A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Profound and Prophetic Voice in United Methodism

Bishop Timothy Whitaker is a welcome and timely voice in United Methodism. His latest commentary on abortion is one more fine example of his insight and wisdom.

Here is a two paragraph quote to whet your appetite:

Often we rationalize our avoidance of this subject by pointing out that there are other moral issues to consider besides abortion: the threat of the modern way of life to the natural world, the continuing existence of stockpiles of nuclear weapons, the human misery of global poverty and disease, and a system of global economics tilted against under-developed nations. All of these other issues must be addressed as profound moral concerns and urgent practical problems. Yet their rightful demand for our attention is no excuse for failing to be concerned about abortion. We are capable of dealing with more than one, or several, moral concerns at the same time.

Also, we often hear the truism that it is foolish to become obsessed with a single issue, such as abortion. Of course, it is a mistake to single out one moral concern to the practical exclusion of others in our daily discourse, ethical reflection and political attention. Nevertheless, the fact that a few would be so foolish is no excuse for the rest of us avoiding being engaged in an issue. The narrowness of others who are obsessed with abortion is no excuse for the rest of us to narrow the scope of our own moral attention by excluding abortion from our view.

Bishop Whitaker's entire editorial can be read here.


Anonymous said...

It is a well-written column and contains a great deal of wisdom.

I found this line curious, though.

There is one fact that will continue to affect public debate and personal moral reasoning, and that is the reality that a human life begins with conception.He supports this claim of "fact" by quoting a novelist and a poet, but not the UM Book of Disicpline or the Bible. I'll note that even his poet may disagree with him as a "fetus" is a term for a developing baby at about 8 weeks and after. Wendell Berry's poem - at least - does not appear to support the bishop's claim.

Since neither religious leaders nor secular medical and legal experts agree with the claim that life begins at conception, I think there is quite a bit more room to allow doubts and questions than the bishop does.

I am not against any ministries or efforts to reach out in love and support to women and children.

But there is much less clarity than the bishop claims here.

Jonathan Marlowe said...

I, too, have expressed my admiration for Bishop Whitaker and his writings. I spoke with him personally at jurisdictional conference and encouraged him to write a book. I think that Whitaker's voice, along with Willimon's, is the strongest theological voice we have in the Council of Bishops.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen to that! Wise words.