In his new book, The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture (Crossway, 2009), Scott Klusendorf confesses that the above quote from Greg Cunningham haunts him. It haunts me as well. And that is why the book that Scott’s book needs to be consulted by scores of evangelicals weary of the abortion debate.
The Case for Life is unarguably one of the most important books to come out for the pro-life movement in the past several years. Scott takes the highly sophisticated arguments made against abortion-on-demand and brings them down to a level that anyone can understand.
Scott believes that the case against abortion is sound. The question for us as evangelicals is how we will make the case to our skeptical friends and neighbors. Scott writes:
“My own thesis is that a biblically informed pro-life view explains human equality, human rights, and moral obligations better than its secular rivals and that rank-and-file pro-life Christians can make an immediate impact provided they’re equipped to engage the culture with a robust but graciously communicated case for life.” (14)
Well put. And this is why the book is so valuable. Scott puts forth robust arguments against abortion, yet insists on engaging people graciously. Grace and truth come together marvelously in this pro-life apologetic.
But what is the case against abortion? How do we equip people to engage their friends and neighbors regarding this sensitive debate? Frankly, is it even possible to change minds when it comes to this issue? In answering these questions, Scott points us back to the central concern of the debate: What is the unborn?
Almost every argument for or against abortion can come down to this one question. Abortion-rights advocates assume that the unborn baby is not a human being (or a human person). Regarding the humanity of the unborn, science firmly comes down on the pro-life side. The unborn human being is just that …a human being. The pro-life position claims that taking the life of an unborn human being is no different than taking the life of another innocent human being.
To make the case effectively, Scott recommends we “trot out the toddler.” If you replace the “unborn child” with the “toddler” and try to make the case for abortion, nearly everyone experiences some sort of repulsion. Why? They understand the toddler is a human being. Most people, once they accept the humanity of the unborn, realize that innocent life is at stake in this debate.
Simply put, the beginning of life is not an issue above Barack Obama’s paygrade. The humanity of the unborn is a scientific fact put forth by embryologists, text books and scientific studies.
The Case for Life succeeds in two areas. First, Scott solidifies the arguments for the pro-life case, which hopefully will reinvigorate the younger evangelicals who are experiencing what has been termed “fetus fatigue” when it comes to this issue. The expansiveness of Scott’s argumentation may serve to reinforce the views of those who are pro-life without quite understanding the reasons why. (Case in point: some pro-lifers make distinctions between late-term and early abortions, or abortion-on-demand and embryonic stem cell research.) Many evangelicals may be nominally pro-life without understanding how many of these life issues are connected around the central affirmation of the pro-life cause: the unborn human being is worthy of protection.
Secondly, Scott helps Christians to winsomely engage people who hold opposing views. And the way he accomplishes this task is by showing how exclusive and elitist the pro-choice argument actually is.
“Opponents of the pro-life view…assert, without justification, the belief that strong and independent humans have basic human rights while small and dependent ones do not. This view is elitist.” (66)
The pro-life camp does not need to vilify abortion-rights advocates. We must simply appeal to the inclusive and compassionate stance of the pro-life cause. We are the inclusivists wanting to welcome every member of the human family.
The Case for Life is divided into several sections. Scott begins by helping pro-life Christians clarify the debate by bringing attention back to the central question surrounding the identity of the unborn.
Next, Scott recommends that pro-life Christians establish a foundation for the debate. This section delves a little bit deeper into the question of human rights and their origin.
Then, Scott helps pro-life Christians answer objections persuasively. He lists several of the main objections and makes a winsome case for the pro-life cause. I found this section to be the most helpful part of the book.
Finally, Scott counsels pro-life pastors and churches in how they can equip their congregants to be advocates for the unborn in their respective communities.
Scott wisely includes some foundational aspects for understanding human rights. He tackles difficult subjects concerning belief in God and the teaching of the Bible with respect to abortion. He also makes a case for Christianity’s uniqueness, devoting a lengthy section to defending the historicity of the resurrection. Scott is right to see the pro-life issue as one that stems from a correct understanding of the gospel itself. Although I appreciated the contents of these chapters, I am not sure that were necessary within the framework of this brief apologetic.
Overall, The Case for Life should be studied and applied by every pastor or layperson who desires to be profoundly pro-life. Perhaps if evangelicals read this book, the haunting quote from Greg Cunningham will no long be applicable to the people of God.