go here.)

The First Five Books

So far, they have covered the first four (Genesis-Numbers):

Biblical Themes through the Entire Narrative of the Bible

They have done four of these so far:

Book Overviews (Literary Structure and Flow of Thought for Each Bible Book)
They have covered four books so far:

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A Conversation with Don Whitney on “Praying the Bible”

Aug 13, 2015 | Justin Taylor

I enjoyed the opportunity to talk with Don Whitney about his new book on Praying the Bible.

Here are Crossway’s timestamps for the conversation:

  • 00:00 – What is your ministry background?
  • 00:54 – As you travel around the country, what are some of the common complaints you hear from Christians related to their prayer lives?
  • 02:19 – What would you say to someone who feels like a failure in prayer?
  • 04:40 – What areas of Scripture are particularly conducive for prayer?
  • 05:47 – What are the Psalms of the Day?
  • 07:55 – Can you illustrate praying through Psalm 23?
  • 11:51 – How will praying the Bible help us remain focused in prayer?
  • 13:37 – What are the sorts of testimonies you hear from people who have started praying the Bible?
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The 6th Planned Parenthood Video

Aug 12, 2015 | Justin Taylor

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Since July 14, 2015, The Center for Medical Progress has posted the following undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s handing of the body parts of its victims:

  1. Planned Parenthood Uses Partial-Birth Abortions to Sell Baby Parts (July 14, 2015) [full footage]
  2. Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods (July 21, 2015) [full footage]
  3. Human Capital, Episode 1: Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts (July 28, 2015) [full footage]
  4. Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen (July 30, 2015)
  5. Intact Fetuses “Just a Matter of Line Items” for Planned Parenthood TX Mega-Center (August 4, 2015) [full footage]

And here are the complete transcripts:

  1. Lunch meeting with Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Senior Director of Medical Services, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
  2. Second Planned Parenthood Senior Executive Haggles Over Baby Parts Prices, Changes Abortion Methods
  3. Planned Parenthood VP Says Fetuses May Come Out Intact, Agrees Payments Specific to the Specimen
  4. Intact Fetuses “Just a Matter of Line Items” at Planned Parenthood TX Mega-Center

Today (August 12, 2015), the sixth video has posted:

Human Capital, Episode 2: Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site

Here is their summary:

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 12-The second episode in a new documentary web series highlights a young woman’s eyewitness narrative of the daily practice of fetal body parts harvesting in Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, describing tissue procurement workers’ coordination with abortion providers, the pressure placed on patients, and disregard for patient consent.

The “Human Capital” documentary web series, produced by The Center for Medical Progress, integrates expert interviews, eyewitness accounts, and real-life undercover interactions to explore various themes connected to Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted fetal tissue. Episode 1, “Planned Parenthood’s Black Market in Baby Parts,” premiered last month. Episode 2, “Inside the Planned Parenthood Supply Site,” launches today at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABzFZM73o8M

The series follows the personal narrative of Holly O’Donnell, a former Blood and TIssue Procurement Technician for StemExpress, a start-up biotech company from northern California that partners with Planned Parenthood clinics to purchase their aborted fetus parts and resell them for scientific experimentation. As a procurement tech, O’Donnell’s job was to identify pregnant patients matching the specifications of StemExpress customers and to harvest the fetal body parts from their abortions.

It’s not an option, it’s a demand,” StemExpress supervisors instructed O’Donnell about approaching pregnant women at Planned Parenthood for fetal tissue “donations.” O’Donnell says the StemExpress techs working in Planned Parenthood clinics sometimes harvested fetal parts without obtaining consent from the patients: “If there was a higher gestation, and the technicians needed it, there were times when they would just take what they wanted. And these mothers don’t know. And there’s no way they would know.

Federal laws on the procurement and use of human fetal tissue require that patients consent to the tissue donation subsequent to consenting to the abortion procedure (42 U.S.C. 289g-1).

According to O’Donnell, Planned Parenthood gave StemExpress workers access to patient records and schedules so that the harvesting company could plan for the days when patient “supply” would be greatest. “They give you a sheet, and it’s everybody for that day, who’s coming in for an ultrasound, who’s coming in for an abortion, medical or a late-term abortion,” O’Donnell explains. Even patients just seeking a pregnancy test at Planned Parenthood were considered part of the supply: “Pregnancy tests are potential pregnancies, therefore potential specimens. So it’s just taking advantage of the opportunities.

Project Lead David Daleiden notes, “Experiences like Holly O’Donnell’s show that Planned Parenthood’s abortion and baby parts business is not a safe place where vulnerable women can be cared for, but a harvesting ground for saleable human ‘product.’ Taxpayer subsidies to Planned Parenthood’s barbaric abortion business should be revoked immediately, and law enforcement and other elected officials must act decisively to determine the full extent of Planned Parenthood’s offensive practices and hold them accountable to the law.”

Russell Moore’s thoughts on the Planned Parenthood videos:

“What I hope happens out of [these videos] is not just that we act in public justice and defund Planned Parenthood but also that we start to shape and form consciences to do away with the violence of abortion.”

Here are two websites to be aware of if you want to make your voice heard:

  1. ProtestPP.com is planning a peaceful protest at Planned Parenthood facilities across America on August 22, 2015 from 9:00am-11:00am
  2. EndPP.com unites prolife consumers in protest against corporate support of Planned Parenthood.

And here are a few resources that may be helpful or of interest for you:

  • Reuben Navarrette Jr.’s candid article, “I Don’t Know if Im Pro-Choice After Planned Parenthood Videos
  • Francis Beckwith’s reading list of some books that make a sophisticated philosophical case for the pro-life position (see his follow-up on female pro-life scholars)
  • Ross Douthat’s bracing and brilliant piece, “There Is No Pro-Life Case for Planned Parenthood“; see also his first of two posts answering questions from a pro-abortion-choice advocate
  • Michael Krueger’s brief responses to four bad arguments to defend Planned Parenthood: (1) they do other good things; (2) the videos have been heavily edited; (3) Planned Parenthood is not making any money; (4) Fetal tissue is being used for important scientific research.
  • In a 2013 article from the liberal online magazine Slate, senior editor Rachael Larimore looked at the idea that only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortion and called it ”meaningless—to the point of being downright silly.” Rich Lowry has a very helpful explanation of how they abuse this statistic: “By Planned Parenthood’s math, a woman who gets an abortion but also a pregnancy test, an STD test, and some contraceptives has received four services, and only 25 percent of them are abortion. This is a little like performing an abortion and giving a woman an aspirin, and saying only half of what you do is abortion. Such cracked reasoning could be used to obscure the purpose of any organization. The sponsors of the New York City Marathon could count each small cup of water they hand out (some 2 million cups, compared with 45,000 runners) and say they are mainly in the hydration business. Or Major League Baseball teams could say that they sell about 20 million hot dogs and play 2,430 games in a season, so baseball is only .012 percent of what they do.”
  • Peter Kreeft argues that there are only four possible positions you can hold regarding the nature of a fetus, and he looks at the logical implications of each position:

peter-kreeft-abortion-argument-table

 

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Kevin DeYoung’s “The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden”

Aug 11, 2015 | Justin Taylor

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Kevin DeYoung’s new biblical theology for kids—the whole story of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, told in one continuous narrative—is now on sale with WTS Books for a great introductory price. This hardcover (with jacket) book retails for $18, but you can get it for as low as $8/copy (for 72 hours) if you order enough copies. You can get more info here.

To see samples of the unique illustrations, go here. But also see this little video for a quick peek:

You can also pre-order the book at Amazon.

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Don’t Know What a Fetus Is? Here Are Your Options

Aug 07, 2015 | Justin Taylor

Philosopher Peter Kreeft argues that “either we do or do not know what a fetus is.”

He explains:

Either there is “out there,” in objective fact, independent of our minds, a human life, or there is not; and either there is knowledge in our minds of this objective fact, or there is not.

There are four possibilities, he writes:

  1. The fetus is a person, and we know that.
  2. The fetus is a person, but we don’t know that.
  3. The fetus isn’t a person, but we don’t know that.
  4. The fetus isn’t a person, and we know that.

Kreeft then looks at what abortion is in each of these four cases.

Abortion in Case 1

In Case 1, where the fetus is a person and you know that, abortion is murder. First-degree murder, in fact. You deliberately kill an innocent human being.

Abortion in Case 2

In Case 2, where the fetus is a person and you don’t know that, abortion is manslaughter. It’s like driving over a man-shaped overcoat in the street at night or shooting toxic chemicals into a building that you’re not sure is fully evacuated. You’re not sure there is a person there, but you’re not sure there isn’t either, and it just so happens that there is a person there, and you kill him. You cannot plead ignorance. True, you didn’t know there was a person there, but you didn’t know there wasn’teither, so your act was literally the height of irresponsibility. This is the act Roe allowed.

Abortion in Case 3

In Case 3, the fetus isn’t a person, but you don’t know that. So abortion is just as irresponsible as it is in the previous case. You ran over the overcoat or fumigated the building without knowing that there were no persons there. You were lucky; there weren’t. But you didn’t care; you didn’t take care; you were just as irresponsible. You cannot legally be charged with manslaughter, since no man was slaughtered, but you can and should be charged with criminal negligence.

Abortion in Case 4

Only in Case 4 is abortion a reasonable, permissible, and responsible choice. But note: What makes Case 4 permissible is not merely the fact that the fetus is not a person but also your knowledge that it is not, your overcoming of skepticism. So skepticism counts not for abortion but against it. Only if you are not a skeptic, only if you are a dogmatist, only if you are certain that there is no person in the fetus, no man in the coat, or no person in the building, may you abort, drive, or fumigate.

This undercuts even our weakest, least honest escape: to pretend that we don’t even know what an apple is, just so we have an excuse for pleading that we don’t know what an abortion is.

Here’s Kreeft in video form:

John Gardner depicts Kreeft’s argument as follows:

peter-kreeft-abortion-argument-table

You can read his whole Apple Argument Against Abortion here.

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What Was the First Study Bible in English?

Aug 07, 2015 | Justin Taylor

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Given the release this month of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible (edited by D. A. Carson), and because I worked on the ESV Study Bible (edited by Wayne Grudem), this short summary from Jane Dawson’s new biography of John Knox (Yale University Press, 2015) stood out to me:

The Geneva Bible’s revolutionary format created the first English study Bible with all the necessary apparatus and commentary lodged within one set of covers.

The division of chapters into numbered verses was adopted from the French translations that were being printed in Geneva, and this simple but dramatic change in layout transformed the reading and citation of the Bible and dictated how that book is understood today.

The Geneva translation provided a full critical apparatus with carefully structured additions placed to guide the reader at all stages. At the start of each biblical book was placed an ‘argument’ or summary of the contents, and each chapter had a short list of main points and key verses. Down the margins, side notes explained difficult ideas, alternative readings, linguistic points and cross-references. They also gave explanations and interpretations of the biblical messages. Maps and diagrams were inserted within the text, making the experience of the people of God real to the eye, with a diagram of a Jewish priest’s garments or maps of the places in the Gospels or the early churches, while tables and indices allowed the text to be searched.

As an immensely friendly book, the Geneva Bible became a bestseller and by far the most popular version for the people of Protestant Scotland, Elizabethan England and the early American colonies. Down the generations and across the seas, this Bible transmitted the specific vision of Knox’s exile congregation. (p. 153)

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The 5th Undercover Planned Parenthood Video Drops

Aug 04, 2015 | Justin Taylor

Today The Center for Medical Progress released its fifth video exposing the work of Planned Parenthood.

Here is the press release:

HOUSTON, Aug. 4–The fifth undercover video in the controversy over Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted baby parts shows the Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Melissa Farrell, advertising the Texas Planned Parenthood branch’s track record of fetal tissue sales, including its ability to deliver fully intact fetuses.

In the video, actors posing as representatives from a human biologics company meet with Farrell at the abortion-clinic headquarters of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston to discuss a potential partnership to harvest fetal organs.

“Where we probably have an edge over other organizations, our organization has been doing research for many many years,” explains Farrell. When researchers need a specific part from the aborted fetus, Farrell says, “We bake that into our contract, and our protocol, that we follow this, so we deviate from our standard in order to do that.”

Asked specifically if this means Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast can change abortion procedures to supply intact fetal specimens, Farrell affirms, “Some of our doctors in the past have projects and they’re collecting the specimens, so they do it in a way that they get the best specimens, so I know it can happen.”

The investigators ask Farrell how she will frame a contract in which they pay a higher price for higher quality fetal body parts, and she replies, “We can work it out in the context of–obviously, the procedure itself is more complicated,” suggesting that “without having you cover the procedural cost” and paying for the abortion, the higher specimen price could be framed as “additional time, cost, administrative burden.”

Farrell finally summarizes her affiliate’s approach to fetal tissue payments: “If we alter our process, and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, we can make it part of the budget that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this. It’s all just a matter of line items.”

The sale or purchase of human fetal tissue is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $500,000 (42 U.S.C. 289g-2). Federal law also requires that no alteration in the timing or method of abortion be done for the purposes of fetal tissue collection (42 U.S.C. 289g-1).

Farrell also indicates to the investigators over lunch that the specimen sales from her department contribute significantly to Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s overall finances: “I think everyone realizes, especially because my department contributes so much to the bottom line of our organization here, you know we’re one of the largest affiliates, our Research Department is the largest in the United States. Larger than any the other affiliates’ combined.” In a Texas Senate hearing on July 29, former Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast clinic director Abby Johnson estimated that the affiliate had previously made up to $120,000 per month off of aborted fetal tissue.

The video is the fifth by The Center for Medical Progress documenting Planned Parenthood’s sale of aborted fetal parts. Project Lead David Daleiden notes: “This is now the fifth member of Planned Parenthood leadership discussing payments for aborted baby parts without any connection to actual costs of so-called tissue ‘donation.’ Planned Parenthood’s system-wide conspiracy to evade the law and make money off of aborted fetal tissue is now undeniable.” Daleiden continues, “Anyone who watches these videos knows that Planned Parenthood is engaged in barbaric practices and human rights abuses that must end. There is no reason for an organization that uses illegal abortion methods to sell baby parts and commit such atrocities against humanity to still receive over $500 million each year from taxpayers.”

For help in refuting defenses of Planned Parenthood and critiques of the videos, go here. It addresses the four categories of allegations: (1) it’s a hoax; (2) the videos are edited; (3) the means are dishonest; and (4) pro-lifers are trying to take away the good things Planned Parenthood does.

Yesterday (August 3, 2015), the U.S. Senate failed to invoke cloture on S.1881, a bill to prohibit federal funding of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Joe Carter has a handy FAQ:

  • What was the legislation being voted on?
  • What is a cloture motion?
  • What was the outcome and who voted in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood?
  • Why did Sen. McConnell vote against the motion?
  • What happens next for the measure?
  • Wouldn’t a government shutdown be a worthy price to pay for defunding Planned Parenthood?

Joe concludes:

Historically, the average age of retirement for Supreme Court justices is 78. By 2017, when the next president takes office, four justices (Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, and Bryer) will be over the age of 78. If there is pro-abortion president in the White House and 60 pro-abortion lawmakers in the Senate, then they will block the appointment of any justices who might vote against pro-abortion laws. The result is that a pro-life loss in the next election may mean the opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade will be lost for another two generations.

You can read the whole thing here.

As Joe noted on Twitter, “No matter what Senate does, Obama will veto any effort to #DefundPP. As long as he’s in office, PP is safe.”

On July 31, David Daleiden—the 26-year-old undercover investigator who started The Center for Medical Progress, appeared on CNN’s New Day show to discuss the findings of the first four videos in the “Human Capital” series.

For more interviews with Daleiden, see this conversation with Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review Online and this exchange with Bob Smietana at Christianity Today Online.

All of the videos released thus far can be watched here.

What Can Christians Do?

A few years ago, Scott Klusendorf—president of Life Training Institute and author of the book The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture (Crossway, 2009)—suggested four ways Christian leaders can help us think clearly about this question—the most pressing moral issue of our day:

1. Clarify the nature of moral reasoning.

As Francis J. Beckwith points out, when pro-life advocates claim that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being, they are not saying they dislikeabortion. They are saying it’s objectively wrong, regardless of how one feels about it. Consider the popular bumper sticker: “Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one!” Notice what’s going on here. The pro-life advocate makes a moral claim that he believes is objectively true—namely, that elective abortion is unjust killing. The abortion-choice advocate responds by changing that objective truth claim into one about likes and dislikes, as if the pro-lifer were talking about a mere preference. But this misses the point entirely. Pro-life advocates don’t oppose abortion because they find it distasteful; they oppose it because it violates rational moral principles. Imagine if I said, “Don’t like spousal abuse? Don’t beat your wife!”

2. Clarify the one question that really matters.

So what is the real issue, if not likes and dislikes? Pro-life advocates contend that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being. This simplifies the abortion controversy by focusing public attention on just one question: Is the unborn one of us? If so, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. Conversely, if the unborn are not human, elective abortion requires no more justification than having a tooth pulled. This is not a debate between those who are pro-choice and those who are anti-choice. Every pro-life advocate that I know is vigorously “pro-choice” when it comes to women choosing a number of moral goods. They support a woman’s right to choose her own doctor, her own school, her own husband, and her own career—to name just a few. But some choices are wrong, like killing innocent human beings simply because they are in the way and cannot defend themselves. We shouldn’t be pro-choice about that.

3. Clarify the scientific and philosophic case for life.

The science of embryology establishes that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. True, they have yet to grow and mature, but they are whole human beings nonetheless. Leading embryology textbooks affirm this. Meanwhile, pro-life advocates use philosophy to show there is no morally significant difference between the embryo you once were and the adult you are today that would justify killing you at that earlier stage of development. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not good reasons for saying you had no right to life then but you do now. Stephen Schwarz suggests the acronym SLED as a helpful reminder of these non-essential differences:

  • Size: You were smaller as an embryo, but since when does your body size determine value? Large humans are not more valuable than small humans.
  • Level of Development: True, you were less developed as an embryo, but why is that decisive? Six-month olds are less developed than teenagers both physically and mentally, but we don’t think the former have less of a right to life.
  • Environment: Where you are has no bearing on what you are. How does a journey of eight inches down the birth canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from a being we can kill to one we can’t?
  • Degree of Dependency: Sure, you depended on your mother for survival, but since when does dependence on another human mean we can kill you? (Consider conjoined twins, for example.)

In short, humans are equal by nature not function. Although they differ immensely in their respective degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature made in the image of God.

4. Clarify the path to forgiveness.

Post-abortion young people do not need an excuse. They need an exchange: Christ’s righteousness for their sinfulness. Indeed, the starting point for human healing is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and as D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out, you can never preach it enough. That gospel tells how God made humans to worship and enjoy him, but they willfully rebelled against their creator. Although the rebels deserved God’s righteous wrath, he poured it out on a substitute—Jesus, the sinless one. Like all sinners, post-abortion men and women need this gospel. With it, they live each day assured God accepts them on the basis of Christ’s righteousness, not their own. Without it, they perish.

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