In a historic day for abortion abolitionists, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution to take an uncompromising position towards abortion. This resolution would see abortion treated as murder and include supporting punishment for anyone killing their babies, resulting in wailing and gnashing of teeth from a host of Southern Baptist leaders and personalities deriding its passage, including ERLC chair Josh Wester, Denny Burke, James Merrit, J. D. Greear, Bart Barber, and others.
Though not binding, this is a cataclysmic shift in the way SBC churches view and understand this great evil, which for the last 50 years has accepted and openly supported regulating it rather than abolishing it, with hardly anything to show for it.
Sadly, there were thousands of Southern Baptists who hate the uncompromising stance it has on abortion and voted against it, including many from the Resolution Committee who tried to shut it down. James Silberman of Free the States revealed how it went down:
Near the end of Tuesday’s meeting, abolitionist Bill Ascol – pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Owasso, OK – motioned to override their decision. An astonishing eighty to ninety percent of messengers responded in support of the motion, over the objections of the Resolutions Committee.
This is historic for two reasons. First, according to Ascol, this is the first time that the Resolutions Committee has been overridden in this way since he began attending SBC Annual Meetings in 1979. This demonstrates the immense popular support within the SBC for abolition.
But second – and more importantly – this is the first time that the largest Christian denomination in the United States has ever taken a step toward being a prophetic witness in calling for the immediate abolition of the murder of preborn children. In a pamphlet promoting the resolution produced by Southern Baptists for Abolishing Abortion, they explain that the convention needs to move beyond the moral opinion that abortion is wrong by providing a Godly call for justice to be immediately established
The Pamphlet reads:
And so while it was a day of celebration, the bill didn’t emerge unscathed, as a last-ditch effort to soften the bill by inserting compromise language in one of the resolutions was successful, rendering the resolution somewhat contradictory and neutered in its consistency, but still earth-shattering in terms of the impact and exposure abortion impact will have on the SBC and the rest of the culture.
It does not mean that everyone who voted for it understood it completely, or held deep convictions of comprehension about it, being able to articulate the nuances and differences between this and the previous four or five pro-life resolutions that were passed over the years, but it is now on people’s lips.
In terms of the compromise, Sam Riley of Free The States, the organization that worked with the SBC Pastors to support their resolution, explains how it went wrong and what language dissenters were able to insert and tweak the resolution with:
“An amendment was added to article 14 that added the word “alone” which made that article confusing. The article now reads:
14) RESOLVED, that we will not embrace an incremental approach *alone* to ending abortion because it challenges God’s Lordship over the heart and the conscience, and rejects His call to repent of sin completely and immediately (Gen 3:1; John 8:44; Rom 2:14-15; 2 Corinthians 11:3), and be it further…
This line is internally inconsistent and reads like a typo. The amendment made, attempting to justify incrementalism, renders the article self-contradictory. Most will chalk it up to grammatical error since the rest of the sentence was clearly intended to condemn incrementalism.
To be clear, this was a wicked attempt to justify sin…many didn’t understand exactly what was going on with the amendment…However, many understood exactly the purpose of the amendment, and a good 40% of the room voted against the amendment. That amount of pastors understanding that compromise pro-life bills are wrong is a giant victory.
We came into this doubtful that it would even pass. Three times the Resolutions Committee tried to kill this resolution. Three times they failed, and only succeeded at making one article nonsense. The remaining articles were untouched.
Some of the highlights:
15) RESOLVED, that we affirm that the murder of preborn children is a crime against humanity that must be punished equally under the law, and be it further
(16) RESOLVED, that we humbly confess and lament any complicity in recognizing exceptions that legitimize or regulate abortion, and of any apathy, in not laboring with the power and influence we have to abolish abortion, and be it further
(17) RESOLVED, that as Southern Baptists we will engage, with God’s help, in establishing equal justice and protection for the preborn according to the authority of God’s Word as well as local and federal law, and call upon pastors and leaders to use their God-given gifts of preaching, teaching, and leading with one unified, principled, prophetic voice to abolish abortion, and be it finally
(18) RESOLVED, that, because abolishing abortion is a Great Commission issue, we must call upon governing authorities at all levels to repent and “obey everything that [Christ] has commanded,” exhorting them to bear fruit in keeping with repentance by faithfully executing their responsibilities as God’s servants of justice, and working with all urgency to enact legislation using the full weight of their office to interpose on behalf of the preborn, abolishing abortion immediately, without exception or compromise…
It is a very good day for Christians who love justice. This is a clear statement from the SBC Messengers endorsing immediate, not gradual, abolition. More importantly, thousands were just exposed to the existence of the abolition movement, most of them leaving with reading material detailing the nature of our disagreement with the pro-life movement. That is an incredible victory that we should celebrate.
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