I was thinking about and praying for a dear friend today, who was a “liberal Christian”, but then later abandoned all pretenses to Christianity and now lives his life as an openly gay atheist/agnostic. As I pondered the “new way of being Christian” and the way forward that is promulgated by the new postmodern forms of liberalism/progressivism, I wanted to look at the issue from his point of view (with a little of mine mixed in).
The first question that arises is why bother to join or remain if you are already a part of a new progressive church.
Here are the possible answers, shedding the “spiritual” language:
- Community of like-minded people. would a secular/political group serve as well?
- Psychological/emotional support…would a professional counselor work as well?
- Like-minded political causes – would the Democratic action groups serve as well?
- Caring compassion ministry opportunities – Would secular non-profit organizations serve as well?
- Looking for mystical religiosity – form without reality – would other re-emerging pagan spiritualities work as well?
- It might make my parents happy?
Why I should not join?
- The gloss of Christian language – I rejected Orthodox Christianity, why should I retain the language?
- The constant guilt from the passing of the plate.
- I enjoy doing other things on Sunday – football, sleeping in, a lazy day at the coffee shop, etc.
- The new is not very new.
- Political/denominational in-fighting.
- I don’t like being “preached” at. Don’t I get enough of that from my new president?
- The pews are often too hard.
- Who or what exactly are we praying to? I thought we rejected the whole idea of a personal (God is a person) God, so why bother praying?
- If I wanted heavy ritual and mysticism, the liberal catholic or Eastern Orthodox church, down the road does it better?
- I don’t want to fit into their “spirituality” mold – the PBS stuff is more polished than this.
As I thought about this some more, other questions arose in my mind.
If I were a liberal/progressive “Christian” why would I want secularists, atheists or followers of other faiths to become “liberal Christians”?
- It would be a more peaceful world if we all believed as I do – but it would be boring too and I could no longer push pluralism.
- I want them to support my causes – but wait, I guess they already do.
In the middle of these thoughts it dawned on me. The only “converts” that Christian liberalism seeks, is from Bible-believing evangelicals. This is the reason for the fight. This is the reason that liberals fight so hard to hold onto congregations that wish to leave. This is the reason that they do not choose to leave themselves. The only real problem is that their convert supply is shrinking. They often function as the bridge from orthodox Christianity to secularism as has happened in Europe. But there the church is supported by the state. In the U.S. it is not, which means that ultimately they are working themselves out of jobs. Therefore, they need evangelicals to thrive and grow, so that they will have plenty of fields to harvest. The “new way” of doing church is an attempt to keep the advances they have made in liberalizing denominations, while somehow regaining a foothold among evangelicals again.
In the animal world, predatory species can decline severely and even become extinct if they overwhelm their primary food supply. For liberal Christians their primary food supply is not the secular world, but orthodox Christianity. Therefore the news of declining number of evangelicals in the West is very bad news. It means loss of jobs and income—no more pay for mystic-babble and psycho-babble.
Mystic-babble and psycho-babble: the “new way of being church”: Part 1 No history, no resurrection, but still Christian?
As I sit writing a sermon for this season of Lent, focusing on the historicity of the resurrection from 1 Corinthians 15, I received an e-mail from the PCUSA Presbyterian News Service, which sadly highlighted the essence of an underlying problem. In this news story, we have the promotion of three major speakers at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary – Marcus Borg (of the Jesus Seminar), Brian McLaren (of the Emergent Church) and Diana Butler Bass (author). The news story is relatively benign and talks about the promotion of “new ways of being church”.
What is being promoted? These are writers and promoters of a “faith” that is ultimately humanism in the skin of Christianity. Not long ago, theological liberalism was hidden and worked in secret. Today it is flaunted openly, even within more conservative non-denominational circles as with Brian McLaren. It is fashionable today among those who refer to themselves as “progressive” to avoid almost all definition, to be malleable, fluid, un-categorizable, obscure, mystical, but rarely dogmatic.
There are core dogmas among these speakers though:
- Exclusivity of religious traditions is evil and must be shunned in favor of pluralism – all religious traditions, while maybe not equal, faithful adherents can reach the ultimate goal (heaven, nirvana, whatever).
- Truth claims about ultimate realities must be discarded as failed aspects of modernism – except in certain scientific views of reality, such as a wholesale acceptance of Darwinian evolution.
- The true goal of all those who are truly “religious, mystical, spiritual, etc.” is good works – which predominantly looks like the agenda of the Democratic Party.
- History is malleable and can be reinterpreted to mean almost anything we postmoderns want it to say.
The dogmatic assertions of historic Christianity must be “spiritualized” to mean almost anything we want it to mean.
- Assertions such as Jesus rose from the dead can mean almost anything except that the physical body of Jesus rose in a historically verifiable way.
- The atonement of Jesus on the cross can mean almost anything except that all humans are born into sin and do sin, deserve eternal hell (a real eternal existence) and can only be saved (enter into a real place of eternal life with God) through the substitutionary death of the historic Jesus on the cross in space and time.
- Salvation by grace through faith can mean almost anything and everything, but the exclusive message that one must actually come to the place where they trust in the historic, physically risen Jesus to be saved.
- Assertions such as Jesus rose from the dead can mean almost anything except that the physical body of Jesus rose in a historically verifiable way.
- Centering prayer, meditation (of the Eastern sort), mystic rituals are the styles of worship, but there is no ontologically real personal God who claims acceptable and unacceptable worship.
These are some of the core similarities between these speakers, which I will address separately in subsequent blog entries.
A Denial of the Physical Resurrection
The physical resurrection of Jesus has historically stood out as the defining doctrine that must be believed (though not the only belief) for one to be recognized as any sort of Christian. If there is one core doctrine that is above the others, it is this one, though all the others are inextricably linked together.
Paul writes to the Corinthians:
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed. 12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:1-19)
One of the major points that Paul is making is that the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead was not a form of “spiritual” existence. For just as he was truly physically dead and buried, so too he was truly physically raised from the dead bodily…and seen by large number of witnesses at many different times, as eyewitness evidence to the historic fact of the resurrection. Yet, somehow for those of a liberal (skeptic/doubt) persuasion the fact that Paul includes himself in the eyewitness list, means that what Paul is talking about is spiritual. This is utter nonsense, both textually and factually. The point is that Paul, if nothing else, believes himself to have encountered the physically resurrected Christ bodily, not in a “spiritual way”. That on the road to Damascus, what Paul saw was Christ coming from his seated position at the right hand of the Father, for a one-time (abnormally born) encounter and commissioning. For Paul tells us also in 1 Corinthians 9:1 that, he saw the physically resurrected Lord and therefore met a qualification for apostleship. If he had meant, simply some “vision”, then this would have made his argument completely moot in context. What many scholars point out is that nowhere is there found the idea of a non-physical resurrection, and therefore the onus is upon those who believe Paul’s experience is a non-physical one, to explain how it must be interpreted this way, rather the weight of the evidence indicates that Paul, in fact, understood his experience on the Damascus road as a physical encounter with the physically resurrected Jesus. Please see Dr. William Lane Craig’s more thorough analysis of the biblical evidence on this.
Not only do we see that belief in the certainty and historic factual truthfulness of the physical resurrection is central to Christian doctrine, it is also central to salvation. Therefore, by inviting authors and advocates for a “different view” on this issue during the season of lent, Louisville Seminary has in fact chosen to deny the central conviction and saving conviction of Christianity. In a debate with N.T. Wright, Dr. Borg, made these statements:
I do believe in the resurrection of Jesus. I’m just skeptical that it involved anything happening to his corpse…I wouldn’t see these stories as fictions in a modern sense of the word. I would see them as characteristic of the ancient mind, and of ancient storytelling techniques where you do use a story to express a truth of something that has happened. I think the Easter stories are true in the sense that the followers of Jesus really did have experiences of Jesus as a living reality after his death. I don’t think those stories are simply saying his memory lives on. I think they had visionary experiences. I think they had experiences of him as a presence within the life of the community… I think of the great Easter hymn, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” with all its soaring hallelujahs. And I see that hymn as profoundly true even though I don’t think its truth depends upon the tomb having been empty or something happening to the corpse of Jesus. Christ indeed has risen, but to confuse that with an event that you could have photographed, I think is to trivialize the story.
This type of nonsensical whimsy of attempting to retain some modicum of Christianity, while with the other hand dismissing the historic meaning of the doctrine is what has historically been understood as theological liberalism. What Louisville promotes as a “new way of being church” is really just a repackaged form of un-faith or anti-Christ if you will – meaning a denial core tenets of Christianity promoted by teachers who take on the name of Christ. Just as with the new political mantra of “change”, it remains just the same, but in a newer and slicker package. In addition to religiosity (form without reality), are forms of Eastern mysticism and psycho-babble counseling. Here is more from Dr. Borg, as he explains his form of pluralism as Christian.
Scott Klusendorf has written an excellent book entitled the Case for Life.
He makes an excellent point, both in the book and in this on-line interview, about the fact that abortion is an absolute evil, in comparison with “unjust” war which is a contingent evil. We must be careful in making moral equivalents where there is none. Here is an important part of the interview:
In the recent election we know that many Christians voted for Obama. Why do you think that more people don’t consider a candidate’s position on abortion to be a “trump card” issue when voting?
SK: Simply put, they wrongly assume moral equivalency. For example, Just prior to the 2008 elections, a kindly nun at a Catholic high school pulled me aside to thank me for speaking to 400 of her students on the theme, “The Case for Life.” In fact, she couldn’t say enough good things about my talk. “I agree with everything you said. It was exactly what our kids needed to hear,” she beamed.
However, a moment later it was clear we didn’t agree when it came to applying pro-life principles. In fact, her moral reasoning was deeply troubling. She began our conversation by lamenting that her students were not pro-life on all issues. She then said, “I am consistently for life, and that’s why I’m voting for Senator Obama. Most people focus too much on abortion.” To which I replied, “What do you mean people focus too much on abortion?” She said that ending war is a pro-life issue like ending abortion, and at the moment, the war in Iraq was even worse than abortion. So I asked her, “To be worse than abortion, how bad would an unjust war have to be?” She replied that war, abortion, and poverty were all equally bad and Obama was right on most of those issues, so she was voting for him. “But are those issues bad in the same way?” I asked. “Correct me if I’m wrong,” I continued, “but doesn’t church teaching distinguish between moral absolutes and prudential judgments? In other words, the decision to wage war is not intrinsically evil, though it must be morally justified and prudently considered. But the deliberate killing of unborn human beings is an absolute evil and laws permitting it are scandalous. If I understand you correctly, you are willing to overlook Obama’s pledge to uphold an absolute evil because he might help us avoid a contingent one?” Her reply: “I just know war is worse right now.” I left her with this question: “To be worse than abortion, wouldn’t an unjust war have to kill more innocent people than abortion does each year? The war in Iraq has resulted in 100,000 deaths total (all sides) while abortion kills 1.2 million each year! In short, the evil of abortion is immeasurably worse, but she refused to see it.
This is also an excellent (biblical) way of arguing from lesser to greater. If we were to consider the war in Iraq to be a worst case scenario of a total unjust and evil war (most would not), it still would not rise to the level of an absolute evil, or even if it would in some minds, it would still not be equivalent in numbers of innocents who die due to abortion. If we were to concede that there was some justification for this war, even if we were deceived into entering the war and that it has created some good (for the Iraqis and others), and if we were to consider that there is in the end little difference in how either major party candidate would have dealt and is dealing with ending the situation there. And if we add into the mix the Bush-like policies that Obama has instituted in Afghanistan, then we must conclude that there clearly was never even the slightest moral equivalency on the issue. And we have continued to sacrifice our children to Molech for the sake of political expediency and political correctness. I highly recommend this book.
After reading another one of the Washington Office of the PCUSA letters, I am calling for a truth in advertising name change. The Washington office does not represent the PCUSA, only the extreme liberal portion. They advocate everything from open borders to partial birth abortion. It is time to call them what they are—Pushing Congregations Under Socialist Agenda (PCUSA) Washington Office.
This time the issue is climate change. Here are portions of the letter with my comments:
People of faith everywhere are increasingly concerned that the impacts of climate change have and will dramatically and negatively alter God’s gracious gift of creation. Because the effects of global climate change are already impacting those least able to cope with them, addressing global climate change is not only an environmental issue, but also a justice issue. We must live sustainably, so that all God’s children may live and thrive on God’s good earth.
Let us take a closer look at this statement. What we find is the term “climate change” has now been substituted for global warming because the real evidence (un-doctored) is clearly showing that “global warming is simply not happening”. In the midst of a recession President Obama is now pushing for taxes of trillions of dollars (cap and trade) that you and I will ultimately pay (through the products we purchase). Will this change the climate? Not even advocates for this stuff believe it will have a significant positive effect. Yet this “advocacy group” working under the name of Presbyterian, supported by them, with a visible presence on the PCUSA web site, ignores all evidence that might be contrary to their extreme liberal views and urges all Presbyterians to support these policies.
Reduce Climate Change Emissions: Enact a mandatory system that lowers greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by 20 percent* by 2020 and by at least 80 percent by 2050, in order to ensure the earth’s temperature does not increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Scientists warn that such an increase would be the tipping point for catastrophic climate change.
This is clear advocacy for cap and trade policies. Where is the evidence that we need to do such major changes? What scientists are they talking about? Are there any scientists that oppose this? How about this one? In this article we find these very strong statements:
“This is George Orwell. This is the ‘Germans are the master race. The Jews are the scum of the earth.’ It’s that kind of propaganda,” Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics, said in an interview. “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that’s a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult.” Happer served as director of the Office of Energy Research in the U.S. Department of Energy under President George H.W. Bush and was subsequently fired by Vice President Al Gore, reportedly for his refusal to support Gore’s views on climate change. He asked last month to be added to a list of global warming dissenters in a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee report. The list includes more than 650 experts who challenge the belief that human activity is contributing to global warming. Though Happer has promulgated his skepticism in the past, he requested to be named a skeptic in light of the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, whose administration has, as Happer notes, “stated that carbon dioxide is a pollutant” and that humans are “poisoning the atmosphere.” Happer maintains that he doubts there is any strong anthropogenic influence on global temperature….”All the evidence I see is that the current warming of the climate is just like past warmings. In fact, it’s not as much as past warmings yet, and it probably has little to do with carbon dioxide, just like past warmings had little to do with carbon dioxide,” Happer explained. Happer said he is dismayed by the politicization of the issue and believes the community of climate change scientists has become a veritable “religious cult,” noting that nobody understands or questions any of the science….He noted in an interview that in the past decade, despite what he called “alarmist” claims, there has not only not been warming, there has in fact been global cooling. He added that climate change scientists are unable to use models to either predict the future or accurately model past events.
I wonder if anyone at the Washington office bothered to research the issue. I wonder if anyone watched this video:
Instead they go on to advocate for more socialist (redistribution of wealth) policies because of the exorbitant costs these policies. Yes, they realize that this will mean massive amounts of money and taxes, which poorer people cannot afford, so the government will need to provide them even more assistance at the cost of greater bureaucracy and even more taxes on the middle-class and above. But they don’t stop there. They also say:
Assist and Welcome Climate Migrants: Provide generous humanitarian assistance to people fleeing the effects of climate change, and admit to the U.S. a significant number of environmental migrants through a new entry mechanism similar to the special immigrant visa process.
Ahh…yes! “Climate change” will also mean that we need to have looser immigration policies. While I am not opposed to improving immigration, having had family members who immigrated legally and knowing the time and effort it takes to do so, to connect these issues is both unwarranted and unethical.
The reality is that the “science” is ambiguous about the issue. The conclusions are manipulated politically and are used to advocate for whatever cause they wish. I would like to know what purposes the Washington office of the PCUSA serves. Are there not already millions of liberals who advocate for the exact same causes? It seems to me that they only serve to divide and disenfranchise conservatives within the denomination, and should therefore be immediately dispensed with.
Isn’t this a beautiful little girl.
Well it seems that a children’s hospital in Quebec saved her life…sounds wonderful doesn’t it.
I wonder if the parent’s will do something nice for the hospital, doctors and nurses who cared for their beautiful little girl.
Hmmm… I guess not…you can read the story about this here.
It seems that the parent’s decided to take this little girl off of life support and remove the feeding tube (she was just an infant and obviously could not feed herself). But instead the hospital decided that she could be saved. So, they saved her. And now the mother (I use the term loosely) has to stay at home and take care of her daughter (what a concept), so they are suing the hospital for saving the life of their daughter who is not completely healthy and able to take care of herself at 18 months. What a wonderful way to say thank you for saving my child’s life…I’ll see you in court.
I think, I can summarize the situation within my own PCUSA and other mainline denominations with the words … of the world, but not in it. I have been doing much reading and thinking about the dilemma of the church, even among evangelicals. Here is how I would summarize the situation:
- The western church has lost its way.
- Mainline denominations are overrun with liberalism/progressivism that teaches an entirely different – much more secular faith. See J. Gresham Machen for more on this.
- Evangelicals in their legitimate desire to evangelize and reach the lost, have bought into an extreme mantra of relativism, which in some instances has served missiologically to adapt worship styles and evangelism approaches to better communicate the gospel, but in other instances has so minimized discipleship as to create a faith that is gutted of almost all doctrinal, theological, and historical content.
- Declines in mainline protestant denominations continues on unabated, even in more conservative churches in those denominations.
The hope now is all about mission and being missional, even among more conservative leaning mainliners such as in my own denomination (PCUSA).
- Translated ignore the 800 pound gorilla (being wedded to heresy in your own denomination), and focus instead on appearing more compassionate (through caring missions).
- In this way you appease liberal leaders in your own denomination (focusing on social gospel issues) and appearing to be active in missions (very little if any church planting and evangelism) thereby appeasing evangelicals.
- Translated ignore the 800 pound gorilla (being wedded to heresy in your own denomination), and focus instead on appearing more compassionate (through caring missions).
- We look more like the world all the time. There is little to distinguish us in areas that matter…theological & ethical.
- As conservatives are attacked for supporting pro-life and pro-traditional marriage causes, they shy away from the public square.
- Secularism seems to intrude more and more within the church through Darwinian evolution and global warming advocates.
- We have become less and less counter-cultural and truly relevant in our attempts to be more artificially relevant.
- We have sacrificed education and the making of disciples for meaningless forms of “community”, psychology and caring missions (that serve mostly to assuage our western guilt).
We are becoming… of the world but not in it.
1. Bill Clinton repeats over and over again that these embryo’s are unfertilized.
2. He is either completely ignorant, stupid, or attempting to deceive people into thinking there is no deep moral issue involved.
3. The CNN interviewer does not bother to correct him, but allows him to say this over and over again.
4. If George W. Bush had made some of these statements he would have been held up as an even bigger fool, but because it is a liberal hero, no comment is made.
5. Bill Clinton at least seems to have gotten one of Obama’s talking points down — de-politicizing the science — which has to be one of the most laughable points made if it weren’t so heart-breaking.
Knowing that theological liberals/progressives deny nearly everything that historic reformed Protestantism affirms, I have often wondered what it is that those of a liberal persuasion are actually thinking when they recite the Apostle’s Creed.
Here is my lame attempt of re-wording the Apostle’s Creed to better fit the theological/philosophical beliefs of liberalism/progressivism. Please comment to me about possible improvements, and I will revise this as good ideas come in.
A progressive or liberal apostle’s creed
I choose to believe, though it does not matter what you believe, in god, the Mother, all-loving.
The ground of being for all that exists.
And in the Christ (not the historical Jesus as he really doesn’t matter), how we know god, our Lord.
Who was conceived by our post/modern minds in a new and hope-filled way.
born of Mary,
suffered under fundamentalists,
was crucified dead and buried and suffers with us in injustices.
He descended into our suffering and pain from abusive systems.
He arose again in a spiritual non-historical, nonsensical way in the church.
He ascended into an existentially higher place of existence/non-existence.
And enjoys being a part of the ground of being.
From thence he watches us judge ourselves, rather than accept and love ourselves.
I believe in the Great Spirit.
The lucrative catholic church.
The communion of all, giving me the bully-pulpit to preach a progressive agenda from the holy book of the Democratic National Convention.
The forgiveness we extend to ourselves and others for our failures to love ourselves and others in meaningful politically transformative ways.
The spiritual resurrection and societal resurrection of a liberal utopia.
And the life everlasting, or until we’re buried
A-women & men & GLBTQ
Just today I received an urgent e-mail from the Presbyterian Washington office informing me of important legislation to better control and regulate tobacco products. Much of what is being advocated by this legislation is already in place and I found their statistics to be over-blown, but overall I had a positive reaction to their e-mail (which is rare for me). But then I ran across this Wall Street Journal opinion piece and I found myself once again very upset with the Washington office (it should immediately be eliminated as an unchristian voice of extreme political liberalism). What I realized is that I had heard nothing from them on the issue of embryonic stem cell research. Why ignore an issue as important as this one, dealing with the meaning and purpose of human life and our responsibilities to care? Sometimes one’s position on an issue can be observed more by what is unsaid and ignored, than by what is said.
Is anyone surprised by the president’s actions? This is the same man who did not want his daughter’s “punished” by a baby, and therefore supported the most extreme abortion philosophies. What I find most laughable is that he refers to his actions as de-politicizing stem-cell research, when in fact, he is doing the exact opposite.
Yesterday President Barack Obama issued an executive order that authorizes expanded federal funding for research using stem cells produced by destroying human embryos. The announcement was classic Obama: advancing radical policies while seeming calm and moderate, and preaching the gospel of civility while accusing those who disagree with the policies of being “divisive” and even “politicizing science.” Mr. Obama’s executive order overturned an attempt by President George W. Bush in 2001 to do justice to both the promise of stem-cell science and the demands of ethics. The Bush policy was to allow the government to fund research on existing embryonic stem-cell lines, where the embryos in question had already been destroyed. But it would not fund, or in any way incentivize, the ongoing destruction of human embryos. For years, this policy was attacked by advocates of embryo-destructive research. Mr. Bush and the “religious right” were depicted as anti-science villains and embryonic stem-cell scientists and their allies were seen as the beleaguered saviors of the sick. In reality, Mr. Bush’s policy was one of moderation. It did not ban new embryo-destructive research (the president had no power to do that), and it did not fund new embryo-destructive research. “Moderate” Mr. Obama’s policy is not. It will promote a whole new industry of embryo creation and destruction, including the creation of human embryos by cloning for research in which they are destroyed. It forces American taxpayers, including those who see the deliberate taking of human life in the embryonic stage as profoundly unjust, to be complicit in this practice. Mr. Obama made a big point in his speech of claiming to bring integrity back to science policy, and his desire to remove the previous administration’s ideological agenda from scientific decision-making. This claim of taking science out of politics is false and misguided on two counts. First, the Obama policy is itself blatantly political. It is red meat to his Bush-hating base, yet pays no more than lip service to recent scientific breakthroughs that make possible the production of cells that are biologically equivalent to embryonic stem cells without the need to create or kill human embryos. Inexplicably — apart from political motivations — Mr. Obama revoked not only the Bush restrictions on embryo destructive research funding, but also the 2007 executive order that encourages the National Institutes of Health to explore non-embryo-destructive sources of stem cells. Second and more fundamentally, the claim about taking politics out of science is in the deepest sense antidemocratic. The question of whether to destroy human embryos for research purposes is not fundamentally a scientific question; it is a moral and civic question about the proper uses, ambitions and limits of science. It is a question about how we will treat members of the human family at the very dawn of life; about our willingness to seek alternative paths to medical progress that respect human dignity. For those who believe in the highest ideals of deliberative democracy, and those who believe we mistreat the most vulnerable human lives at our own moral peril, Mr. Obama’s claim of “taking politics out of science” should be lamented, not celebrated. In the years ahead, the stem-cell debate will surely continue — raising as it does big questions about the meaning of human equality at the edges of human life, about the relationship between science and politics, and about how we govern ourselves when it comes to morally charged issues of public policy on which reasonable people happen to disagree. We can only hope, in the years ahead, that scientific creativity will make embryo destruction unnecessary and that as a society we will not pave the way to the brave new world with the best medical intentions.
Mr. George is professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton and co-author of “Embryo: A Defense of Human Life” (Doubleday, 2008). Mr. Cohen is editor-at-large of The New Atlantis and author of “In the Shadow of Progress: Being Human in the Age of Technology” (Encounter, 2008).
Lisa Schiffren has written an excellent article on the botched abortion case in Florida. The young woman who went to the clinic to have the abortion is now suing the clinic. Lisa Schiffren writes:
But… But how does the young non-mother have standing to sue? She came to the clinic to have the baby removed from her body and destroyed. The baby was removed and destroyed. What’s the actual harm to her? She didn’t like the method? The issue seems to be that she was forced to witness the ordeal that was a direct, if messy, consequence of the procedure she requested. Would it have been better to see the baby taken out in parts? Injected with poison and born dead?
I have written about this before, and I continue to be very troubled about the entire thing. This is the greatest moral evil and insanity of our day. So many in our culture have been sold a bill of goods—that is actual evil in disguise. And yet, we have as president a man who is now funding the promotion of abortion worldwide and is fully supporting the Planned Parenthood agenda, supported by many in mainline denominations and even many evangelicals. The insanity!
The reality is that this woman went into this clinic to murder her 23-week old pre-born child. The child was murdered, though not in exactly the way it was planned. Instead of being murdered in utero, torn apart, and poisoned, then discarded, the child was born alive, then suffocated to death and discarded. Someone please tell me what the moral difference is? Why is it more deplorable that the child took a breath or two, before being murdered? It seems to me that to be logically consistent, all those who support a woman’s right to an abortion as we currently have, should also support forms of early infanticide. I see no moral difference. Why is a person more human once they are breathing on their own outside of their mother’s uterus? Let us do all we can to end this moral evil in our own culture. God have mercy on us.