Mark D. Tooley: Kirsten Powers, Why Convert to Catholicism and Yet Disregard Biblical Teaching on Abortion?

Commentator Kirsten Powers wrote a USA Today column lamenting recent state initiatives to limit abortion, describing herself as both “pro-choice and pro-life.” She recalled her own conversion to Evangelicalism a decade ago and more recent induction into Roman Catholicism. She wrote:

Throughout this period, I was surrounded by people who believe that one could not be a “real Christian” if they weren’t “pro-life.” I wanted to be a real Christian. Though I didn’t see much in what I read in the Bible to justify this litmus test, I was new to the faith and trusted those who seemed more theologically knowledgeable.

Of course the Roman Catholic Church, which Powers has joined, has an emphatic teaching about the humanity of unborn human life and its merits for protection by civil society. Many social and political issues are matters of Christian prudential judgment. But for Roman Catholics, their church’s teaching on abortion is binding.

As a Protestant, I’ve always been perplexed by committed Catholics, especially adult converts, who presumably have carefully pondered their church’s truth claims, and then reject or minimize them. Why join or remain with an institution and faith tradition whose core premises are deeply faulty?

Powers is a journalist and thought leader who presumably was catechized in Catholic teaching during her induction into the church. She knows this church has a very long, deep and rich ethical tradition about human life that cannot be encapsulated by a few Bible verses. Yet in her column she does not engage her church’s teaching at all. Instead she treats the issue as merely another hot button in American culture wars.

Some ardent Catholics might dismiss Powers as a de facto Protestant, asserting sweeping truth claims against Roman Catholic teaching based on individual preference alone. But this caricature, although found among many individual Protestants, is not true of classic Protestantism.

Every major stream of historic Christianity, including Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox, believe in a corporate Body of Christ alive across millennia and all cultures, sustained by the Holy Spirit. No individual Christian in any church is left isolated to craft his or her own corpus of ethical teachings. Instead, wonderfully, every Christian has access to an incredible moral tradition shaped and sustained by saints, martyrs and scholars from every land and era.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Mark D. Tooley