First published in 1981, Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto is increasingly relevant today in 2010. The book, penned as a Christian response to the Communist and Humanist Manifestos, describes how the United States is being systematically torn apart by secular humanism and its “material-energy, chance world view.” The second half of the book details what actions the Christian should take in defending one’s self and country.
In explaining civil disobedience, Schaeffer uses Samuel Rutherford’s model of “three appropriate levels of resistance.”
“First, he must defend himself by protest (in contemporary society this would most often be by legal action); second, he must flee if at all possible; and, third, he may use force, if necessary, to defend himself (Schaeffer 103).”
Schaeffer then goes on to provide an example that would be worthy of Rutherford’s first level of resistance.
“In our day an illustration for the need of protest is tax money used for abortion. After all the normal constitutional means of protest had been exhausted, then what could be done? At some point protest could lead some Christians to refuse to pay some portion of their tax money. Of course, this would mean a trial. Such a move would have to be the individual’s choice under God. No one should decide for another. But somewhere along the way, such a decision might easily have to be faced. Happily, at the present time in the United States the Hyde Amendment has removed the use of national tax money for abortions, but that does not change the possibility that in some cases such a protest would be the only way to be heard (Schaeffer 108).”
Fastforward 19 years. Today, the concern for pro-lifers is no longer the Hyde Amendment. The United States now has a tax-funded federal healthcare program that, according to a new Congressional Research Service report, allows federal tax dollars to fund elective abortions.
What should be the Christian response? If the legal challenges fail and our government does indeed choose to use federal tax money to fund the killing of unborn babies, how will God’s people respond?
It is interesting just how prophetic Francis Schaeffer’s thoughts and concerns were. This is the first of his writings I have read and I look forward to reading more of his work. The abortion fight is no different than any other war in the sense that individual battles will decide victory. But the battles involved have so much more at stake than I often realize. There is certainly a “war of world views” going on in this country and the preservation or destruction of the U.S. Constitution will surely determine if liberty is for all or none.
Schaeffer, Francis A. A Christian Manifesto. Westchester: Crossway, 1982.