Project Wittenberg

Abortion in Perspective

Part III

A Report of the
Commission on Theology and Church Relations
of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod
as prepared by its Social Concerns Committee

May 1984

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The Theological Perspective

Christians in this country have been blessed with a political heritage and system which acknowledges their need and right to shape their lives in accordance with their religious convictions. Such a blessing is not without its dangers, however, one of which is the tendency to regard religious belief as restricted to the private realm. A proper theological perspective will never acquiesce in the notion that Christian faith can be that narrow. Christian love shapes our understanding of what care and concern, justice and equity, for the neighbor must mean. Christian love moves us to serve the needs of neighbors, and sometimes those needs can be served only in the public sphere. Moreover, the properties protected under the First Amendment, sometimes called the preferred freedoms, are an invitation to speak out in exercise of the privileges these freedoms confer. Thus, the expression of Christian judgment is not only countenanced but invited in a society which believes that public policy should emerge from the clash of opposing views in the public sphere. The framework of this service to the neighbor in society must, of course, be the distinction between the two kingdoms (AC and Ap. XVI), which reflects the distinction between Law and Gospel.

The Bible is not a code book which enables us to dispense with theological and ethical reflection, but Christian belief and action are decisively shaped and governed by Scriptural teaching and narrative. The great Christian truths of creation and redemption, and the dark shadow cast by sin, inform everything Christians say and believe about God's will for human life and the meaning of human personhood. Naturally, these truths remain somewhat abstract as they are stated below in the form of theological principles. They become more concrete as they lead, also below, to ethical reflection. And when they influence the values we share in our families and use in the nurturing of our children, the policies we espouse in the public sphere, and our common life within a worshipping congregation, they cease to be abstract and begin to form Christian character. We offer here four Scriptural principles, with accompanying brief discussion, to assist in the shaping of Christian belief, character, and action.

A. Theological Principles


Though it cannot deal in advance with every imaginable case, ethical reflection seeks to bridge the gap between general statements of Biblical principle and particular actions. As such, it performs a vital and necessary role in Christian theology. The attempt to make precise judgments about right and wrong behavior will always be regarded by some as an unwarranted limiting of Christian freedom. But it is, in fact, the necessary charting of the course of the Christian life, within which course Christians are free to serve their neighbors in the countless ways which love discerns but law can never specify. In that spirit we offer the following ethical reflections with respect to abortion.


This text was converted to ASCII text for Project Wittenberg by Mark A. French, reformatted by Cindy A. Beesley and is in the public domain. You may freely distribute, copy or print this text. Please direct any comments or suggestions to:

Rev. Robert E. Smith
Walther Library
Concordia Theological Seminary.

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