Saturday, February 12, 2011
OR: Pastor Chuck Smith Stuns Radio Listeners By Encouraging Woman to Have Abortion
Commentary by Troy Newman and Cheryl Sullenger
Operation Rescue urges Calvary Chapel’s Pastor Smith to retract his advice and apologize to his listeners
Costa Mesa, CA – Pastor Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel, shocked listeners on Tuesday on his “Pastor’s Perspective” call-in radio program when he encouraged a tearful mother to abort conjoined twins.
The caller, who identified herself as “Nicki from Riverside”, indicated that her babies share a body but have two heads and that she was being pressured by her doctors to abort them due to their assessment that the babies would likely not survive the pregnancy or live beyond a day if carried to term. At no time did Nicki indicate how far advanced her pregnancy was or that her life was in danger from the pregnancy.
Choking back tears Nicki told Smith and his co-host Dan Stewart, “My heart does – never wants to have an abortion, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t know – I don’t know what direction to go to right now. I’m really praying hard and trying to believe that the Lord is going to do what He’s going to do with these two little ones, and I don’t know what to do.”
It is obvious to us, with our combined 45 years of experience working with abortion vulnerable women, that Nicki did not want an abortion but was seeking some spiritual affirmation and encouragement that would help her amidst the pressure from her secular doctors to take the lives of her innocent babies. She got none from Smith and Stewart, who told her that God would not condemn her if she chose abortion.
“It’s awfully hard to actually suggest abortion,” said Smith. “But, you know, I’m sure that, uh, in a case like this where the life expectancy is just, you know, is so bleak, and all, that I’m sure that the Lord would not condemn her if she went ahead and had an abortion at this early stage of the development of the fetus.”
Smith then went on to misuse the Biblical story found in John, Chapter 8, of the woman caught in the act of adultery and taken to Jesus for judgment. Jesus told the crowd who sought to condemn her, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” After the crowd disbanded in shame, Jesus told the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
The way Smith used this passage, he was implying that abortion is sin, but that if she went ahead and sinned in this case, God would not hold it against her. There is no basis in traditional Christian theology to support Smith’s misuse of this incident in Scripture. Jesus told the woman to “go, and sin no more,” not to continue her sin with the expectation that God would not hold her to account.
While we respect Chuck Smith’s long service to God and his work in reaching the lost for Christ, his advice to Nicki regrettably showed extremely poor pastoral judgment. His answer was dead wrong, and could lead others to sin and error, along with a life-time of grief and remorse.
The Bible never condones the shedding of innocent blood nor does it allow for the taking of life based on the unfortunate circumstance that someone is sick. Instead, the Bible is full of recommendations to pray and fast for the sick.
Smith and Stewart attempted to “clarify” their advice to Nicki the following day on the Pastor’s Perspective broadcast, but in doing so only made a bad situation worse.
“I am totally opposed to abortion,” stated Smith. “I believe it is a great sin. I do believe that the 50-plus million children that have been aborted in the United State since the Roe verses Wade is one of the greatest sins of America, and I think that we’re going to be judged for it.”
However, in the next breath, Smith betrays his emphatic pro-life confession.
“I do not believe in abortion as it is being practiced today. However, there can be extenuating circumstances,” Smith continued.
Smith and his co-host then go on to completely mischaracterize the conversation with Nicki the previous day.
We hate to use the word “lie” but there is no other term for what the two pastors said next.
“As the lady said yesterday, the doctors were saying that her life was in jeopardy and carrying the babies, er, uh, baby that is in her womb with two heads, that the baby would not be able to survive more than five minutes after the birth, and that her life was jeopardized by it and she has a little two-year old daughter and I would say in a situation like that with these extenuating circumstances, that God would be gracious and forgiving. But that isn’t endorsing abortion at all…I’m totally opposed to abortion for just any reason, but I believe in being reasonable.”
Smith is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. One cannot say that abortion is justifiable with one breath then say that he is not endorsing abortion with the other. This kind of double-talk only serves to create confusion amongst believers. The Bible is clear; innocent bloodshed is not reasonable, it is sin.
As far as his version of Nicki’s story, the audio recording proves that she never said her life was in jeopardy or that the babies could not survive more than five minutes after birth. She repeatedly referred to her babies in the plural sense.
Smith referred to them as a “fetus” on the first day and later as “a baby with two heads,” language that served to dehumanize the twins in much the same way as abortionists do to justify their actions.
“It wasn’t about a deformity there, it was about something being life-threatening,” said co-host Don Stewart who went on to say that Smith was trying to explain her options in a “lose-lose” situation.
It was grieving to hear Stewart is such an obvious and blatantly deceptive damage-control mode.
Perhaps Smith and Stewart have forgotten that it is God is the Giver of Life that He alone numbers our days. The two men completely discount any thought that these babies might be given to Nicki and her husband to bring glory to Himself.
Take the example of Abigail and Brittney Hensel, conjoined twins that have been the subject of a special on TLC. Abigail and Brittney share one body. A YouTube video clip shows them celebrating their 16th birthday, each getting a driver’s license, and discussing the possibility of one day being mothers.
The girls are shown on another video clip answering questions about their condition. “How did you get this way?” one of the girls read off a list. “God made us this way,” answered the other.
Yes, God made them that way, and he made Nicki’s twins the way they are. If God decides to take their lives before birth or decides to give them long, productive lives, like the Hansel twins, that is up to Him. It is not up to us to stand in the place of God and dictate the time and matter of death of innocent human beings, created in His image. Scripture calls that murder.
The least Smith and Stewart could have done was refer Nicki to a peri-natal hospice, such as the one operated by Choices Medical Clinic in Wichita, Kansas. Programs like these counsel families facing terminal diagnoses for their pre-born babies. They help the families cope with the stressful days ahead, support families through the grieving process, facilitate healing all the while allowing the families to show their babies dignity and love during their short lives.
Smith and Stewart owe their listeners a true Biblical perspective. We understand that people make mistakes, but when a mistake is made, we expect men of integrity own up to it and to do what they can to make it right. These men owe Nicki and their listeners a retraction and an apology.
Given the devastating consequences that could follow Pastor Smith’s unbiblical response to Nicki’s situation, perhaps he is at a time in his long and illustrious career that he should consider refraining giving further extemporaneous advice on call-in shows like Pastor’s Perspective.
Friday, February 11, 2011
For those interested in reading more about the subject of the debate, I wrote a series of posts on the New Testament text here, here, and here.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Consequences of Confusing the Two Kingdoms or Denying our Dual Citizenship
When these two kingdoms are confused or conflated, we see the rise of the "social gospel" of Protestant liberalism, American civil religion of the Christian right and the liberal left, as well as the rise of Constantianism (Christendom). The church must never take up the sword and Caesar must never enter the pulpit.
When the Christian's dual citizenship is denied (or ignored), we see the rise of asceticism, pietism, radical pacifism and Anabaptism.
Therefore, a Christian is free to work with non-Christians in the civil kingdom to promote the common good and preserve a just society. But the kingdom of Christ is tied to word and sacrament and the church (and its officers and members) must speak to the pressing moral issues of the day in terms of law and gospel, not in terms of the political activism found in the civil kingdom. Yes, the church must address moral issues as they are found and framed in Scripture (through the preaching and catechetical function of the church), but the church is not to engage in partisan politics, nor endorse any political party or candidate.
The counterarguments often drawn from statements concerning man’s diet in Genesis 1:29 and 9:3 are not cogent. In Genesis 1:29 the explicit assignment of the plant world to man for food is not restrictive, as though that were the only kind of food permitted him…These considerations show how unwarranted is the assumption that the silence of this passage concerning man’s use of animals flesh as food must be intended as a prohibition as such.
The authorization in Genesis 9:6a for this ultimate prerogative of man’s common grace endowment with dominion is accompanied by the statement that he is the image of God, the likeness and vicegerent of him who exercises absolute dominion over all (v.6b). In Genesis 1:27-30 man’s identity as image of God is stated first (v27a) and then the significance of that is expounded in terms of man’s investment with the God-like glory of dominion (vv28-30). In Genesis 9:2-6 the dominion is set forth first (vv2-6a) and then man’s image-of-God status is cited at the close as the explanation of his magisterial appointment (v6b).
The subject of man’s dominion over animals (9:2) leads to the topic of animals serving as food (9:3), and that to the prohibition of eating the life-blood (9:4), which leads to the matter of shedding man’s lifeblood and the judicial response to (murder (9:5,6).
The Philonomian Temptation
January 21st, 2010 by Darryl G. Hart
Since some readers consider me clueless about the law to the point of being antinomian, the following essay, originally printed in the October 2002 issue of the NTJ, may be useful for clarifying the concerns of Oldlife.
The difference between Rome and Protestantism these days on good works actually works toward Roman Catholicism’s favor. The church that once accused Luther’s teaching of antinomianism has consistently made room for repeat offenders, the kind of sinners whom Protestants are quick to remove from church rolls. Roman Catholic history is filled with examples of believers who fall off the wagon, repent, confess their sin and find forgiveness in the church’s ministry. From whiskey priests to mafia dons, the Roman Catholic church has been a communion, despite its teaching on the relationship of faith and works, where the believer’s ongoing battle with sin is frankly acknowledged and accommodated. This makes it one of the great ironies in Western Christianity that the ones who originally accused Luther of sanctioning immorality have been the communion to provide what appears a roomier basis for fellowship than Protestants can muster.
The recent scandal surrounding Roman Catholic priests and pedophilia suggests that this may be changing, that, in fact, becoming an American church has involved becoming infected with Protestant philonomianism. This is certainly the impression that Richard John Neuhaus gives in his comments on the meeting of the United States bishops in Dallas to address the sexual misconduct of priests. The editor of First Things quoted one reporter who claimed that the American bishops “behaved more like Senators or CEO’s engaged in damage control than as moral teachers engaged in the gospel.” Neuhaus fears that the adopted policy of “one strike” and “zero tolerance” will prevent repentant priests from coming forward and seeking help and forgiveness. Even worse, he writes, is what the policy of retribution does to the church’s witness. “The bishops have succeeded in scandalizing the faithful anew by adopting a thoroughly unbiblical, untraditional, and un-Catholic approach to sin and grace.” They wound up with “a policy that is sans repentance, sans conversion, sans forbearance, sans prudential judgment, sans forgiveness, sans almost everything one might have hoped for from bishops of the Church of Jesus Christ.” Of course, Reformed Christians have a different understanding of the basis for a sinner’s forgiveness. But Neuhaus’ complaint, the bishops’ policies notwithstanding, implies that the language of mercy may be more the possession of Catholics than Protestants.
The Board and Faculty of WSC have unanimously adopted this testimony.
- That the unborn child from conception is a human being in the image of God.
- That abortion as practiced today is a scandal and a grievous sin.
- That laws to protect the right to life of the unborn are needed in our land and throughout the world.
- That the Christian community must teach and exemplify biblically responsible sexuality and reproduction and must provide support services for pregnant women to facilitate the choice of a live birth.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
We're getting promissory notes rather than anything resembling a carefully reasoned alternative. You'd never know from the facile appeals to natural law that we're seeing from the 2k camp that natural law theory is fraught with complexities, ambiguities, and imponderables. Here are two good online resources which give an overview of the challenges to this approach: