The pro-life community has Scripture and history on its side in opposing abortion, theologian Albert Mohler says in a new podcast.
Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., also says he believes “faithful Christians” cannot be pro-choice.
Mohler made the comments while discussing Georgia pastor and U.S. Senate candidate Raphael Warnock, who describes himself as a “pro-choice pastor.” Warnock is pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
“Can religious people be pro-abortion, or in this case using the language that they prefer, ‘pro-choice’? Well, the answer is of course religious people can, but I would argue that consistent Christians cannot,” Mohler said in Monday’s edition of The Briefing. “... I do not believe that one can be a faithful Christian and do anything other than uphold and contend for the dignity and sanctity of every single human life, including the life of the unborn.”
Mohler pushed back on an article in The Hill that argued pro-choice pastors like Warnock have the Bible and history on their side.
“Just consider the fact that the Bible begins with the unconditional affirmation of the fact that every single human being is made in God's image,” Mohler responded. “And then jump from Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 to Genesis 9, where we are told that the very worth of a human being is that every single human being is an image-bearer. … In the Psalter, you have David, in the womb, speaking of God knowing him. … David speaks of God knowing him, knitting him together when he was in his mother's inward parts.
“But it's not just about knowing about David, it's the fact that God knew David. That is to say, David was a person already known by God, the omniscient and omnipotent creator. And David existed only because God intentionally said, ‘Let there be life,’ even in David's mother's womb.”
Theologians who argue the Old Testament supports abortion rights are wrong, Mohler said. He addressed one of the arguments: “What is looked at here is the fact that if you are looking at penalties found in the Old Testament for murder, you'll notice a different penalty when it comes to the murder of someone who is walking on the earth – that is, a person who has been born – and a murder that eventuates in a miscarriage. But that should not be read as to understand that an unborn human being has any less dignity and sanctity of life than anyone else.”
The Christian church has opposed abortion from the beginning, Mohler said. He quoted the Didache, an early Christian document dating to the first century A.D. It addresses abortion.
“The Didache stated that the teaching of the Christian church comes down to the way of life versus the way of death. The way of life commands that Christians shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not murder a child by abortion or commit infanticide,” Mohler said. “Both abortion and infanticide were common in the Roman empire, but Christians were forbidden to murder any child, born or unborn, and the way of life, as the Didache made clear, honors the sanctity of life.”
Leaders in the early church opposed abortion, Mohler said.
“Clement of Alexandria, who lived between 150 and 215, made clear the sin of women who ‘in order to hide their immorality, use abortive drugs, which expel the matter completely dead, abort at the same time their human feelings.’ Tertullian, another early church leader in the years 160 to 240, taught even more comprehensively. Tertullian wrote, ‘For us, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the body for its sustenance.’ ‘To hinder a birth,’ said Tertullian, ‘is just a speedier man-killing.’”
Other early church leaders were pro-life, Mohler said. Those included Athenagoras, Hippolytus, Basil the Great, Ambrose, Jerome, John Chrysostom and Augustine.
Referencing Michael J. Gorman’s book Abortion in the Early Church, Mohler said all Christian writers during the first few centuries opposed abortion.
“There were three important themes that emerged during these early Christian centuries. Number one, the fetus is the creation of God. Number two, abortion is murder. And number three, the judgment of God falls on those guilty of abortion,” Mohler said. “You put those three convictions together, and you find the heart of the Christian pro-life consensus that came together in the United States very clearly in the years after the Supreme Court's Roe V. Wade decision in 1973. That's when the issue of abortion leaped with immediacy and unavoidable urgency into the Christian conscience and particularly the evangelical conscience there during the decade of the 1970s.”
Photo courtesy: ©Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.