Abolitionism is the biblical doctrine of repentance applied to national sin. Originally a term coined in the fight against human slavery, the term has now been adopted by many engaged in the Christian fight against human abortion. This statement seeks to offer clarity on what we mean by abolitionism. We believe that the abolitionist movement can be a powerful tool of the Bride of Christ if it is built on the solid rock of the true gospel of Jesus Christ and orthodox Christianity.
Through the ages, abolitionism has been adopted by many different men and women of diverse theological backgrounds. At different points in history, abolitionism has been adopted by Anglicans, Quakers, Unitarians, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and more. Many of these men and women were orthodox followers of Christ while others adopted heterodox or even heretical ideas that placed them outside of the Christian faith. Though we recognize that theologically errant men and women were active and outspoken abolitionists, we also recognize that many abolitionists of human slavery were faithful and orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ. Furthermore, and most importantly, we recognize that the principles that those faithful stood for were and remain biblical principles.
Today in the fight against abortion it is much the same way. While abolitionism has grown rapidly over the last several years it has remained a diverse and decentralized effort. Dozens of abolitionist societies have been established from Oklahoma to the Czech Republic to New Zealand. Many local churches have adopted abolitionism and a number of influential organizations and ministries have adopted the ideals of abolitionism. Because of the diverse and decentralized nature of abolitionism, we have seen the need to strive for greater unity in Christ and we have, sadly, also seen the need to distance ourselves from self-identifying abolitionists who do not confess orthodox Christianity. Like any statement, this statement will unify and it will divide. It is our hope and prayer that it will unify more than it divides, but we also recognize that although division can be painful, it is also sometimes necessary and God-honoring.
Though we believe that most abolitionists are sincere and faithful believers in Christ, we have some doctrinal concerns. Abolitionism is a doctrine and the abolitionist movement is not an organization. Because of this, there is no theological test in order to engage in abolitionist activism or ministry or identify yourself as an abolitionist. We support grass-roots efforts and the decentralized nature of this community, but we also desire a community of abolitionists that honor God, his Word, and his gospel more fully. There is a need to make clear distinctions between anti-abortion activists who adhere to dangerous and heretical ideas (such as but not limited to, Pelagianism, full preterism, Moral Government Theory, Unitarianism, Open Theism, Seventh Day Adventism, and Roman Catholicism), and abolitionists who rely upon the gospel of Jesus Christ for their work against injustice.
Further, although we affirm that seeking justice and mercy for those being trampled upon is a duty of the Church, we also want to be very clear that our duty is to God first. Though activism and various forms of abolitionist ministry are important and needed, if we are not first dedicated to personal faithfulness to God in our day to day lives, our larger social efforts are in vain. Likewise, if we are not faithful to our families and Christian fellowships, we cannot expect God to bless our efforts in society. As our King said, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Luke 16:10. We are abolitionists because we are Christians first and our identity is always in Christ rather than any righteous action or righteous ministry.
Because of this, we want to offer clarity on the doctrine of abolitionism and the doctrines that form the foundation of abolitionism.
Note on the limitations of this document:
Though the statement does make mention of right practice, it is primarily a doctrinal document. While this is intentional, it also limits the function and purpose of this document. The Statement on Abolitionist Orthodoxy is precisely that. It is a statement centered upon unity in Christ and fundamental adherence to abolitionist principles (immediatism, etc.) What this document does not intend to do is set up a standard of practice or ministerial partnership. Though these factors are not the focus of the statement, we desire to be clear that we affirm that issues such as ecclesiastical membership and methodological standards are important. However, forming standards of ecclesiastical fellowship, ministerial partnership, and methodology is not the purpose of this statement.
Further, outside of the original signers and authors, this statement is open to the public, and we invite all who honestly believe its contents to sign. Therefore, it is impossible to vet all signers, nor would we want to.
Because of these limitations, it could very well be the case that we although we should have union in Christ with fellow signers, it may not be wise, helpful, or sometimes even righteous to partner in ministry with all signers. With that said, it is our hope that these sorts of necessary separation are limited and rare.
I. Biblical & Theological
Abolitionism is based on the truth of Scripture. Primarily, it is based on two doctrines: humans beings created in the image of God and the incarnation of Christ Jesus.
Abolition depends on the sovereign God of providence. His immutable plan for the kingdom of God and his Christ will not be thwarted, as he works in and through his creation to that end. Obedience is ours but the results belong to God.
The gospel is the royal announcement to the world about God acting in the person and work of Jesus to abolish sin, death, and reconcile sinners and the world to himself, just as he graciously planned from eternity, promised throughout Scripture, and achieves within history. It is the gospel, and only the gospel, that will bring solutions to injustice, oppression, and enmity with God. Because of the aforementioned things, abolitionism requires the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Abolitionism affirms that the power to abolish social evils has been given to the Church through the Holy Spirit. Further, abolitionism affirms that the Church has the obligation to be faithful in pursuing justice within society.
V. Immediate & Uncompromising
Abolitionism affirms immediate and uncompromising abolition of abortion. Abolitionism also denies that regulationism is effective or a faithful means of establishing justice.
VI. Abolitionist Orthopraxy
Abolitionism is a doctrine that demands action. Like all of Christian orthodoxy, orthopraxy is a vital element of true faith and understanding.
Pastor, Grace Community Church, Elgin, OK
Trinity Baptist Church, Chickasha, OK
Pastor, Immamuel Baptist Church, Tucumcari, NM
Cross and Crown Church, Warrenton, VA
Elder, Sermon in the Park, Victoria, TX
St. James Anglican Church, Trenton, Ontario
Cross and Crown Church, Warrenton, VA
Elder, Christ Covenant Church, Sweeny, TX
Elder, Cross and Crown Church, Warrenton, VA
Pastor, Life-Giver Church, Windsor, Ontario
Pastor, Harmony Baptist Church, Frankfort, IN