Yesterday I posted to this blog about Robert Dear, the fellow who murdered three people and injured several others during a gun slinging attack upon an abortion mill in Colorado Springs. In the course of preparing that post I quoted and interpreted a section from the newspaper which said, "The final bit of evidence offered up in the story in support of Dear's radical and bizarre belief system is that Dear dreamed that when he 'died and went to heaven, he would be met by all the aborted fetuses at the gates of heaven, and they would thank him for what he did because his actions saved the lives of other unborn fetuses.' Dear believes in heaven and his beliefs about heaven are consistent with millions of evangelical Christians in the SDA." Let's consider that statement for a while today.
The problem that all Evangelicals face with abortion is that their practice does not square with their theological beliefs. Evangelicals quite properly oppose abortion. They do what they can to convince women to not kill their babies. Some Evangelicals spend enormous amounts of time and money to try and save the lives of unborn babies. They are to be commended for that behavior.
Unfortunately for Evangelicals, their theological beliefs contradict their practice when it comes to abortion. Keith Drury, of the Christian Resource Institute, summarizes the theological condition of evangelical Christianity in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika with these words: "For the last several hundred years, the church in America has been mostly
Calvinist while Arminianism has been a minority position. All that has
changed. The evangelical church today is basically Arminian in its approach. For
now, Arminianism has triumphed and Calvinism is in retreat. I don't mean
that the Calvinist denominations have officially changed their doctrine.
Most Calvinistic theologians have stuck with their five-points. But most of the
ordinary people have drifted from traditional Calvinism toward the Arminian
position. The average Christian today might claim to be Calvinist, but they
function as a 'practical Arminian.' While many Calvinist pastors still
ascribe to the Calvinist shibboleths, in their practical theology, they are
functioning Arminians. Arminianism has triumphed. This great theological battle was won without
warfare, with few debates, with 'dueling magazine articles.' How ironic that
in a day when theology no longer matters to most people, one of the great
theological battles of all times seems to have been settled. Droves of
Calvinists have become Arminians—at least in practice."
I would take exception with Keith on one point. Arminianism is based upon the theology of a man named Arminius. Arminius reacted against the Reformation doctrines elucidated by Calvin and Luther and posited a different system of theology that asserted the twin beliefs of original innocence and the reality of human free will. Arminius was not a stupid man. He realized that the Christian Church had condemned both of his beliefs as heresies hundreds of years earlier. Arminius did not want to be harassed, and possibly executed, for holding heretical beliefs so he changed some of the components of his doctrines in order to avoid the executioners blade.
The classic, orthodox and historical Christian doctrine of original sin declares that all men are evil, with no good to be found within them whatsoever. As such, all men naturally hate and oppose the God of the Bible. It necessarily follows that no man, in his natural state, is willing or able to turn to God in repentance for his sins. It follows from that that no man can be saved if God does not first act to save him. Man has nothing to do with his salvation, can take no credit for it and must ultimately confess that if God had not acted on his behalf he would have died in his sins. As you have probably surmised, Evangelicals generally despise this doctrine.
The assertion that human beings have free will had first been advanced by a British monk named Pelagius in the 400s. Pelagius' teachings, known as Pelagianism, were opposed by Saint Augustine in Africa and Saint David in Britain. Pelagius argued that men have free will and are not impacted by the fall of Adam to the point where they cannot exercise their free will and save themselves, with God's help. Pelagius believed in the original innocence of infants. Pelagianism was universally condemned by the historic Christian Church and it faded into obscurity until, almost a thousand years later, it reemerged at the time of the Reformation in Arminius.
Arminius did not adopt Pelagianism outright as doing so would have endangered his life. Back in those days people could be killed for propounding heretical doctrines. Instead, he proposed a new doctrine he called "prevenient grace" by which God, at the moment of birth, grants all infants a special dispensation of prevenient grace which allows them to overcome the impact of original sin and exercise some modicum of free will. Evangelical Arminians who profess to follow the teachings of Arminius should hold to the doctrine of prevenient grace and not the teachings of Pelagius who believed in original innocence and human free will without the need for a special work of grace, but they don't. Arminianism was also declared to be heretical shortly after its followers demanded a series of Church councils to address the issue. However, unlike what the Roman Catholic Church had been able to do with Pelagianism, the Reformation Church was unable to suppress the heresy and it continued to exist down to this very time, eventually, as Mr. Drury points out, becoming the dominant and ostensibly orthodox Christian view in the Socialist Democracy of Amerika today.
I have never met an Evangelical who believes in prevenient grace. Indeed, when I mention the doctrine to Evangelicals I receive a blank stare in response. Every Evangelical I have ever had a theological discussion with is a full blown Pelagian, adopting and preaching the doctrines of original innocence and the free will of men. I conclude that, although they are not aware of the historical theology in support of my view, Evangelicals are really Pelagians and not Arminians.
One more doctrinal point must be made. If all infants are born into original innocence, why do they need to be saved from the sins they are not guilty of? Arminians, if you can find one, and evangelical Pelagians answer this question the same way. Just like they cooked up the extra-biblical doctrine of prevenient grace, so they now cook up another doctrine to try and wiggle off the hook of theological heresy. According to Evangelicals, all infants grow up in original innocence. If they die they go to heaven because they are initially sin-free and, if they do sin as they grow up, God does not hold them morally accountable for those sins. However, at some undefined point in their lives, they reach the "age of accountability." At the age of accountability all children suddenly become morally accountable for their sins and in need of a Savior. How a creature born into original innocence can sin is never addressed. Empirical evidence alone is enough to convince all Evangelicals that their children are sinners. Where the doctrine of the age of accountability comes from is not clear. It is certainly not found in the Bible but it does serve a vital and useful purpose in Evangelical theology, allowing them to believe that all infants that die in infancy go to heaven.
You should now be able to see the problem. When an infant grows up to become a child and that child reaches a specific day in which his original innocence is lost and he becomes accountable for his sins, on that day he suffers spiritual death. If the child were to die the day before his day of accountability he would go to heaven. If he dies one second after he becomes accountable for his sins he will go to hell. The day of accountability is a horrible day because that is the day all children lose their salvation.
The Evangelical's conundrum is now apparent. All babies that are aborted are guaranteed heaven. Saving a baby from the knife of the abortion provider only means that the child will likely grow up to lose his salvation, quite possibly forever, if he refuses to exercise his free will and accept the free gift of salvation offered to him in Jesus. Since "narrow is the gate" to heaven and "few are those who find it," it necessarily follows that not killing babies before they are born brings about an enormous spiritual carnage as millions of previously saved babies grow up, become accountable and die in their sins.
Robert Dear expects to be welcomed to heaven by all of the babies that have been aborted. By shutting down the abortion mill in Colorado Springs for a couple of weeks he prevented the deaths of who knows how many babies. Those babies now stand a good chance of not being in heaven to greet him when he arrives. In a sense, and according to evangelical doctrine, Dear will be responsible for the spiritual deaths of all the babies that might have been murdered in the abortion mill.
Evangelicals can quickly and efficiently eliminate their theological dilemma by adopting the hated doctrines of Calvinism which declare that all children are born into original sin and doomed to hell until they repent. Along with that doctrine is the even more hated, if that is possible, doctrine of election. That, of course, will never happen. Evangelicals would rather live with an enormous self contradiction than believe that innocent looking babies would go to hell when they die or, even worse, God would predestine some people to hell. Evangelicals would rather potentially send babies to spiritual hell by saving their physical lives. How ironic.