Chuck Colson, Greg Boyd, and Shane Claiborne recently sat down with Krista Tippett for an interview about the political views of Evangelical Christians. You can watch the video here, or listen to the audio below.
The panel was a tad unbalanced. Greg Boyd and Shane Claiborne both speak from a pacifist position, Chuck Colson from a classic Just War position. Boyd and Claiborne are iconoclasts of the “evangelical” movement. Boyd is an open theist, Claiborne a socialist (at least he sounds like one). I guess you could say that they are pretty atypical as evangelicals go. Chuck Colson alone spoke for the mainstream of the evangelical tradition.
The interviewer was trying to demonstrate that the differences between Boyd, Claiborne, and Colson represent a wider debate that is going on within evangelicalism about politics. At the end of the day, both Claiborne and Boyd are political liberals, while Colson is a conservative. I don’t have any stats on this, but I doubt that politically liberal evangelicals outnumber conservative ones by a 2-1 ratio. But that’s a minor point, I suppose. I do wonder, however, how many evangelicals are really all the sympathetic to the agendas of Boyd and Claiborne.
In any case, what caught my attention in this discussion was the appearance of what is becoming an all too common refrain among those on the evangelical left. Both Boyd and Claiborne are calling evangelicals away from treating abortion as the transcendent moral issue of our time. They both argue that Christians should be working to reduce abortions but that they shouldn’t be expending a lot of energy trying to make it illegal. Colson of course argued that abortion is a transcendent moral issue and that Christians have a responsibility to work against it in the public square and in the voting booth.
Just to give you a sample of the discussion on this point, Greg Boyd says:
“I think a person who puts up a second mortgage up on their house to fund a woman to go full term and to help raise the child is far more pro-life even if she votes for pro-choice than a pro-life person who votes a certain way.”
I think Boyd’s and Claiborne’s position on the abortion issue is totally inadequate and filled will inconsistencies. Of course Evangelicals should be sacrificing to help “fund a woman to go full term.” No one disagrees with that. But that doesn’t mean that Evangelicals can’t also support candidates and laws that would outlaw the unjust killing of innocent people. It’s a false choice to say that we can or should do only one or the other. We should be doing both, which is precisely what the pro-life movement has been doing for decades now through crisis pregnancy centers.
Once again, I remain unconvinced that abortion-on-demand can be treated as just one among many social ills. In America, it is the greatest human rights crisis of our time, and to turn a blind eye to the fact that it is legal in all fifty states to kill a person at any time from 0-9 months gestation is unconscionable.
Boyd and Claiborne are proving themselves to be unreliable guides once again. On this issue, may Colson’s tribe increase.
(HT: Justin Taylor)