Given that our state legislature has refused to establish justice for the pre-born, Abolitionists in Oklahoma have taken it upon themselves to attempt to put such a measure before the people and make way for the abolition of abortion. The text of our measure is short — shamefully short, as it is more or less the text of various “pro-life” laws already on the books in Oklahoma, but stripped of their exceptions, amelioration, and accommodations to the greatest and most dehumanizing evil of our age.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA THAT THE FOLLOWING SECTION BE ADDED TO ARTICLE 2 OF THE OKLAHOMA CONSTITUTION:
A. As used in this section:
B. It shall be unlawful for any person to perform, procure, or attempt to perform an abortion.
C. Any person who performs or procures an abortion shall be guilty of homicide.
Now, some would say that we are fools for putting forward such a measure. After all, they say, if such a thing were possible, the legislature would have done it already. They tell us that the Supreme Court will strike down any such measures. Maybe so. But the Supreme Court is not the supreme law of the land. Every legislator in our state takes a solemn oath to support, obey, and defend the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court may pervert the Constitution, but our legislature is not bound by any law or duty to aid or abet them. On the contrary, they are duty-bound by their oaths to oppose them. And as such, their measures to establish justice in our state might get struck down, but they ought nonetheless to be stalwart and indomitable in continuing to promulgate them. The children being slaughtered in their midst certainly deserve no less.
But they have not done this. And so the task has fallen to us, the people, to secure the equal protection of the laws for our pre-born neighbors, and do the hard work of contending for the bill that our legislature should have written.
The ACLU of Oklahoma and vocal advocates of post-reproduction destruction are absolutely terrified of letting this petition circulate among the people of Oklahoma. To ensure that it does not make it on a ballot, they have taken legal measures to gag the petition, forestall the collection of signatures, and stifle open discussion of abolition among the citizens of our democratic republic.
However, there need not be a citizen-initiated ballot measure.
The Pro-Life legislature could put forward this amendment themselves and allow the people to vote for or against abolition in the upcoming election. If they do not do this, it will be because they wish to continue to put forward pro-choice legislation under the guise of the Pro-Life banner.
One of the most important truths that I have learned over the last several years is that whenever you discern a problem and you attempt to correct that problem, you must be very careful to not overcorrect. Whenever you realize you are up to your knees in filth in one ditch, you don’t do yourself any favors by walking across the road and jumping into the filth of the other ditch. Even good roads have muddy and filthy ditches. It’s best to stay out of both of them. This is a rather simple truth to understand, however it is one that is nearly always relevant when dealing with error. I grew up in a Christian family, and my father is a retired Southern Baptist Minister. I spent a brief time at a Baptist Bible college, and then I spent a good half dozen years studying and reading political theory. My two greatest intellectual passions I’ve had for over a decade has been Theology and Political Science. Naturally, the intersection of Christianity and political involvement has fascinated me for many years, and I’ll admit, my views on this have changed. I remember being nine and falling asleep during the Clinton vs Bob Dole Election back in 1996. My father, knowing that I cared even then, woke me up and told me about our miserable defeat. I may even have teared up just a bit. Years later, after reading The Communist Manifesto and Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward during my sophomore year of High School, I decided to ditch my staunchly Neo-Conservative Roots, partially just out of rebellion and partially because of the contrarian novelty of it all. For a brief and delusional three or four months I decided I was a Socialist. In other words, I jumped from one ditch right into another. During my later years of High School and then in my early twenties I became neck deep in radical libertarianism, austrian economics, and anarcho-capitalism. Needless to say, I canvassed for Ron Paul, not only in 2012, but in 2008 also. I was a true believer. Although I still have a lot of respect for that particular “camp” of political ideology, never did I seriously consider how my Christianity should inform my political ideology or my political action. Sure, I halfheartedly ensured that my politics were at least compatible with Christianity, but I never let my faith and the perfect Law of God actually DICTATE my ideals and actions.
It is my belief that the great majority of Christians make the same error I made, and that has caused a great deal of unprincipled counterproductive political action or, filthy in the other ditch, passive inaction dressed up as spirituality. There are many theological and political errors Christians make at this interesting intersection, but the two that I find most common and most dangerous are Pragmatism and Pietism. The Pragmatist will put his faith in worldly wisdom, iniquitous decrees, Godless regimes, and sometimes even violence. The Pietist will put his faith in seemingly spiritual means, while rejecting winsome and practical methods. While the Pragmatist actively partakes in evil to do good, the Pietist does evil by neglecting good. Both reject God’s law in practice and belief, though in different ways. These two views are the filthy ditches on either side of the road; the two sides of the same lawless coin. I believe the Biblical and Abolitionist position is that Christians should actively attempt to politically establish Justice. Justice defined by God’s law. And this establishment of Justice should be made through practical and biblical methodology while never forsaking the proclaiming of the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Abolitionist puts his faith in the Sovereign Living God while actively participating in the establishment of justice by principled and biblical means. Throughout church history we can discern the fruit of both of these doctrinal ditches. From war torn nations to silent churches during a holocaust, the fruit of these heterodox ideologies is an unrepentant, apathetic, blood soaked nation. Much like ditches alongside a road, too often we are naturally drawn to one side or another. However, both ditches are a destructive snare to the faithful Christian, and specifically to the work of the Abolitionist.
Because this is an Abolitionist Conference, and because abortion is the great sin of our nation, I will be writing specifically about abortion and the Christian’s political involvement in abolishing it. I assure you that these grievous errors are very relevant to other political topics, whether it be gay marriage, immigration, education, foreign policy, and so on.
The predominant political philosophy of most professional pro-life activists and organizations is Godless pragmatism. Pragmatism is a philosophical position that determines the truth or moral value of various tactics by examining the perceived success of their tactics. In other words; the means justify the ends. The pragmatist often does evil for good to come, though rarely do they see the wickedness of their own political philosophy. The pro-life pragmatist will likely have an admirable goal, that is, the eventual abolition of human abortion. However, the pragmatist’s tactics are not governed by the Law of God, but rather by what they perceive to be effective. As abolitionists we are very familiar with the standard Godless pragmatism of the major 501c3 Pro-life institutions. The common defining marks of this brand of pragmatism are dehumanizing regulatory bills, radical echuemenicalism, syncretism, and an utter lack of the proclaiming of the Gospel.
The great majority of incremental laws supported by the pro-life establishment do not reflect in any way the perfect Law of God. While God demands repentance and perfect obedience, laws that only seek to decrease abortion substitute true repentance with a sort of partial repentance that is no repentance at all. Only seeking justice for those older than twenty weeks, for example, is not seeking justice at all. Attempting to protect a fraction of the innocent unborn is no more the establishment of justice than acknowledging the value of only half whites would have been under antebellum slavery. It is not justice at all. It is not a step in the right direction. It is a continuation and reiteration of gross injustice. Any initiative that discriminates against children under twenty weeks, preimplantation, conceived in rape, and so on, must necessarily rely upon the philosophical and legal presupposition that the unborn themselves are not human beings created in the Image of God and thus worthy of equal protection under the law. Again, although often their motives are admirable, any bill that can functionally end with “and then you can kill the baby” reinforces the dehumanizing nature of abortion.
In their attempt to raise funds and recruit volunteers, the pragmatist not only locks arms with heretical pseudo-Christian religions, but also the LGBT community, outright pagans, and atheists. This is directly related to their end goal. Although the abolitionist desires greatly the end of abortion, the chief end of the abolitionist is to glorify God and to faithfully play a small role in bringing about the redemption of all things in Christ. In short, their cause is not under the Kingship of Christ, but rather their cause is their king. Because the pragmatists chief end is not the Glory of God, but rather the end of a terrible injustice, they will join together with mockers and haters of God who hold their common goal. The pragmatist will claim that we can work together on common goals. They will bring up examples attacking our consistency. They will foolishly claim that if we were consistent we would reject the help of homosexual medical personal or that we would be morally obligated to quit our job at a telecommunication company where one works with atheists and Muslims. Again, the chief end of the professional pro-lifer distorts and corrupts their pragmatic tactics. The Christian may justly hire the atheist plumber, use the services of the Mormon Doctor, or make lattes next to the homosexual, not because those anti-gospel views aren’t meaningful, but because one does not unclog toilets through the power of the Word of God. On does not stitch up a cut with the Truth of the Cross. And one does not pull espresso shots by the bold proclamation of the Gospel. But with the institutionally protected and publically accepted act of child sacrifice, those are exactly the tactics required by a Christian. That will be exactly the tactics of a Christian viewing abortion as SIN, as opposed to just a political position. Because abortion is sin, the answer will always be repentance, and one cannot preach repentance if your organization is funded and employed with haters and mockers of God.
Attempting to pander to the largest audience possible, the pragmatist will only employ secular tactics that do not proclaim the truth of God’s Word. Now, there are rare occasions where the pragmatist will dress up his humanistic pro-life philosophy with a few bible verses. A striking example of this is when a supposedly “gospel centered” pro-life center exposes abortion on colleges across America. This pro-life center will expose abortion on secular campuses with their standard humanistic argumentation. But on Christian universities they will include Bible verses on some of their signs and slideshows. This relegation of anything Christian to only culturally Christian environments is blatant pragmatism. But it’s more than that. Although on Christian Campuses they pull out the Christian signs, their tactics do not change. It’s faux Christianity. It’s an appearance of Godliness employed to cater to the religious whims of Christian College students. The HUGE question that needs to be asked is why is the sanctioning off of your hollow religiosity to Christian schools considered Gospel centered? Let’s pretend for a moment, and it IS pretending, that your Christian GAP displays were somehow proclaiming the Gospel. Is it not the secular schools that should hear that message the most? The pro-life pragmatist makes the Gospel of Jesus Christ just another tool in their pro-life tactics toolbox.
Godless pragmatism typically goes hand in hand with a dualistic belief in the Christian’s obligation. The Christian political pragmatist will agree that they are to live a holy personal life. They confess that within their homes and their private lives that they are not to compromise and discriminate. These Christians would not suggest to their brother to partially repent of adultery, to try their best, and to throw a celebration if they can cut down their despicable and elicit sin to only once or twice a month. The Christian political pragmatist would never find it sufficient for their racist grandfather to only hate and dehumanize Asians, as opposed to all non-whites. Of course not. They would call him to repent. However, if the cause is seemingly political, they feel as if they have special license to call for a sort of partial justice in order to “take baby steps” or “get what you can get”. Their “No Compromising Christianity” is not for all the world, but only for their bible studies and families. They compartmentalize their activism so that it is not subject to God’s perfect governance. Of course, I am being charitable to the professional pro-lifer. Although I do not have any specific pragmatist in mind, as often is the case, if Christ is not King over their political engagement, I would not be terribly surprised if Christ is not King over their personal lives, families, or Churches. Much like in other various realms of Christian thought, beware of anyone who emphasizes “what works”. In a very real way, the establishment Pro-life organizations are the seeker sensitive churches of the fight to end abortion.
In order to maintain this sort of compartmentalization, there is a presumption of moral neutrality placed upon our civil magistrates and their actions. Only the results are judged, not the actions. The action, in this case legislative active, is presumed to be neutral. The Christian incrementalist must necessarily rely on this mythical neutrality of the state. He must not attempt to discern the justness or unjustness of specific laws, or else it becomes obvious that to regulate murder is no justice at all. It should be plain that any measure that could functionally end with “and then you can kill an image bearer of God” is not just. Instead of examining the law itself, the pragmatist attempts to discern, by their own incomplete knowledge and fallen reason, the possible effects of the law. The Pro-life incrementalist relies on a pragmatism divorced from the Law of God to sidestep examining the justness of the laws. Instead of debating the justness of a law, the question is never even asked. It is irrelevant to the pragmatist.
Needless to say, when man is left to arbitrarily determine the effectiveness of incremental laws he will not judge rightly. He will pad the stats, ignore large swaths of those who are dehumanized, and pick and choose tiny special earmarked segments of the fight against abortion to “prove” the effectiveness of their unjust pragmatism. They are forced into the tireless defense of supporting the continued dehumanization of many, all in the name of their vain and ineffective schemes to save some.
The truth is that there is no neutrality in the civil realm. There is no neutrally in any realm. The institutions themselves are not just. The laws themselves are not just. The laws aren’t unjust because it leads to more injustice, they’re unjust because they are inherently repugnant to God’s Law.
Justice for the establishment pro-lifer is not determined by the Law of God, but only by his or her own subjective and fallen autonomy.
Although the Christian pragmatist is seeking to do good through whatever means that are effective, it’s important to remember that their misguided tactics, based largely on worldly wisdom, do not reap righteous goals. Even when the pragmatist reaches his goal, the results are often tainted.
In history we see this with startling clarity with the abolition of American slavery. The nineteenth century Abolitionists proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They called for national repentance of chattel slavery and the dehumanizing racism that Antebellum slavery sprouted from. The abolitionists denounced slavery as a vile sin against fellow image bearers. And rightly viewing slavery as sin, the call was for immediate abolition. The Abolitionist was the most radical social, political, and religious figure of his day. He was hated and despised by all of the respectable religious and political elites. In other words, the world hated the Abolitionists because the world first hated Jesus. Although nearly all Northern Republicans supported at least some sort of regulation upon slavery or the slave trade, no Abolitionist political party ever secured more than 2% of a vote in national elections. However, the vast majority of anti-slavery Republicans sought slavery regulations, a lessening of the slave trade, and colonization. More than anything else, the Northern Republicans desired a restricting of slavery in newly acquired Western territories and States, and in at least one case, a restricting of all African American labor, whether it be labor from a slave or freeman. After the Civil War, which was the bloodiest war in American History, Northern Republicans were able to pass the 13th Amendment, legally abolishing Antebellum Slavery. The Thirteenth Amendment became the first of what became known as the Reconstruction Amendments. Abolition was not brought about through repentance, but rather through the force of violence. The fruit of this violent political abolition is made clear by even a brief look at the social situation during Reconstruction south. Slavery was abolished, yet injustice and institutional sin continued. Lynchings occurred in record numbers, former slaves were economically entrapped by their former owners, and Jim Crow laws ruled the South. The nation disregarded the true call of the Abolitionists, while they believed the goal of the Abolitionists was already accomplished. The root was not slavery, but the disregarding and hatred of fellow image bearers of God. After the abolition of slavery, it took our nation a hundred years to allow African Americans to vote. And fifty years after that, we are arguably at the height of racial tensions since the end of Civil Rights Movement. This is the fruit of the pragmatism of a Gospelless and violent abolition.
The Abolitionist’s Gospel message of repentance and faith was rejected in favor of the Union Army and political scheming. History serves as a needed reminder of the importance of repentance along with the legal establishment of Justice.
While pragmatism is the common justification for whatever the pragmatist perceives as useful, pietism is the typical justification for the apathetic Christian. Pietism is commonly the justification for inaction, while pragmatism is the standard justification for immoral action. In a Church age that needs no further reason for inaction and apathy, pietism serves as bulwark against duty, good works, and obedience. But what is pietism? Well, all it means to be pious is to be devoutly religious, devoted, or holy. Not bad things. But the devil is in the “ism”. While we should all strive to live personally holy lives, and I do NOT want to belittle or denigrate that idea at all, pietism is not only a stressing of personal holiness, it’s a stressing of personal holiness over and above our Christian DUTY to engage the culture with the Gospel of The Kingdom of God. This engaging of the Culture that the pietist side steps is not some optional thing that faithful Christians can justly opt out of. I am talking about nothing less than the Great Commision.
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Matthew 28:18-20
The pietists do not “Go”, and they certainly do not teach all the nations “all things that Christ has commanded”. Instead, the Pietist will replace what has clearly been commanded with his or her own “personal holiness”. Pietism has many forms and many Christians are guilty of this error to various degrees. I’m sure we have all heard “well, I’ll pray for you” whenever we have encouraged fellow Christians to good works. I’m also sure we have talked to dozens, if not hundreds, of Christians who respond to our exhortations with assurances that they are personally pro-life and they would never abort their own children. Another common retort to our encouragement is that the good works that we are encouraging are not the special calling of that individual, but no worries, the pietist may give you a thumbs up whenever he sees you. Maybe even a pat on the back.
Much like pragmatism, pietism relies upon either a doing away with the Kingship of Christ over all things, or at the very least a distortion or relegation of Christ’s Kingship. Although the pietist will readily admit that Christ is King of his personal life, Christ’s kingdom stops outside of the spiritual realm. This is an almost gnostic worldview that devalues the material in order to seemingly exalt the spiritual. Certainly, living a holy life and being a man or woman of prayer is a good thing. Not only a good thing, but a necessary thing. However, our calling, not as special missionaries or clergy, but as CHRISTIANS, is outward. As our Lord and Saviour made clear at the Sermon on The Mount…
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Now, it is VITAL to understand that Christ is King over ALL. As should be made clear by the Great Commision, ALL authority, has been given to Christ. And if that’s not clear, Christ explicitly states where this authority extends. Heaven AND earth. All authority, everywhere. As Douglas Wilson often says “If Christ is not King everywhere, He is not King anywhere”.
The pietist boxes the authority of Christ, our KING, into the narrow realm of their personal prayer lives, families, and churches. Notice, this is the very same theological error of the pragmatist. Whenever you negate the the Kingship of Christ over all things, whenever you lessen the Kingship of Christ and inch, it gives false license to buy into any number of erroneous ideas, whether it be pragmatism, pietism, humanism, syncretism, and so on.
Although the pietist will occasionally rely on platitudes about the “sovereignty of God” and relying upon “God’s will”, the biblical TRUTH is that we are the tools of God. We are his people. Revival sprouts forth through the Church of the Living God. That is God’s ordained, normative, sovereign means of bringing revival, establishing justice, and extending mercy. How are they to believe in Him if they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? Pure and undefiled religion is to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained. The pietist is concerned with keeping himself unstained, but neglects the widows and the orphans, apparently because they feel as if their job is “praying”. This is a selective, and rather convenient, denial that God uses means. The pietist does not pray for Godly Knowledge and then not study Scripture. There’s probably a few that do that, but that’s not the most common. Surely, God is God and if he chooses to proclaim the Kingdom through a donkey, he very well could. If God Almighty chooses to miraculously change the hearts and minds of the SCOTUS, he can. However, we know from the plain and clear text of scripture, that God uses His people for His purposes. Yes, we remain Holy, yes we pray. But we also GO. We remain holy and we pray because firstly, we seek to Glorify Christ, but also to prepare us to GO. To prepare us for seeking justice and mercy, ALL the while with our hearts fixed on Christ.
As an quick, but I believe important aside, although the focus of pietism is personal holiness it is a hypocritical and hollow holiness. There is NO holiness without obedience, and obedience extends beyond your quiet time. It is a grotesque facade. A dressing up of apathy as spirituality.
Pietism, like pragmatism, is widespread and is not new. There could be a thousand good examples throughout Church history of Pietism causing great harm, but the one I think of the most is the German Church during WW2. The German Church was very much focused on itself, and little more. Whenever widespread persecution of the Jews began, the mainstream German churches did not concern themselves. The Jews, after all, were not part of the Church, so they were not the responsibility of the Church. The German Church thought itself as righteous because it concerned themselves with prayer, public worship, and at least avoiding the public scandal that may embarrass their local church pastor. However, it was clear that outside of the four walls of their church building, the weightier matters of the law were not valued. Although a remnant did stand, at least in some ways, against the Nazi tyranny, the vast majority of the German Church hid their light under a bushel. The salt of those churches lost it’s saltiness, and as the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew makes clear, salt that has lost it’s saltiness is only good for being tossed outside and trampled underfoot. And that Church surely got trampled. To illustrate the absolute depravity of pietism in the pulpits, this quote from a German politician is very telling.
“Bend or break – one or the other! We cannot permit this authority, the authority of the German People, to be challenged from any other quarter. This also applies to all the churches. As long as they concern themselves with their religious problems, the State will not concern itself with them. If they try by whatever means, by letters, encyclicals and the like, to claim rights which are those of the State alone, we shall force them to return to the realm of spiritual and pastoral activities where they belong. Nor is it appropriate for them to criticize the morality of the state, when they have more than enough reason to worry about their own morals.“
That Politician was Adolf Hitler, and the German Church was all too willing to seclude itself to the realm of spiritual and pastoral activities. To be frank, the vast majority of our American churches are all too willing to do the same. If there are two Kingdoms, at least in the way that the pietists would have you believe, then there are two Kings. There must be two Kings, and two Kings reigning with authority. I will deny that.
We have two distinct errors in pragmatism and pietism. One justifies wrong action while the other justifies no action. Both different, yet the root is the same. Both errors are the result of a Kingless Christianity the usurps the just authority of Christ. That is nothing short of treasonous blasphemy. Both pragmatism and pietism reject the Law of God and in its place lift up the subjective, fallen, and fickle mind of man. Both the pragmatist and pietist are ruled by their own selfish sinful desires, though those desires are often quite different. Pietism and pragmatism are both branches of the root of antinomianism.
As Abolitionists. As Christians, our view of government should begin with the foundation that Christ is King over all, and any civil authority is delegated authority that is morally obligated to obey God. THAT is Christian Politics 101. We will go wrong and end up in a ditch if we don’t understand this. In Romans 13 we read that Rulers should be a terror to evildoers. In 1 Peter we learn that rulers are to punish those that do evil and praise those that do good. These texts are not, contrary to popular belief, descriptions of all governmental authority, but rather PRESCRIPTIONS to governmental authority. These texts do not give carte blanche licence to the government, but rather puts a heavy weight of responsibility on governments everywhere to be good ministers that honor God and establish justice. That is not negotiable. Christ is a conquering King and His Gospel is powerful to save souls and redeem all things.
So how do we apply this. We believe these things, first of all. We prayerfully hold tight to the Word of God, and His Sovereignty over all things. We not only cognitively adhere to the Providence of God as an Abolitionist Tennet, but we RELY on the Providence of God. And we believe…fully believe… that He is the slain Lamb, that was murdered for our sins, and that he is the Risen and Reigning King.
First, If we hold these things to be true, we do not quarantine our faithfulness to the privacy of our homes and churches. Furthermore, we do not quarantine our Abolitionism and our Evangelism to only private individuals. We call ALL people, ALL institutions, and ALL nations to repent and believe. And specifically the civil magistrates to establish Justice, true justice, for our littlest most defenseless neighbors. In this way, we can begin to kill pietism.
Second, If we hold these things to be true, we do not walk down to the capitol building and try to get the best that we can get. We do not feed on the scraps that the political elite toss at our feet. Understand me, whenever Christians demand abolition, and instead the politicians offer a hollow regulationist measure, but then Christians passively accept the bargain and retreat back into the Churches, the politicians, the politicians that are COMMANDED to be the Ministers of God, are treating Christians like Dogs. And yet we keep on weakly and pathetically coming to that table with our tails between our legs. This is vital. If Christ is King, WE ARE HIS ambassadors. Christ demands Justice. Christ demands that all Nations repent and believe the Gospel. And we should demand the same. And we can. We are His hands. We are His feet. We come in His name. And that has power. And in this way, we can, with the help of the Almighty God, begin to kill pragmatism.