Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Atonement

The etymology of atone: at + on one. But if you know even a tiny amount about Christianity and its tragic history, you know that there is no oneness at all among Christians when this vital and central subject comes up. The very word "atonement" is incredibly divisive.

Millions have been killed ruthlessly, cut down young by sword, pike, and gun, or the results of such religious fighting--all because of this word . A third of all the people in Germany died in the 17th century because of this concept and its related ideas.

So why am I attempting to deal with such a historically destructive and impossibly difficult theological doctrine? Because how one views this doctrine, dramatically affects how one views God, others, and how one will live.

So let's jump into the Grand Canyon or leap to the end of the Cosmos:-)

Enough in my past blogs has already been said about the abyssed divide between Limited Atonement versus Unlimited Atonement, so I won't repeat here but go onto the next step, to better things. Given there is universal atonement in Christ, how and why exactly did God in Jesus bring the miracle about?

Why was Jesus "slain from the foundation of the world"? (Revelation 13:8b) And what could Scripture possibly mean to say Jesus died on the cross before dinosaurs ruled, before even this solar system and earth came to be, long before humans appeared on the scene?
(Ah, and the question of evolution; no I'm not going to pull on that animal "tail" now.)

Being a Friend, I wanted to start with Quaker thinker Robert Barclay's view, but it has been years since I've read in his Apology and I couldn't seem to find a quick answer. (Please rescue me Quaker Theologians;-)

Let us go back to the good Fox himself who was wary of theological notions but had a deep sense of practical biblical doctrine:
"Soon after there was another great meeting of professors, and a captain, whose name was Amor Stoddard, came in. They were discoursing of the blood of Christ; and as they were discoursing of it, I saw, through the immediate opening of the invisible Spirit, the blood of Christ."

"And I cried out among them, and said, 'Do ye not see the blood of Christ? See it in your hearts, to sprinkle your hearts and consciences from dead works, to serve the living God'; for I saw it, the blood of the New Covenant, how it came into the heart."

This startled the professors, who would have the blood only without them, and not in them."

from The Journal of George Fox

Commenting on this and other passages related to the Atonement, the Quaker historian Howard Brinton says:
"This identification of blood and life indicates that we are regenerated, not so much by the death of Christ, as by his life in our hearts...In it symbolic meaning blood represents life...
What was more natural than that Jesus, knowing that his own blood would be shed on the morrow, should refer to the blood of the new covenant foretold by Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31) which was written in the heart.

Like the blood of the old covenant, his blood would create a living bond between God and man. His was to be that third life which would bridge the gap between the divine and the human, overcoming the isolation and estrangement of the human individual. This would be at-one-ment, a uniting of that which had been separated.

So Paul writes: "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace who has made us both one, and broken down the dividing wall of hostility (Eph. 2:13,14)."

from Howard H. Brinton, Friends for 300 Years

In the last two thousand years, a wide variety of other views on the Atonement have been put forward. Here's two interesting outlines naming them:

Problem: We Were Cursed
Solution: Jesus Became a Curse for Us

Problem: We Were Unforgivable Sinners
Solution: Jesus Expiated Our Sin and Gave Us Access to the Father

Problem: God Hated Us As His Enemies
Solution: Jesus Propitiated God and Made Peace Between Us and Him

Problem: We Were in Slavery to Law, Sin, and Death
Solution: Jesus Redeemed and Ransomed Us from Slavery

Problem: We Were Guilty Before the Father
Solution: The Father Justified Us, Declaring Us Innocent in Jesus

Problem: We Were Unrighteous
Solution: The Father Imputed Jesus’ Perfect Righteousness to Us

Problem: We Deserved Eternal Punishment and Forsakenness
Solution: Jesus Was Punished and Forsaken In Our Place (Penal Substitution)

Problem: We Were Under the Dominion of Satan and Death
Solution: Jesus Conquered Satan and Death and Transferred Us Into His Kingdom(Christus Victor)

Problem: We Were Faithless
Solution: Jesus Was Faithful On Our Behalf, Purchased Our Faith, and Taught Us Faithfulness (Christus Exemplar)

Problem: We Were Spiritual Orphans
Solution: The Father Adopted Us in Jesus and Reconciled All Things

Listed on the Web by Darius at (I was unable to find the original source to credit the author. If someone knows the author of this lucid outline let me know. Thanks.)

Here's a second, shorter outline:

Ransom to Satan: This view sees the atonement of Christ as a ransom paid to Satan to purchase man’s freedom and release him from being enslaved to Satan...

Recapitulation Theory: This theory states that the atonement of Christ has reversed the course of mankind from disobedience to obedience...

Dramatic Theory: This view sees the atonement of Christ as securing the victory in a divine conflict between good and evil and winning man’s release from bondage to Satan...

Mystical Theory: The mystical theory sees the atonement of Christ as a triumph over His own sinful nature through the power of the Holy Spirit...

Moral Influence Theory: This is the belief that the atonement of Christ is a demonstration of God’s love which causes man’s heart to soften and repent...

Example Theory: This view sees the atonement of Christ as simply providing an example of faith and obedience to inspire man to be obedient to God...

Commercial Theory: The commercial theory views the atonement of Christ as bringing infinite honor to God. This resulted in God giving Christ a reward which He did not need, and Christ passed that reward on to man...

Governmental Theory: This view sees the atonement of Christ as demonstrating God’s high regard for His law and His attitude toward sin...

Penal Substitution Theory: This theory sees the atonement of Christ as being a vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice that satisfied the demands of God’s justice upon sin...

From (No author listed)

Other views or ones with different names:
Scapegoating, Satisfaction, Covenant, Hilasmos, Pardon, Warfare Motif, Community, etc.

Here's part of a Quaker reflection by Bill Clendineng (Plainfield Friends Meeting):

"For early Quakers atonement was not an external transaction, but an inner experience of what George Fox called the “true Cross,”. Christ is the type, allowing himself to be put to death on the cross, so that we can experience the antitype by allowing all that is outward to be put to death in us.

Barclay refers to the description of atonement in 1 Peter 2:21-24: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (KJV). The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is a demonstration of the power of God over the power of sin. We experience this power by following Christ to the true cross within."

In contemporary theological categories, early Friends would fit into the “moral example” understanding of atonement, with some qualification. Atonement for Friends was not just a theological concept. Following Jesus to the cross meant a radical personal transformation. Nothing could ever be the same again.

Religious symbols and rules (“voluntary humility”) fade into the background when living in Christ’s kingdom (“the regeneration”). Shewen describes that radical transformation in his “Meditations & Experiences.”

Check out Bill's full blog at

What is my own conclusion? I reject totally the view that Jesus had to die because God couldn't forgive humans unless he did. Not only does such a view severely limit God, but it demeans and distorts the character of God--his total holiness, absolute goodness, incredible mercy, and limitless love.

According to I John, God is love. Jesus repeatedly emphasized God is love--metaphorically, a father who loves all humans with limitless love, even loving the most heinous of us.

I find much appealing in a number of the good views. But to tell you the truth, I don't know which one is the sole Truth. I'm much more concerned with the "soul Truth."

This isn't meant to be a cop out. I am writing about the Atonement because it is so central to faith, but I don't have the spiritual maturity or the intellectual genius to know which view is the most true, or the only true.

Besides, at least in my limited understanding, the theories of the Atonement (and for that matter all theology) seem analogical, symbolic and poetic,--not literal prose, not factual, not abstract propositions (except for some theologians who try to bottle the Wind).

Furthermore, if deep-thinking Christians over nearly 2,000 years of theological speculation haven't been able to agree, and have come up with so many very different, and at times contrary, theories, there seems to be a question of whether we are meant to narrow our view to only one method.

Indeed, since the wonder of the Atonement is so limitless, maybe God encourages us instead to wrestle with the great miracle and be moved to love God more and more.

Besides, I am much more concerned with the practical results of the Atonement than with theory. Like the early Friends, I want to deeply experience and live in and for Christ much more than I want to theorize.

Having worked in various social capacities from mental hospital care worker to high school teacher and in many manual labor jobs as well, and having read too many depressing books of academic history, I am very aware of the evil that pervades humans within and without. And even if I had avoided reading about all the evil of history and not seen sin played out in many families' lives, there is still the cussed sin and selfishness in my own life.

Even if no one else ever needed the Atonement--the loving, reconciling, merciful action of God--I certainly did. And am so thankful God loved us universally with an eternal love.

My prayer is that more and more we could live in such a way as to draw the seeking, the lost, the needy, and the rebellious--all individuals everywhere--into God's eternal, limitless Ocean of Light.

In glad tidings,

Daniel Wilcox

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Who Is Jesus the Christ?

Who is this Jesus that the Nebraska village kid accepted into his life at eight years of age, the historical figure who many millions have allegedly turned to and sought to follow in the last 2000 years?

Tragically, like so many other words, "Jesus" has come to mean almost anything--another semantic empty bucket to be filled by human speakers whether with silver or slop or manure. The first thing which comes to mind is how Jesus gets used for excitement, frustration, anger--"Jesus F. Christ! Look what that idiot driver just did!

Such cursed meaning grieves deep. Think how we would feel if every time someone got frustrated they used the name of our sweetheart as an expletive.

My earliest memories of Jesus aren't from some creedal statement. I don't know if this is normal for being a kid or because I didn't grow up in a creedal church. We were American Baptists, my father a serious pastor of a small village church of probably about 30-40 town people and farmers. What first comes to mind now are the pictures of Jesus from the walls of the church and our parsonage and from Vacation Bible School. Jesus was my savior, my shepherd, my friend...yes there were those warm pietistic hymns I so loved..."What a Friend We Have in Jesus," "Shepherd Like a"..."Leaning on the Everlasting Arms"..."Nothing but the Blood of Jesus"...In this indifferent, sometimes hostile world, I knew Jesus cared for us--he loved me so much that even if I had been the only sinner in the whole world, he would have died for me. "The Wonder of It All"...another great song rises out of my memory.

Even when I reached my teens and began to seriously abstract and to consider complex doctrine, I never could find a home in the doctrine of the Trinity. I, of course, as a good Baptist accepted the concept, but it seemed unreal. Jesus, as Son of God, I could understand. And God as Father...And the Spirit was God's influence here and now, his inner presence within us, guiding us, correcting us.

Indeed, to me that is the wonder of the Friends way of viewing all of this; its key phrase is "that of God" in each person--the Spirit/Light of God either wooing those still prodigal and lost, or guiding ones now seeking and following. So God (Ultimate Reality) isn't a group of fickle supreme beings or impersonal Fate (like the Greeks), not an animal or an urge (like other pagan religions) or Chance, Energy, and Matter (like modern Non-Theism).

No, Humanity--in their essence--is the image of True Reality. To most Friends for the last 360 years, Jesus, the Christ, is the true Image of the invisible God, the Ultimate Reality beyond our finite minds' ability to intellectually grasp. This is what the Incarnation is all about--not some abstract theological doctrine--but that Ultimate Reality is revealed in the life of a common laborer born in a despised backward corner of the Roman empire, illegitimate in birth, rejected by family and community, and finally executed by the political and religious leadership as a dangerous revolutionary.

The strangest of all quandaries, however, is how did this Son of Man--both a term emphasizing his common humanity with all humans and his prophetic supernatural reality, one who showed great compassion to all types of individuals caught in their sinful ways, from the rich and famous to the poor and despised--come to be the poster boy for endless forms of war, oppression, cruelty, torture, slavery, intolerance, discrimination, prejudice, and unkindness?! 2,000 years worth of mostly horrible abyssed distortion and going very strong now as many modern Christians continue to wax intellectual about Jesus being the Son of an amoral god of powerful sovereignty who destroys most humans for his own glory.

I suppose all of this is the strongest reason to consider whether maybe there is no meaning or purpose to the cosmos--that the nontheists are right--that Jesus was one deluded Jew, pathetically wrong. And we humans are here only briefly and absurdly alone in an indifferent cosmos going no where for no purpose, as Bertrand Russell said--from darkness to darkness.

Only of course, I didn't choose such a path, nor many of the other human ways of perceiving existence, nor do I now. Despite the naysayers and twisters of all types, I still respond to the love of Ultimate Reality revealed in Yeshua, the Chosen One.

Next, we will consider the issue of the Atonement.

In the Light,

Daniel Wilcox

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Nature of Conception and Childhood

My earliest recollections of life are of excitement, mystery, and joyfulness. I personally don't see how so many Christians can think babies are born sinful, that little children are full of original sin.

When our own first son, while still in the womb, used his feet to kick out bulges in the side of my wife's rotund stomach, I never once, not in the wildest imagination ever thought, let alone said, "There's our sinful pre-born baby, pre-ordained to be totally depraved..."

And I don't know any traditional Christians, not even any fundamentalists, who actually treat their new born babies as sinful, yet so many Christian leaders claim babies are "wicked sinners." In one famous Christian apologetic book, a Christian theologian explained the reason millions of babies die in infancy is because they are innate sinners.

Contrast this theological view with Jesus' way. When the disciples tried to keep children from coming to Jesus, he didn't say, "Don't bring the sinners any closer!"

He said instead, "Let the little children come to me, and stop keeping them away, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people like these."

Doesn't sound like Jesus thought little children were totally depraved.

Yes, I know there are a few verses in the Scripture one must deal with such as Psalm 51:5 "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." I suppose that verse might be the one that allegedly led Augustine to think a man's semen transferred original sin to a conceived infant.

However, keep in mind that the Psalms are poetry! In poetry, then as now, hyperbole is often used. Have you ever said, "I'm starving!" when you hadn't eaten for half a day?

One of my mom's favorite phrases was "There's no rest for the wicked." She wasn't making an obtuse theological statement but poetically declaring it is important work hard in life. She certainly didn't think my sister and I were wicked, but that sometimes we didn't work as hard as we ought. Her comment had nothing to do with our spiritual or moral inner nature.

Even, if one dismisses the hyperbole argument (which is my own view; I taught literature for 26 years and am a published poet who loves to use hyperbole), a person still needs to be awfully careful of taking every word in the Bible as eternal truth, as a literal command, especially in the O.T. Consider the countless humans who have read the Abraham and Isaac story and sacrificed their own child because they erroneously thought God wanted them to do so. This tragically happened just last year back in Indiana or Ohio. The mother believed God would raise her little girl back to life if she had enough faith and killed her (like she thought God had told Abraham to do to Isaac)!

Babies are born innocent--natural. While conscious, a baby doesn't have a developed self-awareness, wherein he/she chooses to defy God and to hurt others.

Of course, when we grow, we do discover our finiteness. We then become aware of our self-focus and how our desires have no seeming limit. We then enter a stage where we are more than natural--and two opposite ways beckon. We are tempted toward selfishness. And yet we too sense our deep desire for the Ultimate--for truth, goodness, and love. How we respond shapes our lives. We are given the choice to respond to the wooing of Love or to choose our own selfish way even if it hurts others and ignores the Truth. And depending on our own culture and family some of us grow up potentially capable of more good or more evil.

Scripture from Genesis to Revelation emphasizes that we as humans should choose. I am aware of the few problematic verses which seem to posit God as an amoral supreme being who manipulates humans like unwanted pots. But the general trend of the Bible is God as mercy, as God as father, God as love--God who chooses us, not in order to damn others, but to bless all nations.

When a child, I don't ever remember thinking of God as an almighty sovereign who treats us kids as sinful objects created for destruction. In fact I've never met a child who thought of God in such a way, though I suppose it is possible there are children who think thus. More likely the view of babies as "totally depraved" comes from adults' philosophical/theological analyzing--and terribly misguided thinking that is.

About the age of 7, I came to what some Christians term "the age of accountability."--when a child reaches a moral awareness, an awareness that he/she, as good and precious as he/she is, has still "missed the mark,' that he/she has fallen short of all one could and should be.

I became aware that I was sometimes selfish, sometimes teased my sister, sometimes disobeyed, even had stolen a paint can from down the street and tried to help steal candy money out of my gramma's purse.

I came to sense deeply my moral failings, my sins. I remember once having a nightmare of Hell. I was no angel, but the ornery preacher's kid.

But notice, I wasn't a totally depraved sinner either. In the midst of my failings, there were also joys and times when I responded to Love and Truth and Light, when I experienced the joy of worship to God with all my heart, when I loved my sister dearly, when I helped my parents and the elderly women in our neighborhood, when I sought truth with all that was within me.

The Holy Spirit of God was wooing me as does God's Light within every person ever created. We are created on the dividing line of nature--finite beings with infinite desires. As the Bible says, God has put "eternity in our hearts." Whether we yield to the Truth and find the Infinite or yield to a self-centered focus, trying to make all others and life to swirl around us, or somewhere in between. It's up to us whether we respond to God or reject him.

It was a Thursday night after Bible study and prayer at our small Baptist church in the tiny village of Adams, Nebraska about 100 miles from the Missouri River. We were headed home in our 50's Chevy driving down a gravel road. My little sister, Margie, and I were in the backseat. Unlike usual I was very quiet. I felt the tug of God. I knew I wanted to respond to God's voice within. Whether the sermon that night was really any different than many others we had heard before is uncertain. But I felt God urging me to respond. I leaned forward to the front seat and told my dad I wanted to "ask Jesus into my heart" (a Baptist pietistic phrase meaning an individual was asking forgiveness for what he had done wrong and wanted to follow Jesus in his life).

My father slowed the car and pulled to the edge of the road. And that night was the beginning of my life journey to follow Jesus.

Never in that first major decision, nor in any wonderful times of spiritual inspiration over the last 54 years with God did I ever feel or think of myself as a "dead object of original sin" who God irresistibly made follow him, or worse, was preordained to Hell.

So then where does the complex theology of original sin, total depravity, etc. come from? Let me the philosopher butt in here for a moment. In my opinion the trouble seems to be one of epistemology. Instead of taking religious truth as story, as transcendent RELATIONSHIP, many theologians have tried to treat religious truth as factual propositions. But religious truth is poetry! Not prose. It is art. Not science. Religious truth is I/Thou, not I/it.

Okay, back to my narrative;-)

My life was transformed. I no longer stole; stopped teasing my sister as much. I even tried witnessing of Jesus' love to neighbor kids. Collecting the autographs of missionaries who came to our church to speak became my passion. I experienced a deep, deep compassion for those in need.

Dear to my heart (even at 62), is a transforming experience at a Youth for Christ rally when I was about 13. We were singing "Everybody ought to know who Jesus is" and I filled to bursting with love for Jesus and for others. Welled up with joy and love beyond measure--experienced true worship, a gathered meeting. Like so many other humans--encountering God, the Infinite filling the finite. Fox, Wesley, Woolman, etc. all spoke of times when their heart filled with limitless love.

This was before I had ever heard of complex, strange doctrines or read depressing sermons such as Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" where God is pictured as hating us and desiring to gut us and that we are filthy spiders he holds over the flames of Hell" and that God even willed Adam and Eve to sin, and that God ordains humans to be sinful so he can get glory. What a travesty! What twisted theology brilliant humans can come up with when they don't focus on Jesus' Parable of the Prodigal Son or the Lost Sheep, the Good News of the Gospels.

That is one of those baffling questions: Why do religious scholars from the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus' day down through church history, to the present often turn God's loving good news into a twisted message of despair?

It is true Jesus did warn of Hell, allegedly used the word more than the word Heaven. And, if I don't keep getting sidetracked we will get to that topic soon. But check out the Gospels. Jesus didn't throw Hell down on individual sinners caught in their own wrong choices. No, he spoke with tenderness whether it was to the woman caught in adultery, the rich young ruler, the tough fisherman, the woman at the well, the turncoat traitor and cheat...

He, as some theologians rightly point out, saved his hell-fire messages for general sermons against religious hypocrites, the power elite, those who abused the poor. And his warnings were just that, warnings, that even the arrogant might turn from their sinful ways and be rescued.

Well, I lost my narrative path and started preaching:-) Next time I will get back to further experiences of the joy and hope and faith in God and how like all humans, I, too, faced times of testing and despair. Life is a difficult journey, a crucible of testing.

Indeed, only a short ways up ahead in my story, I will encounter the secular world and the idea everything has no meaning...

To be continued

Daniel Wilcox

The Nature and Destiny of Existence: Introduction

The title of my long reflection is, of course, a reference to Reinhold Niebuhr's famous theological tome--one of the best and deepest! I love reading all kinds of theology and philosophy--at least the parts I can comprehend;-);
And that is a "how" that goes on "forever,"
I am a pretty average guy and I've never stopped wondering how it is that famous theologians and philosophers of all stripes and spots think they know so much about Ultimate Reality. The Reformers and the Catholic Church, for instance, thought they knew God's reality and will so well that they executed (by drowning and burning) other Christians who didn't believe in infant baptism! Yet these same theologians and philosophers who "knew" God's eternal nature and hidden decrees didn't even know the basic nature of our local solar system or why people get sick (must be God's will).

And then there's the opposite extreme: the other Know-It-Alls, those of Nontheism who while being, also, only finite conscious mammals are sure, to a strong degree that there is no objective Meaning, no Purpose, no Truth, no Goodness in the Cosmos. We humans are a brief fluke of cosmic chance, one evolutionary twig on the natural selection bush (according to Stephen J. Gould, the famous Darwinian biologist).

Seems rather presumptuous. Of course, I've had my own times with humankind's dear friend, Pride, too--when I thought I "knew" much more than I actually do. As I get older and older, I know less and less.

So if you are misguided by the title of this reflection and think I am going to pontificate about knowing the Ultimate nature of everything and the whys and wherefores and to-dos for all, etc., you are about to be disappointed or relieved.

My goal here is very personal and very basic. Rather, by the love of God, I hope to share my own narrative experiential theology--how I have experienced God (at least in my own perception) and what difference that has made in me and my limited influence on others and the world.

For those who want the quick short version, rather than my own long-winded journey, here's a quote:

And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly, to help me; nor could tell what to do; then, O then, I heard a voice which said, "There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition": and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. (...) Thus when God doth work, who shall let [i.e., hinder] it? and this I knew experimentally. My desires after the Lord grew stronger, and zeal in the pure knowledge of God, and of Christ alone, without the help of any man, book, or writing. For though I read the scriptures that spake of Christ and of God, yet I knew him not, but by revelation, as he who hath the key did open, and as the Father of life drew me to his son by his Spirit. Then the Lord gently led me along, and let me see his love, which was endless and eternal...
The Journal of George Fox

I think George Fox's statement (of his experience in life, his spiritual search, and encounter with what he perceived to be Truth) says its best.
Even though
I know all the naturalistic vultures;-) are circling waiting to pick Fox's experience clean until there are only factual bones of meaninglessness left.

Well, each of us takes our life journey and what trail we walk makes all the difference...

To be continued

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Irony of Justified Killing--Just a War--Just a Baby

Please hold the family of Dr. Tiller in the Light, especially his wife who must be suffering deeply.

What caused this tragedy? The immoral atmosphere and faulty Christian ethics we have developed.

Isn't it highly ironic that many Americans--many of the same ones who justify war including the killing of civilians in Afghanistan and Hiroshima, etc.--are quick to condemn the killer of Dr. George Tiller? Before we rightly condemn the murderer of a doctor, let us consider the evil of this whole situation.

Doctor Tiller has been responsible for the killing of thousands of late-term babies! We're not even talking here about the questionable practice of terminating a pregnancy of an embryo when the little one is an inch long or there are severe complcations for the mother. No, we are speaking in horror about an abortion doctor who executes late term babies including those six to eight months old, ones who if wanted could survive the womb! Babies dearly loved of God. Dr. Tiller is one of the worst killers in recent history!

As for the individual himself--the human being behind the doctoral killing mask, George Tiller--he was and is loved of God no matter how evil his actions of the last 30 years. He is answering to his Maker now as we shall some day.

How many of us pray every day for abortion doctors such as Dr. Tiller that they will turn around from their immoral actions and live in the Light? Isn't it ironic that Dr. Tiller who killed thousands of innocents was an usher at a Christian church?

As for the killer of the killer... Even though his killing wasn't as horrendous as Dr. Tiller's--for who can be a worse killer than innocent infants?!--still, who gave the killer the perverted notion that the end justifies the means?

All the rest of did, the ones of us who in so many situations justify and commit wrong actions in order to achieve supposedly good results. Many well-meaning individuals justify America's slaughter of civilians, saying that it is necessary.

And isn't that what the Supreme Court and countless Americans did when they unleased the 'killing fields' in 1973? Since them millions of infants in the United States have been gutted, gassed, etc. America sought to help women. We sought to support human rights for women. But as always happens when we seek to use immoral means to accomplish good ends, we end with evil, sometimes horrendous evil.

Are we praying for women who made wrong choices, women caught in pregnancy because of our immoral men and our salacious media? Are we supporting crisis pregnancy centers? Are we helping women who killed their own little ones now find forgiveness? Are we praying for criminals such as the murderer who shot Dr. Tiller? Are we praying for the other killer-doctors in our midst?

How has our faith in God become so passive? Where is the moral passion that motivated earlier Friends such as John Woolman, Levi Coffin, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony to oppose evil?

May Jesus Christ flood us with his love, mercy, and goodness.

Daniel Wilcox