Tag Archives: William Wilberforce

Eric Metaxas endorses Rick Santorum, urges Gingrich and Perry to drop out

Everyone knows Eric Metaxas – he is the author of great biographies of William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The Wall Street Journal is talking about something Eric said on Sunday.

Excerpt:

Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry should drop out of the race before South Carolina’s Saturday primary, prominent conservative author Eric Metaxas said at a Sunday prayer breakfast.

Mr. Metaxas said he was optimistic some of the candidates competing for the state’s conservative voters would take themselves out of contention to allow South Carolinians to coalesce around an alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“It’s more likely that some of these wonderful men that are running will hear God’s voice and get out of the race before Saturday for the good of this country,” Mr. Metaxas, who has endorsed former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum,  said Sunday at a weekend gathering of the South Carolina Republican Party – a day after Mr. Santorum picked up strong support from conservative Christian groups. To be effective, the candidates must drop out before next Saturday’s contest, he said.

“This is the last exit before the bridge,” Mr. Metaxas said in an interview later. “They’ve been dividing the vote and so if they don’t do this now, they will harm the country because they can’t hang on to the bitter end.” Other presidential hopefuls, Texas Rep.Ron Paul and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, are less relevant, Mr. Metaxas said.

Mr. Santorum, who spoke at the breakfast after Mr. Metaxas, did not  explicitly urge other candidates to drop out, but appealed to voters to gather behind him, regardless of his perceived shot at seizing the White House.

“Will the people of South Carolina vote their conscience or will they let people…. tell you who’s the one you should choose because we have to win?” he asked.

Across the pond, Tim Stanley of the UK Telegraph is suggesting something similar.

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Abortion, moral relativism, and the banality of evil

From Life Site News. This is strongly-worded and profound.

Excerpt:

The 20th century political philosopher Hannah Arendt coined the term “banality of evil” when she observed the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann was the very epitome of modern, banal, “nice” evil – an unthinking bureaucrat who, even to the end, could not seem to grasp the enormity of the evil in which he had taken part as a cog in the machine, a mere functionary.

Observers of the Nuremburg trials often commented that many of Eichmann’s fellow Nazis were to all outward appearances perfectly ordinary, bland, modern, well-educated, even cultured men: bureaucrats whose mass murders were committed from a distance with the stroke of a pen, and with the most prosaic and dispassionate of justifications.

We look back on this kind of man with the comfortable assurance that we are observing an undisputed monstrous evil, and are able to see it clearly. That man, those men, clearly ought to have known, and their facades of civilization are not enough to cover their shame. It is not enough, we can say, confident that the world will agree, to like Beethoven and Bach, to read Schiller and enjoy sports and be attentive husbands and fathers. We must know the difference between good and evil, or we are lost, we become those men, those civilized monsters.

I have seen myself, many times, the existence of this new, passionless “nice evil.” I have met it nearly every time I discuss abortion with a member of the “personally opposed but…” culture. These are the “perfectly nice” people who believe that it is perfectly justifiable to murder an innocent infant or helpless old person, and for no other reason than the momentary inconvenience he creates for another. Is there not something even more monstrous about this banal and complacent evil? Is this not the smiling, reasonable face of our worst dystopian nightmares?

Pro-life apologists like to compare our current abortion culture with that of slavery, one of the greatest evils ever perpetrated under (nominally) Christian princes.

In the centuries during which it was practiced, and whole economies were based on it, millions of people lived and prospered on its arrears. Until William Wilberforce forced the British public to look the realities of slavery in the face, it seems probable that the majority of them would, as the saying goes, not wish to own a slave themselves, but would not want to impose their personal beliefs on others. Buy and sell human beings, kidnap and torture and murder them, if your morality says you can. It is none of my business to tell you what to do.

Were these millions “moral monsters”? We are so sure of these evils now, but the question haunts us: why did they not know? And how are we different from them? Should these ordinary people not have instinctively known these evils?

Should they not all have done what Wilberforce finally did? Should there not have been a mass movement of decent, ordinary people against the atrocity of slavery? Why did Wilberforce’s crusade meet with such determined opposition, and take so long to accomplish?

Pro-abortionists de-humanize their victims and then kill them, just so that they can have recreational sex without consequences. This is the “great good” that pro-abortion radicals are fighting for – drunken hook-up sex and self-centered shacking up. They put amusement and entertainment above innocent human lives. Because they are strong, and unborn babies are weak. Their ethic is survival of the fittest. Pro-abortion is pro-selfishness. And they want you to celebrate and subsidize their selfishness, or else.

200,000 pro-lifers march in Washington, D.C. at the 37th annual March for Life

First, we begin with the lovely pro-life ladies. Beautiful!

(Click for larger images)

More photos here, courtesy the Washington Times. (H/T Muddling Towards Maturity)

And even MORE photos here from Newsbusters.

The Washington Times has the story.

Excerpt:

Hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers protested the 37th anniversary of legalized abortion Friday, buoyed by polls and a recent Republican victory in Massachusetts that they said show public opinion may be finally swinging in their favor.

[…]Organizers estimated the crowd at the March for Life to number at least 200,000. A “virtual” march on Washington, hosted by Americans United for Life at http://www.virtualmarchforlife.com, attracted 74,925 “avatars” by late Friday afternoon. The March for Life marks the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

After two hours of speeches from a variety of political and religious leaders, the mostly college-aged crowd marched up Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court under hazy skies in 45-degree weather.

Twenty-one members of Congress each took the podium to celebrate the current woes surrounding the Senate version of President Obama’s health care bill, which opponents say would expand federally subsidized abortion. Due to the surprise election Tuesday of Massachusetts state Sen. Scott Brown to the late Edward M. Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat, Democrats are now one vote shy of the supermajority needed to overcome Republican filibusters.

“The health care bill is dead,” said Rep. Parker Griffith of Alabama, an oncologist who last month switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party. “They may be able to break off a piece or two but it was fundamentally bad.”

“There’s been a huge turn in the country,” said Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican. “Huge majorities are in our favor especially on funding of abortion. A lot of members of Congress have realized that the numbers have shifted.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Spokane, Wash., spoke to the crowd with her 2-year-old son, Cole, draped across her shoulder. Saying the little boy has Down Syndrome, “We get to press the restart button and get the health bill we want,” she said.

Speaking of Republicans, Neil Simpson had a nice comparison of how Republicans and Democrats compare on the issue of abortion. What have they done for the pro-life movement lately?

Congressman Mike Pence

Representative Mike Pence had a nice op-ed on his web site about the pro-life issue. He first reviews everything that Obama is doing to increase the number of abortions that have occured in the United States (50 million since Roe v. Wade), but then he switches to a diffferent line of argument.

Excerpt:

William Wilberforce, a central figure in the fight to end the slave trade in Great Britain, understood that to win a moral victory he needed to persuade the hearts and minds of the people, as well as end public policies that supported the objectionable trade. Wilberforce defeated the slave trade by bringing an end to the financial gains it enjoyed.

If we are going to end abortion we must bring an end to abortion profiteering. And we cannot end abortion in this country so long as the American taxpayer is forced to be the largest financial supporter of abortion.

Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America, performed more than 305,000 abortions in 2007. That same year, Planned Parenthood received hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, either through federal, state or local assistance. This is unacceptable. Now is the time to deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

To that end, I will continue to introduce legislation in Congress that will restrict any federal family planning funds from going to organizations like Planned Parenthood that promote or perform abortions. I will seize every opportunity to bring this proposal before Congress until the people’s House respects the will of the American people and ends taxpayer subsidized abortion.

William Wilberforce committed his life to a cause that would “extinguish every trace of this bloody traffic” in human life and said that “posterity, looking back to the history of these enlightened times will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonor to this country.”

A noble plan, but so far the Democrats keep voting him down. I like his plan because you often hear from some people that we need to transfer more wealth to women who want to become single mothers. But extra-marital sex and single motherhood is not good for children, either. Instead, we need to stop government from subsidizing irresponsible sexual activity. That’s my personal view, anyway. I’m chaste, and one the secondary reasons why I am chaste is so that I do not hurt women or children.

I think that cutting subsidies for Planned Parethood and making women pay every penny for their abortions may cause them to think twice. It also may be a good idea to pass a 300% sales tax on abortions and to force the father to pay for half of the abortion, too. That would get parents involved, for sure. If there’s no more money in it for Planned Parenthood, and no political contributions from Planned Parenthood for the Democrats, then abortion would stop pretty fast.

You can see Mike Pence’s speech here:

I must note that Mike Pence is an evangelical Protestant Christian, as am I, and as is William Wilberforce. But evangelical Protestant Christians are not the only ones who are pro-life.

Check out this quote from the Washington Times article I linked to above:

Three Orthodox Jewish rabbis came on stage to blow a shofar — a ram’s horn used to welcome in the Jewish New Year — and encourage listeners to have more children.

“The selfish liberals are not reproducing,” Brooklyn Rabbi Yehuda Levin said. “We Orthodox Jews are bringing in 7-14 children into a family. You too can have a holy baby.”

Speaking of the nation’s governors, “We have enough killing pharaohs in power,” he said. “Who’ll be the Moses to let our babies grow?”

It’s like everybody is pro-life except for Obama and the Democrats on the secular left. (See Is Obama a pro-life or pro-abortion President?).

What does Obama think about abortion?

President Obama’s statement on Supreme Court’s historic abortion decision. (H/T Muddling Towards Maturity)

Today we recognize the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which affirms every woman’s fundamental constitutional right to choose whether to have an abortion, as well as each American’s right to privacy from government intrusion.  I have, and continue to, support these constitutional rights.

I also remain committed to working with people of good will to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and families, and strengthen the adoption system.

Today and every day, we must strive to ensure that all women have limitless opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

Muddling paraphrases Obama’s statement:

When a baby is detected growing in a mother’s womb, a mother is confronted with a serious choice of whether or not to kill her baby.  Uppermost in a mother’s consideration must be the high probability that a child will limit her opportunities to fulfill her dreams.  That being the case, it is perfectly acceptable to torture and kill the child via a variety of currently employed methods. Priorities are priorities.

I think we as Christians need to make sure that we vote to protect innocent children from violence, although that is NOT what many of us did in the 2008 election by voting for Obama. Please talk to your neighbors about abortion. (See links at the bottom of this post to learn how). By the way, Neil Simpson has a nice post up about whether the Bible supports abortion.

The mainstream media response

The mainstream media are apparently so clueless that they not only do not cover the event, but some of the feminists apparently think that this is a pro-abortion event. Newsbusters notes that CNN’s Rick Sanchez is not able to tell whether the March for LIFE is a pro-life or pro-abortion event. The American Spectator explains how Newsweek also seems to think it is a pro-abortion event. (H/T Nice Deb)

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A hero’s legacy: Happy birthday, William Wilberforce

August 24th was the 250th birthday of the official hero of the Wintery Knight blog, William Wilberforce.

Chuck Colson wrote about it. (H/T Andrew)

Excerpt:

Today marks the 250th birthday of William Wilberforce, the Christian statesman who, for 18 arduous years, led the crusade against the abominable British slave trade. And I can think of no better gift I could give my listeners than to tell you about some of the traits that made Wilberforce a man who profoundly changed history-and whose legacy so profoundly shaped my life.

To speak of Wilberforce is to speak of biblical worldview in action. When Wilberforce, one of the youngest members of Parliament, came to Christ, he contemplated leaving office and becoming a clergyman.

Thankfully, William Pitt, who went on to be Great Britain’s youngest prime minister, convinced him otherwise. In a letter to his dear friend, Pitt wrote: “Surely the principles as well as the practice of Christianity are simple and lead not to meditation only, but to action.”

And indeed, for Wilberforce, Christian faith meant action. He could not stand idly by and see the imago Dei of each person, the image of God, abused. His fiercely unpopular crusade against the slave trade ravaged his health and cost him politically. He endured verbal assaults and was even challenged to a duel by an angry slave-ship captain.

And when the French Revolution began, what had been merely an unpopular position became a dangerous one. As cries of liberty, equality, and fraternity erupted across the Channel, Wilberforce and his fellow abolitionists who believed so strongly in human equality were suddenly viewed with suspicion by the British people.

Nonetheless, Wilberforce persevered year after year. Writing about whether to give up the fight, Wilberforce notes, “a man who fears God is not at liberty” to do so.

What Christianity teaches is that every person in the world was made by God for the purpose of responding freely to him. Your job as a Christian is to help everyone who wants to freely respond to God to do so.

Is the concept of moral obligation intelligible on atheistic materialism?

Commenter ECM sent me this post from Uncommon Descent about the is-ought fallacy, and the difficulties that atheists have grounding morality on worldview in which only material things exist. The post is written by Barry Arrington. He is summarizes an argument based on some of the comments from an earlier post.

Barry introduces two assumptions:

(1) That atheistic naturalism is true.

(2) One can’t infer an “ought” from an “is.” Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.

Given our second assumption, there is nothing in the natural world from which we can infer an “ought.” And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there’s nothing in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action.

This makes sense to me. If only matter exists, and the whole universe is an accident, then where would an atheist get this idea that the current arrangement of matter ought to be any other way? Matter just is. This concept of “ought to be” is totally alien to an atheistic worldview where everything is matter, because moral obligations are non-material.

The article goes on: (I added the number 3)

Add a further uncontroversial assumption: (3) an action is permissible if and only if it’s not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action. This is just the standard inferential scheme for formal deontic logic.

Basically, he is saying that an action is permissible so long as there is no moral obligation against that action. Can you see what’s coming? (I added the number 4)

We’ve conformed to standard principles and inference rules of logic and we’ve started out with assumptions that atheists have conceded. And yet we reach the absurd conclusion: (4) therefore, for any action you care to pick, it’s permissible to perform that action.

And let’s be clear about why this is bad for atheists:

If you’d like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan “if atheism is true, all things are permitted.” For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don’t like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.

Let me just add one more point. How are we supposed to be morally obligated to perform any action if we are pure matter? Meat machines don’t have free will. We would just be strings of dominoes falling forward, with no choice whether to fall or not. And even if we could somehow choose, our choices have no ultimate moral significance.

So, what does morality mean to atheists, then?

A while back, I listed some quotes about morality on atheism, taken from atheists who have actually thought through the consequences of atheism for rational moral behavior.

Here is a quotation from Richard Dawkins:

In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, or any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference… DNA neither knows nor cares. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.

Of course, atheists can sense the objective moral standard that God has built into every person. But their materialist worldview undercuts the meaningfulness of moral values, moral duties and moral accountability. And people just don’t act morally once morality has become irrational for them. Acting morally is hard.

What ends up happening to atheists is that they only do the right thing for pleasure, or to avoid social punishments. Once the pre-supposition of materialism has destroyed the rationality of morality, it becomes impossible for atheists to answer the question “Why be moral?”. Any atheist who continues to act morally is living inconsistently with their own worldview – and that is not sustainable in the long run.

Atheistic assumptions wear down the awareness of the moral law that atheists started out with, so that they begin to advocate for obviously immoral things, like the suppression of freedom of inquiry. Eventually, the guilt becomes so strong that they exchange authentic moral values like chastity and sobriety for cheap narcissistic fads like recycling and yoga.

The case of William Wilberforce

Consider this article from the Wall Street Journal about the abolitionist William Wilberforce.

In fact, William Wilberforce was driven by a version of Christianity that today would be derided as “fundamentalist.”

…William Wilberforce himself, as a student at Cambridge University in the 1770s and as a young member of Parliament soon after, had no more than a nominal sense of faith. Then, in 1785, he began reading evangelical treatises and underwent what he called “the Great Change,” almost dropping out of politics to study for the ministry until friends persuaded him that he could do more good where he was.

And he did a great deal of good…[h]is relentless campaign eventually led Parliament to ban the slave trade, in 1807, and to pass a law shortly after his death in 1833, making the entire institution of slavery illegal. But it is impossible to understand Wilberforce’s long antislavery campaign without seeing it as part of a larger Christian impulse. The man who prodded Parliament so famously also wrote theological tracts, sponsored missionary and charitable works, and fought for what he called the “reformation of manners,” a campaign against vice.

Even during the 18th century, evangelicals were derided as over-emotional “enthusiasts” by their Enlightenment-influenced contemporaries. By the time of Wilberforce’s “great change,” liberal 18th-century theologians had sought to make Christianity more “reasonable,” de-emphasizing sin, salvation and Christ’s divinity in favor of ethics, morality and a rather distant, deistic God. Relatedly, large numbers of ordinary English people, especially among the working classes, had begun drifting away from the tepid Christianity that seemed to prevail. Evangelicalism sought to counter such trends and to reinvigorate Christian belief.

…Perhaps the leading evangelical force of the day was the Methodism of John Wesley: It focused on preaching, the close study of the Bible, communal hymn-singing and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Central to the Methodist project was the notion that good works and charity were essential components of the Christian life. Methodism spawned a vast network of churches and ramified into the evangelical branches of Anglicanism. Nearly all the social-reform movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries–from temperance and soup kitchens to slum settlement houses and prison reform–owe something to Methodism and its related evangelical strains. The campaign against slavery was the most momentous of such reforms and, over time, the most successful.It is thus fitting that John Wesley happened to write his last letter–sent in February 1791, days before his death–to William Wilberforce. Wesley urged Wilberforce to devote himself unstintingly to his antislavery campaign, a “glorious enterprise” that opposed “that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature.” Wesley also urged him to “go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.”

Wesley had begun preaching against slavery 20 years before and in 1774 published an abolitionist tract, “Thoughts on Slavery.” Wilberforce came into contact with the burgeoning antislavery movement in 1787, when he met Thomas Clarkson, an evangelical Anglican who had devoted his life to the abolitionist cause. Two years later, Wilberforce gave his first speech against the slave trade in Parliament.

…This idea of slaving as sin is key. As sociologist Rodney Stark noted in “For the Glory of God” (2003), the abolition of slavery in the West during the 19th century was a uniquely Christian endeavor. When chattel slavery, long absent from Europe, reappeared in imperial form in the 16th and 17th centuries–mostly in response to the need for cheap labor in the New World–the first calls to end the practice came from pious Christians, notably the Quakers. Evangelicals, not least Methodists, quickly joined the cause, and a movement was born.

William Wilberforce believed that slaves were made in the image of God – that they were embodied souls who could be resurrected to eternal life. Wilberforce believed that the purpose of human life is to freely seek God, and to be reconciled with God through Christ. He wanted all men and women to have the opportunity to investigate and respond to God’s self-revelation to them.

Further study

You can read more about Wilberforce’s beliefs here and his public activities here. And you can still see modern-day abolitionists, like Scott Klusendorf, acting out their Christian faith. Only today they’re called pro-lifers.

A good paper by Bill Craig on the problem of rationally grounding prescriptive morality is here.