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The Connection between R.C. Sproul’s Biggest Literary Failure & The Canada Summer Jobs Application

Many Canadians have heard of the new Canada Summer Jobs application (applicants must affirm abortion and LGBT rights to receive government funding for interns). As the government introduced the application, R.C. Sproul, one of our generations greatest pastor/theologians, passed away.

The two events share a connection. In this article, I desire to exhort Christians to respond biblically to our government’s new attestation requirement by considering something near to the heart of the late R.C. Sproul.

Trivia question

Q: What does R.C. Sproul’s biggest literary failure and the government’s new Summer Jobs application have in common?

A: Both explicitly address and attempt to influence our thoughts and actions about abortion.

This is so important. Let me explain.

R.C. Sproul wrote a book about abortion (Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue) in 1990 which went out of print faster than any of his more than 70 published books. Sproul himself said, “Every book has a particular shelf life before the disinterest sets in, and the book goes out of print… Quite frankly, we couldn’t give it away.”

The book was accompanied by a video series to educate the evangelical church on how to engage with the culture over the sin of abortion. Sproul was “amazed” at the response from churches and pastors. Although they fully agreed with the content, they would not use the series in their church. In their view, “it would divide the church.”

Fast forward to the present day in Canada. When the Prime Minister changed the requirements for the summer jobs application, many Canadians vocally opposed it. This new application has placed people in a position to stand firm on their convictions, even if it costs them government funding.

I must admit, though, that it leads me to wonder: will we, as followers of Jesus, do more for these unborn children and their parents than simply fight for our right to receive grant money? Are we merely making a fuss  over an issue that we know and do very little about due to traditionalism? Are we perhaps upset that our other ministries will suffer due to fewer or no summer interns this year?

Sproul admitted that his book and video series was a failure in terms of sales and shelf life, and he knew why. The issue of abortion is so exceedingly dark and sensitive today, no one naturally desires to take a closer look at it. Ministries such as ESL, youth, or refugee ministry have taken priority over the often overlooked ministry that would put us outside of abortion clinics pleading for the lives of the unborn.

Timothy Eaton puts it this way:

It is a subject fraught with pain for any congregation. ‘Social justice’ issues in the form of helping the poor and homeless have carried the day, because there is little or no guilt associated with them and everyone can feel good at the end of the day. No question that helping the poor is a Biblical mandate. But with abortion, there is a tremendous tension between compassion for women and men who have killed their babies on the one hand, and telling the truth to rouse believers to action on the other.

R.C. Sproul Jr. further underscores the dark side of abortion:

Abortion is a phenomenally grizzly business. Like the doctrine of hell, I think abortion is something you cannot look at too closely, for too long, or it will literally drive you mad. When we consider what goes on 3500 times every day, and we think about the preciousness of little babies, and the innocence of these children, you can’t, you CAN’T look at it too closely. But what we can and should do is push ourselves to look closer, and closer, and closer. To get into the horror, so it stops being merely some important political issue that might influence our vote. This needs to be something that keeps us awake at night.

And it will do just that. Gone are my days of ignorant bliss, and unscientific thoughts of a fetus being a “clump of cells.” I saw the horror and grieved the loss of the innocent babies’ lives that our country has willingly supported for decades. I repented of my sin of ignorance and inaction, and the Lord used this evil to create in me a greater longing for the return of our Saviour.

Abortion is in a league of its own compared to other issues that the church seeks to biblically address. I would like to challenge pastors and believers across Canada to examine if we, as the body of Christ, are being faithful to the Scriptures in how we are addressing this injustice by calling to mind the following passages:

Mark 12:31: The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ (The unborn are our smallest most helpless neighbours.)

Proverbs 31:8-9: Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 24:10-12: If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?

Our government is pushing for the increased dehumanization of this helpless group of humans, and I submit to you that this is the biggest human rights issue of our day. We are killing 100,000+ children per year in Canada by abortion. Sproul rightly pointed out that “[t]he single most important task of any government is the protection, maintenance, and support of human life, and our government has abdicated its responsibility before God in regards to abortion” (Abortion: A Rational Look).

Consider the following data:

  • Canada has zero laws surrounding abortion; it is legal until the moment of birth (see here and here)
  • The procedure is done by dismemberment, suctioning them to pieces (5-13 weeks old), or using a sopher clamp to pull them limb from limb (13-24 weeks) (See link to former abortion Dr.)
  • There are known populations in our country partaking in sex selective abortion
  • A new study in the USA shows nearly 75% of post-abortive women felt pressured in some way
  • Canada’s criminal code calls the unborn a child, but it does not become human until it fully emerges from the mother in a living state
  • This is a terrible evil quietly taking place in our country, and the Bible explicitly calls us to action, not simply re-action when our government puts us in an undesirable financial position

There is glory to be given to God outside of these clinics through the proclamation of the Gospel, and the pleading for babies’ lives. We know from experience that there are lives to be saved right outside the doors of these death camps. Sproul’s church has witnessed the fruit of their labours outside the Orlando Women’s Centre as babies and their parents spared from abortion fill their pews every Lord’s Day. Let us learn from our brothers and sisters to the South as we enter these uncharted waters. (For example, see End Abortion Now, Who Will Stand and Life Is Best).

If we are waiting for the cries of these tiny humans to move us into action, it will never happen. They are the poor voiceless ones being led to the slaughter and we are commanded to speak on their behalf, and to seek to reconcile their parents’ souls back to God. We cannot defer this work to para-church organizations (i.e. pregnancy care centres). PCC’s are crucial for crisis pregnancies and practical support. However, they do not meet abortion-minded men and women where they are: outside of abortion clinics as they are moments from killing their child. And they cannot adequately address the soul’s issue of sin and separation from God. It is a call that only the church can answer, with the Gospel of grace and truth.

No abortion clinic in our country should be regularly unattended by Gospel proclaiming beacons of light, who are prepared to share love, truth, and practical help with people seeking abortion. Ephesians 5:11 instructs us to “[t]ake no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” May we move forward in exposing this darkness while our Prime Minister, in God’s sovereignty, has squarely placed the spotlight upon the issue. And may we shine the light of the Gospel into the thousands of seemingly hopeless situations encountered daily outside of abortion clinics.

I will leave you with words from the late R.C. Sproul:

People have lost the capacity to blush over this issue (abortion). This is not just evil, this is a monstrous evil. And I’ve been a theologian, I’ve spent my whole life studying theology, teaching theology, and I can tell you, if I know anything at all about God, I know that God hates abortion, and I know that he will not tolerate this forever.

So pastor, parent, teen, Christian, let’s “push ourselves to look closer and closer and closer.” Place this injustice before your eyes so that the truth may move you to action.