Archive for June 3rd, 2009

It is with mixed feelings that I read of Sunday’s shooting of George Tiller, one of three American doctors who perform late-term (post 21st week) abortions:

Dr. George Tiller, one of the nation’s few providers of late-term abortions despite decades of protests and attacks, was fatally shot Sunday in a church where he was serving as an usher.

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The doctor’s death was the latest in a string of shootings and bombings over two decades directed against abortion clinics, doctors and staff.

Long a focus of national anti-abortion groups, including a summerlong protest in 1991, Tiller was shot in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church, Stolz said. Tiller’s attorney, Dan Monnat, said Tiller’s wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time.

The slaying of the 67-year-old doctor is “an unspeakable tragedy,” his widow, four children and 10 grandchildren said in a statement. “This is particularly heart-wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace.”

To this point in time, most of the Christian response I’ve heard to this latest act of violence in the war over abortion has been condemning of the shooter – as it should be.   Al Mohler’s response was especially good:

But violence in the name of protesting abortion is immoral, unjustified, and horribly harmful to the pro-life cause.  Now, the premeditated murder of Dr. George Tiller in the foyer of his church is the headline scandal — not the abortions he performed and the cause he represented.

We have no right to take the law into our own hands in an act of criminal violence.  We are not given the right to take this power into our own hands, for God has granted this power to governing authorities.  The horror of abortion cannot be rightly confronted, much less corrected, by means of violence and acts outside the law and lawful means of remedy.  This is not merely a legal technicality — it is a vital test of the morality of the pro-life movement.

He has hit upon both of the key issues, as I see them, with this despicable act – 1) the issue of honoring authority – and putting our trust in God to provide justice; and 2) the issue of hypocrisy displayed by Christians who claim to be pro-life, but commit murder in the name of life.  The first is an issue of failure to love God – because we fail to trust Him and take action into our own hands.  The second is an issue of failure to love our neighbor.

(I have to say that, following the trend of quoting Steve Taylor, I’m reminded of his song “I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good“)

Some Christian commentators, Doug Phillips, are asking some interesting questions, but sometimes not going far enough in their responses – possibly failing at ‘loving your neighbor’:

I conclude with this thought: George Tiller is dead. For whom shall we mourn?

First, we mourn for the many children he murdered whose names will never make headline news, but whose murder were painful, violent, and bloody at the hands of this man. Second, we mourn for the future children who may be killed as a result of the way the pro-abortion movement will capitalize on this unlawful killing. Third, we mourn for a nation that has broken covenant with God, and that is deserving of God’s just wrath for its complicity in child sacrifice.

Finally, our mourning must lead us to prayer for the Church. God forbid that the blood of the innocent would be on our hands. If we would humble ourselves before the Lord and simply refuse to tolerate abortion in our own ranks, who knows what great things might be lawfully done, with God’s blessing, to bring murderers like George Tiller to an appropriate and earthly justice?

Aside from the obvious issue of mixing of Christianity and nationalism, I have to ask “What about Tiller’s family?”  He left behind a wife, four children and ten grandchildren.  What about Tiller, himself?  Make no mistake, he was a despicable man.  He claimed to be Christian and an active member at a Lutheran church, and yet he killed 60,000+ children, oft-times baptizing their corpses before cremating them.  Even so, should we not pray that he received the grace none of us deserve, rather than pray that he receives justice?

The religious movement from which Jesus came, in the Galilee region of first-century Israel, had two main thrusts – Phariseeism and Zealotry – both with identical theology apart from a single key point – The Pharisees believed that God would bring about his kingdom through the obedience of His people, and not through violence, and the Zealots believed that they were called to bring about God’s kingdom as instruments of violence.  In this matter, it is clear that Jesus sided with the Pharisees – even as he condemned their hypocrisy in other matters.

As I search my own soul, I have to say in my heart of hearts I cannot say that I am sorry the Tiller is out of business.  His business was chaos, hypocrisy, death and destruction – as it is with each of us, even if on a smaller scale.  But I must wish – even if I must force myself to wish it – that it would have been God turning his heart, and not man doing it in the name of God.

The kingdom does not come about by our taking the role of God.  It comes about through our humble obedience to Him, and His action in His time.

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