The Spark of Life and the Wish of Death

In-Focus with Sanctify of Life Sunday: 1.20.2013

What is Life?

There are moments that occur during the span of one’s life that often profoundly impact their entire perspective and outlook. One of these moments is undoubtedly, for many people, the viewing of a newborn’s entrance into the world. While many young fathers may run away in terror from such close observation, the impact on their world and the mother’s is indeed, quite tremendous. As the mother labors to bring this little creation into the globe we call Earth, and as the father either watches in stark fear, or grimaces at every groan from the comfort of a waiting room, they all wait for one, singular sound. Here in our western culture, hoards of family members and other relatives will also gather around the door of the delivery room to catch the sound of one special noise. Suddenly, amidst the racket and bustling of a busy hospital, everyone hears what they all have been waiting for. As the delivery room doors swing open, the strong cry of life is heard loud and clear.

Life is really all that is known to the living, and death is only known by those who do not speak. Life is considered marvelous and wonderful. Death is regarded by the vast majority as terrible and dreadful. Yet, in our society we make choices of life and death every day. Millions of couples will create new life this year through sexual intimacy, many “unintentionally.”[1] Millions of new, little babies will enter this world with great hope for the future, yet millions of other little children will be aborted before ever leaving the womb.[2]

One grandmother will survive a massive open heart surgery, while another will have her food and water withheld, ultimately resulting in her death.[3] An irresponsible drunk driver will plow his car into an innocent family’s vehicle ending the life of several small children. Others filled with greed and hate will perform armed robbery on a large bank and victimize several opponents with death. The same day valiant firemen will charge into a burning house and rescue a family from the flames. This year military operations will storm a village killing several enemies, yet also lose some of their own.[4] Terrorists seeking political power will attack a city and attempt to overthrow the local government by force – at the point of a gun. A small Asian village will receive a shipment of vaccinations just in time to save them from a widespread and lethal epidemic.[5]

As one muses over the chivalry, benevolence, and the antithetical atrocities above, why is emotion invoked? Why do we as human beings even care what happens to the poor villager in southern Africa, or the enslaved child in Asia? Some may try to explain away the emotive feelings within, but ultimately such denial cannot be justified. There is real care in our hearts for those who are under duress or abuse. Even the most liberal, naturalistic atheist would seem to have some appreciation for those firemen who save the lives of those around him. Yet, on the same token, that same individual may vociferously promote the abortion of unwanted, unborn children.[6] Perhaps the solution to this strange dichotomy can be made clearer through discovering three prominent views that attempt to answer the question, “What is life?”

 

Just Carbon, Chemical Reactions?

When looking at human life specifically, some are led to believe that the only real, definable difference between us and the Animal Kingdom is a higher level of physical and cognitive development.[7] From that standpoint they then logically move to the position that the singular, relevant reason why human beings should be treated any different than, say for instance, a cow, is because they are members of the species Homo sapiens (humanity).[8] Following his own line of thought, Peter Singer claims that if humanity grants greater significance to itself over and above other life (per say animals etc…) then they could likely be guilty of something similar to the atrocity of white vs. black racial prejudice.[9] He goes on to say he firmly believes that simply being a member of our species is “not morally relevant.”[10] His statements at this point should seem quite outlandish, but one has to wonder how scholars like Singer or Helga Kuhse arrive at such a position.[11]

From a pure naturalistic, rationalistic standpoint such as Singer’s, his ideas make perfect sense, and he is known for proclaiming them relentlessly at times.[12] However, his position stems out of a view which logically does not accept that humans have a soul. He purports that his beliefs come from Utilitarianism[13] or classic utilitarianism, in other words, what best serves the greatest happiness of humanity and the world at large.[14] So, from a utilitarian point of view, he is doing the world a great justice, by freeing it from the moors of burdensome religiosity and hate-filled dogmatism. The actions of the mind or “thoughts” are believed by such naturalists to be simply the connections of the chemical actions of the body. These actions are purely movements of these chemicals as they act and react towards either pain or pleasure.[15] This theory is commonly known as Reductive Physicalism, which essentially means that they have reduced the matter of mind and body (they do not believe in the idea of a soul) to only a physical state. To the naturalists, there is no moral significance to the mind or conscience for it is only bodily functions and responses that control a person’s perception and reception of life. Hence, the mind and body are simply the out workings of the body itself with no outside or special involvement from anything remotely close to a theistic view of God.

For those who hold this view, human “life” is the combination of several factors that convince such proponents of an individual’s worth and quality. Naturalistic philosopher Michael Tooley suggests a list of fifteen key components that relegate life and determine true personhood. Here are a handful of his points of “life,” “(1) the capacity to experience pleasure and/or pain; (2) the capacity for having desires; (3) the capacity for remembering past events; … (5) an awareness of the passage of time; … (9) the property of having mental states that involve propositional attitudes, such as beliefs and desires; … (11) the capacity for reasoning; (12) problem solving ability; … (14) the capacity for using language; (15) the ability to interact socially with others.”[16] This list is a good example of where the logic of pure physicalism will take the thinking person.

If a human is only a highly developed mammal without a soul, then life has to be measured by quality, ability, and experience. After pondering the attributes above given by Tooley, one should wonder if we are all truly life-filled persons when waking up in the morning. In all seriousness, anyone can clearly see that those with congenital birth defects, Down’s syndrome, varying forms of autism, and other abnormalities would not “make the cut” when considering Tooley’s suggested rubric for valued life. For those who purport this view, this is a bitter reality.

 

Body First, Mind Second

Some scholars have suggested a more moderate approach to reductive physicalism and have concluded that the body gives rise to something that deserves its own – the mind. The body is “number one,” but the mind holds a place of validity and importance secondarily.[17] This is known as Non-Reductive Physicalism. Those who purport this theory, like the pure naturalist, tend to hold atheistic or agnostic views of creation, and therefore are hesitant to give any credence to the idea of a soul. Life is the simple composition of body matter and mind action. Eventually as this development of matter matures, the mind also continues to develop into a full “life.” This form of physicalism as defined by some is, in actuality, materialistic monism masquerading as moderate dualism. Robert Pyne does an excellent job describing this interesting mixture:

Some monists find a middle ground between the extremes of materialism and idealism, contending that the common essence of all things is both material and immaterial. From this perspective (“known as dual-aspect monism”), nothing is pure matter (not even rocks) and nothing is pure spirit (not even God). David Steindl-Rast, a Roman Catholic with decidedly New Age (he would say “new paradigm”) leanings, represents this view. He wrote, “For me spirit and matter are two sides of the same coin, two interwoven aspects of reality.”[18]

For a moment this “dual-aspect monism” may seem to give us an answer to our question of life. It places some regard on the immaterial or spirit nature, and also sees the necessity of basic matter and composition.[19] However, by attempting to blend the two aspects of “life” into one essence and substance, it raises a whole field of other theological questions and implications.[20] Will the soul separate from the body at death? Does the body hold control over the spirit? When does the mind or soul reach maturity and render a particular human a whole and valuable person? Ultimately this belief brings one to the conclusion that there is no real eternality, and that death is merely the expiration of that unique yet temporary combination of mind and body.[21]

Determining life only on the basis of physicality has serious ramifications for one’s definition of life. Even though this theory places some importance on mind function, it still derives its basic factor from body matter and development alone. Therefore, from a secular standpoint, this view continues to hold the door wide open to attempts at defining life apart from theism or any eternal value. This view ultimately leads down the very same path as classic physicalism. For this reason, it does not appear to offer any more lasting solutions for the Christian than the first view in the preceding section.

 

Body and Soul, Heart and Mind

After observing two views that apparently seem to lead in similar directions, it will now be our goal to define and discuss a view of life that is as close to a biblical model as possible. Perhaps this will satisfy our curiosity, as well as, give us a solution to our question; “What is Life?” Predominantly in philosophical circles, the final major view in discussion is a theory calledSubstance Dualism.[22] According to this view, the body and mind are two parallel, equal, and necessary components of life. Unlike reductive physicalism, this dualistic approach allows for the utmost appreciation for both facets of humanity – the material and immaterial parts. Distinct from non-reductive physicalism, this view does not place one aspect of a person above another; the mind and body are considered equal in importance. Furthermore, differing from a dual-aspect monism, this rationale does not attempt to blend the body and spirit or mind into one unified substance that is inseparable.[23]

Substance dualism also allows for the sin nature to be played out in the lives of humans fromboth aspects of their humanity. Faithful Christian doctrine believes that all have inherited a sin nature through Adam’s fall (Gen 3:5-24; John 16:8; Rom 1:28; 3:23; 5:6-8, 12-13; 8:7). Therefore, this depravity extends not only to bodily functions, but to all intellect, emotions, and soul. This dualistic approach coincides with this idea of depravity as well as with the doctrine of the eternality of the spirit and the final shedding of the mortal body (Rom 8:23; Phil 3:21).[24]

Life is defined by this basic form of dualism as having two essential, co-equal parts. Life is understood to be the combination of the body (material) and the soul (immaterial). One sees in this man-made system perhaps the closest framework resembling God’s view of humanity as found in His Word.[25] Both aspects of life are fully affected by the total depravity received through Adam, yet both were and are created as good in the image of God (Gen 1:31; 1 Tim 4:4-5).[26] The body and soul are both infinitely valuable to the Lord and therefore must be of infinite value to us.[27] Our emphasis ultimately needs to be on the whole person as created by God, but having this faulty, yet helpful framework to build on is of great assistance.[28] So, if the body and soul together constitute a person who is part of the Imago Dei, and that person is therefore of utmost value; when do the soul and body join to become life?

There are three main theories that attempt to explain how and when the soul joins the body.[29] The first is known as the Pre-existent view of souls. This theory holds that souls exist or live in some type of “previous state” and are then joined to the material body before birth.[30] These souls are believed to be taken out of this storehouse of sinful or neutral souls and then placed within bodies by God or some other force. The terrible implications of this view toward Christian theology, led the early church to deem its theories heretical at the Council of Constantinople in 540 AD.[31] Not only does this view allow for a construed form of reincarnation; it also does not have any scriptural foundation, and thus cannot be accepted by orthodox Christianity.[32]

The second and more orthodox view of the soul and body is known as Creationism. This is not to be confused with the origin of the universe, but simply speaks of the origin of the soul. The creationist view holds that God in His omnipotent power creates individual souls for each new conception on earth, and then places them within each body sometime before birth.[33] This theory is focused on the direct, creative act of God at every point of conception (Gen 2:7; Num 16:22; Heb 12:9). This view is largely held by the Roman Catholic Church, as well as some theologians in the Reformed tradition.[34] They argue that it aptly testifies to the sinless birth of Jesus, by God the Father creating a sinless soul to place within His body. However, this seems to lead us down the road of Gnostic dualism for everyone else considered. Is it the wicked body that contaminates the soul? Or is God creating sinful souls and placing them in bodies at conception or development?

It appears that in order for mankind to be born with a sinful nature, the creationist view would have to state that God is, in fact, creating sin-filled souls in order that he might place them in bodies to be depraved people. This theological nugget is hard to swallow. Or, from a classic Roman Catholic perspective, perhaps God is not creating sinful souls, but rather neutral beings with a clean slate on which to draw their life. Such a view is lucidly Pelagian, but is not a far walk from the tree of creationism.

This view has theological implications that also interfere with the doctrine of original sin and the transfer of depravity down through the ages.[35] For this reason, many protestant theologians ascribe to a third theory, known as Traducianism. Augustus Strong defined this view quite concisely when he wrote, “The human race was immediately created in Adam, and, as respects both body and soul, was propagated from him by natural generation—all souls since Adam being only mediately created by God, as the upholder of the laws of propagation which were originally established by Him.”[36] This definition states three important concepts that help us define the joining of soul and body. First, God is understood as having created the world and set in motion the order of propagation – beginning with Adam. Secondly, through this design of reproduction, souls after Adam are mediately, not immediately “created by God.” Meaning, the Lord has rested from creation and his direct creative acts have been set in motion through the order of His universe. He does create each individual, yet He does so through the process of reproduction He set in motion at the beginning of time.

Through this theory, one is able to explain the carrying on of the sin nature and our depraved, inherited wickedness through Adam. But more importantly, one can also logically see that the joining of soul and body is something that naturally occurs at the point of conception for each individual person. Thus, the person becomes a life at conception through the design of God. While most creationists (especially with the Roman Catholic tradition) also believe that life begins at conception, it appears that traduciansim grants a better explanation for this stance. If God is not placing a soul in the body of an unborn infant at some arbitrary time during development, then it seems corollary, through the traducian view, that the joining occurs at conception. Certainly this is a highly debatable stance, yet notable Christian scholar, Kirby Anderson writes of the same logical connection between traducianism and the unborn.

Psalm 51:5 also supports the traducian view of the origin of the soul. According to this perspective human beings were potentially in Adam (Rom 5:12; Heb 7:9-10) and thus participated in his original sin. The “soulish” part of humans is transferred through conception. Therefore, an unborn baby is morally accountable and thus is fully human.[37]

Life is defined by some as merely physical matter and the chemical reactions of the same. Others seek to define it as a combination of the physical state controlling the subordinate matter of the mind. Yet others, who see the reality of God in the universe, have continued to declare that there is more to mankind than simple biology. Sacred life is that unique creation of God that combines both soul and body through His orderly design of human propagation on earth. This marvelous miracle of our Creator testifies both of his power and wisdom, for we as humans are made in His likeness and image (Gen 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6).[38]

 

What is the Value of a Person?

The questions of value and personhood are the two fundamental hinges on which all other ethical issues pertaining to human life swing. How we define a “person” will define how we handle death, life and every other important bio-ethical decision. Through the eyes of such naturalistic philosophers such as Peter Singer, Helga Kuhse, and Peter Wenz, life is only the essential components of physicality.[39] This view of humanity, logically moves toward the argument for abortion, broad reproductive control, euthanasia, and other forms of life control, because a person truly only exists to have capacity for the giving and receiving of either pain or pleasure.[40]

If a particular result of sexual intercourse, a fetus, becomes a nuisance or inhibits or prohibits a “developed” person from experiencing mature pleasure in life, then that person is believed to have every right to end the cause of their displeasure.[41] It would only be impermissible for someone to carry out these actions if the victim is determined to be another fully developed and functioning person. If this were so, then the displeasured would only at that time be forced to adjust to the change and accept temporary displeasure. However, to such naturalists, the unborn child (or even a young child) is neither fully developed as a person nor a self-functioning member of society, therefore their life should be allowed to expire without any further ramifications or culturally enforced guilt.

Personhood is everything. If the fetus is considered partially human or compartmentally having potential for being a person, then just like the pure naturalist, this purports that defining personhood is humanity’s job. Referring back to Tooley’s suggested rubric for what constitutes life (pg. 7) one can see what humanity has offered for a solution. This solution unfortunately can potentially open the floodgates of a “practical” infanticide for the overall utilitarian benefit and pleasure of our species.[42] The current day follower of Christ should find these theories both startling and grievous. For none of these theories can justifiably be aligned with the tenor of Scripture.

As believers in the Word of God as the Lord’s special revelation to mankind, we are held accountable to perceive the attributes of our God, and walk according to His ways and commands. This doctrine that we as Christians lovingly hold for the glory of the Father, must affect how we value each and every person in this world.

In Psalm 139:13-16, David writes, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it will. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”

In this beautiful ballad, David is succinctly declaring that God knew Him and was with Him even before his first day from the womb. R.C. Sproul notes that in vs. 16 is the “only use of the Hebrew word for embryo found in Scripture – ‘unformed body.’ ”[43] This is very interesting in light of David’s praise of God’s awareness, care, and watchfulness over the very earliest beginnings of David’s life. This certainly appears to point toward personhood at conception. Other examples abound of God’s concern for the unborn and His relegation of them as being true persons. In Jeremiah 1:5 we read, “Before I [the Lord] formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”[44] Here Jeremiah is clearly known and appointed by the Lord, even before conception. God is stating that he was determined as a person with a personal call before he left his mother’s womb. This appears to be pointing us again toward the joining of body and soul at the point of conception or perhaps even at some earlier point.

Upon reflection of verses such as those above, Sproul contends a case for the personhood of the unborn child this way:

 

Even those who do not agree that life begins before birth grant that there is continuity between a child that is conceived and a child that is born. Every child has a past before birth. The issue is this: Was that past personal, or was it impersonal with personhood beginning only at birth? It is clear that in Scripture personhood begins prior to birth: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).[45]

The passage quoted by Sproul in Psalm 51 again gives further credence to the view that our depraved and sinful nature does not begin at some arbitrary time in development, but instead at the very point of conception. If an unborn infant is thus morally responsible in Adam, then it can also be stated that as a moral agent, this child is also fully personal in the sight of God, and should be viewed as such in our opinion as well.

There has been much debate over the reference to varying punishments in Exodus 21:22 for those who injure pregnant women under the Mosaic Law, however, under close scrutiny this verse does not deny the personhood of the unborn, but essentially grants further establishment to this view. Even if one takes a variant view of this verse, the vast weight of Scripture still points very strongly toward personhood at conception.[46] For instance in Amos 1:13, we see God exacting strict and severe judgment on Israel’s neighboring nations, and one particular reason is seen here, “Thus says the Lord, for three transgressions of the sons of Ammon and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their borders.” God is punishing the people of Ammon because they have chosen to treat pregnant women, and ultimately the unborn carelessly merely for their own political gain.

Life is fundamentally precious and valuable to God for it is His very creation. Most importantly, human life from conception to the grave reflects the very likeness of the Creator, His own personal image. Therefore, if personal life is the true creation of God through his orderly, designed universe, then each person young and old, born and unborn, must be cherished, treasured, protected, and defended. To do any less is to disregard the very character of the God we claim to love and serve.

 

A Death Wish: Is the Choice ours to Make?

Abortion. Euthanasia. Two words that are heavily weighted with pain, sweat, tears, debate, controversy, and millions of dollars spent on political movements from every side. Such issues are never going to be settled easily. Emotions rage and the bitter reality of those caught in the middle of such strife can be utterly bewildering. The innocent lives of mothers and children are often held in a wickedly spinning cycle of propaganda and philosophical agenda. Yet, for all of this, we as individual followers of Christ must come to a decision. Will we side with a view of personhood that reflects naturalism and finds little, if any stretched alignment with God’s moral character? Or, we will decide to lovingly and thoughtfully stand firm on the side of personhood beginning at conception?[47]

In the coming years, issues of abortion and euthanasia are not going to dissipate. In fact, they will likely rise in prominence. It is quite possibly that many, many believers will be faced with the grim decision to “pull-the-plug,” “yank the food and water tubes,” or even undergo forced abortions as part of governmental enforcement.[48] The decision to side with a biblical view of life and personhood may become increasingly less popular and those who stand firm are likely to receive some level of persecution for their beliefs.

However, as has been portrayed in this study, there is really no gray area in this matter.[49] Either personhood begins at the conception of life, or it is left up to the determination of physical functions. If God is the giver of life and if He views life as personhood from conception to the grave (as was demonstrated in this work) then we, as His followers, must regard this wondrous creation as sacred and leave the life and death choices up to the God who granted us breath at the beginning of time (Gen 2:7).

 

Conclusion

Through looking at the three major views of life and personhood and carefully coming to a biblical position of what precisely begins at life’s inception at what ends at life’s expiration, it is hoped that the reader has now be equipped with a more thorough basis for believing in the sanctity of human life. Ultimately, the issue is personhood. And arriving at such a stance requires one to take a theological position. As stated previously, life is defined by some as merely physical matter and the chemical reactions of the same. Others seek to define it as a combination of the physical state controlling the subordinate matter of the mind. Yet others, who see the reality of God in the universe, have continued to declare that there is more to mankind than simple biology. Sacred life is that unique creation of God that combines both soul and body through His orderly design of human propagation on earth. This marvelous miracle of our Creator testifies both of His power and wisdom, for we as humans are made in His likeness and image.

Therefore, if personal life is the true creation of God through his orderly, designed universe, then each person young and old, born and unborn, must be cherished, treasured, protected, and defended. To do any less is to disregard the very character of the God we claim to love and serve. May His glory be known and His power be shown in and through our lives for His great praise.

 

FOOTNOTES: 

[1] Kirby Anderson, Christian Ethics in Plain Language (Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2005), 38-9.

[2] Ibid., 38. For further reference, see also: Ronald Munson, Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Medical Ethics, 7th ed. (Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth Learning, 2004), 570-71.

[3] Sadly, this hypothetical statement is all too realistic for the author. Through first-hand experience, he witnessed the battle for life as his grandmother struggled to survive with very little water and no food for more than ten days. She had no written consent for this type of treatment, yet was placed under this care through the will of her husband – the author’s grandfather. Essentially, starvation was forced upon her because they deemed her only partially functional after a major stroke. Even though signs of recovery were in order, all was disregarded for the sake of her “quality of life.” Although complete forgiveness has been extended to the parties responsible for this action, the irony of what constitutes a “functioning” person remains.

[4] The string of statements in this paragraph is not meant to be prophetic, but merely realistic, hypothetical descriptions of the actions that occur every year all around the world.

[5] Again it is stated that these narrative remarks are not intended to be at all prophetic or unsubstantiated statements, but simply the encapsulation of what one is likely to find across news headlines during the course of a year. This, in a sense, can be assumed true for the sake of argument. In regard to the hypotheses of a small Asian village, the author can personally testify to its accuracy. During a five-week mission outreach in southeast India, the author was involved in medical camps that helped stem the tide of a whole variety of physical ailments and lethal diseases.

[6] The term “abortion” is herein defined as the ending of human life before birth. To this hypothetical atheist, those “unborn, unwanted children” are of course not children at all. But would most likely be considered fetuses or collections of developing mass that do not equal a true person, or that cannot be identified as having full-personhood. This point will be discussed in greater depth in the following sections.

[7] Peter Singer, Practical Ethics, 2nd ed. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 86-9.

[8] Ibid., 84-6.

[9] Holly, A Matter of Life and Death: What the Bible Has to Say About Violence in the Pro-Life Movement, 19. Within this text, Holly quotes a large section out of an article written by Peter Singer in the periodical Pediatrics, 72, No.1 (July 1983), 128-29. The author was unable to procure the direct material from this journal, but finds the quote by Holly as verbatim to the words of Singer.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Helga Kuhse, The Sanctity-of-Life Doctrine in Medicine: A Critique (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), 6-20. In this work and in several others written by Kuhse that were observed by the author, it is found that she closely coheres to the same basic fundamental views of humanity and life as those of her close colleague, Peter Singer.

[12] Singer, Practical Ethics, viii-xi.

[13] Munson, Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Medical Ethics, 28.

[14] Singer, Practical Ethics, 90-1.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Michael Tooley, Abortion and Infanticide (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 90-1.

[17] Nathan Holsteen, St103 Class Discussion Notes: Angelology, Anthropology, and Hamartiology (Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 2008), 27.

[18] Robert A. Pyne, “Understanding Christian Theology,” ed. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 689.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Holsteen, St103 Class Discussion Notes: Angelology, Anthropology, and Hamartiology, 27.

[23] Pyne, “Understanding Christian Theology,” 694-5.

[24] This idea of the Christian entering a glorified state and having a new body is undoubtedly a subject that needs to be handled with theological care. It is all too easy to have a heretical belief of Gnostic dualism creep into one’s theology, when speaking of receiving “new bodies.” cf. Ibid., 694. Gnostic dualism purports that the body is “inherently evil” and that it is this wicked, material part of human beings that drives us to sinful behavior.  Such a theology is aberrant from orthodox Christianity, because it is clear that both the body and soul were created good in the sight of God and have been made in His image (Gen 1:31; 1 Tim 4:4-5). Furthermore, the sin nature permeates both the body and soul.

[25] While some may hold to a dualistic approach to life and deny the claims of Christianity, it appears that this framework is the most easily understood and least problematic outline to follow for the theologian.

[26] Scott B. Rae and Paul M. Cox, Bioethics: A Christian Approach in a Pluralistic Age (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans 1999), 130-31. For a further concise definition of the phrase “Image of God” see also: Robert D. Orr, David L. Schiedermayer, and David B. Biebel, Life & Death Decisions: Help in Making Tough Choices About Infertility, Abortion, Birth Defects, and Aids (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), 120.

[27] Schaeffer, Plan for Action: An Action Alternative Handbook For “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” 9-10.

[28] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1998), 554-57.

[29] The reader will find that the usage of the terms “soul” and “spirit” are used interchangeable throughout this paper, although the term “soul” has been preferred in the text for overall unity. These are used interchangeably because it is firmly believed by the author that two separate the two ideas and the resulting trichotomous theory lack biblical support and only serve to create further theological problems. This paper is written from a decidedly dichotomous point of view.

[30] Holsteen, St103 Class Notes on Anthropology: Angelology, Anthropology, and Sin, 59.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Pyne, “Understanding Christian Theology,” 714.

[33] Holsteen, St103 Class Notes on Anthropology: Angelology, Anthropology, and Sin, 60.

[34] Pyne, “Understanding Christian Theology,” 714.

[35] This does not mean that one is outside of orthodox Christian doctrine if they attempt to hold this view. The author simply believes it is not the best theological choice.

[36] Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology: A Compendium Designed for the Use of Theological Students (Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1907), 252.

[37] Anderson, Christian Ethics in Plain Language, 42.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Peter S. Wenz, Abortion Rights as Religious Freedom (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992), 170-81.

[40] Singer, Practical Ethics, 95-100.

[41] Charles R. Swindoll, Sanctity of Life: The Inescapable Issue (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1990), 12. It is a shocking and interesting notation in this text that statistically, 75 percent of all abortions are performed because it was said, “the child would interfere with their [the parent(s)] lives.”

[42] Singer, Practical Ethics, 95-8.

[43] R. C. Sproul, Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1990), 54.

[44] For further reference to God’s thoughts and dealings with the unborn, see also Isaiah 49:15; Luke 1:40-44 etc…

[45] Sproul, Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue, 55.

[46] Ibid., 59.

[47] It is vitally important that we treat all people with dignity and respect, including those who have undergone abortion or who perhaps even perform abortions. Responding with violence against the violence of abortion and euthanasia will only spawn more violence, hatred, and killing. A good exemplar of Godly, moral statesmanship can be found in the historical figure of William Wilberforce, who for decades wisely and carefully fought for the abolishment of slavery in Great Britain. He ultimately succeeded in his efforts and through this we may find hope for the same results as we exert our energy toward saving the lives of the unborn.

[48] Such occurrences are already quite prominent in many places across central Asia and China.

[49] There are no gray areas on the basis of normal situations. However, ectopic pregnancy is one hard case that must be dealt with on a more cautious level. For a biblical and helpful look at this particular issue see: Dumitru Macaila, The Right to Life: The Eastern Orthodox Perspective on Abortion (Salisbury, Mass.: Regina Orthodox Press, 2001), 154-62.

Author: Michael Breznau

:: Who I AM: Husband | Father | Pastor | Speaker | Author | Singer | :: I am a redeemed follower of Jesus, and I'm passionate about inspiring others to follow Him with radical faith. | :: What I DO: I love and pursue knowing the Triune God. I am crazy-in-love with my amazing wife and children. I serve as Staff Pastor and Missions rep for LifeChange Action. Prior to my current role, I had the privilege of serving as the Lead Pastor of North Park Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, MI, and Pastor of Youth and Christian Education at Evangel Baptist Church in Taylor, MI. | :: The Wallpaper: God gave me the opportunity to be trained for ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary, where I completed the Master of Theology program (Th.M in Pastoral Ministries; magna cum laude). I also hold a B.A. in Ministry and Music from North Tennessee Bible Institute & Seminary.

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