This is a guest post from friend and fellow Abolitionist, Alex Johnson. Although we do not wish to spend too much time responding to this sort of lightweight article, it is good that Alex responded. So much could be said about Fred Butler’s article, but one striking that popped out to me was Fred’s admission that one would have to reject the historic Reformed doctrine of Covenant Theology in order to find relevance in Old Testament texts regarding True Religion. In other words, his denial of the obligation of the Church to establish justice and show mercy is directly connected to his dispensationalism and pessimistic eschatology. Pay attention to that.
This radical Dispensational denial of the applicability of over half of God’s Word is quickly becoming the only Theological refuge of the stubborn anti-abolitionist. Furthermore, Fred hides behind all of the typical pietistic arguments of the Evangellyfish American Church culture. When we ask “Do We Love Theology More Than God and Our Neighbor?”, the pietist will answer along with Fred Butler with an emphatic “YES”.
Thanks to Alex for writing this. It is a good response a lot nicer than my response would have been.
One worker for Grace To You recently wrote a response to a tract by Abolitionists titled, “Do We Love Theology More than God and Our Neighbor?” on Pulpit & Pen. I provided his words in quotations with my response below it, paragraph at a time.
“Let’s Review An AHA Pamphlet”
by Fred Butler
MARCH 9, 2017
“So Abolish Human Abortion took precious time away from pleading with the women at abortion mills to favor the Ninevite hirelings attending the 2017 Shepherd’s Conference with a pamphleteering campaign.”
Technically, the International Coalitionof Abolitionist Societies went to the Shepherd’s Conference, but distinguishing between an ideology and an organization is not the point of this response.
Already a false accusation. They were out at the local abortion mills and on street corners the rest of the time during that conference. They even met Ray Comfort out there while both groups were preaching. Don’t assume that because they come to visit you that they’ve stopped visiting others.
“In addition to the Thursday and Friday of the conference, they also skipped Sunday morning worship at their churches to run the members of Grace through their sidewalk gauntlet.”
Also a false accusation. Don’t assume church has to be held at a specific hour. They did meet together. Many times, actually. Including Sunday.
“I was able to secure one of the pamphlets they were passing out and thought I would offer up a review.
To begin, I have to say that I am mightily impressed with the physical pamphlet. If I had to guess, I would say it is 5 1/2 by 8 1/2 booklet. It is printed on sturdy paper stock with a nice, glossy sheen, so we’re not dealing with flimsy, Chick tracts paper quality that is typical of sidewalk activist types. Some good money has been put into the production.
Additionally, the pictures have an artsy look with lots of swirly designs set off with bold colors. Similar to the kind of artwork you find in those popular adult coloring books. And each picture captures a talking point of AHA. Take for example the cover posted above. Here we see a ship being tossed about in a red sea. I’m taking it that the sea represents abortion blood, and the wayward ship is the guilty Christians who love theology more than God and neighbor and do not participate in non-stop abortion activism. A whale’s tail is seen crashing through the waves of gore, which is the faithful abolitionists standing outside the local church handing out pamphlets.”
We don’t see ourselves as faithful. We too need to do more to stop this slaughter. We see ourselves as guilty as well. Hence, our slogan, Repent With Us. Sanctification is a continual process.
“However, in spite of the colorful graphics and professionally done booklet, that probably cost a lot of money to print, when we open it up and review the actual content of what the pamphlet writer is conveying, Scriptural misappropriations and logical fallacies explode off the page. Just a surface level scrutiny reveals how embarrassingly bad the argument for AHA tactics truly is. Let me begin with the Scriptural misappropriation; what we can call, “taking verses out of context.”
It seems like you might be telling people to presuppose this before they begin reading our arguments. I understand that when dealing with non-Christians, but you’re dealing with brothers in Christ through Faith alone who are trying to make a case.
“Look again at the cover picture. In the lower left and right hand corners are two OT passages. One is from Ezekiel 6:1-6 and the other from Jeremiah 7:2-7. Obviously, AHA is attempting to build a biblical case for their methods of abortion activism and the need for Churches to repent for their apathy and blood guilt. Alas, neither passage addresses such issues.”
Of course these verses do not refer to modern-day abortion procedures. But the command to love our neighbors, regardless of the situation they are in or the oppression they are facing, still applies.
“I’ll cite the passages in full.
First Ezekiel 6:1-6 states,
1 And the word of the LORD came to me saying,
2 “Son of man, set your face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them
3 and say, ‘Mountains of Israel, listen tothe word of the Lord GOD! Thus says the Lord GOD to the mountains, the hills, the ravines and the valleys: “Behold, I Myself am going to bring a sword on you, and I will destroy your high places.
4 “So your altars will become desolate and your incense altars will be smashed; and I will make your slain fall in front of your idols.
5 “I will also lay the dead bodies of the sons of Israel in front of their idols; and I will scatter your bones around your altars.
6 “In all your dwellings, cities will become waste and the high places will be desolate, that your altars may become waste anddesolate, your idols may be broken and brought to an end, your incense altars may be cut down, and your works may be blotted out.
Now let’s turn to Jeremiah 7:2-7:
2 “Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house and proclaim there this word and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you of Judah, who enter by these gates to worship the LORD!’”
3 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God ofIsrael, “Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place.
4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’
5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor,
6 if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin,
7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.
“Both passages speak of the promised threat of God’s judgment. But is God promising judgment against the modern church that AHA believes is apathetic with regards to abortion and the Christians who do not engage the culture with the tactics of AHA’s abortion activism? Nope.”
Again, we acknowledge that these verses are not references to abortion. We’re using it as a parallel.
None of us believe you have to affiliate with “AHA” in order to be “doing it right.” Jesus didn’t wear the AHA symbol. But do get in the fight and do not use compromising tactics.
“Ezekiel and Jeremiah describe God’s judgment against the covenant unfaithfulness of Israel. Both prophets are exilic prophets, meaning their message was heard immediately before and during the Babylonian exile. Their words have meaning exclusively to national Israel during that time, and unless you adhere to CT or NCT views of the church now being the “New Testament Israel,” they are no more relevant to Christians in today’s world as Jeremiah 29:11 is a promise to a college guy that he will marry the pretty girl from his math class that he has a crush on.”
The point is to show how broken-hearted God is over the oppression happening. Regardless of covenantal views. We can debate Covenant Theology all day and miss the point.
“One more example. Consider 1 John 3:18, Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. John’s words are quoted as if loving in deed and truth is equivalent to AHA abortion activism. Any Christian who isn’t as urgent with abortion activism as AHA is not lovingand are “Christians” in word and tongue only.”
I could be wrong, but it appears as though you think standing on street corners with signs of aborted babies is all we do. That’s only one aspect.
Abolitionist Johnny Hauser chimed in here:
Fred argues that 1 John 3:18 requires that Christians love one another by meeting financial and material needs to the degree one is capable. This is true. The remainder of his argument is founded on the assertion that because the context specifies material and financial needs, no other needs fall within the requirements of love. Therefore, your sister being raped or your brother being massacred essentially require no response from of you as a Christian. That is, the lesser needs like money are specified so you must concern yourself with them, but no other needs, not even the far greater, critical, life-or-death needs, must be a concern for Christian brothers and sisters.
And then Fred again.
“The problem, however, is that John clearly explains in the preceding verses what it means to love in deed and truth: it is meeting the tangible needs of fellow Christians when you have the ability to meet those needs. If you see your fellow Christians in need, defined as material and financial according to John, and you ignore those needs when you have the ability to meet them, you are NOT loving your brothers faithfully. Again, this passage has absolutely no application to a cultural engagement with abortion activism in the manner that AHA insists Churches must do.”
We are called to love our neighbors whether they are Christian or not. Love the brethren, absolutely, and I’m sorry that many of you think we don’t. But not just the brethren.
Stop using us as a scapegoat. This isn’t about us. It’s about people dying. Those unborn children are your neighbors. They are not being loved faithfully. They are being shown hatred and vitriol by the ones called to love them the most, their parents.
“Those are just three examples. Every verse cited and utilized in the pamphlet to make a biblical case for Christians to repent of their so-called apathy regarding abortion and embrace the AHA model of abortion activism, has been ripped out of context. None of them have anything whatsoever to with Christians repenting, or being guilty of not loving their pre-born neighbors, attacking child sacrifice, or any of the other Orwellian AHA newspeak terms they employ against abortion in the modern United States.”
But loving your neighbor is not applicable only to the Old Testament. Just because the prophets lived under the Old Covenant doesn’t mean we have no reason whatsoever to imitate any of their bold actions. And I don’t mean with violence.
“What about logical fallacies? I’ll focus on two illustrations.”
First, read this page from the pamphlet.
“Three examples are provided of when the religious (you know, Christians who have loved theology over God and neighbor like the Ninevite hirelings attending the Shepherd’s Conference) were called to repent. First is when Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy regarding God’s law that exploited the Jews and enriched themselves. Next, when the Reformers called out the Rome Catholic Church and it’s unbiblical use of indulgences to build St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. And then, when Abolitionists, servants of Jesus, called churches in the pre-Civil War south to repentance for slavery. The first two examples are related, the third is a non sequitur.
The first two examples pertain directly to biblical theology and truth that distorts the means of salvation. In other words, what the scribes, Pharisees, and Rome Catholics did prevented men from experiencing salvation. Men’s eternal souls were at stake.”
Likewise, so are the souls at the abortion mills, performing the abortions, getting the abortions, supporting the abortions, escorting the women to get abortions, the Roman Catholics who believe works are required to obtain forgiveness, etc.
“While slavery is a terrible sin against humanity, it is not distorting the message of salvation. In fact, a number of slave owners educated their slaves as to the true Gospel and they were subsequently saved as a result. Certainly that doesn’t justify slavery; but to equate those three particular examples as being one and the same regarding the need to call men to repent is illogical.”
If it is a sin, then it should be repented of. Yes, the slaves could receive the message of salvation as well as the slaveholders, but 1 Cor. tells us that the greedy shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. Those who fully and willfully partake in this with no repentance need be afraid.
“Ironically, the slave illustration unintentionally contradicts AHA’s big talking regarding immediatism and incrementalism. AHA advocates for immediatism, or the immediate abolishment of human abortion. The idea of incrementalism, or the gradual chipping away at abortion in our culture, is odious to them and represents gross compromise against God.”
Should I repent of my sin now or later? Is the day of salvation today or tomorrow?
“However, historically, human slavery was stopped by Christians incrementally passing laws to stop the slave trade and eventually slavery throughout the Western world including the United States. William Wilberforce’s efforts in Britain is a prime example of the effectiveness of incremental laws changing a society and the entire world.”
Okay, you’re an Incrementalist. Thank you for telling us. I was too, for years before I became an Abolitionist. Realize, though, that Wilberforce recanted his incrementalist beliefs that he had held to for years. The Abolitionists of slavery spoke out against incrementalist ideas.
“One more example of illogical argumentation. Read this section from the pamphlet, the section presents a couple of absurd illustrations AHA believes demonstrates the need for Christians to engage in AHA abortion activism. The first ridiculous illustration presents a scenario where there is a society that allows, by law, people to rape wives and children. Sort of a twisted version of the fake prima nocta rituals that never really existed.”
Which is worse, people being legally raped or people being legally murdered? Both scenarios are horrible, but the latter is your reality.
“The second illustration is even more ludicrous, a park where any predator can kidnap any child at will. Even more, they are allowed not only by law to do the kidnapping, but they are also protected by law enforcement from anyone who would attempt to prevent the kidnapping.”
Which is more ludicrous, children legally being kidnapped or children legally being murdered? Both scenarios are horrible, but the latter is your reality.
“What is truly facepalming about those two farcical situations is that AHA genuinely believes they are powerfully establishing theirargument for churches to repent and be as stirred up for abortion activism as they are. Of course, the one thing they are missing with both those illustrations is the fact that women willing go to abortion clinics to murder their children. They are not innocently sitting at a park when a total stranger runs up and rips their baby from their tummy. If the illustrations were to be true to life, it would be a society where women willing allow themselves to be raped and parents intentionally take their children to that park for predators to kidnap them.”
Wait a minute. You haven’t been following us on this issue. We had a campaign called “Not a Victim” that we still use. Women in the Abolitionist movement publicly came forward and admitted their guilt of murder. One of them just spoke to a thousand people at the Texas rally saying, “I am a repentant murderer, redeemed by my Lord Jesus.”
“On the back of the pamphlet is a picture of a fish, representing the fish that swallowed Jonah and took him back to Nineveh.
Etched on to the fish are various excuses people supposedly give as to why they don’t want to engage in abortion activism like AHA. On the right fluke of the fish’s tail are the words, “The church’s mission is to make disciples, not change the culture.” That is allegedly a terrible excuse, because the church is to change culture, not just make disciples.
But where exactly in the NT is the church told it is to change the culture? Where exactly did Christ convey such a command? While it is true Christians change cultures and societies (think the Western world), the cultural change is a result of making disciples, not just changing the culture.”
We agree, changing culture comes by making disciples. But the culture is changed nonetheless. The world is the church’s report card. And it looks terrible. The culture itself may look bad, but the culture is made up of millions of souls, most of whom have not heard the Biblical Gospel of repentance and faith alone in Jesus Christ. That also doesn’t look good on our report card. Which is why we call the church to action.
“Regrettably, AHA seems to miss that vital point. Instead, they have made an idol out of their brand of abortion activism. Any Christian who isn’t engaged frequently, or at all, in abortion activism like AHA is condemned as apathetic and needing to repent. Any church that merely gives financially to a crisis pregnancy center or chooses a legislative strategy of incrementalism are labelled compromisers.”
Regrettably, you have missed the vital point we have been trying to make. We’re not claiming to be better than you. For all the criticisms you see Abolitionists make against incrementalism, Romanism, etc., we havea ton more criticisms of each other that you don’t see. We constantly encourage one another to get more active. To reform our doctrine. To make sure not to align with damnable heresy.
“The danger for AHA is the more they use such rhetoric against faithful Christians who don’t do activism like them, the more they marginalize themselves as kooks, along with diminishing the important work of ending abortion in our nation.”
I will strive to refrain from referring to you with ad hominem fallacies like “kooks.” But whether you agree with us or not, go out and do the work. Babies are dying and people are going to Hell without repentance and Faith alone in Jesus Christ. Love them alongside God and theology.
Regardless of the accusations that have not stopped being made about us for years, we will still strive to love God, our neighbor, including you, and proper Theology. We still believe in the Triune Godhead. We still believe that we are all guilty because of our sin. We still believe our forgiveness is based only on the works of Jesus Christ, the Sinless Son of God, Deity Incarnate, Who gave us His Righteousness and took our sin upon Himself. We still believe in the virgin birth, the Substitutionary Atonement, the Physical Resurrection of Christ, the Ascension into Heaven, the Coming Return of Christ, repentance unto salvation, and Salvation by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, to the Glory of God alone. And I will never give up hope for reconciliation between the Abolitionist and Reformed communities.
God bless you, friend.
– Alex Johnson, Abolitionist