Conspiracy and Apostasy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bob Crouse   

Sermon Given at Tilden Presbyterian Church in Tilden, IL on 8/9/15

Text: Proverbs 24:1-12, Exodus 21:22-25

Proverbs-24Recently I was looking for a movie to watch and came across one on Amazon from 2001 called Conspiracy. It was listed under the military and war section which I like, but I had never heard of it before and decided to give it a try. Conspiracy is, at least in my opinion, a great piece of cinema, it is one of those movies where all of the aspects come together and instead of just entertainment you get art. It's not a movie with spectacular special effects, or magnificent cinematography and definitely not a film that makes you feel good when it's over.

Conspiracy is based on the single remaining copy of the official minutes taken during the Wannsee Conference which was a meeting of 15 top Nazis. These men were, according to one historian, "The best and brightest of the Reich". Held on January 20, 1942, the meeting was to discuss the implementation of the "final solution" to the "Jewish Problem". Although Hitler had months before he tasked SS Lt. General Reinhard Heydrich with finding a systematic way to get rid of their unwanted citizens, and by that time some mass killings by specialized units were already under way, the full machinery that would be responsible for the holocaust was not yet in place. Not only that, but the plans being developed were being treated with such secrecy that even department heads in the German government did not yet know what was coming. Thus the conference was called to inform the department heads of the plan for the final solution, as well as to get their input on ways to make it more efficient. The meeting was also designed to make it painfully obvious that the SS were now in charge of this endeavor and nothing, not even the government leadership nor existing German law, were going to stand in the way of the holocaust.

At one point about half way through the movie General Heydrich who was running the meeting asked his assistant SS Col Adolph Eichmann, about the results obtained through use of the newly developed gas vans. The vans were large cargo trucks that held between 40 and 100 people in the back compartments which were sealed off and the truck exhaust was pumped into the compartment killing everyone with carbon monoxide. Eichmann replied with a smirk "The bodies come out pink. The gas turns them pink." While saying this some at the table laughed. A few moments later the head of the Ministry of Justice said "The Jews go in red but come out pink. Now that is progress." His comment was met with much laughter and pounding on the table in lieu of applause.

There was something about that scene that really bothered me, which is kind of odd since I really cannot count the number of documentaries and shows that I have watched about WWII, many of which have actual holocaust footage, but that scene just took place in a dining room. For a while I could not understand why that scene stuck with me so badly. Then it hit me. Just the day before I saw something that to me was very parallel to that scene in Conspiracy. But it was not from a movie. Rather, it was something I saw both on the news and internet. It was undercover footage taken inside a Planned Parenthood abortion facility. In the clip, an abortion doctor was performing a dissection of a 10 week old fetus while talking to someone who they thought was from a medical research company looking to buy specimens, but in reality was from a pro-life organization. The doctor talking to the undercover person matter-of-factly said "It's a baby." Then her assistant laughingly said "And another boy!" In my mind those parallels are both stark and unsettling. Since then there have been even more videos with content still more disturbing, things I don't really want to even talk about right now because of the level of vileness. A lot of terrible things have happened since the founding of this nation, but I cannot think of anything that reached the level of evil that is the abortion industry.

But that's just my opinion. I'm just a regular guy. I'm neither a philosopher, nor theologian, nor doctor, nor lawmaker, nor Supreme Court Justice, nor do I speak for an entire congregation let alone denomination, so my opinion is meaningless in regards to the morality of abortion. But although the opinions of far more important people, people in power, people whose actions in regards to abortion can make a practical difference in legality, these people have no more authority than I do to determine abortion's morality. Now I could go on for a good hour and give a valiant defense as to why morality is not subjective to the individual and why there must be an objective, divine reference point. But, fortunately for you I am under a bit of a time constraint so that is not going to happen. Also, since we are all gathered here this morning to worship the same deity who is the giver of that morality and who has made himself known to us through His word, that will not be necessary. Since God is the only one whose opinion actually matters, let's see what he has to say on the issue.

Because the Bible was written between 2000 and 3500 years ago depending on the book, there are a great number of modern issues that are not dealt with specifically. Fortunately, God gave mankind the ability to use our brains to make conclusions based on evidence. So let's look at that evidence and first decide if taking an innocent life is wrong. If it's not, then the discussion ends there and my view is in error. This one is easy as the 6th commandment is about as clear as possible "Do not Murder."

Some might ask what constitutes murder though. Is using lethal force in self-defense murder? What about soldiers on a battlefield? Or a lump of tissue that is just a potential life? This is the Book of Confessions. It is Part I of the 2 parts that make up the constitution for the PC USA, with the second being the Book of Order. In it are 11 statements of faith ranging from the most recent in 1990 all of the way back to the Nicene Creed written in the 4th century AD. It covers not only essential doctrine, but also the basics of reformed theology, what constitutes proper worship etc. If you ever wanted to know what it means to be a Presbyterian this is the place to look and if you become a member or are ordained into any office in the denomination one of the questions asked is if you believe that the Book of Confessions is an accurate exposition of the scriptures. One of the sections, The Westminster Longer Catechism, is a list of 196 questions and answers, 3 of which deal with the 6th commandment. Q136 in entitled What Sins are Forbidden in the 6th Commandment? The answer is "All taking away of the life of ourselves, or of others except in the case of public justice, lawful war or necessary defense. (also forbidden) is The neglecting or withdrawing the lawful or necessary means of preservation of life... and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any."

It's obvious that taking an innocent life is indeed wrong in the eyes of God. The question then becomes is an unborn child, equated the same rights as those that are already born? One argument that many in the pro-choice camp use is that a fetus is just a "potential" life, not a full-fledged one thus an abortion is not ending an actual life. To the Christian it does not matter what either the pro-life or pro-choice groups say in regards to the rights of a fetus, only what God says. Unfortunately the Bible does not explicitly say in one verse the answer to this is X.

The passage we read today from Exodus may seem obscure and does not generally garner much attention. It tends to get lost in the hundreds and hundreds of rules and regulations in the Mosaic Law. But this short passage tells us a tremendous amount about how God views an unborn baby. The reason that I used the NIV as opposed to the RSV is how the Hebrew words are actually used in the original text. The RSV uses the phrase "If the woman has a miscarriage", while the NIV says "if she gives birth prematurely". This is important because the Hebrew word yeled which means child is put with the verb yasa which literally means "to come out." So the original text is referring to the child coming out and these words together almost always refer to a live birth in the Old Testament. There is another Hebrew word that is used elsewhere in Scripture for miscarriage, but it is not used in this case. The specific choice of Hebrew words makes it clear that the command God gave to Moses was in regards to a living baby. This also means that the punishments for injury to an eye or hand or foot, are in reference to the child as well as the mother, and were enforced as such during Old Testament times. The end result of this is that the unborn child is awarded the same rights as anyone else and since their life is worth as much as anyone else, if their life is taken unjustly even prior to birth, the penalty is the same as it is for murder, a life for a life. Literally a soul for a soul in Hebrew. This creates a significant problem for those, especially Christians, that would argue a fetus is just a lump of tissue who is undeserving of the same protections that the rest of us are afforded.

About 2 years ago I discovered that there is a group called The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. It is a group of religious organizations consisting of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Unitarian and Humanist, i.e. atheist, groups for the purpose of pushing a grass roots pro-abortion agenda by lobbying and giving information to individuals, groups and clergy. Their website has a section with sample pro-abortion prayers for a variety of circumstances and faiths, and a section that will soon have sample pro-choice sermons for pastors. There are approximately 30 groups listed as affiliates of the RCRR but two of them really stuck out to me, The Presbyterian Mission Agency and Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options. Now there are quite a few Presbyterian denominations in this country today, but both of those groups, which consequently are the only Presbyterian affiliates, belong to one with which we are all very familiar, the PC USA. Not only are we affiliated with the RCRR, but we were one of the founding members and Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options is a pro-choice group within our own denomination itself.

In the spirit of fairness to those Presbyterians who feel that abortion can be scripturally justified, I would have liked to give you their perspective. However after spending a great deal of time reviewing their arguments and justifications I can't. It's not that I refuse to do so but, I honestly can't make any sense out of it. The crux of their argument seems to be that God gave us the ability to make moral decisions and since we are to be good stewards of what we are given, if one does not feel they can care for a child financially or emotionally, then abortion is, in their mind, a morally acceptable choice but they can't show any actual scripture to support this conclusion. Many of their other arguments however are directly contradicted by Scripture or are incompatible with the historic orthodox Christian view of God. For example, although some lives are ordained by God to happen, such as the Old Testament Kings and prophets or those in the lineage of Jesus, we cannot know that all lives are ordained by God. However this view happens to directly contradict the words of Jesus who said that not even a sparrow falls from the sky without the God's consent. Would it therefore be reasonable to infer that a human would be conceived without any involvement by God?

The Bible tells us that God is abundant in mercy, but even he demanded the death penalty for taking the life of an unborn child. If that is a fitting and just punishment for taking the life of an unborn baby, then what must he think of a society that sanctions the murder of the unborn to the tune of approximately a million a year. Even worse, what must he think of a denomination, a Christian Church whose members are supposed to be as Christ like as possible, who not only have an official policy that consents to abortion on demand, but founds and supports groups who actively campaign to keep abortion legal?

I say the following without any fear that this statement is absolutely true and not an exaggeration in the least, because the historical record unquestionably bears it out. The exact same scientific and philosophical presuppositions that were at the basis of Nazism are virtually identical to those that spurred on the founders of Planned Parenthood. Both were based on an atheistic or in the case of the Nazis a combination of neo-paganism and occult, beliefs. Both held to the concept of eugenics which was a form of evolutionary pseudo-science from the late 19th and early 20th century that believed that you could improve society by finding ways of preventing inferior people from breeding, thereby increasing the overall health of the gene pool. This was accomplished by sterilization and abortions, forced if necessary, and as we know under the Nazis, through extermination. In my opinion there is very little difference between what organizations like Planned Parenthood do in providing abortion on demand when there is no threat to the mother's life and the gas chambers of Auschwitz. In both circumstances, an innocent human life is being ended because it was deemed unnecessary, a burden, an inconvenience, an obstacle to a better life for the party who is responsible for making the decision on life and death. Essentially, the victim is reduced to a pest that needs to be exterminated before it is able to do any more harm to those that are superior to it.

How far is that concept from this nation's founding; the ideas in the Declaration of Independence? Those self-evident truths that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? And of infinitely more importance, how far is that from the stated principles of our faith that say God is the author of both life and death, that God views everyone equally, that God has proclaimed all life is sacred and that God has said it is wrong to not defend the helpless and innocent?

Dr. R.C. Sproul a Presbyterian theologian, professor, and minister in the PCA recently wrote a piece called When Is a Church Not a Church? In this article he discussed how reformed theology views the church as being universal, regardless of denomination or other non-essential differences. However, there are circumstances in which a church's error reaches the level where they, in a state of apostasy are not fit to be part of the true universal church. Dr. Sproul writes "Apostasy occurs when a church leaves its historic moorings, abandons its historic confessional position, and degenerates into a state where either essential Christian truths are blatantly denied or the denial of such truths is widely tolerated. Another test of apostasy is at the moral level. A church becomes apostate de facto when it sanctions and encourages gross and heinous sins. Such practices may be found today in the controversial systems of denominations, such as mainline Episcopalianism and mainline Presbyterianism, both of which have moved away from their historic confessional moorings as well their confessional stands on basic ethical issues."

Did Dr. Sproul overstate his case? I could argue a bit with him, but unfortunately I think there is a great deal of truth in what he wrote. Fortunately there are a great many left in the PCUSA that still hold to time honored orthodoxy, but sadly that can't be said across the board. The Scot's Confession from our Book of Confessions states that Christians should work to "Save the lives of the innocent, to repress tyranny and to defend the oppressed..." and that we are not "to murder or to consent thereto...or to let innocent blood be shed if we can prevent it." That is why I gave this message today. While the denomination's current stance and actions in regards to abortion contradict both scripture and our historical confessions, to remain silent when apostasy is knocking at the door is unacceptable. Nothing is going to change overnight but I for one think it is high time to take our denomination back and restore it to a place where it can reflect the light of Christ and not be stuck in the dark mire that is the corrupted world. The good news however is the same as that of the Gospel. With faith in Christ and repentance, all sins, no matter how egregious, will be forgiven. Let us pray and work towards new reformation for this reformed denomination, one that restores it to the Godly principles on which it was founded. Amen.


Bob Crouse is a Ruling Elder and CRE inquirer in the Tilden Presbyterian Church in Tilden, IL.

 

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