TGC and The Failed Pro-Life Movement

by Jason Hinrichs, Co-founder and Editor

Following this response to Joe Carter’s post from The Gospel Coalition, it came to the attention of the editors of The Reformed Collective that some of what was written in this article may have been unnecessarily inflammatory.

Since the publishing of this article, certain choices by the writer have been evaluated by the editors and by Mr. Carter himself. From the title of the post itself to some of the allegations made against Mr. Carter, much has been discussed in public and in private.

If you take the time to read this article, please also take the time to read the comments below of Joe Carter’s rebuttal and Josh Sommer’s response. At the Collective, we cherish and uphold ecumenism within the broadly Evangelical and Reformed community, and recognize that the disagreements we have are in-house disagreements.

While this is the case, it is also important to recognize a writer’s conviction on an issue. The Collective stands firm in allowing writer autonomy in so much that it doesn’t directly contradict the broadly Reformed tradition. This does not mean, however, that the views of an individual reflect the views of the whole.

Let this be an edifying piece and interaction between brothers for all.

In Christ,
Jason Hinrichs

Earlier this morning, Joe Carter of the Gospel Coalition released a post on their website which appeared no less than unsettling. Quoting from Donald Trump during a recent town hall event, Carter points out Trump’s answer to Chris Matthews’ question regarding punishment of women who have abortions.

During a recent town hall forum, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was asked by host Chris Matthews if he thinks there should be “some form of punishment” in the event of a ban on abortion. Trump said, “For the woman? . . . Yeah.” He added that the punishment in question would “have to be determined.”

One would expect The Gospel Coalition, of all places, to actually agree with this answer. Isn’t it Scripturally sound? “You shall not murder.” (Ex. 20:13) If abortion is murder (The Gospel Coalition would agree, I believe) who is committing this murder? Upon who’s shoulders does justice fall? When I initially began reading this article, I had expected Carter to not only support Trump’s initial answer (even though he’s Trump, the first answer was spot on), but I had expected him to support it upon the basis of Scripture.

He did neither…

Not only does Carter disagree with the criminalization of women who have abortions, but in defending why they ought not be criminalized, he never went to Scripture… not once. Here is more from him:

Why Was Trump’s Initial Answer Wrong?

Because abortion has been legal throughout the country for two generations, many pro-lifers have not had to seriously consider the question of why women should not be held criminally liable for having an abortion.
Before we address that question, though, we should first ask whether women who had abortions were treated as criminals prior to the Roe v. Wade decision. The short answer: No, they were not.

No, sir, you have already started on ground made of sinking sand. Does Joe Carter, a writer for the Gospel Coalition, actually believe that’s the first question we should ask here? An appeal to recent history? This has got to be an April fools, right?

It is vividly obvious that Joe Carter has neglected Scripture as his authority, and has sought authority from the American judicial system and the history thereof, instead. This is truly a tragedy.

The boys over at Apologia Radio were right… the pro-life movement is a failure. And, while I had considered it somewhat of a harsh claim initially, I now fully understand where they are coming from.

Even if we agree that the abortionist is the principal in the crime of abortion, shouldn’t the woman who consents to the abortion at least be charged as an accomplice? This question should not be dismissed too readily, for it raises a serious question about justice.
Prior to Roe there were 20 states in which statutes technically made it a crime for the woman to participate in her own abortion. But as Forsythe notes, “these were not enforced or applied against women. There is no record of any prosecution of a woman as an accomplice even in these states.”

Carter then goes a step further in examining whether or not women ought to at least be considered accomplices in the crime of abortion. Well, in short, his answer was no.

Again, he returns to a secularized foundation in order to substantiate his argument, that women should virtually hold no responsibility in the crime of abortion. Joe, I have a question for you, is this how you preach the Gospel? Do you not believe in the authority of Scripture? If you wouldn’t preach the Gospel this way, why would you consider justice, which is God’s, in such a way? In other words, how do you justify divorcing a very moral question from the Gospel itself?

How do you tear it away from the ultimate standard of God’s Law? At best, you have presented a popular, historical opinion here, but you have not appealed to any objective or absolute standard of morality in order to prove your point, nor can you do so until you interact with God’s Word. Carter, now quoting from Frederica Mathews-Green, for support:

The goal of abortion laws is to stop abortion. And the person to stop is not the woman, who may have only one abortion in her life, but the doctor who thinks it a good idea to sit on a stool all day aborting babies. End the abortion business and you end abortion. The suggestion that it’s necessary to punish post-abortion women reveals a taste for vengeance.

Let’s take the second sentence and replace the word “abortion” with the word “murder”. It seems that what this woman does, and Carter by association, is downplay one murder (essentially forgetting about it) in order to pursue the person who has murdered more babies than the other person. How logical is this from a Biblical perspective? “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image…” (Gen. 1:26)

Another issue for me here is their pragmatic approach to the issue. “The goal of abortion laws is to stop abortion.” Well, yeah, but ultimately, as Christians we are seeking to be obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ, not just stop abortion for the sake of stopping abortion. There is a right way to do things, and the Church has a huge responsibility here along with political and influential leaders. We aren’t just trying to “dwindle” abortion away as if we can take it away little by little. We aren’t talking about taxes here, or marijuana dispensaries, we are talking about the slaughter of babies.

Here’s another question, Joe, why can’t both parties be tried? Why does it have to be one or the other? Both are murders by a Biblical standard.

Let’s look at it another way, the abortionist is at work and business is slow (praise God), a pregnant lady is outside deciding what to do in this situation. “Should I have an abortion, or have the baby?” she asks. She eventually decides to have the baby and leaves the area. In another situation, the same lady decides that she wants to have an abortion and thus walks into the clinic to make it happen. Who was the first cause here? Going further, who’s decision does it wind up being in the end?

Hers, Joe… hers. She’s a murderer, a co-conspirator with the doctor. Both ought to experience the judicial sword of the Almighty. (Rom. 13:4)

A person who loves the image of God, the imago dei, can’t look to marred history for answers. The time before Roe v. Wade and the time after Roe v. Wade were equally sinful albeit in various ways. The culture will change, but the Word of God never will.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)

I expected better from Joe Carter. I expected better from The Gospel Coalition.

Co-founder, editor, and contributor of The Reformed Collective. He is a member and pastoral intern at Word of Life Baptist Church, Kansas City, MO. He has co-coordinated the evangelism ministry at Grace Bible Church in San Diego, CA. At present he is pursuing a B.A. in Biblical Studies as well as an M. Div. He currently resides in Overland Park, KS with his wife, Christina.
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