“The way of life” vs. “The way of death”

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“I believe that as an abortion provider, I am doing God’s work.”  So says Dr. Willie Parker, an abortionist who insists that he is a Christian.  New York Times columnist  Nicholas Kristof, in profiling him, claims that the conservative Christian consensus that abortion is murder is a late development, that the Bible doesn’t address the issue and that evangelicals often approved of it until just a few decades ago.

The estimable Dr. Al Mohler refutes all of this.  He admits, though, that one of Kristof’s points is valid:  Many evangelicals did approve of abortion or take a “moderate” position on the topic.  This was true even of the Southern Baptist Convention and Christianity Today up through the early 1970s.  (I believe anti-Catholicism had something to do with this.  I’m curious too if there is a relationship between a church’s stance on abortion and its position on infant baptism–do any of you know?)

At any rate, Dr. Mohler says the anti-life position of many evangelicals up until Roe v. Wade was unconscionable.  But that soon evangelicals returned to the historical Christian position on the topic.  (I believe Francis Schaeffer had a big influence on this.)

As for the historical Christian position, there is no doubt about that.  After the jump, I excerpt from Dr. Mohler’s essay quotations from the early church, which addressed abortion explicitly and in depth. [Read more…]

Confessions of an ex-liberal theologian

Thomas C. Oden is a prominent theologian who formerly was a major practitioner of liberal, modernist theology.  But then, after reading the Church Fathers, he did an about face, turning to orthodox, historical Christianity.  He tells his story in A Change of Heart:  A Personal and Theological Memoir.

This is the most stimulating and illuminating book that I have read in a long time, giving an inside look at the construction of liberal theology, explaining what happened to mainstream Protestantism, and describing in novelistic detail how a prominent scholar came back to an authentic Christian faith.

Reading this book, published a couple of years ago, was an especially strange experience for me because Oden’s background and mine are so similar!  Though he is 20 years older than I am, our experiences have been so similar or at least parallel that reading about them is like reading about my own life.  [Read more…]

How to see what is invisible

The final gem I want to share with you from last Sunday’s sermon at our church is this quote from the early church father Theodore of Mopsuestia: “We have eyes to see what is visible, and faith to see what is invisible.” [Read more…]

Ancient evangelicalism

In honor of his 80th birthday, Christianity Today reprints a fascinating interview with Thomas Oden, a formerly liberal theologian who discovered the church fathers and who now has been advocating a historically orthodox Christianity in all of the theological traditions.  In the interview, he tells about how he abandoned liberalism–largely because of the liberal stand on abortion–how reading Luther helped cure him of radicalism, why we need creeds and church history in addition to the Bible, how evangelicals need to discover the sacraments, and the impact of modernity and postmodernity.  At one point, he calls himself an “ancient evangelical,” which is another interesting term.   The interview defies excerpting, so read it here:  Back to the Fathers | Christianity Today | A Magazine of Evangelical Conviction.