Does It Matter that Evangelicals Became Prolife Recently?
Dudley says he was trying to prove that it is "apparent" that our current views on abortion are merely due to our social/political conservatism, and that this "unacknowledged worldview, and not the Bible" is what we "are actually defending." First he fails to note that progressive evangelicals are also ardently prolife. But second, he simply fails to prove his point even about conservatives. He has only shown that many 1960s evangelicals were pro-choice, and that for some evangelicals the Religious Right played a role in their conversion to pro-life. Points taken. But he fails to appreciate the complexity of human motives and the variety of historical forces that make for large social changes such as this one.
He also thinks he's proven that knowing the historical provenance of an ethical truth in itself makes that truth relative and time bound. This is a philosophical and not a historical assumption, and of course, he's failed to prove it or even discuss it. And yet his essay hinges on whether history and ethics relate to one another like this.
I grant that there are biblical, theological, and ethical arguments about evangelical prolife exegesis worth debating. But I fail to see how this historical argument, especially one cast in such a narrow political way, is germane. It only tells us that there has been a recent change, and assumes that this change was arbitrary and bad. It certainly cannot imagine that we've witnessed recently another stellar historical moment, when one more people finally grasped the preciousness of all human life.
Mark Galli is editor of Christianity Today.