Friday, March 29, 2013

Responding to Triablogue on Abolish Human Abortion


The brothers at Triablogue pointed out that I had not bothered to link to their reply to my first article. They are correct to do so. This was an oversight on my part. Here is the link to Triablogue's response to my initial post.

As God would have it, I am stuck in the Detroit airport for the better part of my day. While I was hoping to be close to Charlotte by now, here I am, trying not to go crazy with boredom. Since this is where God has me, I thought it would be a good use of my time to read and respond to the Triablogue criticism of my post on the coalition known as Abolition Human Abortion (AHA). I literally thought it would take a couple of weeks to get to that project. What do I know?            

You can read my initial article here under February posts. As a bible believing Christian, I hold that abortion is murder and should never be considered a viable option to manage an unwanted pregnancy. The biblical attitude toward pregnancy is indelibly related to the doctrine of divine sovereignty. However, that subject is beyond the scope of this post. The entire premise of my argument is really quite simple: it is not the place of the Church to abolition human abortion in our society. The Church, believe it or not, has a higher calling. She is charged with preaching the gospel, baptizing those whom God converts, and turning those converts into disciples. She extols Christ’s values before the world community. Hence, the Church is not an institution that should focus her time and attention on social transformation or political reform. She has a higher calling. It is likely that if we in the Church did a better job turning converts into disciples, we would have fewer John Wayne Christians running around rebuking pastors and elders for not getting on board with their personal agendas and pet projects. 

The purpose of this post is to respond to a criticism offered by Triablogue on my thesis that AHA is wrong about the role of the Church in its relation to human abortion. While I do not think the TB post offers anything new that I have not already criticized here, I will indulge them with a response.

Triablogue Point One
Dr. Dingess is entirely incorrect to say that "(t)here is no necessary connection between this coalition and the Church of Jesus Christ". Abolition is a work of the church of Jesus, the invisible church, for it is a work that God demands from each human being, and those who are born again and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God will unfailingly desire to do the will of God during our lives.
The author fails to recognize that a necessary connection between the church and AHA would equate to a divine imperative to adopt the views and practices of AHA. I reject such a notion as nonsense and outright legalism. The Church can legitimately exist as the Church without complying with and adhering to the views and practices of AHA. AHA is not a necessary part of the Church of Jesus Christ. The author seems to insist that opposition to human abortion requires that we adopt the views and tactics of AHA. That insistence, which shows up throughout the website is without merit. In short this method of reasoning is related to the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. There are a variety of ways to oppose abortion and to love unborn children. To insist on one specific standard is tantamount to legalism.

Triablogue Point One (A)
Of the Two Great Commandments, one is "Love your neighbor as yourself." Right now in this country, 3500 of the smallest and weakest of our neighbors are being murdered every day. If Dr. Dingess or anyone else can find a greater destruction to our neighbor than abortion in the culture to which we have access, we'd certainly like to know about it, that we may turn our attention to abolishing it
This argument commits the fallacy of accident. It illegitimately applies the command to love one’s neighbor to the unborn and it also equivocates on what it means to love. On the one hand, even if the command can legitimately be applied to the unborn in this way, it does not follow that AHA is correct in that their specific practices are THE ONLY WAY to love them and no other methods meet the definition of love. The argument fails due to fallacies of accident and equivocation.

Triablogue Point One (B)
We'd like to ask Dr. Dingess to consider carefully what sort of oversight men like William Wilberforce, or William Lloyd Garrison, had in their pursuits of abolition. 

This argument involves argumentum ad verecundiam, or an appeal to inappropriate authority. This is defective induction at its finest. It also begs the question on the issue of slavery assuming biblical condemnation of the practice without showing any concern for the need to prove that thesis. Where is the exegetical support that teaches us that all slavery is a sin? I am not advocating slavery. I am asking for an exegetical argument that demonstrates with great clarity that such a practice was evil and should be outlawed. Moreover, I am also requesting exegetical proofs that such action falls within the scope of the work of the Church. I do not approve of slavery. But that is not the point. My reasons for disapproval are apparently far from those of Triablogue. If anyone will lay mandates on the Church, I am well with my rights to demand that all such mandates be shown to be the product of sound exegetical practice. Otherwise, those who issue the mandates are guilty of asserting “thus says the Lord God,” when the Lord God has not said! And this, indeed, is a most serious issue, far more than many in the modern American watered-down Christianity realize.

Triablogue Point One (C)
Yet we fail to see in Scripture where every "ministry" must be under the "authority" of "the pastor" and elders of a local church. Who is the authority over the work of AHA? It is simply Jesus the Messiah, the King of the universe and of His Church. If we are not being led by Jesus through the Holy Spirit, then we have no business being involved in this work. Jesus alone will direct the building and advancement of His Kingdom.

More than any other criticism of AHA I find this one to be the most serious. Namely, I find AHA's existence and governance outside the authority of the Church to be more than a little disturbing. The attitude in the author’s argument demonstrates a seriously defective ecclesiology. Christ authorizes ministry through His Church and only through His Church. Moreover, godly leaders recognize the significance of formal structure and the importance of humble submission to their spiritual leaders. They do not adopt the typical American cowboy Christian idea that they are just going to go take care of business themselves. In addition, these cowboy Christians as they are so prone to do, due to their personality, will often turn around and make demands of the Church and her pastors and elders, accusing them of apathy, being misguided, not caring, in need of revival, etc. In other words, the men who are supposed to be their leaders will often find themselves the target of criticism, and much of it from a distinctly uneducated vantage point. These men are sinning when they engage in such egregious and divisive tactics. All leaders and ministries must come under the authority and guidance of God’s ordained leaders, under the Church. Legitimate Christian ministry begins with the spiritual leaders of the local body and moves under the supervision and guidance of that body.
Triablogue Point Two
But why would we tell people who want to work with us to go away? We want to be around non-Christians! There are those of us who resort to going out to the party district of their city late at night when they'd rather be in bed after a long week at work, or take vacation time off work to go onto the university campus, so as to share the law and the Gospel with lost people, and does Dr. Dingess think we should be intentionally telling those who want to be around us to take a hike.

Regrettably, the author has introduced a red herring. I will direct you to my previous post and challenge anyone to find an argument that makes anything of the fact that there are unbelievers in AHA. The point I made in my article goes to their claim that there is some necessary linkage between being adopted by God and being involved in AHA. The cause of me being involved in my local church is not being adopted by God. I could be involved in some other Church. This is another defective induction, specifically, non causa pro causa, or argument from false cause. My point was exactly that adoption by God is not the actual cause of involvement with AHA or even agreement with their views and methods. That was my point. If you have questions, I direct you to my post here in February. You can read it yourself. In addition, if AHA is a ministry of God, then darkness has no place in it. And if AHA permits the ungodly and the deceived to partake of Christian ministry, that is a entirely different problem deserving more serious attention. In addition, there is the question of females preaching at abortion clinics as well. When you peel the onion, there are more thorny issues than one realizes. This is precisely why submission and supervision by pastors and elders is indispensable.

Triablogue Point Three
One of the biggest problems with Dr. Dingess' article is the representation that we somehow equate being a "member of AHA" with being a Christian.
TB Offers clarity
We never state that all Christians must self-identify with AHA. Again, if that is what people come away with when they visit our About Us page, we want to correct it, so this is another chance for us to sharpen our website.

But then retreats right back into ambiguity
Make no mistake, however. We question how it is that someone can call himself a Christian and yet take virtually no action on the issue of abortion. What other social evil is occurring at a level of 3500 deaths per day? Not all Christians need belong to AHA, but all Christians should have an abolitionist spirit and be engaging their culture in some fashion, because the culture is dark and evil, the people are lost and dying, and we have the light, the cure, the solution

Out of one side of his mouth, the author denies equating being AHA with being Christian, and then virtually takes it back. It has nothing to do with membership and everything to do with like-mindedness. Is it any wonder that people would see this language as reflective of a judgmental attitude toward those who are not involved in the same activities in the very same way that AHA is? The message from AHA seems to be that you MUST adopt our attitudes toward this issue and you MUST satisfy our DEMANDS in opposing abortion using the SAME methods we do or else, we may question your faith. If you don’t oppose abortion in exactly the same way we do, or in a similar way that we define, then you are simply NOT doing enough. That much is clear. When men make claims that place these kinds of specific demands on other Christians, they trample under foot sound principles of biblical exegesis and ignore godly attributes required of Christian leaders. These kinds of claims amount to the view that, “we are doing it right, we really care, our way is the only way to obey the second greatest commandment, watch us do it if you really want to learn how to do it correctly, etc. Or worse, if you don’t do it our way you don’t care, or more subtly, you don’t care like we do if you are doing it differently than we are. We are setting the standards! Such claims are arrogant, boastful, self-righteous and legalistic. 

When you add to this equation the fact that we cannot find a local body of elders and pastors who are actually the spiritual supervisors and leaders of this coalition, it becomes quite disturbing. Who authorized these men to engage in the kind of correction and rebuke of the Church they put forth? Can anyone who wants to just decide that “THIS ISSUE” is the most important issue and then proceed to claim it is God’s work, and then move to rebuke those who do not share their passions or think the same way about the issues as they do?

We all agree that a lifestyle that ignores the divine commandments is indicative of one who knows not God. If AHA is correct, and you must do as they do and think as they think in order to obey the second commandment, then unless you are at least in harmony with them in thought and practice, you are in violation of the second commandment. And if you are in continual violation of that commandment, your faith is not genuine. And if your faith is not genuine, you are not saved. Hence, it must follow that unless you do it the way AHA says you do it, you really aren’t saved. 

Now, if that is not the message, the alternative argument is valid. We all agree that we must love our neighbors. We also agree that abortion is murder. We all confess that there are a variety of ways in which we may express love for our neighbors. And we also confess there is more than one way to oppose abortion and demonstrate we care about this very important issue. When we see our neighbor in need of help, we help them. That is an expression of love. Giving our neighbor the gospel is an expression of love. Volunteering to counsel pre and post abortive women is an expression of love. Informing your neighbor who is considering abortion that such a practice is immoral and helping them with alternatives along with and more importantly, giving them the gospel is loving our neighbor and showing we care about the issue. Pastors who preach and teach the truth about abortion are showing they care and are concerned about the issue.

Now, if doing these latter activities meets the biblical definition of loving our neighbor and opposing abortion, then AHA activities are reduced from their claim of biblical mandate to a matter of personal preference. And if it is a matter of personal preference, it follows that it is highly inappropriate for AHA to assert that it is a divine command and to use pressure and manipulation to intimidate others to get on board or else.

These pragmatic knee-jerk reactions are contrary to the doctrine of divine sovereignty. Why is it that every time an evil grabs our attention, the first thing some men do is indict the Church? Why is it the Church's fault that women are killing their babies? Why is the Church's fault that godless men do ungodly things? Why is it the Church's fault that aggressive homosexual activists hate the message of Christ? Did not Christ warn us that the world would get worse, that wickedness would grow worse, and that the world would hate us? Why then, do these men think that when Scripture actually proves to be true an evil gets worse and worse and men apostasize, do they blame it on the Church? The assertion that legalized abortion or the impending legalization of gay marriage is somehow the fault of the Church has no basis in Scripture and very little, if any support, logically speaking. The Church does have plenty of things she needs to work on, but they have nothing to do with godless men behaving ungodly, and far more to do with living, defending, and publishing the truth and keeping her membership pure from the idolatry of worldly thinking.

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