The first two pieces received thousands of affirmative responses from lay folk, but failed to elicit any significant responses from evangelical ministers. The third, for reasons perhaps not all that hard to guess, registered some responses from ministers on Facebook. These were not as affirmative.
The Charge of Blasphemy Elicits Two Whole Responses!
Here’s what a pastor in Illinois had to say: “Rolley Haggard and anyone else who supports his view has called Jesus a blasphemer.”
At last, a minister provides an implied explanation for pulpit silence: Since Jesus didn’t preach about it, why should His followers?
“It is a simple fact,” he continued, “that abortion was known and not an uncommon procedure in Jesus' day and He was (as far as we know) silent on the matter. You have indirectly called Jesus Christ a blasphemer.”
Salivating with eagerness to engage, I invited him to debate me at BreakPoint.
“I'm not looking to debate you,” he said. “I simply happen to dislike being called a blasphemer. I don't particularly value your opinion on the matter, mostly because I don't know you, but also because you are wrong. I'm a blasphemer because I don't preach enough sermons to your liking. B.S.”
Judging from the visceral tone of that response, I think it’s safe to say I touched a nerve.
I got a similar reaction from a Missouri pastor who said, “I speak out for life about twice a year. The author of ‘Silence is Blasphemy’ should not be surprised at the silence to his call. I get close to 100 messages per day. One that starts out by calling me and my ministry partners blasphemers is probably going to the ‘no time for this’ category. And how does he know ‘pulpits’ are silent?”
Absent from either response was any hint of introspection or soul-searching or the desire to consider the charge on its merits or lack thereof. Instead, offense was taken at the very idea that anyone would dare imply such an outrageous thing.
I say, fine. Debate me. Prove me wrong. I’m only looking to accomplish one of two things here: either implementation of “The One-Minute Strategy,” or delivery of a cogent explanation why not. It’s that simple.
‘Blasphemy’? Oh, Come On, Get Serious
That, I believe, is the kernel of what many ministers think: “There’s no way our pulpit silence amounts to anything resembling blasphemy.”
Okay, fair enough. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt. But I’d ask the same in return, measure for measure. Come, let us reason together.
Consider an analogy. Jesus gave analogies, often in the form of parables. I’ll do likewise and call what follows “The Parable of the Pastor Who Justified His Silence in the Face of Homicide”; or more simply, “Murder by Ministry.”
Murder by Ministry
There once was a pastor who hosted a Vacation Bible School in his home. Now this pastor had a house full of kids: 20-some-odd, ranging in age from eight to 10 years.
Midway through activities, the pastor overhears on the news that there is a serial child murderer in his neighborhood. He looks out the window, and lo and behold, he sees the very guy climbing the fence into his yard, machete in hand.
Instinctively, the pastor checks the front door. It is unlocked. He decides to leave it unlocked. He doesn’t so much as call 911.
Instead, he gathers the kids together and shares the Gospel with them. After all, he cares deeply about souls. He doesn’t want any of these precious children to die without having the chance to receive Christ and be saved from hell.
The door opens and the intruder rushes unopposed into the room and begins hacking off the limbs of the terrified, screaming children.
The pastor, witnessing the horror, reminds himself that unless God changes the hearts of people by His Gospel and Holy Spirit, there will be only temporary and external—rather than permanent and internal—change. So he faces the intruder and preaches to him, imploring him to be reconciled to God.
The murderer vaguely hears him making noise, but he’s more distracted by the sight of one VBS chaperone in the corner, bound and gagged, writhing for all he’s worth to get out of his ropes. This chaperone does manage to get the gag out of his mouth, and he yells, “Pastor! Do something to stop that guy! He’s murdering innocent children!”
The pastor turns to this person and explains that he is simply doing what God called him to do; simply being obedient to the will of God, no more and no less. He says that God has called him to preach the word, not get unduly involved in social action. (To date, that is the only “explanation” common to the handful of responses I’ve received).
End of parable.
Now, if what that pastor did isn’t blasphemy, what is it? Blasphemy is defined as the “intentional and defiant dishonoring of the nature, name, or work of God by word or action.”
If pulpit silence on abortion by pastors is not blasphemy, what is it? Too many are implicitly attributing to God not only exoneration of personal responsibility to try and stop the virtually unprotested, murderous butchery of children, but also divine calling to do effectively nothing but “preach the Word” while the heinous crimes are going on in their midst.
How is this any different from—indeed, how is it not worse than—the behavior of the scribes and Pharisees upon whom Christ pronounced His most stinging rebukes and fearful woes? How is it not defiantly sinful neglect of “the weightier things of the law”—justice, mercy, and faithfulness? How is it not straining at the gnats of serious introspection regarding Christian responsibility, and swallowing the camels of sanctioned infanticide? How is it not blasphemy?
I am stunned beyond words that whereas no evangelical pastor would hesitate to call Andres Serrano’s plastic image of Christ immersed in urine “blasphemy” regardless of the artist’s intent, some still balk to call their own, deliberate silence “blasphemy,” though it results in man, the living flesh-and-blood “image and glory of God” (1 Cor 11:7) being desecrated by immersion in lethal, abortifacient saline. Their own silence is helping to enable the grisly murder of 150 human beings per hour, and it is being justified in the name of God. How is that not blasphemy?
Image copyright Dennis Oppenheim, courtesy of Urban Travel Tales.
Rolley Haggard is an intractable advocate for the imperiled unborn because he loves people and fears the righteous wrath and indignation of Love Personified.