The Gospel according to Jane Roe: Abortion Rights and the Reshaping of Evangelical Theology -- By: Russell D. Moore

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 07:2 (Summer 2003)
Article: The Gospel according to Jane Roe: Abortion Rights and the Reshaping of Evangelical Theology
Author: Russell D. Moore


The Gospel according to Jane Roe:
Abortion Rights and the Reshaping of Evangelical Theology

Russell D. Moore

Russell D. Moore is Assistant Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he also serves as executive director of the Carl F. H. Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement. He is a frequent speaker and commentator on the theological issues facing this generation of Southern Baptists. His first book, Why I Am a Baptist, co-edited with Tom J. Nettles was published by Broadman and Holman in 2001.

The corner abortion clinic may have done more to define contemporary evangelical theology than has the community Bible church down the street. After all, orthodox Christian theology, from Pentecost onward, has sharpened itself against the counterarguments of heretical movements.1 In the first century, incipient Gnosticism forced the apostolic church to articulate clearly the holistic nature of creation, sin, and resurrection. The onslaught of heretical proposals on the identity of Jesus led to the clarity of the Trinitarian ecumenical councils. The indulgence peddling of the medieval Catholic Church led to the forceful Reformation pronouncements on justification through faith in Christ alone. In a similar way, the United States Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision has confronted global evangelicalism with a challenge that is no less daunting and no less doctrinal—namely, the American social theology of personal and sexual autonomy.

It is virtually beyond dispute that Roe v. Wade energized American evangelicals from their political isolationism, driving them into the public square.2 But Roe did more than prompt evangelical political action. Against the spirit of Roe, evangelicals were forced to rethink their biblical priorities and their theological assumptions. Thirty years after Roe v. Wade, evangelical theology is, in many ways, transformed. This doctrinal development, however, remains static. The challenges of Roe are mutating and accelerating, forcing evangelicals to rethink further how the Spirit would have them to live as pro-life exiles in pro-choice America. While the past thirty years have been pivotal in evangelical applied theology, the next thirty years may be even more crucial to the future of evangelical theology.

Roe and Evangelical Theology:
The Past Thirty Years

The roots of Roe v. Wade reach back to a pastor’s study. Sarah Weddington was more than simply the attorney who successfully argued the landmark case before the United States Supreme Court. She was a driving philosophical force behind th...

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