Post-Evangelicals, abortion

Post-Evangelicals’ Precarious Pro-Life Trajectory

on August 14, 2018

A curious division exists among the Religious Left when it comes to the subject of abortion.

The older, lifelong Mainline Protestant folks often tout their pro-choice sentiments openly. Some of their affiliated denominations, like the Presbyterian Church (USA) or the United Church of Christ, blatantly “protect women’s equal and fair access to abortion.”

Alternatively, some of the Religious Left’s newest converts, many former conservative Evangelicals or “post-Evangelicals,” are holding on to their pro-life labels. But for how long will it last?

I’ve mentioned some of these thoughts before on social media and most recently during a podcast interview with apologist Alisa Girard Childers that is yet to be published. These thoughts have been on my mind, especially since the brazen pro-abortion session at Wild Goose Festival last month. So I would like to further process and explore these observations here.

Post-Evangelicals find themselves in a precarious position when it comes to their pro-life labels. Too much anti-abortion talk is an insult to, say, the 44 Religious Left officials who collectively called for continued federal funding of the abortion giant Planned Parenthood or the liberal clergy in Texas who praised abortion as a “God-given right.”

Professing pro-lifers among the Religious Left cannot deny that many of their liberal theological colleagues disagree with them. And for the post-Evangelical crowd who are “evolving” on abortion to appease their new theological (and political) tribe, an open pro-abortion trajectory seems almost inevitable. But for now, post-Evangelicals are claiming to uphold the dignity of unborn life without downright condemning abortion.

Perhaps this is why you’d be hard-pressed to find many in-depth discussions of the inherent dignity and vulnerability of the unborn on popular post-Evangelicals’ blogs and social media feeds. It would also be helpful to hear their thoughts on euthanasia. Will they comment on news reports that Belgium is euthanizing children, as Brandon Showalter reported here?

Sure, popular post-Evangelicals will sporadically mention they’re pro-life in blog posts to inflate their moral authority while simultaneously encouraging readers to vote for a pro-abortion Democratic political nominee. Others only remind us that they are pro-life when they want to criticize the pro-life movement or paint a broad brush stroke of hypocrisy on conservative Christians.

Katelyn Beaty, an author and former managing editor of Christianity Today, astutely noted this tendency among progressive Christians last week.

Post-Evangelical author Rachel Held Evans responded, in part:

Evans shares more thoughts on her “consistent pro-life approach” here:


Frankly, I’m skeptical it’s all a veneer. I would have more respect for progressive Christians’ holistic pro-life approach if they mentioned the dignity of the unborn without caveats or narrative shifts. I’ve only ever heard one—just one—among the Religious Left discuss the sanctity of unborn life without pause or political aims. Kudos to Shane Claiborne for his willingness to do so and in front of the uber-liberal crowd at Wild Goose Festival back in 2016.

Interesting then that just last week the executive director of Claiborne’s Red Letter Christians group, Don Golden, decried “Criminalizing or preventing a woman’s choice” a.k.a. abortion. His remark was in response to a pro-life USA Today op-ed written by Daniel Darling, Vice President of Communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and author of the forthcoming book The Dignity Revolution: Reclaiming God’s Rich Vision for Humanity.

Here is Golden’s Twitter exchange:

Golden went on to tweet:

Ever notice that Progressive Christians publicly call for criminalizing guns and outlawing the death penalty, but when it comes to criminalizing abortion—the murder of innocent life—they back away and shift the narrative away from the vulnerability of the unborn? This was my thought shortly after reading Golden’s remarks.

Post-Evangelicals have not only made a theological shift but a liberal political move too. Their deflections surrounding “criminalizing” the murder of innocent life focus heavily on promoting universal health care and increased entitlement programs, a clever pivot away from the murder of innocent lives in utero.  This helps ease any offense to their pro-abortion theological and political friends and followers.

It seems fair to point out the cracks in many progressive Christians’ pro-life posture. They can and will attempt to create nuance, but there is nothing inherently moral about the murder of the unborn. And as Darling’s new book keenly points out, we cannot separate our social activism from our Christian witness to the world.

I encourage post-Evangelicals to consider the trajectory in which they are headed down. A society that fails to advance the dignity of the most vulnerable for of human life will not possess the ethics necessary to promote human dignity elsewhere.

  1. Comment by Patrick98 on August 14, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    I have heard many members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) say that they wished the denomination had more young people. Over forty years ago the PCUSA embraced abortion as a moral good. There are spiritual laws at work in the universe. If you try to poke God in the nose by saying it is okay to abort and destroy those created in God’s image, then you shouldn’t be surprised at a lack of the generations you have said it is okay to destroy.

  2. Comment by senecagriggs on August 14, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    I frequently comment on a blog that refers to itself as the post evangelical WILDERNESS. I’ve often wondered, why would they rejoice being led into the wilderness? And sooner or later, they all appear just to be another Democratic constituency.

  3. Comment by senecagriggs on August 14, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    A very good article By Al Mohler that explains what happens to churches/denominations when they move towards a progressive view of scripture. Excellent points.

  4. Comment by Phil on August 14, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    Is it any surprise these ‘progressive Christians’ engage in doublespeak? They lie about the Bible so why wouldn’t lie and create confusion on this issue.
    They don’t worship God as revealed in the Bible but different ones including self and of course Marxism and their dishonesty is how they glorify them.

  5. Comment by Shanon on August 14, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    The liberal evangelical does two things: embraces liberal hyper-autonomy and panders to progressive political interests. In Wild Goose, having the sage pro-abortion panelists in one word talk about free choice, then when pressed show their deep hatred of the poor and viewing unborn girls as “acceptable losses” for the high ethic of “choice” is a testament to how deep and perverted the hyper-autonomist desire.

  6. Comment by Liz Hubbard on August 15, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    Ever notice that Right wing Evangelical Christians publicly call for criminalizing abortion, but when it comes to Anti -gun laws which would prevent the murder of precious human life or support for and welcoming refugees—they back away and shift the narrative away from the vulnerability of these precious people? This was my thought shortly after reading this article.

  7. Comment by Mike on August 20, 2018 at 10:38 pm

    Ever notice that Anti-gun laws do not prevent murder, while Anti-abortion laws do prevent murder?

  8. Comment by l on August 17, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Should the USA had gone to war in WWI & II to thwart Hitler’s march across the world? Should the Jews have been exterminated? What should be done in Iraq, Afghanistan and alike? Talk? Maybe one day that will work, but its not now.

    I understand and might even agree with many younger folks on certain ‘wars’, of which they were not actually wars, but then again, there are a myriad of reasons why Iraq, Nam, Korea and such came about and under what ‘agreements’ the US has ‘bounded’ themselves. Remember, all ‘wars’ or ‘skirmishes’ have been under the guise of United Nations at one time or another.

    I am happy to hear that some younger kids are pro-life, but I’m not sure that holds completely true. Even if it does, and they’d like a complete overturning of RVW, being anti-war, gun, etc… is not necessarily compatible with being anti-murder of preborn children in the womb.

  9. Comment by Andrew on August 18, 2018 at 10:38 pm

    What many of these “progressive Christians” also seem to be missing is the fact that Donald Trump has been notibly LESS pro-war than Barack Obama’s.

  10. Comment by David on August 26, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    While scripture does not address abortion directly, there is a reference to causing miscarriage.

    Exodus 21:12 Death is the punishment for murder.

    21:22 “Suppose a pregnant woman suffers a miscarriage as the result of an injury caused by someone who is fighting. If she isn’t badly hurt, the one who injured her must pay whatever fine her husband demands and the judges approve. But if she is seriously injured, the payment will be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, cut for cut, and bruise for bruise.”

    This same differentiation is found in earlier codes of law:

    Hittite Code
    #17 “If anyone causes a free woman to miscarry, [if] it is her tenth month, he shall pay 10 shekels of silver, if it is her fifth month. he shall pay 5 shekels of silver.
    #1 “[If] anyone kills [a man] or a woman in a [quarrel] he shall [bring him] for burial and shall give 4 persons, male or female respectively.”

    Code of Hammurabi
    209. “If a man strike a free-born woman so that she lose her unborn child, he shall pay ten shekels for her loss. If the woman die, his daughter shall be put to death.”

    Causing fetal death was not considered “murder.”

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