Cultural reform efforts are not primarily about religious doctrine but social justice. – Scott Klusendorf, The Case for Life.
Over sixty years of neo-evangelical leaven has had its effect on American Christianity, and nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the pro-life movement. Today it is difficult, if not impossible, to find pro-life authors and organizations that take seriously the Bible’s commands not to yoke in ministry with unbelievers. On the contrary, ecumenism is the default position of the pro-life community, and woe to any pro-life advocate who fails to toe the ecumenical party line.
Scott Klusendorf is one prominent pro-lifer who attempts to defend the ecumenical position, and his arguments are worth examining. In his book The Case for Life, Klusendorf includes a chapter titled “Here We Stand: Co-Belligerence Without Theological Compromise,” in which Klusendorf sets forth the reasons why, in his view, the pro-life movement, “must be broad-based and inclusive,” rather than narrowly evangelical. There are several problems with Klusendorf’s thinking in this chapter, the first of which is the deliberately misleading language of the chapter title. “Here We Stand” is obviously a reference to the brave words spoken by Martin Luther before the Diet of Worms, and by quoting them Klusendorf is attempting to cloak himself in Luther’s mantel. But his use of these words is simply doublespeak, for Luther uttered these words in the context of distinguishing the truth of the Gospel from the errors of Rome, while Klusendorf, on the other hand, perversely parodies the language of Luther, not for the purpose of distinguishing truth from error, but instead to blur the line between them.
Klusendorf starts off the chapter writing,
Evangelical Christians [as opposed to what, Romanist or Orthodox Christians?] committed to sound doctrine must distinguish themselves theologically from people who reject fundamental truths of the Protestant Reformation. These truths must never be discarded so as to achieve greater unity with non-evangelicals.
That raises an important question: Do evangelicals forsake their core beliefs when they unite with Catholics, Jews and other religious groups to address cultural issues?
For Klusendorf the answer is no. But what does Klusendorf think are the core beliefs of evangelicals? The historic meaning of ‘evangelical’ is someone who believes in the authority of the Bible alone and salvation by faith alone. Romanists, Jews and other religious groups deny these tenants. If the answer to Amos’ rhetorical question, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?,” is no, and it is, then there is no basis for evangelical co-belligerence with these groups.
Let me begin with an observation. Cultural reform efforts are not primarily about religious doctrine but social justice. To work they must be broad and inclusive.
Here, Klusendorf shows a shocking ignorance of what pro-life work actually is. For unlike what he and many other confused evangelicals believe, pro-life ministry is not a work of cultural reform, but an extension of the Great Commission, a command given to Christians only. For in addition to his injunctions to make disciples and baptize, Jesus also ordered his disciples to teach, “all things that I have commanded you,” one of which was God’s prohibition of murder.
There are other fallacious arguments in this short chapter, some of which I hope to address later, but for now it is enough to say in short that Klusendorf’s error is that he separates what he should unite, in order that he may unite what he should separate. He separates pro-life work from the command of the Great Commission, seeing it as something that can be pursued with equal effectiveness by both Baptists and Buddhists, so that he can unite Christians and unbelievers the common cause of pursuing “social justice,” a term frequently used by Marxists and Romanists alike when attempting to justify their long-running war on private property.