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Theological Schizophrenia in the Pro-life Movement

By Jay Rogers
Published October 15, 2014

When I first encountered the following quote on a popular pro-life blog, I had to do a double take and reread it in full context.

Remember that these abortionists are misguided. They are sinners, just like you and me. And they are also REDEEMABLE. They are not our enemy. Our enemy is the sin of abortion.

These misguided souls are our brothers and sisters in Christ, whether you like it or not. Let this be a reminder to pray for their conversion with increased fervor.

If you don’t believe that these abortionists featured in “After Tiller” can experience a conversion, then you don’t know the same God I do. The God I serve is in the business of miracles.

Abby Johnson

On one hand Abby Johnson says abortionists are “our brothers and sisters in Christ.” Then she asks us to “pray for their conversion.” Although tempered with some truth, this is a serious error.

First, people who are unrepentant and murder children for a living are not our “brothers and sisters in Christ.” No Christian disagrees that an abortionist can repent and experience the love and grace of Jesus Christ. No one disagrees that our enemy is sin and the devil. But are abortionists already our “brothers and sisters in Christ” because they may be redeemable? Of course not!

Second, the idea that abortionists are simply “misguided souls” who are “just like you and me” belies a deep underlying misunderstanding of what is meant by “conversion” and “salvation.” While it is true that believers in Jesus Christ are sinners in that we fall into sins of omission and commission, to equate the abortionist’s unrepentant sin of child murder with the struggle that believers wage against sin is a shocking perversion of the Gospel.

The Word of God itself makes a strong delineation between those who love God and those who hate Him. What does the Word of God say about sinners?

While it is true that we are all sinners and deserve hell, the doctrine of “total depravity” does not mean that each sinner is as bad as he can possibly be. Nor does it mean that all sins are equally as abominable in the sight of God. In fact, the “shedding of innocent blood” is singled out many times in Scripture as something that God especially hates (cf. Proverbs 6:17). That is not to whitewash the nature of sin in general. In fact, in order for there to be the “Good News,” there must first be the “Bad News.” By nature, we have hearts that are hardened toward God both by our sinful nature and a lifetime of sinful actions that add up with “compound interest.” This is a most radical corruption.

Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Romans chapter 3:10-18 is the famous passage by the Apostle Paul that gives a litany of scriptures that show that non-believers are by nature at hateful toward God.

As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;
There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”

“Their throat is an open tomb;
With their tongues they have practiced deceit”

“The poison of asps is under their lips”;

“Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
Destruction and misery are in their ways;
And the way of peace they have not known.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

From a modern perspective, this is “hateful” language toward sinners. In fact, liberal theologians have committed the error of stating that although Jesus preached love, it was that Pharisaical scoundrel, Saul of Tarsus, otherwise known as St. Paul, who lobbed a stink bomb into the newly born “religion of love.” Of course, liberals ignore the dozens of scriptures in which Jesus himself speaks of hellfire and eternal condemnation for those who will not enter the kingdom of God.

Softening the Heart – Is it Scriptural?

It is true that the Bible uses the hardening or softening of the heart as a metaphor for those who come to saving faith in God. There are dozens of scriptures that speak of this. But who is ultimately responsible for our salvation? It is the Lord himself who hardens and softens.

Exodus 7:3 – But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt.

Note that what God has decreed always comes to pass. God promised to harden Pharaoh’s heart and in response, Pharaoh hardened his own heart.

Exodus 8:15 – But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

Then as a result of Pharaoh hardening his own heart, God hardened it to the point where he could not even hear the words of Moses and Aaron.

Exodus 9:12 – But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken to Moses.

Exodus 10:20 – But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go.

Throughout Scripture, we see it is the Lord who hardens and softens hearts.

Ezekiel 11:19 – I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26 – And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

John 12:39-40 – Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”

Romans 9:18 – So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

No one by the strength of their own will has the power to soften their own heart so that God may account them “good enough” to merit salvation. Neither do Christians have the power to soften sinners’ hearts. Only God may do that. Although we can’t pretend to know the will of God perfectly, there is a simple way of understanding and applying this truth.

But the issue isn’t hard preaching vs. soft preaching. The objective is to preach a pure Gospel full of truth with a heart of love for all.

The Gospel tells us that we are all sinners and deserve nothing more than the wrath of God. Therefore, repentance of sin should be taught and preached. Those who are born-again as a result of hearing the Gospel are able to repent and believe. Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to us by grace through faith as a free gift. Our sins are imputed to Christ through His once and for all sacrifice. Our sins are all washed away by the blood Jesus shed on the cross. This is called justification. Not only are our sins forgiven – which is a great thing – but Christ also broke the power of sin in our lives at the cross. We are then sanctified or “made holy” as we continue to grow in grace.

This is true conversion.

By way of disclaimer, I am Reformed in my theology of salvation. However, none of what I’ve claimed here would have been foreign to the great scholars of the Catholic Church such as Augustine of Hippo or Thomas Aquinas, who certainly taught that we obtain salvation by the grace of God, who alone is able to change hearts. This would not have been foreign to the many popular Arminian preachers, such as John Wesley, Andrew Murray, A.W. Tozer or Leonard Ravenhill. They might disagree with a few of the above points, but they would certainly agree with the following.

Soft preaching can just as well “love” sinners into the pit of hell because it justifies them in their sin rather than pointing them to the cross. However, the message of the cross will always be offensive to those who are perishing. This is unavoidable. A cross-less message is a message that is powerless to save. Of course, we must preach out of a heart of love, having been forgiven ourselves, showing the grace and mercy of Christ we have received.

Truth vs. Experience

What of the charge that sidewalk preachers are hateful and ineffective because they and yell and scream at women?

First, “screaming” is a subjective term. In the few seconds that these preachers have to reach a women entering the front door of a death mill, there is a sense of urgency. There is wisdom crying out in the street (Proverbs 1:20-33).

Here in Orlando the sidewalk counselors use “truth horns.” At right is a picture of Reilly Sproul, who is R.C. Sproul Jr.‘s son (and R.C. Sproul’s grandson), pleading with abortion bound women at Orlando Women’s Center to save their babies. He is adopted. He is telling the women that his birth mother loved him enough to give him to a loving family and how much he loves his adoptive family. No one can doubt this is a precious example of God’s grace. I’ve seen God use all sorts of methods and demeanors to save lives such as Reilly Sproul’s.

I don’t make the presumption that anyone is wrong when they say sidewalk counselors need to be compassionate in their preaching. I do fault them for really bad theology when they presume to call people who are trying to save lives, “hateful” or a “cult” — as some have done on social media and elsewhere. I will continue to defend street ministers who preach the Truth against these attacks.

Second, it is never a legitimate argument to pit experience against biblical truth. Abby Johnson may be able to show a hundred converts to the pro-life cause out of a gentle and loving witness. I may be able to show in central Florida alone a few dozen true conversions to Jesus Christ who came through a loving witness that included some harsh words and confrontation. I can also show at least a few dozen abortion “doctors” who simply quit doing abortions after being exposed to their business associates, OB/GYN patients and neighbors as child murderers.

In her book, Targets of Hatred, abortion clinic owner, Patricia Baird-Windle, stated that the Aware Woman abortion center had a total of 24 abortionists over the years who chose to quit rather than be exposed as child killers by pro-life advocates. We don’t know for a fact whether any of them ever came to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. However, we need to face the reality that there will always be a reprobate element in this world. God hardens those whom He hardens. Note that Pat Windle titled her book, Targets of Hatred. In the end, she completely ignored the dozens of Christians who prayed for her conversion, talked to her one on one, and had nothing but a loving and long suffering attitude toward her.

One could argue that if a few had not been so harsh with Pat Windle or if others had just loved her more, then she could have been loved into the kingdom of heaven. But that is simply a false hope. It ignores a simple truth. We can harden our own hearts, but only God can soften our hearts. And despite the experience of those who have come to the Lord out of either hard love or soft love, our mandate is to preach the Gospel to all creation.

Sinners an active role in hardening their own hearts. What do we do then about those who have hardened themselves against God and will not ever be saved? Even in those cases when there is not true repentance, we can rejoice when an abortionist quits because babies will be saved. We don’t need to shed endless tears over the wicked who refuse to repent.

In fact, Jesus even commanded His apostles in Matthew 10:14, “And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.”

This essentially means we should concentrate on those who have not yet heard the Gospel. This does not mean we cannot be long suffering with the wicked and continue to work for their salvation.

God can change the heart of the most hardened sinner. But it will not be due to our continual work to try to “soften” their heart by neglecting the hard sayings of Scripture. When the full Gospel is preached, then we have an assurance that souls are being won to Christ. With a deficient Gospel, we can never know if former abortionists aren’t simply being won to a “cause.”

I would like to believe that the pro-life movement will reform itself. Unfortunately, what I believe is that even the word “pro-life” will in time become irrelevant and meaningless as a description for defending all Persons who are created in the image of God. What is needed is not a simple reform, but a revolution, a 180 degree shift toward a biblical, Christ-centered ministry that will take the Gospel of Life to the gates of hell.

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.

The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.

“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine

Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese

Running Time: 28 minutes

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(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)

Running Time: 145 minutes

$17.95 — ORDER NOW!

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A Revival Account: Asbury 1970 (DVD)

What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?

Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.

Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!

“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l

Running Time: 40 minutes

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

$19.95 — ORDER NOW!

(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)

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