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Silence Is Blasphemy
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Molech blas-phem-y, n. An intentional and defiant dishonoring of the nature, name, or work of God by word or action. —Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia

* * *

Frank asseveration is long overdue: Pulpit silence on the abortion holocaust is nothing short of blasphemy.

I’m aware this is a serious charge. But the church’s decades-long tacit sanction of mass murder is a serious matter.

We need to stop mincing words. When heinous acts—even acts of omission, like silence in the face of evil—are deliberately committed in the name of God, there is no more fitting word to describe it. It is blasphemy: the intentional and defiant dishonoring of God. To fail to call it what it is minimizes, and effectively harbors and perpetuates, the abominable practice through euphemism’s power to anesthetize sensibilities. The sanction of this unspeakable evil must end immediately. And there is good reason to believe it can.

In March I outlined a “One-Minute Strategy for Ending Abortion ‘Overnight.’” It met with overwhelmingly enthusiastic approval from a broad cross-section of lay Christians and Jews worldwide. But troublingly, it generated virtually no response from church leadership except among Catholics.

Intentional

That suggested to me more than mere happenstance. It suggested intentionality. So I wrote a second article, subtitling it “An Open Letter to Evangelical Pastors in America.” I hoped to coax out the reasons for the unresponsiveness. But I obtained virtually identical results: enthusiastic embrace at the pew level, but no significant adoption of the strategy by church leadership, and no explanation for the overall general unresponsiveness.

Which continues to baffle and frustrate me. The One-Minute Strategy to End Abortion (acronym “TOM’S TEA”) is so simple and straightforward. I can think of no good reason for not implementing it. If there is one, no one is telling me.

In fact, evangelical pastors aren’t telling me anything. I do get the very occasional defensive soundbite, consisting of a few sentences contending that “the mission of the church is simply to preach the gospel, period.” But one would think a matter of this gravity would warrant either a formal defense, or else the immediate embrace of a strategy like the one proposed. Instead, the silence persists and the church continues by default to approve and enable the modern-day equivalent of Moloch child-sacrifice.

Defiant

And then there’s the “defiant” aspect. If “intentional” is roughly synonymous with “purposeful,” then “defiant” is something darker still. But again, the days—indeed, the shameful decades—of pulling punches are at an end.

Defiance connotes not merely what may be construed as ignorant purposefulness, but deliberate, stubborn willfulness. It means that whatever ideas underlie pulpit silence, the remedy is not so much robust reeducation as radical repentance.

Martin Luther King, Jr., would agree. He would unflinchingly impute defiant culpability. It was King who famously stated, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Dr. King also said, “‎History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer likewise would agree that this is an eyes-wide-open, deep moral problem. Said Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Charles Finney would not only agree but bring it home to the church’s leaders, where the preponderance of responsibility falls:

Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits. If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree. If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it. Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.

The ideas of these men are thoroughly biblical. In fact, James says the hallmark of spurious faith is profession without concomitant action to care for the neediest, most helpless people. Without the accompanying works of what he terms “pure religion,” our supposed faith is not faith at all. (Significantly, James is also the one who wrote, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”)

The pulpit that preaches the gospel of God’s love but refuses to consistently decry abortion is one of the most blatant and profound examples of “faith without works” I can think of. Churches doing this effectively negate by their actions the very message they preach. They may have a name and reputation that they are alive, but they prove by their works—or lack thereof—that they are dead (Revelation 3:1).

Hear me: If silence in the face of great evil is itself great evil, then where there is reasonable prospect of diminishing the evil by decrying it, silence becomes an evil that is positively monstrous. There is reasonable prospect of diminishing this evil by decrying it. Please let that sink in.

If the thought of 3,500 babies being savagely murdered every day doesn’t keep you awake at night, my silent, God-empowered-to-say-and-do-something-about-it friends who stand in pulpits week after week ostensibly dispensing the message of God’s love for “the least of these,” then maybe the thought that you are complicit in an unspeakably great evil and shall one day answer for it, will.

Again I implore you: Implement some form of the One-Minute Strategy in your church as soon as possible, and then, performing works consistent with our most holy faith, admonish your congregation to vote pro-life on November 6—or else defend, here in public, in writing, why you won’t.

But do something. Not to act is to act. Silence is blasphemy.

* * *

“This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.” (2 Kings 19:3)

* * *

Ultrasound

O preacherman, I need you now, this hour.
The executioner unsheaths the knife
To serve me cruel death; but you have power
To stay his murderous hand and grant me life.
Refuse by guilty silence to blaspheme
Against the God whose image plain I bear;
From pulpit rooftop sound my silent scream,
For God gave vicars so the world could hear.
Your lisping gospel-shibboleths of love
Forbear; instead, incarnate love with deed;
For life is but a word until you prove
By feast that here is fruit and not mere seed.
I beg you, shout Love’s one-word sermon: “Don’t!”
Though from your unteared eyes I fear you won’t.

Rolley “Nathan” Haggard loves the little ewe lambs that are being led—without advocacy—to slaughter, and his anger is greatly kindled. (cf. 2 Samuel 12:1-7)


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Comments:

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Pro-Life: a “Calling”, or Mere Christianity?
Pro-Life: a “Calling”, or Mere Christianity?
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Sincere thanks for your thoughts, J.S.L.

Yours is not an uncommon criticism, and for that reason warrants a response.

Central to your point is the idea that the pro-life activism I advocate is just one of many burdens or callings that the obedient servant of Christ can choose.

But is it?

If ten feet from me a small child falls into a pool, must my vocation be “lifeguard” before I attempt to rescue the drowning child? Or is it the dire responsibility of everyone who fears God and has an ounce of compassion?

This is all the One Minute Strategy to End Abortion is about. No one is being asked to quit his profession or divert from his calling. All that is proposed is that we live like true Christians and quit behaving as if we have little or no responsibility to attempt to rescue the children all around us who are drowning in abortifacient saline.

Public outcry works. For every shepherd who would regularly speak to this issue – one minute per pulpit appearance -- 100 sheep would follow suit. Multiplied by every congregation in America, the results could be stunning.

We could end abortion ‘overnight’ – if we really wanted to. But do we? That’s the real question here. Sadly, our actions prove the answer.

After careful consideration I could find no more fitting term than “blasphemy” to describe the actions of those who, in the name of God, Christ, and the gospel ministry, would deliberately turn away from attempting to save a drowning child on the grounds that “such is not my calling”.

We’re ALL called to be saints. That’s just mere Christianity.

For more on this, I commend to you my sequel piece, “Phariseevangelicalism” http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/features-columns/articles/entry/12/2045

I would be honored to hear your further thoughts in response.
I admire the author's zeal for the unborn. However, I think the P.O.V. expressed here may be the projection of the author's own passion (a righteous one) on to everyone else. Not everyone in the Kingdom shares in the same calling or burden. The author, in this instance, is not wholly unlike the missionary who cannot understand why everyone in every church isn't giving all their money to their particulary missionary venture. My own burden is to see the renewal of repentance and holiness ignited in the church again. Not everyone around me shares that passion. I could say worldliness and lack of sanctification are forms of blasphemy, and so for a pastor to not constantly address this issue is itself a form of blasphemy. But, of course, that would not be right. In my 20 years believing, it has been clear that God endues the ministry minded with specific burdens, and it the job of each to pursue and voice that burden within their circle of influence. We need to be very careful about calling out those who don't share our particular zeal for specific moral and spirital matters "blasphemers." There is also the danger of pursuing these matters to the degree that our passion for them eclipses our very passion for the gospel - even for Christ Himself. I am NOT accusing this author of that. I am, however, noting that "issues oriented preaching" can easily usurp the "preaching of Christ." Preaching Christ may include denouncing moral wrongs, but is lost when morality - especially one particular strain of morality - becomes front and center. Thus, I can share the author's passion and pain, but not his particular expression and sentiment here.
Ben
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One question: when you see pictures out of Auschwitz, does it tend to desensitize your conscience – or does it do something quite other?

I saw this statement just a day or so ago. It seems appropriate here:

“Injustice that remains invisible inevitably becomes tolerable.”

Isn’t that what has happened to our own souls and consciences in the church? That we’ve grown accustomed to tolerating 150 grisly, cold-blooded, excruciatingly-painful-to-the-victim murders per hour largely because it is not held up before us on a regular basis?

I think the burden is on those who think not to disprove that thesis. I’m waiting to see those “proofs”, and, like Neil Young, I’m getting old.

Blessings, bro.
Rolley: Thanks for responding. I do agree with you that pastors should preach against abortion from the pulpit; but I think doing it every sunday is likely to desensitize people to the evil rather than prick their consciences ("Oh boy, here comes Pastor Bob's abortion spiel again, time to tune out")

Mitzi: Should any pastor implement Rolley's strategy, I sincerely hope that the women in the congregation have the same positive reaction that you describe for yourself.

Best,
Ben
@ Ben Wetzel
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Thank you for your thoughtful remarks, my friend. Here are some of my own.

Following your logic, I have to wonder what serious sins/crimes we CAN decry from the pulpit. Odds are very good that someone in the pews is guilty of virtually every sin that could be named. So is the solution to avoid them all? Clearly not.

I do not see scriptural precedent or prescription for the moderation you favor. It seems to me Paul did not hesitate to bring up high-shame-quotient sins in (for example) the church at Corinth. Consider his words in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Wow. No hint of avoidance or moderation there. Paul seemed to live by the aphorism, “He loves me best who tells me the most truth”.

But the apostle didn’t leave the Corinthians bleeding in their pews; he not only “afflicted the comfortable” as they say, he also “comforted the afflicted”, for he continued with these words:

“Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (v. 11)

I believe we see here that “balance” of “prophetic condemnation” and “gospel-shaped compassion for its practitioners” you spoke of, Ben. But with this significant difference: the fact that Christ had forgiven them and taken their guilt and shame did not keep Paul from bringing up specific sins in ways proportionate to the seriousness of those sins. I think that rule applies to our abortion holocaust. It is a problem of staggering proportions.

I appreciate your sensitivity to the feelings of those who have “been there and done that”, truly I do; but when the stakes are this high, ask your conscience, are we not under infinitely greater obligation to spare lives by speaking up than to spare sensibilities by remaining silent? With all due respect to people’s emotional comfort, we are talking Auschwitz-caliber crimes here – for 40 years.

Couple these my observations with the comments of personal testimony given by Mitzi Turpin, and I would be interested in your further response.

Blessings, my friend.

P.S. I was born in Mishawaka, right down the street from South Bend. :)
Dear Rolley,

I have now read your three posts with interest, and I guess I will be the first commenter to dissent. I like to think that I am second to none in my pro-life views, but I think the strategy you outline is misguided for at least one main reason.

I worry about the women sitting in evangelical congregations who have had abortions (or the men who encouraged them to do so). If these folks have truly repented of their sin, then the Lord has forgiven them and I’m concerned that bringing up one sin (abortion) every week would only serve to create feelings of shame and guilt when Christ has in fact taken that away. Would it not be ironic to pause midway through a sermon on the forgiveness and grace of Christ, for example, to single out a particular sin for special condemnation? We must balance a prophetic condemnation of abortion with a gospel-shaped compassion for its practitioners. Bringing up abortion week after week makes that hard to do.

I appreciate your passion for the pro-life cause, but in this particular I think the strategy is misguided. I look forward to joining you in other ways to create a culture of life in America.

Best wishes,
Ben Wetzel
South Bend, IN
Criminal
Rolly, this is a crime against the unborn. I'm going to publish this link on my FB sites and web site. Thanks for the heads up.
Powerful Prose and Poetry, Rolley
Well done.

I'm reminded of a time when I was 19 or 20 (more than 1/2 a lifetime now!) and was chatting with a girl on my community college campus that some of us unkindly called "the ice queen" for her prudent ways. I knew her through friends of mine from Catholic Young Adults. I think we must have been talking about some matters of faith. To some statement of mine, she quietly inquired,

"And you still agree with abortion?"

Her words were kind and compassionate with an "how can those two agreements reside within the same person?" tone. I wasn't a big, huge supporter of abortion. I think I must have made statements about it along the lines of "well, this is the way it is, just accept it." Her question brought me up short. How could I have a real faith in Jesus and yet have a "go along, get along" attitude toward abortion?

I sat there, quiet, pondering. I can still remember exactly where we sat outside at a round table on the Glendale College Community campus under a blue Southern California sky. She was a sensitive, polite young woman and also sat quietly while I pondered.

"No. No." I stated. "No, I don't believe abortion is right."

I am grateful that this woman caused me to face the fact that my beliefs on matters of life, death and agape love were incongruous. I am grateful that you have pointed out the monstrosity of staying silent in the face of evil. Praise God for people who speak the truth in love and shine a light on the evil places of our hearts that we didn't even realize were evil. Thank you, Rolley. And thanks to this woman, whose name I can't even remember.
I just saw this Rolley, and once again you're absolutely right.

The encouraging news from your responses is that in most Protestant churches the pastor serves by the will of the people. If all else fails, we can throw the bums out.

And if we can't throw 'em out, we can vote with our feet.
Thanks Mary, Diane, Jason
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I had a brief (8-minute) interview on the Scott Hennon radio show ( scotthennon.com ) yesterday where I discussed “The Deafening Silence of our Pulpits” on abortion. Zoom to the 30min25sec mark.

http://podcast.gcnlive.com/podcast/commonSenseClub/1004122.mp3
Silence Is Blasphemy
Mr. Haggard,
I cannot understand how a pastor can stand in front of his congregation week after week and NOT address this terrible issue! If purportedly Christian pastors ignore the silent screams of the murdered/mutilated unborn, what hope is there for the lay person to understand and to act?
You, Sir, are an excellent writer and I deeply admire your perseverance in calling to those who should be in the forefront of battling this evil.
I thank you.
Mary Shew
Spot on!
Indeed.
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