Abolitionist Theological Foundations
We, as an abolitionist organizations, agree with the pro-life position that abortion is bad, but further, we believe that abortion is the sin of murder and that it must be treated as such. Of course, there is forgiveness to be found in Christ for abortion, but that does not mean it ought to be legal, and it does not negate the necessity of establishing justice.
The most important word in the previous paragraph is "sin." Abortion being a sin has huge implications for how we must fight it. That it's a sin means that the only ultimate answer to it is the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is hardly a more common theme of the scriptures than that of man's strength and schemes being impotent to push back darkness. It is always and only God who works -- often through His people -- to overcome evil.
The gospel, of course, entails the forgiveness of sins, the justification of the sinner before God, and the reconciliation of the sinner to God. But it entails more than just that. In the opening of his book on Christ's ministry, Mark refers to the entire document as "the gospel." That includes much more than chapters 14-16 which cover the death and resurrection of Christ; it includes Jesus' life, His miracles, His coming judgement, and His teaching on numerous other topics.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, but he then turns to the reign of Christ - the gospel of the kingdom. He quotes from Psalm 110, saying, “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
In 2 Thessalonians, Paul writes that all men must "obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." Clearly, this gospel of which he speaks is the gospel of the kingdom of which Christ so often preached. This kingdom has a king, and that king has taught us, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." Our keeping His commandments has nothing to do with our salvation, which is by God's grace through our faith in Christ alone. But a growing ability and desire to keep His commandments is the necessary consequence of being saved and indwelt by the Holy Spirit; it is the proof that you love Christ.
It is this gospel of Christ's kingdom that abolitionists bring into conflict with the culture of death. We proclaim the excellency of Christ's kingdom of justice and mercy over against the world's kingdom of sin and death. We proclaim God's wisdom against the foolishness of man. We proclaim repentance and belief in the One who died to make us right with God, and who will one day set everything right. By these two kingdoms coming into conflict, the kingdom is advanced as souls are redeemed and darkness is pushed back. William Lloyd Garrison, capturing well the spirit of the abolitionist, wrote, “My fanaticism is to make Christianity the enemy of all that is sinful."
Abortion is a work of the devil, the shedding of innocent blood. Thus, Jesus came to destroy it (1 John 3:8). This is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through His death on the cross, Jesus abolished death (2 Tim 1:10), and through our union with Him, we are to make war with the culture of death (Eph 5:8-14, Rom 16:20, Rev 12:11).
The curse of sin affects all of creation, but God promises to restore all of creation, to make everything new (Rev 21:5). The abolition of abortion must be gospel-centered, and the gospel must progressively extend as far as the curse is found. As lobbyists, we can report that the curse can most certainly be found at your state legislature.
So if abortion is sin, and the answer to sin is the gospel, then whose work is it to push back the darkness of abortion? It can only be those to whom the gospel has been entrusted: the Church (Matthew 28:19-20). While unbelievers operating with common grace are welcome to support just laws and candidates, this movement is unavoidably a Christian one. No one else has the cure to the curse that plagues mankind and leads to abortion.
This work does not belong to a special few within the Church, but the Church as a whole. As R.C. Sproul put it, “When the church is silent in the midst of a holocaust, she ceases to be a real church.” Whether one should work to stop a holocaust that is all around them is not a matter of Christian liberty. In the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus demonstrates that religious people will often pass by a neighbor in need, and that this is an example of sin — the neglect of a universal duty that transcends any particular gifts, skills, or callings that individual Christians may have. In the very next chapter, Jesus rebukes the pharisees, saying, “‘Woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God’” (Luke 11:42).
In the modern American context, there is almost no one who does not pass by the places of murder on a daily basis, and if you live in a state where abortion has supposedly been made "illegal", mothers are still murdering their babies with mail-order pills under the cover of law. If there is not an abortion mill in your area, there is a hospital or OBGYN office that performs abortions, a pharmacy that sells abortifacient drugs, or internet access to sites that sell abortion pills. Child sacrifice is all around us. We must utilize our spheres of influence to expose this evil in all of its horror and point people to the cure. We must go to the murder mills and plead for the lives of the children being taken away to death, while offering spiritual and material help to the mothers and fathers going in. In states where abortion mills are no longer open, we must engage with the culture regarding abortion, knowing that they are still practicing it. We must bring the gospel into conflict with the sins of abortion, abortion apathy, and compromise with abortion.
As Christ’s people go about bringing the gospel into conflict with evil, our marching come from Christ’s Word. The infallible Word of God must govern everything we think, say, and do as Christians. (2 Tim 3:16-17, Acts 17:11). If the Bible is God’s revelation to man, and if it is an account of what God is doing to abolish wickedness from our world, then any efforts for the kingdom of God should reflect what we see Him do in that revelation. The Abolitionist Movement is a sola scriptura movement.
If Christ and the prophets demanded immediate repentance of the kings and nations, so too must we. If Jesus and the prophets called the magistrates to establish justice, so too must we. If Jesus and the prophets would not support legislation banning abortion after 15 weeks but allowing it previously, then neither can we.
This concept stands in stark contradiction to the pro-life leaders who intentionally exclude God’s Word from their activism. Before abolitionists convinced them to stop, one pro-life outreach organization made their volunteers sign a form promising not to evangelize unless the unbeliever brings up religion first. A pro-life Oklahoma State Senator told a constituent that he leaves his Christianity at the door when he’s legislating. The pro-life leaders believe they must downplay their Christianity, and the result is that they have given up the only objective standard by which abortion can be adequately rebuked as evil. Abolitionists, on the other hand, believe that we must — as Wilberforce put it — “give an account of [our] political conduct at the Judgement seat of Christ.” The principles of abolitionism are grounded in the conviction that God’s Word alone must be the foundation for all of life.
Because God’s Word is our foundation, and it teaches us that the battle against wickedness belongs to the Lord, abolitionists rely on the wisdom and providence of God, not on the worldly wisdom and pragmatism of man. As John Quincy Adams put it when asked why he was not discouraged at the lack of progress in Congress regarding the abolition of slavery, “Duty is ours, results belong to God.” We have a responsibility to be faithful to His commands, and it is God’s prerogative to remove scales from the eyes of magistrates and citizens.
1 John 5:4-5 teach us, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” The overcoming of abortion cannot be detached from its spiritual nature and implications. Faith in God, His Word, His promises, and His prescriptions are crucial to the destruction of abortion.
Accordingly, abolitionists take our marching orders from God’s Word, not from secularist political experts who kick against abolitionism because many of our positions don’t poll well in the current political climate. But abolitionists don’t care. God’s prescriptions are not only for applying in favorable environments. We are to call for justice as God defines it in faith that He is the one who opens eyes, softens hearts, sets up and brings down kings, and vanquishes the darkness.
These principles make up our theological foundations. For more on the five tenets of abolitionism, see this episode of The Liberator Podcast.
(This video was made before the overturn of Roe vs Wade)
This theological foundation affects the way abolitionists operate in the political sphere. The following three pages (Immediatism, Criminalization/Equal Protection, and Defy Tyrants) in our Learn About Abolitionism section will explain how.