Christianity and Abortion

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World Religions 101 Presentation

World Religions 101 Presentation

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  • 1. ABORTION “ Do all Christian denominations permit abortion?”
  • 2.
    • Abortion
      • “ [Procedures] that result in such termination and expulsion [of an embryo or of a fetus]” (abortion, n.d.)
    • Christian
      • “ One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.” (Christian, n.d.)
    • Denomination
      • “ A large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name and organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy.” (denomination, n.d.)
  • 3.  
  • 4.
    • Humans are “… called to share, by knowledge and love, in God's own life. ” (Roman Catholic Church, 1993, p.356)
      • “ Human life is sacred because … it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator ” (Roman Catholic Church, 1993, p.2258)
    • Therefore Christians are to adhere to the commandment of “Thou shalt not kill.” (Exodus 20:13, NIV)
  • 5.
    • Humans are created in God’s image (Matthews, 2007)
      • “ Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person” (Roman Catholic Church, 1993, p.357)
      • The soul is most especially in God's image (Roman Catholic Church, p.363)
    • St. Thomas Aquinas
      • “… held that God immediately creates the human soul and (at the same time) infuses it into the body … only when the human parents have … produced a material substance that is disposed to receive and to be informed by a human soul . … the rational soul is infused at 40 days for males, and at 90 days for females.” (Haldane and Lee, 2003)
      • “ Consequently it must be said that the soul is in the embryo ; the nutritive soul from the beginning , then the sensitive, lastly the intellectual soul ” ( Summa Theologica , Part 1, Q. 118, reply to objection 2, cited in Sungenis, n.d.)
      • “ the soul develops as the body develops , but, in Thomas’ view , a more primitive human soul and human body are present at the moment of conception .” (Sungenis, n.d.)
  • 6.
    • In 1869 Pope Pius IX replaced the concept of “fetus animatus” and “fetus inanimatus” with “simultaneous animation” the stand that the embryo receives a soul at conception. From then on it was simply referred to as "the fetus" without any distinctions. (Sungenis, n.d.)
    • How are humans viewed from the Protestant point of view?
  • 7.
    • Protestants are also called to adhere to the “Thou shall not kill” commandment, so killing another human being is sin.
    • However according to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC, 2006)
      • Mission? Position on abortion? Religious or pro-choice?
      • A person is considered human only when one takes his/her first breath
        • Genesis 2:7 “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (NIV)
        • Therefore since a fetus has not taken its first breath yet, it is not considered human
      • Also the ability to distinguish good from evil is a characteristic of a person (Simmons, 2001)
        • “ And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” (NIV)
        • Fetuses are not conscious let alone have the ability to distinguish good from evil hence they cannot be considered as a person
      • However this is just one view of group of Protestants and cannot be used to represent all Protestant Churches
  • 8.
    • Presbyterian Church, USA (PCUSA)
      • The Board of Pension of the Presbyterian Church (USA) drafted a Medical Benefits Plan that covers the abortion cost of its members, regardless of the reason the abortion is carried our or the age of the fetus (PCUSA, 2007)
      • Declared that abortion (an artificial or induced termination of pregnancy) is a ethical decision to be made by an individual. (PCUSA, 2007)
    • According to PCUSA abortion “is not morally acceptable for gender selection only or solely to obtain fetal parts for transplantation” (PCUSA, 1992-2006)
    • However according to the Air Jernih Presbyterian Church, Malaysia
      • Pastor Thomas Koshy
        • “… abortion at any stage is the taking of a life which is defined as murder and therefore, sin from the viewpoint of the Bible.” (Koshy, 2007)
    PROTESTANT CHURCHES Views on Abortion
  • 9.
    • Bible Baptist Church (Melton, 1996)
      • Why abortion is not permissible at all:
        • Abortion is an act of murder
          • “ Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been; as infants which never saw light.” (Job 3:16, KJV)
        • Abortion disannuls a plan of God
          • “ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV)
        • Abortion shows a lack of faith
          • “… [Everything] that does not come from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23, NIV)
      • Davis (2006) an evangelical Protestant argues that the consciousness of an embryo does not determine whether or not it is a human, rather it is because God is conscious of the embryo’s humanness that affirms that quality.
    • However, according to the Southern Baptist Convention Resolution on Abortion in 1980
      • Abortion is prohibited “except to save the life of the mother.” (SBCROA, 2007)
      • But in 1989 it made it stricter to only allow abortion “to prevent the imminent death of the mother.” (SBCROA, 2007)
    PROTESTANT CHURCHES Views on Abortion
  • 10.
    • United Methodist Church (UMC, 2004)
      • Abortion is only permitted when:
        • “ [When] the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available”
        • “ [In] the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life”
          • The Church of England (2005)
            • Concluded in a Synod in 1993 that 'Serious foetal handicap' should be interpreted strictly as applying to those conditions where survival is possible only for a very short period.
      • According to the Methodist Conference Statement in 1976, “abortion is always an evil” but may be a lesser evil when compared to situations where “the embryo is grievously handicapped, the pregnancy is the result of rape or the health, mental or physical, of the mother is at risk.” (The Methodist Church, 2004)
    • Although within UMC there is a “(strong ) support for abortion "choice" within the church bureaucracy, and among many bishops” (Meehan, 2005, p. 15), there is a movement within to push the church to a more pro-life position. (Meehan, 2005)
    PROTESTANT CHURCHES Views on Abortion
  • 11.
    • Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
      • A strongly prolife church (Meehan, 2005)
        • Abortion is permissible only when the mother’s life is in danger (LCMS, 1984)
    • However, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) ; the largest Lutheran denomination America:
      • “ approves abortion in several hard cases, without offering much … theological reasoning , and says there should be public funding for poor women's abortions in such cases.” although, they did mention that “ abortion should be only a last-resort option ” (Meehan, 2005, p.22)
    PROTESTANT CHURCHES Views on Abortion
  • 12.
    • “ From its conception, the child has the right to life. Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a "criminal" practice), gravely contrary to the moral law. The Church imposes the canonical penalty of excommunication for this crime against human life.” (Roman Catholic Church, 1993, p. 2322)
      • The stance was derived from various bible passages such as:
        • Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” (NIV)
        • Psalm 139:15 “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth” (NIV)
      • … and writings by early Church Fathers such as:
        • The Didache (a.k.a. the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles): “[You] shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born” (Kirby, 2001)
    ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH Views on Abortion
  • 13.
      • It is further affirmed by John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae (1995) when he mentions that: “ Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo , an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. Furthermore, no one is permitted to ask for this act of killing, either for himself or herself or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly. Nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action” (p. 57) … citing the Declaration on Procured Abortion by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
      • In addition, back in 1965 Pope Paul VI in Gaudium Et Spes labeled abortion and infanticide as “ unspeakable crimes ” (p. 51)
    ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH Views on Abortion
  • 14.
      • However Pope Pius XVII held the principle of the double effect with regards to issues relating to Christian Bioethics such as abortion (Markwell, 2005)
        • "An action with two possible effects, one good and one bad, is morally permitted if the action:
          • (1) is not in itself immoral ,
          • (2) is undertaken only with the intention of achieving the possible good effect, without intending the possible bad effect even though it may be foreseen ,
          • (3) does not bring about the possible good effect by means of the possible bad effect , and
          • (4) is undertaken for a proportionately grave reason ". (Sulmasy & Pellegrino, 1999, cited in Markwell, 2005)
    ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH Views on Abortion
  • 15.  
  • 16.
    • Martin Luther initiated “the breakup of the organizational unity of Western Christendom.” (“Lutheranism”, 2007)
      • Why?
        • Martin Luther protested certain practices of the Roman Catholic Church:
          • Selling Indulgences; i.e. “a remission of the temporal punishment due to sin” (Knight, 2007)
            • Because the Church required a lot money to finance large administrative structures (Spitz, 1982)
      • What happened?
        • Luther published 95 Theses :
          • “ 86. Again: -- "Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?" (Blank, n.d)
    Protestant Reformation
  • 17.
      • When did it happen?
        • 1517 (Matthews, 2007)
      • Where did this occur?
        • Wittenberg, Germany (Matthews, 2007)
      • What happened after?
        • Gave birth to Protestantism; half of Europe turned Protestant (Spitz, 1982)
        • The Five Solas (Wikipedia, 2007)
          • Summarizes the Reformers' basic theological beliefs which seem to be in contradistinction to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of as understood by the Protestants of that era (Wikipedia, 2007)
          • Essential doctrines from the Protestant Reformation
            • “ Sola Scriptura” (Scripture alone)
            • “ Sola Gratia” (Salvation by Grace alone)
            • “ Sola Fide” (Salvation by Faith alone)
            • “ Sola Christus” (Christ alone)
            • “ Sola Deo Gloria” (Glory of God alone).
    Protestant Reformation
  • 18.
    • Sola Scriptura “Only the Bible”
      • The Bible is the Word of God (Nafzger, 1994)
        • “ the Bible is the Word of God and that it does not mislead or deceive” (Nafzger, 1994)
        • “ Luther rejected the notion that an infallible magisterium of the church is necessary for the right interpretation of the Bible. Scripture alone, said Luther, is infallible.” (Nafzger, 1994)
    • The Word of God is passed on in various forms such as “in written form (the Bible) … preaching, spiritual gifts, the church’s worship and other unwritten forms inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit” (Schreck, 1984, p.7)
    • “ Bishops, have been given the charism (or gift) and the responsibility to interpret and correctly teach the word of God , just as in the early church…” (Schreck, 1984, p.50)
    “ Religious traditions have clearly played an important role in the abortion debate.” (Hoffman and Johnson, 2005)
  • 19.
    • Hermeneutics
      • “ the study of the interpretation of words and actions” (Velasquez, 2005, p.475)
    • Thomas Aquinas believed that a text from the bible could have many interpretations and lays the responsibility of interpreting the Bible to the Church . (Velasquez, 2005, p. 476)
    • However Martin Luther only accepted the Bible’s literal meaning , which he claimed to be the true meaning. (Velasquez, 2005, p. 477)
  • 20. Glossary
    • Indulgences “Remissions of temporal punishment for sins that already been pardoned” (Matthew, 2007, p.299)
    • Presbyterian “In the tradition of John Calvin, Presbyterians base their beliefs primarily on the Bible. Governance of the church is through the Presbytery and other elected representatives”. (Matthews, 2007, p.303)
    • Methodist “A member of the church that follows the ‘method’ of John Wesley, former Anglican clergyman. Governance is through Episcopal, that is, through bishops” (Matthews, 2007, p.304)
    • Lutheran “Members of the Protestant denomination based on the teachings of Martin Luther. Their beliefs are based on the Bible rather than on teachings of the church fathers, ecumenical councils, or the pope” (Matthews, 2007, p. 305)
    • Baptist “Members of the Baptist tradition. Adherents are baptized when they are old enough to choose Christ as their savior. Immersion is the preferred, often required, form. Government is by members of each congregation” (Matthews, 2007, p.303)
    • Magisterium ( n. Roman Catholic Church ) “The authority to teach religious doctrine” (The American Heritage Dictionary, 2003)
  • 21. References
  • 22. References