Apologetics · CEC · History · Philosophy · Religion

The Most Important Issue – Bishop David Epps

Once again, I have a wonderful article that was written by Bishop David Epps. Again, I am using a recent article of his to address certain articles that I have written or posted on, and that have been apart of the normal discussion on this blog. The main reason I truly appreciate this artice is because it goes beyond the traditional Evangelical and Protestant arguments concerning abortion, including both word translation study and sources from before Luther and beyond the simple Dogmatic statements of the Roman Catholic Church. Bishop Epps’ weekly articles can be found at: http://www.thecitizen.com/~citizen0/staff_blog/39

Enjoy! JZ Holloway

There are key issues that, for me, stand in importance above all others. Certainly, especially in the last several weeks, the economy is an issue. How and when peace will be brought to Iraq and Afghanistan are important issues. Energy dependence on foreign sources, how immigrants are to be treated, relations with Russia and other nations are issues to be considered. The security of the nation ranks near the top of the issues. But, for me, there is an issue that I simply cannot ignore.

In the last 25 years, some 40-plus million children of American parents have had their lives snuffed out before they ever drew their first breaths. The ending of a healthy child’s life prior to birth is not a political issue. It is a moral one.

The Bible clearly prohibits taking the life of an innocent person. It follows that if the developing baby is a “qualified” member of the human race, these scriptures apply: Deuteronomy 27:25a — “Cursed is he who accepts a bribe to strike down an innocent person.” Proverbs 6:16-19 — “There are six things which the LORD hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood …”

The Bible consistently uses the same word for a “born” or “unborn” baby. This is because the divine Author of the Bible did not recognize a material difference between the two.

In Scripture, there is not some special event when a “human being” becomes a “person.” Rather, he or she is a person from the beginning who goes through growth and development both inside and outside of the womb.

In the New Testament, the Greek word “brephos” is used to describe the unborn, newborns and youth. In Luke 1:44, the word is used to mean unborn baby: “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.”

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word “yeled” is used in the same way. In Exodus 21:22, it means an unborn child: “If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely …” And yet, in other Old Testament usages, it means “youth” or even a teenager.

In the Bible, our worth as a human being or our “personhood” does not depend on how far along on life’s journey we have come. Instead, we are beings who are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Each person is valuable because God created him or her that way. It doesn’t matter whether a person is still in his mother’s womb, a newborn, a toddler, an adolescent, or a senior citizen. Only quite recently has the concept of “personhood” surfaced.

There are some in our society who want to find a developmental stage where they can justify that the fetus is not really a person.

Carl Sagan put that fetal stage at perhaps 6 months, when the cerebral cortex is in place. Only then, he feels, should we confer “personhood” on a fetus.

Such ideas are clearly subjective. It would seem that these discussions of personhood only arose from a need to justify the act of abortion. Certainly, they are not expressed in the Bible.

Quite to the contrary, the Bible story shows that “personhood,” or reaching one’s full potential, comes from knowing God. A person develops and is preserved through his communion with a personal God who reveals Himself to us in love. The Bible consistently links our “personhood” to the time we are formed (conception), or even before in God’s “mind.”

According to the Bible, God knew us prior to our birth: Psalm 139:13-16 — “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 very well. 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.”

Jeremiah 1:5 — “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.”

One politician has said that the historic Church has not had a clear stand on life and abortion. This is simply false:

“Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born” (Letter of Barnabas 19 from 74 AD).

“… And these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion” (The Apocalypse of Peter 25, 137 AD).

“You shall not procure abortion, nor destroy a newborn child” (Didache 2:1 from 150 AD).

“There are some women among you who by drinking special potions extinguish the life of the future human in their very bowels, thus committing murder before they even give birth” (Mark Felix, Christian Lawyer, Octavius chap. 30 from 170 AD).

“The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion” (see Ex. 21:22) Tertullian, 210 AD.

“Now we allow that life begins with conception because we contend that the soul also begins from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does” (Tertullian, Apology 27 from 210 AD).

“The law, moreover enjoins us to bring up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have so done, she will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing humankind” (The Works of Josephus, Flavius Josephus Against Apion, Book II, 25).

Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, or Independent, I cannot cast a vote for a leader that does not recognize the sacredness of life, however weak and powerless that life may be. I cannot, will not, vote for those who condone the abortion of children. The stakes are too high — we reap what we sow. All other issues are secondary.

[Bishop David Epps serves as a bishop to Georgia and Tennessee. He is also the founding pastor of Christ the King Church, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277, between Peachtree City and Newnan. Services are held Sundays at 8 and 10 a.m. Bishop Epps is also the mission pastor of Christ the King Church in Champaign, IL. He may be contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org. Much of this article was drawn from http://www.abortionfacts.com.]

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5 thoughts on “The Most Important Issue – Bishop David Epps

  1. A friend brought up an interesting point, Exodus 21:22-25. Interesting to note that for the act of hurting a woman to cause a miscarriage without harm to anything else the penalty is a fine based on demands of the husband and decision of a judge, but if there harm, presumably to the mother you get the “eye for an eye….” treatment. I’m not discounting the testimony of the Fathers nor teaching of the Church, just think it is interesting that the only place referring to an act that causes a miscarriage, or abortion that the penalty is a fine and not death unless other harm is caused. One cannot discount all of what Bishop Epps mentions, but it would be interesting to see what the Fathers, other commentators or even Rabbinical sources have to say about this.

  2. Quoting the bible as a source is useless in itself, except where it can be verified by objective rationality. Life begins not before, but upon live birth. The decisions regarding a fetus are properly the decision of the parents who were responsible for the conception and must decide then the viability of that fetus as a future human being, and must be left free to make that determination in accordance with their own conscience and beliefs, necessarily taking into consideration their own capabilities as parents responsible for the care of that future child through adulthood.

  3. I think the point of quoting the Bible, or any other religious text has relevance, if only to those people who prescribe to a certain religious belief. If one is going to base their views on their belief system, then quoting, and using that religious text is not only relevant, but mandatory. Also, if one prescribes to a religious belief, to deny your beliefs in decision making, whether in pratical situations or monumental ones, in essence, would be hypocritical to ones belief system, and would mean either one does not truly believe, or one only chooses to “believe” when it is beneficial for them.

  4. Dear Dean Striker:

    Embryos and fetuses are children in fact, not future children, as you wrote on 10/27/08. My source for this assertion is Encyclopedia Brittanica, 1991 (Entry “embryo” in “Micropedia”).

    Your assertion that life begins upon live birth is hard to parse. Fetuses are living, breathing (i.e., beginning to inhale and exhale amniotic fluid) human beings.

    So any conclusions you derive from the 2 faulty premises addressed here are not in conformance with your stated standared of objective rationality, in my opinion.

  5. “Life begins not before, but upon live birth. The decisions regarding a fetus are properly the decision of the parents who were responsible for the conception and must decide then the viability of that fetus as a future human being, and must be left free to make that determination in accordance with their own conscience and beliefs, necessarily taking into consideration their own capabilities as parents responsible for the care of that future child through adulthood.”

    Mr. Striker, I do not expect you to understand but for those in the Christian world to believe your post would be heresy. That is why many view the Bible relevant.

    If a “fetus” as you put it has a beating heart, developed lungs as Ms. Frost said above how can “it” not be alive or how has life not started?

    BB

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