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Home Worldviews Biblical Standards Are Inescapable. The Question Is — By What Standard?

Standards Are Inescapable. The Question Is — By What Standard?

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A central theme of Vision Forum Ministries and our Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy is that God’s written revelation — the Bible — is sufficient for all of faith and practice. The Bible, not human emotions, pragmatism, natural law reasoning, or utilitarianism, is the basis for all ethical choices. The Bible is the only standard.

Not everyone agrees. Even within the community of professing Christians, replacement standards are touted — both explicitly and implicitly. We hear people attempting to solve ethical issues with significant life and death implications by appealing to human experience, autonomous reasoning, nature and feelings, but rarely do we hear people appealing to Scripture as the exclusive standard for ethical decision-making. Some will even argue that they believe that the Bible is the standard, but then go on to deny its applicability to practical issues. Such individuals often use harsh and condemning words to judge Christians who stand in the great tradition of the Reformers when they attempt to apply the Bible to real-world settings.

There are even those who rail against people for articulating biblical standards applied to life — as if to do such is unfair or unloving. There is a great hypocrisy here. Such individuals use their own private standards to condemn those with differing standards. The fact is that standards are inescapable. The only question is, “By What Standard?

Of course, believing that the Bible is the only standard, on the one hand, and determining the implications of that standard on specific ethical issues, on the other hand, are two different things. The first is a non-negotiable presupposition. The second is an exercise in humility, study, and meditation. The simple truth is that we live in a complex world with complex issues. We need clarity from God’s Word (the only true source of clarity), and this requires the humility to go before the Lord and seek answers to the hard questions.

The Challenge of Biomedical Ethics

One of the most challenging and difficult areas of personal decision-making and public policy for 21st century Christians is biomedical ethics. The challenge of modern biomedical ethics is made more difficult by the fact that we live in a culture that hates God and has determined to be at war with life.

The Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy does not have the answers to all the difficult questions we face. But we do believe that we are right to assert the Bible as the only source book for ethical decision-making. Furthermore, we believe that now is the time to raise a generation of Christians that has been forced to wrestle with the complexities of Christian biomedical ethics theory long before they find themselves in a crisis. In fact, the worst time to wrestle with a biomedical issue is when you are emotionally embroiled in a crisis concerning that issue.

As a ministry that has fought vehemently for the life of the unloved (see our Life and Liberty Medical Fund) and has been engaged in rescuing babies deemed by bureaucrats or physicians to be unworthy of protecting, we have witnessed first-hand the pressures to compromise that are placed on families in times of distress. Too often personal emotions, intimidation from social workers (or even individuals within the medical establishment), and pragmatic peer pressure win the day. The results can be horrifying. In some cases emotional decision-making and peer pressure leads to the unnecessary deaths of the very individuals we should be protecting. In other cases, the consciences of Christians are seared because they are forced to live with the consequences of unwise choices. Too often, rather than acknowledging error, they justify their behavior and excoriate anyone who dares to ask what the Bible says about such an issue. I have seen this when Christians have aborted their babies because they were told they “had no other choice” in order to protect the health of the mother, and when they have terminated the life of disabled or sickly children or parents by withholding food or life support at the advice of physicians.

 

Should Christians Oppose All Abortions, Or Just Most of Them?

Is Starving a Disabled Dependent Always Wrong,
Or Is It Only Wrong in Some Cases?

There is not a local church or family in America that is not effected at some level by the challenge of biomedical ethics in the 21st century. But the only thing that seems certain is the inability of most churches to articulate a biblically defensible ethical standard.

Christians today are confronted with questions like these: Was it murder to pull the feeding tube on Terri Schiavo, or was it compassion? Is embryonic stem cell research valid? Is it improper to use contraceptive devices like “the pill” which have abortifacient potential? May couples use surrogates to carry their children to term? Is in vitro-fertilization using donor sperm a legitimate consideration? Is it adultery? Is it something else? Does “brain death” constitute death? May we consider the “quality of life” of an individual when deciding whether to continue feeding them? Frankly, these questions are hard, but there are much tougher ones coming down the road — questions destined to redefine our view of motherhood, compassion for the infirm, and care for the elderly.

Some Christians maintain a 100% pro-life, no abortion philosophy. Others believe that it is acceptable to abort a child in the case of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother is threatened. The latter is the position of the Orthodox Jews. And there are many additional questions presented to us by our “brave new world” that raise noodle-cookers of equal emotional challenge and philosophical complexity.

But the fact that questions are difficult does not mean that we can hide from them or brush them under the rug. It was precisely an unwillingness on the part of the Evangelical Christian community to identify and communicate a biblical ethic for tackling issues like feminism and eugenics in the early part of the 20th century, and on abortion in the years preceding Roe vs. Wade, that contributed to the widespread acceptance of birth control, abortion, and euthanasia within our culture — including within the Church itself. We are living with the consequences of a century of cultural retreat driven by antinomianism — an antinomianism which has fueled the deplorable silence of the Church in the wake of ethical chaos.

But here is the rub: It is not merely that we have failed to speak to the broader culture, but rather that we have failed to disciple the Church itself. We have failed to honor that portion of the Great Commission which obligates us to make disciples, teaching them “all things, whatsoever I have commanded.” And this is why there is precious little demographic difference between the professing Christian Church and the secular culture when it comes to the numerous life and death issues swirling around the current biomedical ethical maelstrom.

We Will Begin to Debate the Issues Now, Or Our Children Will Drown in a Sea of Ethical Relativism

Whether it is always wrong to kill an unborn baby, or whether it is acceptable to kill some unborn babies that threaten the lives of their mothers is a legitimate ethical question. It is a question that can only be settled properly by appealing to Scripture. The same goes for decisions to pull the plug on grandma, to use sperm donors, or whether or not to harvest organs from “brain dead” patients in order to save the lives of others.

There are those who would shut down the very type of dialog presented by Vision Forum Ministries at academies like the Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy. They would do so amidst a barrage of name calling and emotional furor. For such individuals it is sin to even ask the ethical questions, let alone reach conclusions that would differ with their personal experience. I disagree with them. In my view, it is precisely this haughty spirit that has led to the irrelevancy of Evangelical Christianity’s witness in our culture. It is this spirit that is causing the children of our present generation to drown in a sea of utilitarian ethics and moral relativism.

We will never be able to address these questions unless we agree to set aside hyperbole, name-calling, motive-judging, and hyper-emotionalism in our dialog. We expect such tactics from the world. For more than a century, feminists, eugenicists, and humanists have built their anti-life campaign on precisely these type of arguments. But it should not be so for the people of God. The mission of the Christian is not self-justification and emotional coddling. It is not personal convenience or self-empowerment. It is not some man-centered social agenda. Our mission is the advancement of the Kingdom of God by proclaiming the crown rights of Jesus Christ over all of life. Our mission is submission to Him. It is humbly acknowledging that we are the creature and He is the creator. This means that His law-word revelation trumps our feelings and opinions every time.

And that is why Witherspoon students are encouraged to reach their own conclusions on issues ranging from ectopic pregnancies to the Terri Schiavo case by breaking the issues down into their various component parts and distilling the most applicable biblical principles necessary for sound Christian ethical theory.

Come Let Us Reason Together — With Compassion

We need to reason together — through the Scriptures. And we need to do so with compassion. Compassion is needed for the tens of thousands of women who have been lied to by the state, by Hollywood, and the government school systems. Compassion is needed for a generation of men and women who have received little to no instruction from the pulpit on these issues, and who have been taught that the Bible is “silent” on matters of biomedical ethics.

But we must also have compassion for the unlovely — for the unborn, for the sick and infirm, and for those whose lives hang in the balance waiting for us to choose wisely. And dear friends, there is nothing compassionate about making selfish ethical decisions that place the lives of others in jeopardy.

My heart breaks for the untold thousands of parents who have found themselves navigating through such difficult ethical waters without the benefit of the Word of God. And even more so for those who have been required to consider these issues for the first time amidst intense pressure and emotions. And how can we have anything but profound compassion for those who have made wrong choices, only to realize their error after the fact?

But isn’t this true of all of us? Haven’t we all sinned and fallen short of God’s requirements — repeatedly! And isn’t this the message of the Cross — that there is forgiveness and hope for new beginnings at the feet of Jesus?

Sometimes the answer to our ethical inquiries will include repentance. But is repentance such a horrible thing? Must we always be about the business of blame-shifting and self-justification?

 

The Church as the Great Defender of Life

We live in a culture that possesses remarkable medical technological abilities. We have the technology, but we often lack the moral maturity to use it for the glory of God. We are like toddlers in the cockpit of a giant space ship headed for the stars. We have the ability to press buttons capable of moving engines and machines of remarkable power. The power is in our hands, but we are not quite sure what to do with it. This makes us very dangerous. Only by returning to Scripture can we hope to go from suckling babes to mature men and women capable of intelligent navigation.

The Church is the great defender of life. Of all the people on earth, we should be the most sensitive to the preciousness of life. But how will we be advocates for life if we refuse to thoroughly examine the biblical implications of the increasingly thorny questions our children will be forced to resolve? What ethical inheritance are we leaving to them — objective truth, or subjective opinions? We must return to the Bible — all of it — all sixty-six books. The answer to the ethical crisis therefore is neither denial nor neutrality. It certainly is not ethical silence. The answer is preparedness through prayerful study and humble willingness to reexamine the twisted ethical standards which our culture defends and we often embrace without question. Only then can we avoid being part of the problem itself. Only then can we be the defenders of life to which God has called us as His chosen people.

Persevero,

Doug Phillips Esq.
President, Vision Forum Ministries.
Founder of Witherspoon School of Public Policy

 

Books and Publications

Personhood: A Pragmatic Guide to Prolife Victory in the 21st Century and the Return to First Principles in Politics

by Daniel Becker

“History will one day look upon the movement to affirm the personhood of unborn children in the same way we now look upon the abolition of slavery and the end of the Holocaust. Dan Becker has been a reliable and principled voice for the unborn. His book advancing personhood for the most vulnerable among us is like a sound of the trumpet that will reverberate throughout time. The Holocaust of the unborn is the darkest chapter in American history and Dan Becker’s book is a call to turn the page and restore a culture of life. It is a must read.”

Mathew D. Staver
Dean and Professor of Law
Liberty University School of Law

 

“All believers in God should insist, without compromise, that the human law must always treat every innocent human being as a person entitled to the right to life. Dan Becker courageously affirms this truth.”

Professor Charles Rice
Emeritus Professor of Law University of Notre Dame

 

 

“'Personhood' is at the very heart of the 21st Century Civil Rights Movement. My Uncle Martin once said that to deny a person is “ to say that he has no right to existence.” Whether it is Dred Scott, Sojourner Truth, 1968 Sanitation Workers, or a baby viewed in a 3D Ultrasound, from conception until natural birth, a person is a human being, entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This right to personhood is a civil right. So, this book is an essential tool for these times."

Dr. Alveda C. King
(Niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
King for America, Priests for Life
 

 "Dan Becker's book is a great blend of prudence, pragmatism and principled politics, it is certain to cause us to re-think pro-life strategy in the 21st century"

 

Dr. Donald Wildmon
Founder and Chairman Emeritus of
American Family Association and American Family Radio

 

"The push for personhood across the United States is motivating the pro-life movement while also inspiring others to take up the cause.  Dan Becker has been out front in leading the personhood charge and his book gives special insight on how we can all work together to make the US a true pro-life nation."

Tom McClusky
Sr. Vice President
Family Research Council Action

 

"I just got around to reading your book tonight, and I think I won't stop until I am done.  It is the finest pro-life work I have read, period."

Gualberto Jones
Prolife Attorney

 

The Emerging Brave New World

by Thomas Glessner

Beginning in 1973 with the infamous Roe v. Wade decision American society has increasingly accepted the concept that humanity can be divorced from personhood and thereby some human beings can be manipulated and destroyed for the selfish gains of others because they are not considered "persons.”

 

 

How to be a Christian in a Brave New World

by Joni Eareckson Tada and Nigel Cameron

This book serves as a guidebook for believers, to awaken their interest, offer practical help, enable them to think through big questions in light of Scripture, and prepare them for the greatest issue of the 21st century: our new power to redesign human nature and determine the boundaries of human life through abortion, cloning, euthanasia, eugenics, and robotics.

To Order Click Image

Will all humans enjoy Personhood in the 21st Century?

Lessons from History

Personhood Initiatives

Federal Personhood Amendment (ongoing)

Alabama Personhood Bill (2010)

California Human Life Amendment (2010)

Colorado Personhood Amendment (2010)

Florida Personhood Amendment(2010)

Georgia Human Life Amendment (2007-ongoing)

Iowa Personhood Amendment (2013)

Maryland Personhood Amendment (2009)

Michigan Personhood Amendment (2010)

Missouri (2010)

Mississippi (2010)

Montana (2010)

Nevada (2010)

North Dakota Personhood Bill (2009)

North Dakota Personhood Amendment (2013)

South Carolina Personhood  Bills (2)

Virginia Right to Life Bill (2010)

Whitepapers & Links - Strategy for the 21st Century

Personhood – Being Pro-life in the 21st Century

Personhood is the pro-life battle-ground of the 21st century.

The Prolife Cause and the Coming Revolution

Abortion and the Death of Man by Nigel M. de S. Cameron

Re-thinking Pro-life Strategy

Personhood attorney Robert Muise's excellent article on state Human Life amendments

Prudence and Clarity in the Quest for Personhood,
Gualberto Garcia Jones makes the case that moral cowardice can at times be disguised as political prudence.

Is Human Life Ever Negotiable?

As we enter the 21st century, Georgia Right to Life finds itself in the middle of a raging debate regarding the future of the pro-life movement. 

Dealing with Exceptions

Can we support laws that are less than perfect?

American Life League's Legislative philosophy

Whitepapers & Links - Transhumanism

The Theology of Posthumanism

Posthumanism is not a formal religion, but rather, it is driven by a series of underlying religious beliefs. Posthumanists, for example, believe that finite and temporal limits of the human body place severe constraints upon the human will.

Conscious Evolution

"We in the Eugenics movement are not interested in competing against Adolph Hitler or Karl Marx for some minuscule little 1,000 year Reich. We are interested in competing with Jesus Christ and Buddha for the destiny of man."

Summer 2009 Issue of H+ Magazine

"The Designer Baby Controversy", page 25

Fall 2009 Issue of H+ Magazine

Recommended Reading: "God Wants You Dead", psge 86

Movie Trailer for Ray Kurzweil's Transcendent Man: Prepare to Evolve

Transhumanism's "Prophet" for the 21st Century and beyond

Remaking Humans: The New Utopians Versus a Truly Human Future

The new technopians actually have a name for themselves: transhumanists. According to the World Transhumanist Association: "Transhumanism (as the term suggests) is a sort of humanism plus.

Another View of the Singularity Summit: Is the "Singularity" for Everyone?

Are we approaching technological changes that will merge biological and non-biological intelligence, fuse the man-machine relationship, and blur the lines between reality and virtual reality?

World Transhumanist Association

We support the development of and access to new technologies that enable everyone to enjoy better minds, better bodies and better lives.

Democratic Transhumanism 2.0: Citizen Cyborg

"Let the ruling classes and Luddites tremble at a democratic transhumanist revolution. "

Transhumanism From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedi

". . . the world's most dangerous idea."