Shocking percentage of evangelicals accept abortion — Are silent, culture-pleasing pastors to blame?
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POLL DATA SHOWS ALARMING STATISTICS ABOUT CHRISTIAN ACCEPTANCE OF ABORTION
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, the Pew Research Center just came out with a survey that is rather alarming. It deals with abortion and, specifically, it deals with the acceptance of abortion in a number of evangelical and mainline denominations.
One of the areas that was extremely alarming, Harry, was the Presbyterian Church in America. Members of the PCA are the highest ranked evangelicals in support of legal abortion at 54 percent, according to this survey. Other denominations, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, 46 percent, the Southern Baptist Convention, 30 percent approval.
Harry, there are a number of different percentages across the map. The Presbyterian Church in America in and the Catholic Church are pretty close and what’s interesting about that is both the PCA and the Catholic Church have come out with statements affirming the fact that abortion is wrong, it’s sinful, and we need to do all we can do to prevent it from happening.
DR. REEDER: A very vigorous statement on the sanctity of life in both the Roman Catholic Church and the PCA, which have similar marks. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church has less acceptance of abortion than this Pew Research says that PCA churches have.
TOM LAMPRECHT: Do you think this is an outlier?
DR. REEDER: Tom, I don’t know what to do with it. When I read it, I said, “There’s something got to be wrong here.” And then I got to thinking through it a little bit. The air you breathe in the culture is that abortion ought to be acceptable. Now, the only way that that’s going to be undone is by a vigorous communication of the Word of God in the process of evangelism and discipleship.
The Bible says that we’re to go and make disciples. First of all, we evangelize people to come to Christ and then Jesus says, after they’re baptized and they’re brought into the body of Christ, you are to, “Teach them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Now, that means a number of things, not the least of which would be the Ten Commandments, and of the Ten Commandments, not the least of which would be the commandment “You shall not murder.”
That is exactly what abortion is, yet strangely, our pulpits are silent. Therefore, the people who are professing Christ are not being taught that you come out of a culture of death and, as a Christian, you need to address that. Now, many of our pulpits will address the issue of racism and rightly so; many of them will address the issue of sex trafficking and rightly so, but they’re strangely silent on the matter of sexual ethics and also strangely silent on the matter of the culture of death, both on the abortion side and the euthanasia side.
THE DATA IS TRUSTWORTHY BUT ALARMING
I’ve come to the conclusion this is not an outlier — this actually probably is accurate. First of all, the Pew Research, this is no fly-by-night organization, and they did a lot of work on this and they came up with their analysis that 54 percent of the PCA have come to terms with accepting abortion as a legal fact within our culture, not to be opposed but just to be accepted.
Why is that true? I think it’s true because of the pulpits of the PCA. The pulpits are silent on the matter of abortion because most of those in the pulpit have bought into the fact that the only sins that are safe to confront from the pulpit are those that the culture approves us confronting and those that the culture has already come to terms with, such as abortion and euthanasia, you don’t want to confront those because, if you do, then the people in that culture may not come to your church to hear you.
And that’s “unloving” for you to do that. Well, I would love to sit down and ask them, “Just how loving is it for the inconvenient to be put to death through our ever-expanding euthanasia policy? Just how loving is it for those who are inconvenient at birth?” How is it that our pulpits can be silent on those matters and still say we teach and preach the whole counsel of God?
The Bible tells us to, “Hold fast the faithful word.” The Bible tells us to hold fast the faithful word and to teach and preach the whole counsel of God. Do we primarily communicate those essential truths called the Gospel? Yes. We also communicate all of God’s Word from a Gospel perspective and that includes the commandments, “You shall not murder.” The Bible does say that God created us man — male and female — and therefore how can you be silent in the current transgender ideology that is warping the minds and the hearts of our children if you’re going to be faithful to the Word of God?
WHAT IS THE CAUSE?
What I’m trying to say, Tom, is I think it is accurate. I think the problem in the pew comes from the pulpit and the problem in the pulpit is either a cowardly or misdirected silence on the matters that are facing the culture and the inability to be prophetic in the preaching of the Word of God.
When was the last time your pastor dealt with the subject of Hell from your pulpit? When was the last time he dealt with the subject of abortion from the pulpit? When was the last time he dealt with the subject of euthanasia from the pulpit?
These are expositional sermons that, when you come to the issue of life and the sanctity of life, they apply it into the sins that are being promoted and perpetuated throughout our culture. When was the last time they spoke prophetically to the culture in order to highlight the reality of sin that is destroying men and women and to highlight the reality of sin because you can’t preach the Gospel, good news, without proclaiming the bad news.
The Gospel that Jesus loves you, a sinner — no one is going to be amazed at that love of Christ for me as a sinner until they understand what sin is and you can’t understand what sin is until sins are identified.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, I look at this list of the different denominations and those who support abortion. Presbyterian Church in America 54 percent, Southern Baptist Convention 30 percent, Assemblies of God 26 percent. Assemblies of God have the best numbers but, still, a quarter of the membership of that Bible-believing denomination would support abortion. Where do we go when our evangelical churches are so lost on this issue?
DR. REEDER: Well, of course, we go to prayer first of all. Prayer is that instrument that God uses to accomplish his purposes. And I would pray for my pastor, I would pray for the pulpit, I would pray for the seminaries, that they would start equipping pastors on how to deal with these issues and how to address them effectively within the culture. That’s what I would begin to do.
I wouldn’t stop there — I would challenge the seminaries, “What are you producing to send to our pulpits?” We now have church planters and we now have pastors that are going to pulpits that will not address these issues. Then, secondly, I believe church members need to go to their pastor, “How come we’re not being equipped to handle this issue in our pulpits?”
RECOGNIZING HYPOCRISY AND A CALL TO ACTION
As you went down into the survey and pointed out, two things just stood out to me. First is the Roman Catholic Church, like the PCA Church, has a very clear sanctity of life statement and that abortion is wrong — both of those denominations have a significant number of members that have embraced abortion in opposition to the public statements of the denominations. That tells me the public preachers of the denomination are silent.
Another thing that confronted me is the hypocrisy in the PCA between what its leaders claim to embrace and what they preach and do is even greater than the hypocrisy in the Roman Catholic Church because the numbers of people that have made peace with the abortion percentage-wise is greater even in the PCA than it is in the Roman Catholic Church.
I believe, like almost everything else, it’s a crisis of leadership — leadership that either lacks competency, content or lacks character. Our preachers are much more concerned of getting the applause of the culture and the acceptance of the culture than they are in addressing the issue of sin from the Word of God, which then allows you to address the only antidote to sin, which is the Gospel of saving grace in Jesus Christ.
I can’t speak to other denominations, but I’ll speak to my own. I’ll just ask every PCA pastor, “Explain to me why we’re silent on this matter, the sanctity of life? By the way, while we’re talking, explain to me why ours is any different than the confessing evangelical church in Germany with the Holocaust that they closed their eyes to its reality and closed their mouths to its confrontation?”
We desperately need that prophetic voice in the pulpit if we are to do true evangelism and discipleship.
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.