Reflections From The Old Testament On Abortion -- By: Bruce K. Waltke

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 19:1 (Winter 1976)
Article: Reflections From The Old Testament On Abortion
Author: Bruce K. Waltke


Reflections From The Old Testament On Abortion*

Bruce K. Waltke

The technical1 and legal availability of induced abortion, that is “the expulsion of the human fetus … before it is capable of surviving outside the womb,” 2 has resulted in its widespread practice and challenges evangelicals to come up with a clear position on the morality of suppressing the fruit of the womb. Although I addressed myself to this social problem several years ago, I would like to contribute once again to the ongoing discussion because I have modified my position considerably since my earlier article.3 Moreover, it seemed fitting to use this platform because the theme of our annual meeting is “Evangelicals, the Church, and Society.”

The importance of the subject is obvious. If the fetus is a human being, then abortion is nothing less than murder, the taking of innocent human life. Indeed, if abortion is the murder of the innocent, then the

*Bruce Waltke, professor of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary, delivered this presidential address at the 27th annual meeting of ETS, December 29, 1975.

current practice of our society, made so widespread through liberal laws and the decision of the Supreme Court which overthrew the abortion statutes of the state of Texas,4 causes Herod the Great’s slaughter of the innocents (Matt. 2:16–18) to lose much of its once apparent enormity.

Moreover, the subject is important to every one of us, for as members of American society we all contribute to its attitude concerning abortion. Karl Barth incriminates the whole society that sets the stage for the crime. He includes among the persons concerned with this ethical issue

the mother who either carries out the act or desires or permits it, the more or less informed amateurs who assist her, perhaps the scientifically and technically trained physician, the father, relatives or other third parties who allow, promote, assist or favor the execution of the act and therefore share responsibility, and in a wider but no less strict sense the society whose conditions and mentality directly or indirectly call for such acts and whose laws may even permit them.5

No one can be neutral on this social issue, because even the stance of neutrality contributes to a mentality that allows the practice. To remain heuristic or silent on this matter indirectly cr...

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