40 Harmful Effects of Christianity – #20

“For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies.  Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.  But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10-13

This post is the twentieth in a series that addresses a list of “40 harmful effects of Christianity” that originated on the American Atheists Facebook page and has since made its way around the internet. In this post, I examine the following “harmful effect” from the list:

Harmful Effect #20: Long-term environmental issues ignored because of beliefs that the rapture/apocalypse or something will happen soon, so they don’t matter.

Harmful Effect #20 essentially restates Harmful Effect #19, substituting “long term-environmental issues” for “education”.  Thus, my previous criticism of that “harmful effect” is applicable to #20 without much further commentary.   However, since Harmful Effect #20 mentions the rapture and the apocalypse, I shall briefly address those subjects.

The first thing that should be noted about “the rapture,” a term which is not in The Bible, is that not every Christian believes in it or views it in the same way.  (The statement of faith of my own denomination doesn’t even mention it, though I and many of my fellow Southern Baptists believe that it is imminent.)  The Bible is clear that the end of the present world is coming but is it does not clearly state the exact time at which the end will come.  Article X of The Baptist Faith and Message addresses the coming end of the world in an appropriate and generally agreeable way:

God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.

In the first century, certain people in the Thessalonian church were acting inappropriately due to eschatological confusion.  Some had ceased to even work in anticipation of the immediate end of the world.  The Apostle Paul disabused them of their errant practices and admonished the church to not grow weary of doing good.  Those who, in modern times, adopt the posture of those confused Thessalonians do so in opposition to the clear teachings of the biblical authors.

Being a responsible steward of the environment is certainly a good thing for Christians to do.  Like Harmful Effect #19 before it, Harmful Effect #20 is fallacious.   Like Harmful Effect #19 before it, Harmful Effect #20 it ignores the hopeless nihilism inherent in the atheistic worldview. Christians, at least, enjoy the comfort of having a blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of their great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for them to redeem them from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

In my next post in this series, I’ll address the following:

Harmful Effect #21: Wives told they will be tortured forever if they leave their abusive husbands (and vice versa).

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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Going Beyond Scripture: Why It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to Priscilla Shirer and Going Beyond Ministries


Here’s the thing…

You may not agree with all of these points, but there is enough here to indicate that you should be very wary of getting involved with Priscilla Shirer studies.

You may have loved her in War Room and want to buy her books. Let me tell you something, if your church recommended War Room, you can almost be certain that its leadership knew next to nothing about Shirer. Pastors don’t read LifeWay studies or pay attention to the false teaching crowd, for the most part. They are busy caring for their churches.

Unfortunately, they depend on LifeWay to deliver sound material. It often times fails.

You should bring these points about Shirer up to your pastor if her studies are being pushed in your church.

Originally posted on Michelle Lesley:

Priscilla ShirerPriscilla Shirer is a wife and mom of three boys hailing from the Dallas area. Though you may be newly acquainted with her from her role as Elizabeth Jordan in the recently released Christian movie War Roomshe has been writing women’s Bible studies and has been a popular speaker at women’s conferences and other events for many years. Together with her husband, Jerry, she heads up Going Beyond Ministries.

When I participated in Priscilla’s DVD study He Speaks to Me several years ago, I found her to be an engaging writer, a witty storyteller, and charismatic speaker. Priscilla’s friendliness and genuine care for Christian women seem to shine through every word she speaks and writes. And to top that all off, she’s beautiful and sharp as a tack. It’s very easy to think of Priscilla and think, “What’s not to love?”

Which is why it grieves me to have to…

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Conquered by Contemplative Prayer


A critical examination of Priscilla Shirer’s involvement with contemplative prayer.

Originally posted on My Word Like Fire:

Beth Moore and War Room stand-out Priscilla Shirer have promoted it. So has Tim Keller. And so have Mike Bickle, Beni Johnson, and Rick Warren.

Contemplative prayer is essentially the same as New Age or Eastern meditation, but disguised with “Christianese” terminology. Those who participate and enter the silence, as it is called, open themselves to great deception.

As Ray Yungen has explained, our minds are like rushing rivers. Our thoughts go here, go there, our thought process is active and continuous. In contemplative prayer, Eastern meditation, and New Age meditation, all thought is stilled. The active river of our minds is dammed up–the rushing river is now a still pool of water. This can be done by repeating a word or phrase over and over until thought ceases and one enters the silence.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their…

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The Christian Commute – Pilot Episode

I’d like to invite you to listen to the pilot episode of my new podcast, The Christian Commute.

For many years I’ve been commuting 30 to 40 miles to work every weekday.  During my daily commute, I’ve listened to hours and hours of podcast and radio programming.  After being a consumer of content for many years, I’ve decided to contribute my own program.  In the Christian Commute, you can ride along with me on my daily commute as I discuss matters of Christian doctrine, apologetics, and general interest.  A portion of the show will be spent responding to listener mail (presuming I receive it).  Please send your questions and comments for discussion on the show to Sethdunn88@gmail.com.

This is a very simple podcast: no theme music, no effects, no special equipment.  The production value is low but I hope you’ll find that the content quality is high.

The pilot episode is now available at podomatic.

RSS FEED: http://christiancommute.podomatic.com/rss2.xml

PODCAST FEED: http://christiancommute.podomatic.com

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Recommended Podcast Resources from a Christian Worldview

Tonight I wanted to take a few minutes to recommend the podcasts that I listen to each week (usually during my commute to work).  These podcasts, I think, are great resources for Christians who want to be informed of biblical doctrine, current events, and the state of the church.  I hope you’ll join me in partaking of these resources.

  1. The preaching of the pastor of my local church.

This isn’t actually a podcast that I listen to but rather what I listen to live and in-person every Sunday morning (my church doesn’t even publish weekly sermons).  There is no podcast that is a replacement for the gathering together of the saints at the local church.  Your favorite podcast preacher is not your pastor and his listening audience is not your church.

  1. Reasonable Faith and Defenders from William Lane Craig.

William Lane Craig is the world’s foremost Christian apologist.  (You can learn more about him here.)  Each Monday he releases the Reasonable Faith podcast with his co-host, Kevin Harris.  Craig usually deals with specific apologetic topics (often having to do with philosophy or science) or refutes popular misconceptions disseminated by atheists and internet infidels.   Harris is basically there is provide a radio quality voice and lob Craig softballs.  This podcast should be of interest to those specifically concerned with Christian apologetics.  Its length is typically less than half an hour.

Craig teaches a Sunday School class called Defenders at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, GA.  This class is packaged as a podcast and distributed on Craig’s website, usually on Thursday. (It can also be streamed live in video format).  A full cycle of Craig’s Defenders class systematically covers almost every single Christian doctrine.  It is a great resource for any Christian wishing to better understand basic Christian theology.  Craig presents the Christian Orthodox view of each topic as well of those as errant sects such as the Roman Catholic Church.  Craig is a Southern Baptist and teaches from that doctrinal perspective.  Therefore, the class is safe for new and mature Christians alike (though many in my reformed readership likely would take issue with Craig’s Molinist views).  During each session, Craig answers questions from members of the class.    Having listened to the podcast for such a long time, I almost feel like I know some of the class members who frequently ask questions such as Drew, Dr. Bob, Steve, and Tae-won.  Transcripts of the class are provided on Craig’s website; his teaching outlines were as well.

  1. The Pulpit & Pen Program from Pastor JD Hall

The Pulpit & Pen podcast is a companion to the Pulpit & Pen blog, which has been described as “The Rolex of Watchblogs.”  From a Reformed Southern Baptist perspective, Hall addresses the challenges and scandals that plague American evangelicalism.  Hall often covers subject matter that other Christian media sources will not.  Hall also dedicates a portion of each podcast to answering “sincere questions” from the listenership.  Podcasts are released two to three times per week and typical last for one hour.  (As a matter of full disclosure I write for Pulpit & Pen, am sometimes on the podcast, and am friends with JD Hall.)

  1. The Briefing and Thinking in Public from Dr. Albert Mohler.

The briefing is a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.  The erudite Mohler , who is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, summarizes relevant stories from publications such as The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Economist and frames them for Christian consideration.  Each podcast lasts approximately twenty minutes.  The Briefing is, in my opinion, the best source of news from a Christian perspective.  Every quarter, Mohler releases the Thinking in Public Podcast in which he interviews an author who has recently written a book about what Molher calls a “frontline theological issue.”  This podcast features great scholarly discussion.

  1. Sunday Sermons from Pastor Wayne Barber of Woodland Park Baptist Church

This is my desert island podcast.  This podcast is simply the Sunday Sermons from Woodland Park Baptist Church.  Pastor Wayne Barber preaches exegetically through one book of the Bible at a time.  He is a student of New Testament Greek and a preacher of grace.  His Sunday sermons regular convict and edify me.  I was blessed to grow up under his preaching.  His sermons, I think, should be in every Christian’s podcast rotation.

Rarely do I listen anymore to political or sports talk radio.  I’ll never forget the day when I heard the first ad that encouraged men to divorce their wives on the sports talk station. If you are facing divorce, you need to get into the word, not the spread for the Falcons’ game. Eventually, I noticed that the political talk ads were about buying gold and refinancing your home over and over.  Ads say a lot and radio ads told me that I didn’t belong in the sports and political talk demographic.

I hope you’ll join me in listening to less talk radio and more these types of podcasts, I can almost guarantee that your Christian walk will improve and that you will be a better witness for Jesus Christ on this Earth.

What are your favorite podcasts?  Share them in the comment section below.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

$19,274.49 – What War Room Stands to Make off of your Church

On the eve of the release of War Room, I have written this piece to accompany my earlier review of that film.  This article includes a listing of War Room’s many companion products, which have been made available through LifeWay Christian Resources.   War Room has been heavily promoted by LifeWay representatives throughout the United States.  Local Baptist missions association directors, in conjunction with LifeWay representatives, have encouraged churches to purchase blocks of tickets or even rent out entire theatres for showings of War Room.  During the past few months, free previews of the movie have been offered to key leaders in local churches in order to create a buzz for the film.  Tomorrow War Room will hit theatres.   Its many companion products should appear at a church near you shortly thereafter.

There are two primary products which have been made available for sale to churches:

  • A Church Campaign Kit – $34.99
    • This kit includes a leader guide for planning a War Room themed Bible Study. It also includes Sermon outlines so that pastors can preach the theme of War Room from their pulpits.
    • According to the product description, the Campaign Kit can “create awareness and re-introduce your church to the power of prayer.” It can also “Encourage participation in War Room (whatever that is) among church members.”
  • The War Room Bible Study – $24.99 for the Leader Kit and $7.99 for participant study books.
    • This five-lesson study claims to assist users to “Develop strategies to battle the real Enemy through prayer.” (Read Bible, fold hands, close eyes, talk to God.  That will be $7.99, please)

War Room Products

Other products include a teen prayer journal, a “Battle Plan” prayer journal (which seems to be little more than a regular prayer journal which has been branded for the movie), the War Room novel, and the “Battle Plan for Prayer” book by Alex and Stephen Kendrick which is advertised as a “strategic guide to engaging with God, expecting His answers, and enlarging your vision of what He can do through someone like you.”

This product line doesn’t sit right with me.  Certainly, toy companies aren’t sinning when they make Ninja Turtle and Transformer Action figures to accompany movies about those characters.  Neither does Disney sin when it sells princess dolls of all its movie heroines.  These companies are just doing what companies exist to do, selling products to make a profit.  So, it’s not unusual to see a product line associated with a movie.  However, unlike Star Wars action figures, the gospel and biblical principles are not commodities.  Yet, there are so many things for sale in association with War Room.

Doesn’t it seem a little McChurch to offer sermon outlines for sale?  Shouldn’t a local pastor already be equipped to preach on prayer from the Holy Bible?  Does the local pastor need to spiritually lead his flock to the cineplex?

Coast to coast, local churches have been asked to give War Room a major push in theaters.  Some churches are planning to buy block of tickets to sell or give to their members.  If the movie is good, couldn’t consumers make the choice to buy tickets of their own volition?  (Does your church tell you what brand of groceries to buy?)  There is a clear message from the Evangelical Industrial Complex Associated with this movie: “You will see it.  You will study it.  Your church will buy the companion materials.  We decide what’s cool and its War Room.”

Consider a church with 1,000 active adult members.  If the church buys a campaign kit,  fifty Sunday School leader guides, one thousand study books, and one thousand movie tickets, the total cash outlay for doing so will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $19,274.49 and War Room will be the in thing at the church for five weeks.


Could that money be better spent elsewhere, missions perhaps, perhaps hiring a youth minister who knows how to do more than play electric guitar and throw pizza parties?

Of course, most churches aren’t one thousand members strong but many are.  Some are even bigger.  There are thousands of churches, from as small as 50 to as large 10,000 who are currently in the market for War Room tickets and materials.  These materials have been pushed on them hard by their local missions directors and LifeWay representatives.  The potential companion product revenue that surrounds this movie is staggering.

Companion Products

Companion product revenue is needed because the evangelical movie market is a small one when compared to the general population.  This is not a movie lost people, by and large, are going to go out and see.  They will spend their money on rated R fare while the clear gospel presentation in War Room is preached to the choir.  So, to convince secular movie distributors such as Tri-Star to invest in their movies, Christian Filmmakers must promise to deliver ticket sales and related revenue.  Blocks of church-bought tickets will do just that, especially on their movie’s opening weekend.


Alex Kendrick seems to have become the Tyler Perry of the Christian movie industry.  He writes movies, stars in them, and markets them to his niche audience.  Again, there’s nothing sinful about doing this but I remember his first few movies and he didn’t seem like media mogul back then.  Flywheel and Facing the Giants were made as ministry of his church and even starred church members, not professional actors.  Now, he’s resigned from his church to run his own production company.  Personally, I can’t imagine a 1st Century pastor leaving his church to produce and market Christian drama.  Neither can I imagine a 1st century Christian being a gospel consumer.  I certainly can’t imagine a 1st century Christian associating with the likes of TD Jakes and other Word of Faith Ministers but that’s exactly who Kendrick has been keeping company with since hitting the big time.

The gospel is a big time message but it’s not a big time product.  Be discerning about War Room.  Don’t be afraid to question the leadership of your church if they expect you to study it.  As I mentioned in my review, there are serious and well-document problems with the people associated with this film: most notably Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore (who is actually barely in the movie at all).  Both have advocated the dangerous practice of contemplative prayer.  Now, they are starring in a movie about prayer which is selling books about prayer.  Does the guy at your church buying blocks of movie tickets know this?

Be careful Christians.  Consumers usually get what they pay for.  Maybe this weekend you should find a copy of Flywheel and sit down with your family at home and watch it.  When it’s over, read the Bible and pray together.  That will cost a lot less than $19,274.49.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

5 Verses That Prove the Bible Supports Abortion Rights?

Recently a friend sent me an article entitled 5 Verses that Prove the Bible Supports Abortion Rights.   My friend, who was taken aback that the article had been written at all and then shared on Facebook (where he saw it) stated, “The whole world is going absolutely insane.  I thought the whole ‘choose your gender’ trend was asinine, but now they are actually trying to argue that the Bible supports abortion… The evil in this world is growing by the day.”  I agree with my friend.  I also understand that what he was really saying to me was, “Seth, since it’s you thing, write a blog article refuting this garbage.”   I’m happy to oblige.  The idea that the Bible supports abortion rights is absolute nonsense.

The author of the article, Curtis Fiers, appears to completely lack an understanding of how to properly understand and apply Scripture.  Ironically, Fiers wrote that pro-life individuals, when arguing from the Bible that abortion is murder are, “simply taking verses and twisting them to imply that abortion equals killing a human.”  The misapplication of scriptures in which Fiers engaged demonstrates not only what twisting scripture actually looks like but also a general ignorance of biblical history and culture.

Exodus 21 and the Unborn

The first passage that Fiers cited to make his case is Exodus 21:22-25.  According to Fiers this verse “lays out the penalty for causing a woman to miscarry and it’s just a fine.”  Fiers quoted the scripture as follows:


There is a conspicuous absence of the specific English translation of the Bible which Fiers cited.  I googled the phrases “when men have a fight and hurt a pregnant woman” and “so that she suffers a miscarriage” and I could not find the exact wording that Fiers provided.  The closest match I could find to Fiers’ wording was that of the NABRE translation.  This translation uses the English term miscarry to translate the Hebrew term yatsa. More popular translations such as the ESV, NASB, KJV, HCSB, and NKJV do not translate the Hebrew term thusly.  This Hebrew term, according to Strong’s Concordance, means “to go or come out.”  It does not necessarily denote what modern English people would understand as a miscarriage.  As John Piper noted in his own analysis of this verse, there is a Hebrew verb, shakal, that is properly understood to mean miscarry.  This very term is used in the twenty-third chapter of Exodus to communicate the concept of miscarriage.  It is not used in the verse cited above, without translation reference, by Fiers.  A more in-depth treatment of the proper translation of Exodus 21 can be found at Chrisitan Apologist Greg Koukl’s website.

Students of bible translations and church demographics know that most evangelical Christians, the type of people most likely to deny that abortion rights exist, do not use Bible translations that translate the Hebrew term yasta as miscarry.  Some of those who Fiers accuses of “twisting scripture” likely unaware of translations that use the English term miscarry to translate yatsa.  Such translations are in the minority of the body of biblical translations.  One such translation is the NRSV.  This translation is popular among mainline Christians, who are more likely than their evangelical counterparts to take a pro-choice position on legalized abortion.  Mainliners are also more likely to deny the inerrancy of scripture.  Those who accept the inerrancy of scripture (i.e. who actually believe the Bible is true) use translations such as the ESV, NASB, and NIV.

Evangelical Christians are much more likely to be familiar with Exodus 21 wording such as this (from the latest edition of the NASB):

“If men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she gives birth prematurely, yet there is no injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman’s husband may demand of him, and he shall pay as the judges decide. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life,  eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,  burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”

This wording indicates that a woman’s stress can cause her to go into premature labor but not cause injury to her or her child.  If such is this case, the offender may be fined by her husband for the hardship caused.  The baby, in this situation survives.  If there is injury, either to child or mother, the offender’s life is forfeit.  This verse is often cited by Christians to give biblical support that preborn life is valued by God.  It’s easy see why.

Even if one grants that Fiers’ minority translation of miscarry is the correct one, Exodus 21 does not “prove” that the Bible supports abortion rights.  Quite the opposite is the case.  The situation in question is not an elective abortion but an accidental miscarriage caused by a fight.  The father, not the mother, has the right to demand a fine from the offender.  In the modern American context, pro-choice people support a woman’s right to choose.  In the biblical context, as Fiers cites it, a mother doesn’t even have the right to demand a fine for the accidental loss of her unborn baby.  Her husband does.  Furthermore, there is no right to abort the child.  The one who caused the miscarriage is fined.  If one has a right to do something, then the government has no right to fine him for it.  Even if yatsa is understood to mean “miscarry” it indicates that there is some value, though less than that of an adult, to unborn life.  Even in modern legal systems human life is valued differently.  The wrongful death of a thirty year old attorney will command a greater civil legal penalty than the wrongful death of a ninety year old retired janitor with advanced Alzheimer’s. The young lawyer’s family will be owed more compensation by the one who committed the tort because their loved one had a greater potential to provide income for his family than did the retired janitor.  Both wrongly killed people are human.  Both are alive.  Both had their property rights violated by an offender.  The penalty for doing so, however, is different.  So, too, would be the case in Exodus 21.  A husband would have invested heavily in supporting his adult wife.  He would have invested little in supporting his unborn child.  Thus, the civil penalty for killing each one is different.  Consider the nature of civil torts; negligence is factor in the severity of the penalty for a tort. Consider criminal infractions, involuntary manslaughter carries a tougher penalty than first degree murder.  Such factors come into play in the Old Testament law.

In using an inaccurate translation to argue that Exodus 21 supports abortion rights, Fiers errs.  It’s one thing to use a wrong translation and arrive at a wrong conclusion.  It’s another to fail to exercise proper logic and legal reasoning altogether.  Fiers does both.  Exodus 21 does not support abortion rights under any circumstances.

Ecclesiastes 6 and Life not Worth Living

The second passage Fiers cite to make his case in Ecclesiastes 6.  However, in the case of this verse Fiers cites the KJV.


It’s worth noting that the KJV renders Exodus 21:22 as follows:

“If men fight and hit a pregnant woman and her child is born prematurely, but there is no serious injury, he will surely be punished in accordance with what the woman’s husband demands of him, and he will pay what the court decides.”

The KJV does not support the rendering of the Hebrew term yasta as miscarry.  It indicates premature birth.  It appears that Fiers used whatever Bible translation best suited his purposes.  The NABRE, which Fiers previously cited uses renders the Ecclesiastes text born dead rather than untimely birth.  In any case, this passage is not talking about an elective abortion but deeply tragic occurrence, a still birth.  In reference to this verse, Fiers makes two claims, “the Bible literally says it’s better to die in the womb than live an unhappy life. This flies directly into the face of all anti-choice believers.”

The first claim is true.  The bible does literally say that.  However, it does not literally mean that.  The translation Fiers chose to present this verse is ultimately irrelevant because he failed to first understand the genre of the biblical book itself.  Ecclesiastes, like Job, Psalms, and Proverbs, is ancient Near Eastern literature.  It’s of a poetic genre.  It’s not always mean to be taken literally.  For example, Psalm 50:10 says that’s God owns “the cattle on a thousand hills.”  Psalm 50:10 verse does not literally mean that are exactly one thousands hills upon which are cows owned by God.  It means that God owns lots and lots of cows, all of them in the whole world in fact.  In its entirety, Psalm 50:10 (NASB) says:

“For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills.”

Ancient Near Eastern poetry will often compare or contrast two things.  This verse compares wild animals with domestic animals. It does not indicate that God owns all the wild animals but only one thousand domestic cows.  It means, that God owns all of the animals in the entire world (Psalm 24 says the same thing in a more direct way).

Ecclesiastes 6 poetically makes use of hyperbole.  In the ancient Israelite world the birth of a child was an occasion for great joy.  The still birth of a child was an occasion for great sorrow.  (For those in the modern world who don’t murder their babies in the womb, this still holds true.)  In the ancient world, one who had many children was understood to be protected in his old age.  In the days before social security and 401(k)s one depended upon one one’s children for support when he got old and infirm.  Fathering “a hundred children” would be seen a great blessing.  It should also be seen as great hyperbole.  Almost no one who has ever read this piece of poetry has literally fathered one hundred children.  This piece of poetry compares a superlatively happy thing (having lots of children and living many years) with a superlatively sad thing (dying at birth).  It uses hyperbole to make its primary point; that a life lived without a satisfied soul is a tragic one.  Material blessing pales in comparison to spiritual blessing; this is the over arching message of Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes does not fly directly in the face of pro-life people.  It does quite the opposite.  It supports the worldview that new life is precious and is to be celebrated.  This is the worldview presupposed by writers of the biblical text.  Furthermore, even if Fiers was correct and this text literally meant that it was better to die at birth than live an unhappy life, it would still not support elective abortion rights.  No one aborting a 12-week-old unborn baby knows with any certainly that the child will live a good or a bad life.  History provides examples of poor children who went on to lead productive and happy lives.  It also provides examples of rich children who went on to lead morose lives.  Only God knows how any given life will turn out.  Furthermore, people subjectively define happiness.  Some people are fine with being poor and having little.  Some people are more materialistic.  No one can predict the value system of a 12-week-old unborn child.  No one, then, can electively abort a child for her own good.  It’s impossible to ask a dead child if he would have liked to live.  There is only one God and the abortionist is not Him.

Numbers 3 and the Beginning of Life

The third verse cited by Fiers to make his case is from Numbers 3. Fiers didn’t so much disregard genre in his application of this verse.  He disregarded context, theology, and culture.


According to Fiers, since the Lord did not order Moses to count males who were under one month old, those children might not “hold a human value”.  This would contradict the pro-life position that human life begins at conception.  However, there could be other reasons that Moses was not required to count Levites boys less than a month old.

The Jews went by a lunar calendar and a lunar month is 29.5 days.  In ancient Israelite culture, a woman was ceremonially unclean for forty days after giving birth to a male child.  She was unclean even longer if she bore a female child.  It wouldn’t be proper for a census taker to approach an unclean woman to count her infant and check the baby’s gender.  Furthermore, infant mortality rates were much higher in the ancient Middle Eastern wilderness than they are today.  Today, babies born in hospitals who have trouble latching to their mother’s breast can be fed with synthetic formula and given modern medical care.  Such babies died three thousand years ago.  It may not have been reasonable to count babies for a census until after the odds of their continued viability increased.  This doesn’t’ mean that babies under one month old didn’t hold a human value.  Fiers apparently didn’t take these conditions into consideration.  Nor, did he take into consideration the reason for the census.  This is not the only census in the Bible nor is it the only one in the book of Numbers.  In Numbers 26 a census of all males over twenty years old (fighting age) is ordered.  Would Fiers argue that those under twenty years old don’t hold human value?  Taking this census out of context, as he does the census of Numbers 3, he could.  Additionally, would Fiers take this passage to mean that females don’t hold human value?  Females aren’t counted at all.

Genesis 2 and Breath

Fiers ultimately did not buy his own argument from Numbers 3.  However, he rejects it only because of a misapplication of Genesis 2.


Referencing this verse, Fiers asked, “If Adam, the first human to ever exist, had to take a breath before being considered a living soul, why is the same not true for unborn fetuses?”  Fiers misses the point of this passage entirely.  In the greater context of Genesis, many living things are created (animals, birds, fish, etc…).  In contrast to all other living things, mankind is presented as a special creation of God.  Mankind is made in God’s own image.  This text is translated “And the Lord formed man” and not “And the Lord formed Adam” for a reason.  The Hebrew term for man is adam.  When the text is translated Adam, it is because it refers specifically to first individual man God created.  When the text is translated man, it is because it refers to mankind in general.  So, not only does Genesis 2:7 refer to the creation of the specific man, Adam, it also refers to the creation of mankind as a whole.  Unlike other animals, man became a living soul because God breathed life into him.  The concept of special creation holds significance in this verse.  This verse does not refer to any kind of formula that requires one to take a breath of oxygen through his lungs in order to be considered a human soul.  Genesis is not a medical textbook; it is a theological account of history.  It should be read and understood thusly.

Adam was inanimate dust.  He was made human by the breath of God.  He then fathered children with his wife.  These children were not formed from the dust of the ground but from the coming together of Adam and Eve.  They, like all humans who are born of their parents, are human because they come from humans.  Dogs make dogs.  Cats make cats.  Humans make humans.

 Numbers 5 and the Test of Fidelity

The last passage Fiers cited to make a pro-abortion case from scripture is Numbers 5:27. Fiers cites this passage as his Coup de grâce against pro-life Christians.  This passage describes what is known as “the trial of jealousy”.


Analyzing this scripture, Fiers writes, “If the woman has cheated and is carrying another man’s child…the mystical dirt water…will cause her to immediately miscarry…So even if pro-lifers can dodge all these other verses, they can’t deny that this one essentially says, ‘Abortion is okay as long as it’s forced upon a woman, against her will, for cheating on her husband.’

I can and I do.

Again, Fiers is off base.  Even in a hypothetical world where his case is true, this verse doesn’t indicate that women have the right to have an elective abortion.  This verse would indicate that if a husband thinks he has been cheated on and if his wife truly has conceived a child by doing so, then he can choose to bring her before a priest to drink a certain concoction prepared by the priest.  If and only if the wife has been unfaithful will she miscarry.  The child dies, not by the election of a man, but by the supernatural action of God.  There is no abortion clinic, back alley or in a hospital, on earth with a Jewish priest who is empowered by God to concoct the drink required for the trial of jealously and then perform that right.  If Fiers thinks this is way to obtain a moral abortion, I encourage him to have at it.  Of course, neither he nor anyone else will be able to under the New Covenant.

Still, Fiers’ case is wrong.  He once again played the translation switching game.  This time, Fiers has chosen to cite the NIV.  This in itself is interesting in that he previously cited literal translations where as the NIV translation committee strove to render textual meaning without a word-for-word translation.  It is not a popular version for scholarly study in any denomination, liberal or protestant. It is likely that Fiers cited the NIV because it is one of the rare translations that uses the English term miscarry into this passage.  Most translations do not.  For example, the NASB renders this passage:

“When he has made her drink the water, then it shall come about, if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, that the water which brings a curse will go into her and cause bitterness, and her abdomen will swell and her thigh will waste away, and the woman will become a curse among her people.”

This language does not indicate a miscarriage but bareness.  (Again, the Hebrew term for miscarriage, shakal, is not used.)  Because children we so valued, bareness was seen as a curse among the ancients.  This passage does not indicate the miscarriage of a baby but the destruction of a woman’s ability to reproduce at all.  It also demonstrates the lengths that the Old Testament law went to protect women.  Regarding the trail of jealously, Old Testament scholar Paul Copan wrote:

“Let’s summarize the theme of this text. If a man suspected his wife of adultery, he could bring her before the priest to accuse her. In this case, two or three witnesses weren’t available (Deut. 17:6–7); the only “witness” was the husband’s suspicion that his wife had been cheating on him. Critics charge that this would have been a terrifying ordeal: a cheating wife’s abdomen would swell and her thigh would shrivel after drinking “the water of bitterness.” Critics raise the question, “Why couldn’t a woman bring her husband before the priest if she suspected that he was guilty of adultery?” As it turns out, critics have chosen a poor text to illustrate oppression of women. For one thing, consider the context, which gives us every reason to think that this law applied to men as well. Before and after this passage, the legislation concerns both men and women: “Israelites” (Num. 5:2 NIV), “a man or woman” (Num. 5:6), “a man or a woman” (Num. 6:2). It wasn’t just the husband’s prerogative to call for this special trial; the wife could as well. Second, this priestly court was actually arranged for the protection and defense of women, not to humiliate them before proud husbands or prejudiced mobs. This law protected women from a husband’s violent rage or arbitrary threat of divorce to get rid of his wife cheaply.4 And if the woman happened to be guilty, then she’d rightly be terrified by a supernatural sign affecting her body. In fact, as with the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira in the early church (Acts 5), the Israelites would have a sobering warning regarding God’s attitude toward adultery.”  (Copan, Paul (2011-01-01). Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God (pp. 104-105). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)

I have my doubts that Fiers consulted the writings of Old Testament Scholars like Copan in making his “undeniable” case for abortion rights.

Taking the Butchers Word

There is an aphorism that says one can get a good look at a steak by sticking his head up a cow’s behind but it is better to take the butcher’s word for it.  I’ve written this piece to give you the butcher’s word for it.  Fiers is wrong, very wrong.  As one who has formally studied scriptures, I was able to identify the fallacies and misapplication in Fiers’ arguments before I drove 5 miles in my car (I read the story on my phone as I was leaving work).  Fiers’ article is truly one of the worse treatments of the biblical text that I’ve ever read.  I’d call it bush league, but that would insult the bush league.  It seems to me that Fiers’ article is either the result of remarkable ignorance or purposeful deception.  Given the political controversy of the abortion issue and Fiers’ selective use of scripture translations, deception seems to be the most likely conclusion.

One doesn’t have to be a Bible scholar to use basic Google skills to look up the context of these verses.  The John Piper and Greg Koulke articles I cited can be found with minimal effort (and they are better Bible scholars than am I).  If Fiers did any research to understand the other side of his argument, he almost certainly didn’t expect his readership to do so.  In this time of internet sound bytes and intellectual laziness, Fiers seems to have taken the opportunity to push his agenda on those who are too lazy to question it.  I think most Christians will reject his writing outright (as some have done in the comment section of his article).  I write this as one who truly believes that the Bible is true.  I want to accurately present what it teaches not matter what the outcome.  I don’t think that is Fiers’ motive.  I don’t think he believes the Bible to be true at all, at least not all of it.

I do and I urge you to study it and understand it.  In it are the words of life.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.