Well, it seems R doesn’t seem too interested in engaging on this subject, so I think I’ll carry on from here and invite him (or others, for that matter) to disagree as he will or won’t.
There is a song by Steve Camp from the early 90’s called “Face to Face.” As you might guess, it’s about the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. There’s a line in the second verse that, as a thumping pro-lifer back in those Evangelical glory days, used to send chills down my spine:
“We’ll see every murdered unborn child standing by his side!”
Our lament for one million murdered babies per year was very real. That’s how we looked at it.
But we felt like we’d sort of win anyway in the end, because we’d see those babies someday in Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ and all His angels.
Now, with that thought in mind, let’s take a look at the four questions I asked R to consider.
Question 1: What is the primary mission of Born-Again believers?
After publishing this question, I think it might be a bit too broad, but it’ll do for now.
The broad answer is that man’s purpose is to glorify God.
However, man’s primary mission as it relates to other human beings is to evangelize them in hopes that they will come to saving faith in Christ. There is much discussion, even in the gospels, that the fields are ripe for harvest – there are souls to be won for Jesus. The apostles’ first act after Pentecost was to preach salvation through Christ, “saving” thousands of people before being run off by authorities (Acts 1 & 2.)
In fact, this “mission” is so important that, according to Jesus, the end of the world will not (even cannot) happen until all nations have heard the gospel:
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come – Matthew 24:14
Among theologians this is almost universally interpreted as every single person in existence at the moment of completion. I confess that seems a bit silly, considering the birth rate. I mean, in the time it takes to share the gospel with the very last evangelized person, a number of children will be born… But I digress.
In fact, if not for the imperative to reach all people worldwide, there would literally be no point in tarrying for the Lord. If there isn’t a number to fill, etc.
So even if calling it the “primary purpose” is overstating, it is not so by very much.
Question 2: In your Evangelical Worldview, what happens to the souls of babies that are aborted?
The Age of Accountability is not a cut-and-dried topic in Christian circles. Reams of paper have been spent arguing the nature of the infant soul and the troublesome question of the necessity of volitional participation in salvation.
In many Evangelical circles, the belief is nearly universal that children under a certain age are not accountable for their sin nature/original sin and are therefore granted special dispensation and immediate entry into the presence of Christ as glorified believers. This is the case for no other reason than the alternative is simply unpalatable. God is a god of love, justice and mercy, right? How can a baby who has had no opportunity to make a free-will decision (leaving off the inanity of Christian “free-will” for now) be condemned to eternal suffering without the opportunity to access salvation? It’s simply gross.
That didn’t stop some from arguing otherwise anyway. Augustine believed that unbaptized infants burned, but it just didn’t hurt as much as unbaptized adults. No, I’m not kidding. Simplifying, but not kidding. John Calvin, the ultimate Christian determinist, seemed to argue that souls of babies that were “elect” would go to Heaven, and those that weren’t would burn, despite not being given the opportunity to believe. Since God elects those He will, he knows their fate anyway, and those he doesn’t, he lets them suffer eternally. Though it’s a fine line, there is a similar concept of God’s “foreknowledge,” that while He may not specificially contravene an individual’s free will through election, he nevertheless knows, being omniscient and all, who would and wouldn’t believe, and thereby separates the saved from the hellbound.
Neither of those views are very common these days, for obvious reasons (and, honestly, for some rather scriptural reasons as well.)
There are also assertions in some circles, mostly Catholic, if I recall correctly, that babies are sent to a sort of “limbo,” or perhaps Purgatory, with some believing they can eventually find entry into Heaven.
There are even some who think babies will grow up after death and be given a chance to believe or not to believe. Almost nobody holds this view, but there are enough people in the world to make that “almost” a number larger than one might expect.
Theologians seem to dance around this issue at an academic level, but on a practical level, the idea that salvation is automatic for those who have not reached the age of accountability is the commonly accepted view. It’s as the lyric quoted above states: all unborn babies who die due to abortion will end up in Heaven.
Question 3: Of all the children born every year, what percentage of them will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ – a genuine regenerative conversion?
In some ways this is a bit of a loaded question, I admit. Somewhere between 50-70% of Americans profess some form of Christianity as their religious identity.
However, in Evangelical circles, many older, ritual centered denominations are considered “lukewarm,” or “dead.” Many Evangelicals believe that Catholics are going to Hell because they don’t make a specific salvation decision. Same with some other denominations, especially those that rely on the sacrament of baptism to ensure salvation. Infant baptism is even worse (see above, perhaps?)
But let’s go ahead and assume that all Christians of any vein go to Heaven, for the sake of argument, even if it’s not borne out in scripture:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 7:21
The official number these days is 70.6% of US residents profess some brand of Christianity.
For those who do not, however, let’s ask this question:
Question 4: What is the eternal fate of the remaining percentage who do not come to a saving knowledge of Christ?
Among Evangelicals, this is very easy. They suffer eternally in Hell. Period.
Now, granted, there are two movements among Evangelicals gaining some steam as of late, the Annihilationists and the Universalists. Both have been around for ages, especially Annihilationists. The most prominent group of Annihilationists have for years been Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, in some anti JW literature you can find at your local Christian bookstore actually point this out as a point of error in comparison to traditional Evanglical theology:
Universalism is much nicer, and therefore off the menu for nearly all traditional Evangelicals. Pastor Rob Bell lit a firestorm a few years back with his book Love Wins, in which he asserts that the ultimate fate of every human being is Heaven, regardless of what all the Christians have been taught all these years. Needless to say, he’s been expelled from the list of reliable bible teachers, for the most part.
On a personal note, I think Christians really want their naysayers to fucking suffer non-stop. It’s sad.
But the fact of the matter is that the primary theology is that the unsaved 29.4% go to Hell to suffer, separated from God, for eternity. That’s forever, without end. Think on that for a moment.
Furthermore, I can absolutely guarantee you that the bible-thumping activists who harrass women out in front of Planned Parenthood clinics won’t begin to truck with one ounce of Rob Bell’s bullshit. They are certain the unsaved are going to burn, starting with the doctors inside that there building.
So with those questions answered from both my own Evangelical background and with the help of Norman Geisler’s “Systematic Theology” and J.I. Packer’s “Concise Theology, what are the implications of the “Pro-Life” position?
There are two options:
1.) We allow 1,000,000 “babies” to be aborted each year, who are all immediately admitted into the presence of Jesus Christ in Heaven as glorified, post-sin beings.
2.) We force 1,000,000 “babies” to be born and to grow up to the age of accountability, recognizing that, statistically, 294,000 of them will not become Christians and will therefore spend eternity in Hell.
Those are the two options. Which one is kinder? Which one does the most good as far as Christian priorities are concerned?
By being pro-choice, I’m actually preserving the salvation of an additional 294,000 souls who would have otherwise suffered eternal damnation. I’m saving them from a brief life of misery and allowing them to go straight to the finish line, right to the prize.
After all, for the Christian, this is just a brief little stop here. This is not real life. This is a purgatory of sorts in itself. Real life is life in Heaven. Real life is in the presence of Christ after the resurrection, when everything is said and done and the enemies of God are no more, and sin no longer reign anywhere in the universe.
Why are Christians so insistent on ensuring that those additional 294,000 people don’t get a free pass? I mean, the ultimate goal is to save as many people as possible. And when we say “save,” we mean send to salvation in Heaven, not save here on Earth. In the Evangelical economy the Earth is dying, stained, corrupted, and destined to be burned up in fire to make way for a New Heaven and a New Earth (Revelations 21.)
Why would my friend R put nearly 300,000 souls in eternal Hell every year just so they can have a brief life full of trials and tribulations here?
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
It is truly incomprehensible. Never mind the intricacies of the actual abortion discussion (on which I believe I have very little to say, not being the one with a womb.) I simply think Christians need to rethink the ramifications of their beliefs in light of their raging opposition to women’s right to adequate reproductive healthcare, which in their zeal to send 300,000 more people a year to hell, they are horribly disrupting.