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Dwight Schrute 05-21-2019 09:55 AM

When Does Life Begin?
A friend posted this on FB, so it must be completely true. Curious if this article is way off, or closer to the truth than I typically consider.

The question is based on the article below - when does life begin?


Giga Hertz 05-21-2019 05:29 PM

I already found an instant problem with one quote early on in the article:

God does not regard the fetus as a soul, no matter how far gestation has progressed. The Law plainly exacts: “If a man kills any human life he will be put to death” (Lev. 24:17). But according to Exodus 21:22-24, the destruction of the fetus is not a capital offense. … Clearly, then, in contrast to the mother, the fetus is not reckoned as a soul.
First off passage reference in Exodus (as rendered in NLT and ESV at the very least) talks about two men fighting and accidentally hitting a woman causing and causing her to give birth prematurely. Premature births aren't always death sentences for babies - and I would wager it wasn't always the case back then either. Secondly 23 goes onto say "if there is further injury, the punishment must match"; does that imply only for the mother? If the baby's life is actually taken in the process?

Regardless, this is using a passage that clearly talks about something happening by accident to justify intentionally taking the life of a baby. I honestly have not heard a good biblical argument for abortion. Or even what constitutes a life - a lot of people who argue a fetus isn't a life aren't even willing to draw a line on a fetal development chart.

mtlmouth 05-23-2019 10:31 PM

I am personally not interested in getting into a debate about how many days after a woman's last menstrual period a magic instant of ensoulment flips a cosmic switch from "no life" to "life".

I do find this article, and several others like it that I've read in the last year or so, very interesting. Not because of what they say about the Bible, but because of what they say about how we interpret the Bible. There's pretty clear evidence that, prior to about the 1970s, major evangelical leaders and publications often made statements about fetuses that are very different from what their 2019 counterparts would say. As I understand it, that's not attributable to anything new we have learned about how to translate the Bible more accurately, or new revelations about the context in which these verses were written. Rather, it reflects a change in our modern perception of how to understand those verses. I think that's very interesting, and we should consider carefully why and how that change occurred.

Leboman 05-24-2019 07:32 AM

This is basically a list of medical sources claiming that "life" begins at fertilization of the egg. No religion or theology involved.

I've come to the conclusion that the best (and most convincing) arguments against abortion come from science and medicine.

Dwight Schrute 05-24-2019 08:54 AM

Is there any theological merit to the article I referenced? As an example, does Judaism teach that life doesn’t begin until birth? I thought that was kind of a stretch, but want to be open to the possibility that I’m influenced by the culture around me on this.

Leboman 05-24-2019 09:12 AM


Originally Posted by Dwight Schrute (Post 3981061)
Is there any theological merit to the article I referenced? As an example, does Judaism teach that life doesnít begin until birth? I thought that was kind of a stretch, but want to be open to the possibility that Iím influenced by the culture around me on this.

I don't have an answer.

Dwight Schrute 05-24-2019 10:24 AM

I’m not sure, either, really. I’ve heard compelling cases about the OT concept of forgiveness that is different from the NT concept of forgiveness. That is not to say they should be the same, just that I had always envisioned that they were the same and were not. I’m curious about this topic, from an OT perspective, as that seems to be a lot of the material that the article is based from. Just not sure about this one, hoping someone has some feedback / wisdom.

Mara 05-24-2019 10:29 AM

I am curious where this thread will go (and remind everyone to be respectful and charitable in their interpretation of others, please :))

I'd put myself in the category of pro-life, but I certainly think the issue is murkier than evangelicals have believed.

I think this article ignores the fact that medical advancement has led many people to change how they see life in the womb. The increased use of ultrasounds, increased awareness of fetal development, etc. has certainly affected how we view the beginning of life. The article also seems to imply that Christians have always been essentially united on their interpretation of scripture and their stance on when life begins up until the 70s, which isn't really the case either. I don't have time today to do any kind of historical deep-dive but clearly there have always been varied and nuanced views on the issue.

Homer Simpson 06-06-2019 12:29 PM

As regards this question, to a traditional Christian worldview (defined as Roman Catholic and Orthodox, broadly speaking) this Protestant obsession with "what the Bible says" is largely irrelevant. As the article at the beginning of this thread points out, for a significant period of time the Protestant camp considered abortion to be morally acceptable. This is a position that the majority of the Fathers would have considered abhorrent and anathematized.

The consensus of the broader Tradition, however, beginning with the Didache (a document which was considered so authoritative it nearly made it into the New Testament!) is that abortion is murder - as the Didache calls it, part of the 'Way that leads to Death'.

The broader principle at work here, derived from Holy Scripture and fleshed out in the rest of the Tradition (read: 'that which has been handed down' (Greek: paradosis) ... which includes the Scriptures), is that it is not acceptable to kill that which God has made in His image or is in the process of making. Whenever one thinks ensoulment happens, the broader principle at work is that the Living God is doing a fearful and wonderful thing in the womb of a pregnant woman. It is not appropriate to interrupt that work, I would say, unless there is a clear and present danger to the life of the mother.

The other thing to consider is the Christian attitude towards death and dying. Christians must oppose euthanasia because it is wrong to kill, even oneself. We are not a people who embrace death. We are a people who stare death and suffering in the face with the cry, "Christ is risen!". In the face of a difficult labour, or a baby with health problems, or any other suffering, the Christian must stare suffering in the face and by the grace of God, proclaim the risen Christ Who has entered into a senseless death on the Cross and in so doing infused it with ultimate Sense and Meaning, since He is the ultimate Meaning of all things as the Word of God. The Christian must never embrace death: because the Christian has united herself to Him who has conquered Death by His death.

Just my 0.02.

dogfood 11-28-2020 11:02 AM

At 40

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