by Rob Schwarzwalder
October 11, 2011
David Gushee, a self-professed “progressive” Evangelical who supported Barack Obama in 2008, yesterday published an elegant piece on the sacredness of human life, in which he previews his forthcoming book on this topic. Conservative Evangelicals can applaud Gushee’s argument, as summarized in the following:
The moral witness of the early church gives us stark evidence of what our forebears understood lifes sacredness to mean. Theirs was a comprehensive sacredness of life ethic that recoiled at the shedding of blood and opposed Christian participation in practices ranging from abortion to infanticide to murder to gladiator games to torture to war.
As to war, the record of the early church is much more mixed; over time, there were many Christian soldiers in the Roman legions, and the text of the New Testament indicates that military service is consistent with God’s plan for both government and His redeemed people. But Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Georgia’s Mercer University, should be given his due: He is a political liberal whose commitment to Scripture is such that he cannot deny the witness of God’s Word - that personhood begins at conception.
In a 2009 op-ed in USA Today, Gushee described his disillusionment with the then-nascent Obama Administration:
“Mexico City, conscience clause, Sebelius, embryonic stem cells. In each case, I have been asked by friends at Democratic or progressive-leaning think tanks not just to refrain from opposing these moves, but instead to support them in the name of a broader understanding of what it means to be pro-life. I mainly refused … a society that legally permits abortion on demand is deeply corrupt. It pays for adult sexual liberties with the lives of defenseless developing children. That practice, in turn, desensitizes society to the implications of paying for prospective medical cures with defenseless frozen embryos, which themselves are available because our society pays for medically assisted reproductive technology by producing hundreds of thousands of these embryos as spares.
As he puts it in yesterday’s Associated Baptist Press op-ed, “My biblical explorations find building blocks for this belief (that human life is sacred) in the Old Testament and New Testament. These include the creation narratives (including the imago dei concept), Old Testament laws and prophetic writings. It also includes New Testament narratives about Jesus and the early church as well as the theological significance of God becoming human in Jesus Christ and dying for sinners such as us.”
Amen, brother. Amen.