The Briefing 02-05-15

The Briefing 02-05-15

The Briefing


February 5, 2015

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


It’s Thursday, February 5, 2015.  I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

1) Aggressive abortionist reactions to new abortion ban proposals exposes shocking worldview

On The Briefing we don’t get to discuss just those issues that are easy to discuss. When it comes to the most fundamental issues of the Christian worldview, fundamental biblical truths – especially a truth like the dignity and sanctity of every single human life. Those issues, especially when they appear in the form of a new argument, demand our attention. As much as it may be difficult to talk about this essay – the essay that will be the focus of our concern, as much as it is horrifying to address head on the arguments made in this essay.

The article comes from the liberal website ThinkProgress; it’s by Tara Culp-Ressler and it is entitled The Next Antiabortion Strategy Lurking Around the Corner. Writing in the essay the author says,

“In what could represent their next major effort to dismantle the protections under Roe v. Wade, abortion opponents are laying the groundwork for a new attack on reproductive rights that borrows a page out of their old playbook.”

This is a very important essay. It is a horrifying essay. Culp-Ressler writes,

“Several pieces of similar legislation emerging on a state level could be the beginning of a national trend. The measures are cloaked in emotional language about ‘fetal dismemberment’ that’s reminiscent of the pro-life community’s successful push to enact the country’s first national abortion ban.”

What’s she talking about? That’s the partial-birth abortion ban that was adopted by Congress, signed into law by President George W. Bush, and eventually upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States of America. And it came only after majorities in both houses of Congress came to the conclusion that what was represented in terms of the partial-birth abortion was something so horrifying that it simply couldn’t be legal.

Because it’s absolutely necessary, let me remind you that a partial-birth abortion was one in which a nearly fully formed baby – indeed in many cases a fully formed baby – just hours indeed or minutes before it might otherwise be born, was born in every way except for its head in order that the abortion would take place then and that the baby would be killed. As Sen. Moynihan said – and he was a liberal Democrat himself – we’re not talking about something that’s almost the intentional murder of a child, we’re talking about the murder of a child.

The argument made in this essay was that the partial-birth abortion ban was itself an insidious assault upon a woman’s reproductive choice. The actual implication of this article is that the baby, even up to the point where it is minutes before being born at full term, is not a person who deserves any kind of standing what so ever. The author of this essay makes very clear that at least in physical terms she understand exactly what a partial-birth abortion is; it is a process that allows the birth canal to expand in order

“…to allow an entire fetus to pass through,”

She does acknowledge exactly what the process is. What she doesn’t acknowledge is that the child is actually a human being, a human person.

Looking back with lament to the partial-birth abortion ban act of 2003, she then writes about what she describes as the current challenge of new legislation and she quote Dr. Anne Davis, identified as consulting medical director for Physicians for Reproductive Health and an OB/GYN who does abortions, she told the website,

“This is a familiar tactic, similar to the other types of bans we’ve seen. It seems the strategy is to take language that provokes emotional responses and then to argue that, because there’s an emotional reaction to something, it should be illegal.”

Now remember, what we’re talking about here is what’s being described as an emotional reaction to something, and that something is the murder of a child. Culp-Ressler then writes,

“This time around, the legislation is a little more detailed, providing a graphic definition for ‘dismemberment abortion.’”

As important as this issue is, as crucial as it is that we discuss it, I simply can’t describe the process as it is described in this article. But what we need to come to terms with is the fact that the D&E or Dilation and Extraction form of abortion that is being addressed here is a form of abortion that tears the unborn child apart in the womb before it is removed. And as hard as it is to hear or to speak about such things, just imagine this sentence from her essay:

“This type of abortion, which takes about 30 minutes to perform, has become the standard practice for terminating a pregnancy after 12 weeks.”

Back when the partial-birth abortion ban act was being discussed, we were told that it was a very rare procedure – that there were very few third trimester abortions. And in terms of the larger picture of abortion, very few actually do take place in the third trimester. But there are many in the second trimester and this particular essay points to the fact that what’s happening in terms of the majority of abortions that take place between the third and six months of pregnancy, in that middle trimester as it’s described, the standard practice is indeed the tearing apart of the child.

I must admit to you that at this point I’m having an excruciating difficulty knowing how to discuss this. But I simply can’t live with my conscience if I don’t discuss it. Even among those who are pro-life, one of the difficulties is actually coming to terms with what an abortion is – to remind ourselves of why this particular issue is unavoidable; why our engagement with this issue as believing Christians isn’t just something that is an elective application of worldview thinking, but rather is an urgent moral cause that should summon our attention and everything within us. But the clash of worldviews that is evident here is one we simply have to heed; we simply have to understand it. Because in this essay there’s a doctor cited, that is Dr. David Grimes, a clinical professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, he is also an abortion provider, he told the website,

“The language is so vague…”

Speaking of the legislation – and by the way it’s not vague, it’s overly specific. So specific I can’t read it on this program. Even as it is a piece of legislation, actually now proposed in the state of South Dakota. I can’t read it to you. This doctor says,

“The language is so vague that this would be impossible to enforce,”

And then he says,

“It reveals a lack of knowledge of the procedures that the bill proposes to outlaw.”

But as this essay makes clear, the problem really isn’t a lack of awareness of what’s going on in these procedures, but in all too unavoidable awareness. And in terms of how this has become standard procedure Culp-Ressler writes,

“This is the method of second-trimester abortion that researchers from the World Health Organization endorse, and it’s now preferred by the vast majority of U.S. patients having midtrimester terminations because it’s a simple outpatient procedure with a low risk of complications.”

Except, of course, for the unborn child who is destroyed. One dimension of the importance of this essay is how the actuality of what’s going on here isn’t really denied; it’s just dismissed as being in anyway morally meaningful. In one of the most chilling sentences in this essay the author writes about the partial-birth abortion ban act writing,

“The conversation shifted away from women who need abortion care and toward ‘unborn babies’…”

The words unborn babies are put in quotation marks, as if there actually is no such thing. As if this is simply some kind of invented category. And then she continues,

“…toward ‘unborn babies’ being brutally ripped from the womb.”

She then says that due to that kind of framing, and by that she means, that kind of rhetorical argument, eventually the bans on partial birth abortions were passed. Not only be several states, but eventually by congress.

At some point we have to acknowledge that here we are facing not only the culture of death and not only an argument that is insidiously evil, but we’re also looking at an argument that simply won’t work. Because when you’re thinking about an unborn child, when you’re thinking about that unborn baby, there is no doubt that the woman, in general terms, who is carrying a child refers to that child as a baby. And remember that we’re talking here about a child that might be moments from being otherwise a healthy born child. But we’ve now reached the point that we have arguments being made in public in which you have very recognized academic and cultural leaders who are describing that unborn baby as if it’s just a term of art, as if it somehow just propaganda to refer to the unborn child as an unborn baby. So far as these pro-abortion advocates are concerned, there is no baby until they say there is a baby. And at that point it’s going to be in a bassinet or a cradle, nowhere in the womb.

We must always pay careful moral attention to language and here the positive language is reserved for “abortion care.” But of course we’re not talking about anything that would normally be described as care, we’re talking about a procedure to eliminate, to terminate, the life within. A lot of these arguments have been around for a long time. But it is very interesting that now that these new forms of legislation are being proposed in several states there is an aggressiveness coming from the pro-abortion argument side in which they are now making arguments that seemingly defy moral imagination. And what’s truly frightening about what’s revealed in this essay is that the writer seems to have no moral hesitation whatsoever in making these arguments – nor do any of the authorities cited in her essay. This makes perfect sense to them according to their worldview; it makes perfect sense to put the words unborn baby in quotation marks. It makes sense to talk about the termination of life simply as abortion care.

When we’re dealing with the abortion issue, whether it’s in the form of some kind of moral debate or personal conversation or when we’re looking at the political debate unfolding, we need to recognize what is at stake: nothing less than the dignity and sanctity of every single human life at every point of development. What’s at stake is the Imago Dei; that is the very clear biblical affirmation that every single human being, in every condition at every point of development, is fully made in the image of God. When David speaks of himself in the Psalms in terms of the Lord knitting him together in his mother’s womb and knowing him before anyone else knew that he existed, he did not put himself in quotation marks. He knew himself to be a person. He knew himself to have been made in the image of God. He knew himself to matter.

And in terms of politics, this matters more than most other issues that gain the headlines. Just a few days ago House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat of California, would not directly answer the question asker as to whether or not a child at 20 weeks of pregnancy is a human being. Her response,

“You know what, what we’re talking about on the floor of the House is something that says politicians should determine what effects the health of a woman, her life, her health, and the rest. I don’t think it’s up to politicians to do that. And that’s why we are very overwhelmingly opposing what is going on on the floor of the House.”

Echoing the logic found in that ThinkProgress essay, representative Pelosi said,

“You know it is really interesting that you would come to these meetings to talk about it.”

The ‘it’ being the unborn child. She went on to say,

“The fact is is what we have said: The life and the health of the mother is what is preeminent in when a decision is made about a woman’s reproductive health. It isn’t an ideological fight, it is a personal health issue.”

That’s the kind of moral dodge that we’re now growing more and more accustomed to in terms of politicians. But we need to track that back to the worldview that stands behind it. We need to understand that, as is the case in so many other issues, when it comes of the sanctity and dignity of human life there really isn’t an array of positions, there really isn’t a middle position or a third way. What we’re really looking at here is that either that unborn child is a human being made in the image of God or it is simply tissue that doesn’t matter. There really is no secular argument that seems to have any traction in pointing to the importance of that unborn child unless that unborn child is made in the image of God. Once everything is reduced simply to the moral agency of the mother, and the baby disappears, inevitably you end up with the kind of argument that appeared at ThinkProgress.

And this gets right to the heart of the Christian conscience. We must know, we must always know, that the elimination of the baby, the eclipse of the baby from the equation, is the one thing that must never happen – ever. The moment he or she becomes unimportant to the conversation then so eventually will the disabled, so eventually will be aged, so well anyone who doesn’t meet our expectation of what it means to be a human person if we get to set that expectation in terms of our own calculation by means of some secular worldview. I’ll admit, in history of doing The Briefing this is the most difficult essay to discuss. I would like to have found some way to have avoided it – I couldn’t. This is the challenge we now face and face it we must.

2) 8-year-old French boy’s support of terrorists displays formative influence of worldview of the home

Next, talking about children, I want to talk about a story that appeared in several national and international news sources in recent days. It has to do, as the Wall Street Journal reports, with the fact that French police questioned a French citizen after that individual allegedly made comments in support of terrorists. Parts, says the paper,

“…of a controversial crackdown on extremist propaganda in the wake of this month’s deadly attacks in the capital.”

You might wonder why the interrogation of one individual in France would lead to this kind of headline grabbing attention. The next paragraph from the Wall Street Journal article will make it clear.

“Police in the French city of Nice said Thursday that they have questioned a boy and his father to determine how the boy picked up what they describe as ‘alarming statements’ in support of the gunmen who killed 12 people in a terrorist attack on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7.”

We’re talking about the interrogation of an eight-year-old boy. According to Sam Schechner and Inti Landauro writing for the Wall Street Journal,

“‘I’m with the terrorists,’ the boy—identified only as Ahmed—said in class discussions, according to Sefen Guez Guez, a lawyer for the family. He says the boy didn’t understand the meaning of the word ‘terrorist’ and described the decision to refer him to police as ‘total insanity.’”

However, most frighteningly, as the article unfolds, it appears that the police had a very legitimate concern. The Journal reports,

“The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the boy’s alleged remarks, which police say is continuing, underscores the challenge France faces in balancing free speech with combating terrorism.”

They go on to say that the French schools have been particular battlegrounds:

“After the attacks this month, France’s education ministry directed teachers to report any ‘behavior challenging the values of the Republic’ to school officials.”

You’ll recall recently on The Briefing we discussed the fact that the French government was spending a lot of money, supposedly, to train teachers in how to train students in secularism. The reason I raise this article is because it demonstrates a couple of things of fundamental importance to us.

The first thing is quite obvious: what a child hears at home eventually the child says on his own. The press coverage on this particular issue is made that clear. As the Journal reports,

“When Ahmed’s father was summoned to the school to discuss his son’s behavior, French education-ministry officials said, the father responded with violent threats, leading the school to alert police.”

While the French are giving attention to how the elementary schools in that country frame the worldview of students seeking to ground those students in the worldview of secularism, the fact is that the worldview of the home is far more formative in the life of a child than the worldview of the school. And even if the French may be trying to invest a great deal of money in training teachers to inculcate secularism in the students, the reality is that the family is going to overcome what takes place in the schools. And once again we have to note that secularism as a worldview is just rather defenseless and weak over against any form of theism – in particular, the kind of theism that is represented by the Muslim beliefs of this French family.

While France has been doing its very by national determination over the course of the last 200+ years to eradicate the public influence of Christianity, the vacuum that was left behind hasn’t been filled by the secularism the French had hoped. Rather, increasingly, neighborhood by neighborhood, headline by headline, what we’re seeing is that Islam is now overtaking secularism in terms of potency and in terms of the battle for the young – especially when it comes to the young that is represented by this eight-year-old boy who came to the attention of French authorities.

According to the coverage of the same account in the New York Times, the boy said to his schoolteacher

“We must kill the French. I am with the terrorists. Muslims have done well. The journalists deserved to die,”

One other aspect of this story is to understand that this eight-year-old boy didn’t come with a very unformed argument, he came with a very specific well-formed argument. He seemed to know exactly what he was asserting; he seemed to know exactly what he was saying. That makes this story all the more concerning. You put all this together and you realize that we are continually involved in a battle for the minds of every single individual. And dare not leave out the youngest among us. Here we’re talking about an eight year old boy and the fact that French authorities now know they must take him, his statement, his worldview, and his threats, seriously – they simply have to. And though it’s not acknowledged in the article, it does seem that there is some resignation to the fact that they can’t overcome this kind of argument with nothing but secularism.

3) Vague details of new top spy example of dangers and necessities of fallen world

Finally, another article that appeared recently in the Wall Street Journal and it points to what it means to live in such a dangerous age and to live in such a dangerous time. The article by Damian Paletta is entitled CIA Taps Undercover ‘Spider’ as Its Top Spy. This article seems like something that would’ve come out of a James Bond movie or something written as a historical fictional thriller, but as Damian Paletta reports,

“The Central Intelligence Agency has selected a new top spy, tapping an undercover veteran who played a central role in developing personal relationships with Afghan leaders after the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.”

Now what makes this article really interesting is how this top spy for America is now identified – simply by one name, ‘spider.’ As Journal reports,

“He remains undercover and is known within the agency as ‘Spider,’ a U.S. official said. His new role will be director of the National Clandestine Service, a position that effectively makes him responsible for all the CIA’s spying activities.”

According to the Journal,

“The CIA wouldn’t reveal any information about the new NCS chief. A spokesman said the agency had elevated ‘one of the CIA’s most gifted and versatile leaders.’”

According to the article,

“Spider is succeeding another agency veteran who the agency won’t identify. He is likely to be based at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.”

An article like this can quickly pass by without our understanding what’s really being revealed here. We’re living in a world in which it seems to make sense that we would have an individual, assigned this kind of responsibility, that is reported in the international media – so long as the agent is described only by one name – ‘Spider.’

We’re living in a world in which a government like United States can’t operate in the blind. It has to have some means of gaining information and were living in an age in which that information can make the difference between life and death, and very quickly. We’re living in a world in which the preservation of liberties requires individuals assigned by our government to do things that no one else would be either signed a do, or allowed to do. We’re looking at the fact that in a fallen world very dark things happen. So dark that here we have an announcement made in nothing less than the Wall Street Journal about the appointment of America’s new top spy, identified as the one who will be head of the National Clandestine Service. And that clandestine part is really important because all we know about this person, who is now the top spy for the United States, is that his name is ‘spider.’

You didn’t watch that in a fictional television series, you didn’t just read that in terms of the fictional narrative. This is the Wall Street Journal; this is real life. And of course in a fallen world like this one, one other thing is very clear: out there you can be sure are other spiders.


Thanks for listening to The Briefing. Remember the upcoming new release of Ask Anything: Weekend Edition; the new series beings Saturday, February 14. Call with your question, in your voice, to 877-505-2058, that’s 877-505-2058.


For more information go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary go to For information on Boyce College just go to I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

Podcast Transcript

1) Aggressive abortionist reactions to new abortion ban proposals exposes shocking worldview

The Next Anti-Abortion Strategy Lurking Around The Corner, ThinkProgress (Tara Culp-Ressler)

2) 8-year-old French boy’s support of terrorists displays formative influence of worldview of the home

French Police Question 8-Year-Old Over Remarks on Terror Attacks, Wall Street Journal (Sam Schechner and Inti Landauro)

French Police Question Boy, 8, After Remarks on Paris Attacks, New York Times (Maïa de la Baume and Dan Bilefsky)

3) Vague details of new top spy example of dangers and necessities of fallen world

CIA Taps Undercover ‘Spider’ as Its Top Spy, Wall Street Journal (Damian Paletta)

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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