These particular ideas have formed in my mind as a result of my numerous engagements with pastors discussing the principles of abolitionism as well as a more recent reevaluation of my goals and strategies. To God be the glory for any truth that I have been able to take away from nearly a year and a half of meeting with the evangelical pastors in my home area of Fort Worth.
As abolitionists of human abortion we have in our focus the primary task of awakening the bride and body of our Lord and King Jesus, that is His church. Let’s consider that to be understood as the “general goal” of all abolitionists who are engaging a particular local fellowship with the ideology of abolitionism. But in addition to this general goal there is also a more “specific goal” that I think many abolitionists likewise share in common. This specific goal is seen as the vehicle, mechanism, or strategy by which the abolitionist supposes that the local congregation might be moved towards adopting the ideology and practices of abolitionism(the general goal). Unfortunately many abolitionists come from a “christian” background meaning that they have spent some substantial amount of time in an institutional, prepackaged, insincere, and self serving religious walk of life. Some simply grew up “in church” but did not come to faith until much later. Others had a conversion experience but upon finding new life in Christ were suddenly chained to an oppressive religious system that desalinates believers both young and old. No matter the circumstances surrounding our exposure to the impure and defiled religion of our day, it is more than safe to say that our practices and beliefs have been conditioned by it. This conditioning tends to dramatically effect the specific goal that we seek to accomplish on our way to awakening the church.
Many abolitionists have met with their own and other local pastors or elders with the desire to gain their approval of abolitionism in hopes of eventually having permission to give a presentation of abolitionism to the congregation. This is the specific goal held by what seems to be the majority of abolitionists. To be allowed to give a lecture before a group of people who gather each week to sit on pews and hear lectures. I happen to have accomplished this specific goal. I will not soon forget my disbelief when the pastor of the fellowship that I am referring to not only “agreed” (a phrase that I had grown accustomed to hearing) but also asked me to present abolitionism in front of the congregation the following Sunday. I climbed the steps having prayed that Gods Spirit would stir in my tongue and in their hearts and I told them that we must repent. I told them that we had not loved God and that we had not loved our neighbor. I told them that we were luke warm and that we hadn’t done for the least among us. I told them that if we didn’t stop passing by on the other side of the road that God would hold us accountable. After I had aired my convictions and descended from the platform I was met with something that I had seen many times before. I was met with what most pastors are met with after each sermon that they deliver, a passive approval of the “message” and a short “encouraging” word. The thing that I only vaguely understood at that time but have become more certain of now is that the evangelical community has been conditioned to behave in this manner. Consider the highlight of the evangelical church service, the sermon. It is typically some variant of a three point lecture with as many wholesome and lighthearted jokes or (depending on your denominational flavor) fists pounding on the pulpit. Though there are often times many biblical truths put on display and many passages read from scripture there is almost always little to no practical application of the truths that are shared. It is almost as if by design that the speaker and the audience have completely separated the truths that they are considering from their actual lives. It is as if the point of this academic pursuit is to come to a mental assent to certain truths in the same way that information might be memorized but never truly contemplated. I know this game because I played it for 24 years. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. Many pastors talk a good talk. Many of them say true things. My point is that there are a great many pastors teaching the word but a small almost invisible minority of them who are concerned with doing the word. Why then would we, who are most privileged to have been freed from a bondage to vain academic pursuits and brought into a true walk of faith through Jesus Christ, seek to utilize the mediums and methods that have so many that are still in bondage comfortably tricked into believing that their religious experience is in any way pushing the darkness back? Why would we not seek another way? Why wouldn’t we seek a way that is consistent with the problem that we face?
I would like to persuade you of another way.
The situation that is upon us is far more urgent than any that I can recall from my studies of world history. I’m afraid that it is more urgent than the protestant reformation, more urgent than the abolition of the slave trade, and even more urgent than the extermination of the Jewish people at the hand of the National Socialist Party. I’m afraid that it is much more urgent than any of us realize. With a situation of such great urgency you might expect that our communication ought to be commensurate. I’ve heard it said by a brother that “if the building is on fire then you ought not whisper about it. Go in and yell The Building Is On Fire!” I have spent months navigating the bureaucracy of a single church just to get a meeting with a pastor only to have him tell me that he would have to pray about whether or not they should involve themselves and that he would get back with me in a couple of months. In that time countless thousands of children were murdered. I believe that when we plead for meetings, consult our schedules, and patiently wait on pastors to incline their ears to the faint screams of our preborn neighbors we betray the intensity of our message. That is why I propose that our action be both direct and not lacking in urgency.
Almost every fellowship of believers has its “gatekeepers.” Some fellowships have a single pastor, and others have one hundred various leaders, board members, and committees. The thing that I have found that they most have in common is an embargo on information. Where you might expect that the unity of the body of Christ and the confidence that He is working, diligently washing us with His word, might prompt believers to openly discuss, argue, and debate such issues as they might differ, quite the opposite is true. The majority of fellowships are closed for discussion. Everything that is said and done in the times at which they meet together is all pre-approved and carefully choreographed. Kindly allow for some insignificant variation from the reality that I have described. Surely the pastor has the liberty to be led where “the spirit” doth guide him, but it seems that the spirit has been relegated to speak through him alone. These men view themselves as the gatekeepers to the pin which holds the flock, but unfortunately they are the type who wouldn’t even let the Good Shepard in. The way in which we engage a particular fellowship of believers must not be dependent on the approval of some arbitrarily(and in many cases self appointed) gatekeepers. That is why I propose that our action be an appeal to the body as a whole with our without the well wishes of the gatekeeper.
Upon considering the views of many abolitionists towards outward exhortation of church fellowships, as well as the perception of many of the movements critics, I am forced to believe that there is a certain aspect of our approach that lends itself to the idea that we are there not to stir our brothers and sisters up to love and good works but rather to protest and to punish. When we insist on meeting with the gatekeepers and explaining to them their biblical obligations, many of which they are already aware of, and they do not repent of their indifference towards child sacrifice, we then see the necessity of reaching out to the larger body of believers. Unfortunately, because we have already had unsuccessful contact with the pastor it seems as though we are there at that point to punish him and the congregation for their unresponsiveness. I am in no way insinuating that church exhortation has ever been carried out with this spirit, but rather pointing out that when we insist on this initial approach we run a higher risk of this almost willful misunderstanding. When we reach out to the body from outside without any conditions or qualifications we help to eliminate this misconception. That is why I propose that our action be an appeal to the body as a whole first without any prior contact.
The majority of the work that we do as abolitionists is aimed at awakening the bride of Jesus Christ to the sufferings of so many children in her midst. We engage in this work on street corners, market places, high schools, sporting events, concerts, and festivals. Everywhere we go we are seeking to engage Christians on the necessity of loving their preborn neighbor, and everywhere we go they misunderstand (not entirely on accident) the message that we are broadcasting. This condition is quite prevalent. They believe that we are there to tell the world that abortion is wrong. However, we are there to tell the church to treat abortion as if it is wrong. If they understood the message that abortion apathy is sin then they would either repent of their apathy or they would turn against us. They would not voice a passive support or agreement. That is why I propose that the our action be unmistakably clear as to who we are calling to repentance.
I propose that we engage the apathetic church fellowships in our communities from the sidewalks outside of their buildings during the times at which they gather. I propose that we do this without first seeking a meeting. I propose that we do this with or without the approval of the leadership. I propose that we do this in a spirit of brotherly love and exhortation. I propose that we do it now.