And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord…
Written by Terry Schlossberg
Modern views about abortion in the Christian Church tend to be shaped by beliefs that dominate the culture. Even the language the church uses to talk about abortion—when it has the courage to speak—often is the language of the culture and not of the church. Hence, many in the church have developed the belief that abortion is not an issue suitable for discussion in the church. It is a social and public policy issue and will be resolved—if it is ever resolved—in that arena. The church, many assume, has nothing significant to contribute to the discussion
"I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth,
And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord…"
Here, with this statement of belief about our Savior, begins the long central section of the Creed with its strong Christological focus handed down to us by the earliest Church Fathers. The doctrinal beliefs about Jesus take up most of the Creed and give us several angles at which to view our Savior in the context of the issues of life.
Jesus is our Maker and life-giver
In this first phrase we see at the very center Jesus’s relationship to the Father. He is the only Son of the Father. With the Holy Spirit, these three persons comprise the one God in an eternal relationship of love. Out of that love that has no beginning, issued the moment when time began and creation was called forth.
Scripture teaches that all three persons of the Trinity are involved in creation. This section focuses on the Son who, with the Father and the Spirit, is by his very nature the Giver of life: "In the beginning was the Word...without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life..." (John 1:1-4).
Jesus is our brother, knit together in his mother's womb
In the fullness of time, that Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). The Son, while eternally begotten of the Father, was begotten in time, of a human mother. He took up our humanity, and knit it to himself for all time! Now the Son is our brother. So we may see how we, like Jesus, are "begotten, not made," by our human parents. We are knit together by God in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:13), just as Jesus was knit together in his mother’s womb. We are gifts of God delivered into the care of human families, just as Jesus grew up in Joseph the carpenter’s home in Nazareth. And we become God’s own children by adoption. We become partakers of the eternal life of the Triune God as the Holy Spirit unites us in faith to Jesus Christ.
Praying as one of us, Jesus called to his Father, revealing the preciousness of the familial relationship we have with God. Responding to the grace and love he has shown us in Christ, we, too, dare to call him Abba: Father.
Father and Son are the model for family
So it is in this revelatory phrase that we learn the eternal familial bond expressed as Father and Son, an eternal relationship of intimacy and love that blesses all of us and is the model for the blessing of earthly family relationship. Jesus, himself begotten of Mary, teaches us the procreative blessing of family. And from our knowledge that it is God who gives each of us life, we begin to learn how precious each one of us is to the One who has created us in our mothers’ wombs.
How precious we are to Jesus
The Heidelberg Catechism explores the use of each of the names used in the Creed for the Son of God. These words of the Apostles’ Creed that Christians traditionally have repeated each Lord’s Day carry with them a world of teaching about who the Son is, and what he has done for each one of us. In probing the meaning embedded in the names we can see even more how precious each of us is to God.
Jesus means Savior, and represents the whole of Scripture’s teaching about our redemption at the cost of Jesus’s life. God became human to save us humans who cannot save ourselves.
Christ means Anointed One: the Son as Prophet and Teacher, says the catechism–the one who reveals God and his will to us.
Christ also is anointed our only High Priest. He not only gave his life as a ransom for us, he also intercedes with the Father for us. And he is Christ the eternal King: our governor, defender and sustainer. So precious are we human beings that not only Jesus’s death but also his ongoing offices are pointed at our redemption and increasing intimacy with God. This is surely why the Westminster Catechism begins by saying that a human being’s primary purpose in life is "to glorify God and enjoy him forever." That statement captures the sense of intimacy that God draws us to in Christ.
Finally, the catechism names the Son–this Jesus–as our Lord, because, says the Heidelberg, "he has redeemed us body and soul...and has bought us for his very own." Because he is our Savior, he is our Lord.
Why each human life is sacred
As Jesus is the image of the invisible God, so we are told in Genesis that each of us is created in God’s image. In spite of our sinfulness, and because of God’s great love for us, we are little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor.
John Calvin caught the implication of this very special love that God has for us human beings in commenting on the sixth commandment, "Thou shall not kill." Calvin wrote, "Now, if we do not wish to violate the image of God, we ought to hold our neighbor sacred," reverencing the image of God imprinted in us, says Calvin, and looking out for his safety in both body and soul (Institutes, Book II, Chapter VIII, paragraph 40.). So are we to love our neighbors as ourselves.
The charge to care for each other as we care for Jesus
Jesus emphasized the importance of protecting and caring for all those in the human community when he told us that what we do to our brothers and sisters we do to him (Matt. 25:31-46).
The Son of God, our Savior, Prophet, Teacher, High Priest, and Lord, laid down his life for those who are his own creation, who belong to him, and who–every one–are called into his life-giving kingdom. Jesus’s life and death declare to us how precious each one of us is–yes, even sacred in God’s eyes. We are bound by the claim our Savior makes on us by his love to love and care for each other. The promises and the expectations are for us and our children, born and unborn.
Mrs. Terry Schlossberg served as the Executive Director of PPL from 1986-2005, during the time when these essays were written.