Friday, November 09, 2007

Progressive Pro-Life Politics

The Charlotte Observer recently ran an interview with veteran liberal evangelical Tony Campolo. He's giving a sort of "What Would Jesus Do" response to several hot-button issues. While I resist the works righteousness he displays (particularly in his answer to Muslims), I found a shining gem in the middle of the rough:
Abortion: "I'm sure that the destruction of life in abortion would break his heart. However, I feel like if he were speaking to the church today in America, he would ask not the question, `Are you going to make it illegal and arrest women who have abortions?' I think Jesus would say, `What are you going to do to reduce the number of abortions?'

(A new survey reported that) 70 percent of all abortions are economically driven. You have a poor woman working on minimum wage with no hospitalization. She gets pregnant. She can't afford to have the kid, she can't afford to pay the hospital bills, she can't afford day care after the child is born. So she says, `I'm going to have an abortion.' Can Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives agree on one thing: that it's wrong for women who want to have their babies to have abortions? And that's about 70 percent of them. Then we can start talking about the other 30 percent."

He's the PhD sociologist, so I'm not going to go after his numbers (though I think the percentage that is purely economic are higher, in terms of "lifestyle" normally being a product of having enough money to support the rearing of a child without infringing on your current freedoms and expendable resources). But in my own reflection on abortion, this is an area that needs to be seriously addressed.

Jesus taught us to count the costs before undertaking the cross of discipleship. The interesting thing about his parable is that it focuses on the outcome, not the principles. This is an odd thing for Jesus, but he does it anyway. The Spirit has cut me to the quick more than once about this. Too often, I have contented myself with dialogging with those who are just as recalcitrant as I. It's important, but it's rare to see any change. There have been times when I have been part of responding to crises where my action made a difference. Abortion is one of those issues where concentrated Christian response on the economic issue could make a real difference.

May God help all who take purposive aims at eliminating the American Holocaust that is abortion.


Aric Clark said...


Of course it is important to resolve underlying moral questions, but when we let argument and division keep us inactive it is nothing but egregious sloth. Let us work together on the things we CAN agree on rather than drawing lines on the things we disagree on.

Chris said...

Thanks, Aric. It's a shame we didn't get to meet while I was in Sacramento. I did meet Viola Larson, a member of Sacramento Presbytery.

Charles R. said...

I was sorry to find that the link to the story in the Observer is dead this morning. I was anxious to read more, especially with regard to issues in which you perceived something you call works righteousness. Can you clarify for me what you mean? Ephesians 2:10 would seem to state clearly that righteous work is the call of those who are saved through faith. Match it with John 3:8-9 and fruit born by the righteous is demanded. How are we to produce fruit in keeping with our repentance without doing the righteous work God has prepared in advance for us to do?

Jim Jordan said...

"(A new survey reported that) 70 percent of all abortions are economically driven." - Campolo

My jaw dropped when I saw this absurd statement that his whole "overlook abortion" agenda was hinged on.

70% of all robberies are economy-driven also! Would Jesus overlook that too?

Can anyone really be called a brother or sister if they can't surrender to God's will on the issue of abortion?

There is no other issue facing us today that I would look at the same way as abortion. Accepting this as a valid Christian point of view is the same as condoning slavery in its day or Hitler's "Final Solution". It's unthinkable.

Chris said...


I fixed the link.

As to "works righteousness", Campolo states that - based on Matt. 24:31 et seq (Sheep & Goats) - people that do civic good will be welcomed into the kingdom, regardless of how they have spurned the atoning sacrifice of the Son. As a good Calvinist, I agree with Luther: You can no more separate heat & light from fire then you can good works from faith. The problem is not that good works are mentioned, but that they are made the source of God's choosing those not in Christ for salvation.

He's taken his Arminianism to an unchristian stopping place.