Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Abortion, Tiller and Murder Compounded

Jun 1, 2009

A notorious abortionist was shot dead yesterday in Wichita, Kansas. Should he have been shot dead? No. That was murder. At this stage we know nothing about the man who did the shooting, what his motives were, or why it took place.

For decades now George Tiller has been a late-term abortionist, who has often been the focal point of battles between pro-abortion and anti-abortion forces. He was shot dead while entering his Lutheran church on Sunday. Hours later a 51-year-old man was arrested over the shooting.

As I write this piece the details of the shooter are unknown, but undoubtedly they will soon be revealed. He may have been someone opposed to abortion. He may have been someone who had a close friend or family member who was grieving over having had an abortion. Time will tell.

But as I said, it was wrong to kill him. Our commiserations and prayers go out to his family. No true pro-lifer should condone the taking of an abortionist’s life, no matter how much murder the abortionist is involved in. Late-term abortions are especially horrific and barbaric forms of murder of the unborn, but that does not make it right for the abortionist to be murdered as well.

The rule of law must be allowed to work itself out. And if the law is a bad law (as it is in this case, to allow late-term abortions) then we must re-double our efforts to change those laws. But if this killer was an anti-abortionist, then he has contradicted his own message and value system by committing this crime.

Because details are so sketchy at this point, little more can be said about the shooting. But much can be said about this monstrous form of abortion. (Of course all abortions are monstrous, but this one is especially so.)

Late term abortions are also known as partial birth abortions, or dilation and extraction (D&X) abortions. I have elsewhere written on how this form of baby killing works, and I repeat that information here:

“The D&X method is barbaric. The abortionist pulls the baby out with a forceps. He then delivers the baby’s body feet first, leaving the head inside. Scissors are then inserted into the base of the skull of the live baby and spread to enlarge the hole. The brains are then sucked out with a suction catheter.

“The difference between the D&X procedure and homicide is about three inches. If the head had also been taken out of the mother, the doctor would have a legal requirement to do all he can to save the child. But by leaving the head in, he can perform his ‘family planning’ technique without fear of consequence.”

A set of diagrams on the gruesome procedure can be found here:

One nurse who had been involved in that abortion method had to walk away from it. This is how she described the situation in a testimony to the US Congress:

I am a registered nurse, licensed in the State of Ohio, with 14 years of experience. In 1993, I was employed by Kimberly Quality Care, a nursing agency in Dayton, Ohio. In September, 1993, Kimberly Quality Care asked me to accept assignment at the Women’s Medical Center, which is operated by Dr. Martin Haskell. I readily accepted the assignment because I was at that time very pro-choice. I had even told my teenage daughters that if one of them ever got pregnant at a young age, I would make them get an abortion….

[We] inserted laminaria to dilate the cervixes of women who were being prepared for the partial-birth abortions – those who were past the 20 weeks point, or 4 1/2 months. (Dr. Haskell called this procedure “D & X”, for dilation and extraction.) There were six or seven of these women.

On the third day, Dr. Haskell asked me to observe as he performed several of the procedures that are the subject of this hearing. Although I was in that clinic on assignment of the agency, Dr. Haskell was interested in hiring me full time, and I was being given orientation in the entire range of procedures provided at that facility.

I was present for three of these partial-birth procedures. It is the first one that I will describe to you in detail. The mother was six months pregnant (26 1/2 weeks). A doctor told her that the baby had Down Syndrome and she decided to have an abortion. She came in the first two days to have the laminaria inserted and changed, and she cried the whole time. On the third day she came in to receive the partial-birth procedure.

Dr. Haskell brought the ultrasound in and hooked it up so that he could see the baby. On the ultrasound screen, I could see the heart beating. As Dr. Haskell watched the baby on the ultrasound screen, the baby’s heartbeat was clearly visible on the ultrasound screen.

Dr. Haskell went in with forceps and grabbed the baby’s legs and pulled them down into the birth canal. Then he delivered the baby’s body and the arms – everything but the head. The doctor kept the baby’s head just inside the uterus.

The baby’s little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors through the back of his head, and the baby’s arms jerked out in a flinch, a startle reaction, like a baby does when he thinks that he might fall.

The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening and sucked the baby’s brains out. Now the baby was completely limp. I was really completely unprepared for what I was seeing. I almost threw up as I watched the doctor do these things.

Dr. Haskell delivered the baby’s head. He cut the umbilical cord and delivered the placenta. He threw that baby in a pan, along with the placenta and the instruments he’d used. I saw the baby move in the pan. I asked another nurse and she said it was just “reflexes.”

I have been a nurse for a long time and I have seen a lot of death – people maimed in auto accidents, gunshot wounds, you name it. I have seen surgical procedures of every sort. But in all my professional years, I had never witnessed anything like this.

The woman wanted to see her baby, so they cleaned up the baby and put it in a blanket and handed the baby to her. She cried the whole time, and she kept saying, “I’m so sorry, please forgive me!” I was crying too. I couldn’t take it. That baby boy had the most perfect angelic face I have ever seen.

I was present in the room during two more such procedures that day, but I was really in shock. I tried to pretend that I was somewhere else, to not think about what was happening. I just couldn’t wait to get out of there. After I left that day, I never went back. These last two procedures, by the way, involved healthy mothers with healthy babies.

I was very much affected by what I had seen. For a long time, sometimes still, I had nightmares about what I saw in that clinic that day. . . . I wish I hadn’t seen it. But I did see it, and I will never be able to forget it. That baby boy was only inches, seconds away from being entirely born, when he was killed. What I saw done to that little boy, and to those other babies, should not be allowed in this country…..

The full account by nurse Shafer can be found at numerous places. Here is one:

Dr Tiller should not have been murdered. But unborn babies should not be so viciously murdered either.

[1311 words]

94 Responses to Abortion, Tiller and Murder Compounded

  • Well written, Bill.
    Murray Bentham

  • Nice post Bill.

    I’m bothered by the number of people already claiming this is typical of “pro-lifers” and how big a hypocrites they are etc.

    Funny how the pro-life groups always come out and condemn this stuff in the strongest possible language. Not so with Animal Rights groups, Islamists, etc. Though they seem to get a pass for some reason.

    Doubly irritating is that the suspect has not been charged yet, he may be released as not the shooter, and no statement has been made by the shooter about his reasons for the murder. Yet of course the “verdict” is already in and pro-life groups are to blame for this violence.

    It is unfortunate he was murdered, but I think it will ultimately be more unfortunate the political mileage that will be made out of his murder and the hagiography that will be heaped upon someone who can only right be considered a barbarian.

    I did see a two word comment on the whole thing someone made that I hope isn’t true, but seems at least a possibility at this point. Reichstag fire. I doubt he was “martyred” in this fashion to achieve that end, but I suspect it will be exploited for all the political advantage it can be.

    Jason Rennie

  • Yes, indeed, Bill, every pro-life supporter should condemn this act of murder (as I do), regardless of who the victim was.

    I notice that several pro-life agencies have immediately issued statements strongly condemning this violent act and moving to distance themselves from it.

    And a suspect has been identified – not that it really matters what his name is – and is in custody being questioned.

    But be on the lookout now for skewed reports and comments from the mainstream media, never mind the pro-death lobby. They will blame the whole pro-life movement and/or its leaders, rather than the actual perpetrator concerned, and the deceit about the commodification of death will continue.

    In fact, what is scary is one quote from NOW I have read calling on the the Department of Homeland Security to “root out and prosecute as domestic terrorists and violent racketeers the criminal enterprise that has organized and funded criminal acts for decades.”

    There are other similar quotes from the pro-death extremists. It would be funny if it wasn’t so outrageously hypocritical about a very serious subject.

    Mark Rabich

  • Thanks, Bill, for yet another inciteful article. But I am torn with this one. You say, “But as I said, it was wrong to kill him. Our commiserations and prayers go out to his family. No true pro-lifer should condone the taking of an abortionist’s life, no matter how much murder the abortionist is involved in.”

    How would this logic hold up in the case of Dietrich Bonhoffer who, as I understand the matter, was executed as part of the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler?

    Can I assume that you are of the position that, as Martin Luther would argue, Christians have an absolute duty to obey the laws of the State? I find it interesting that Dr. Tiller was a Lutheran. What would Martin Luther say?

    Were you to find yourself in the operating rule of a late-term, partial-birth abortionist, what would you do apart from, as the nurse in your blog stated, vomiting?

    God help us! Any country that legally allows such atrocities unrepentantly will surely one day feel the full wrath of God’s vengeance and judgment upon it.

    Steve Swartz

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer is regarded as a Christian hero because he took a stand for Christian principles against the Nazi machine. Yet it was his involvement in plans to assassinate Hitler that led to his arrest in April 1943 and his execution in April 1945, shortly before the war’s end. He is considered a Christian martyr.

    Was it wrong for Bonhoffer to have been involved in such an assassination attempt?

    Was it wrong for the Hebrew midwives to defy Pharaoh and refuse to kill the baby boys (Ex 1:15-21)? Was it wrong for Moses to kill the Egyptian (Ex 2:11-12)? Was it wrong for Peter and John to defy the orders of their government (Acts 4:19-20)?

    How many babies did Tiller kill and was he continuing to kill? Why did his church not speak against his murders and excommunicate him? It reminds me of Bonhoffer’s time when 2/3 of the German church went along with Hitler.

    It is easy for us to judge that Hitler was wrong and the German Christians were right to resist him. But it is less clear in our own day and our own country. How should we respond when immoral, barbaric acts of terror are committed against helpless babies and those who perpetrate them are protected by our government?

    Tas Walker

  • Thanks guys

    Yes I am quite aware of the common counterarguments, as well as the example of Bonhoeffer. And one can easily come up with various parallel hypotheticals here.

    It is just that we want to be quite careful what we say in public on this issue. At the moment – at least in the US – emotions are raw, and more heat than light is currently being generated on this controversy. There is certainly a place to debate complex ethical theories and practices, and examine possible options surrounding them.

    An ethic of love and non-violence must be consistently applied here, although there are of course legitimate cases of killing. But this was a case of murder, not killing, if we want to see the rule of law upheld. Murder is basically defined as the unlawful taking of human life.

    But God has ordained the state to execute judgment on wrongdoers. It is not our place to usurp the role of the state by seeking for personal vengeance. Of course if the state orders a Christian to violate the laws of God, then things get much murkier. But I have written on these various topics elsewhere, for example:

    The ethical debates are very real, and very deep. But again we must be carefully aware of, and sensitive to, the public perceptions on this issue at the moment.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • The important thing to consider in relation to the killing of abortionists and whether it can ever be justified is the consequences of such an action. For the most part I think such incidents have a negative effect on our cause and of course the media will milk this incident for all its worth to make sure people will harden their hearts in opposition to the pro-life cause rather then have them realise the profound evil of abortion. Such killings get us further away from the banning of abortion so I would strongly advise against it.

    I don’t have much sympathy though for this abortionist doctor and I’m sure he’ll be descending rather then ascending at his moment of judgement.

    F. Trpimir Kesina

  • Further to what I can well imagine, as you have said, a growing firestorm of controversy, not limited to the USA. I can well conceive of considerable outrage at this ‘murder’ coming from liberal supporters of abortion, both from within and without the church.

    I mentioned Bonhoffer earlier as did another respondent to your blog. Two other names come to mind of men who either themselves or their supporters used violence to bring out the downfall of two well-acknowledged evils: John Brown in pre-Civil War America and Nelson Mandela and the ANC. Brown was executed following his failed raid on the Federal armory at Harper’s Ferry in 1959. While there is no indication that Nelson Mandela ever personally used violence to fight apartheid in South Africa, supporters within the ANC progressively resorted to violence to eventually achieve their ends.

    So to the extent that either Brown or Mandela considered themselves Christian, there is precedence within the Church. To the extent that either Brown or Mandela consider their actions not motivated by Christian faith but by more humanistic principles of human decency, there is precedence for the use of violence. Both sides of the coin, when push comes to shove, believe that the end does in fact, on occasion and of necessity, justify the means.

    Come to think of it: the list of political ‘heroes’ who used violence to bring down what the left would consider oppression and injustice includes the likes of Lenin, Stalin and Castro. So, in actual fact, depending on circumstance, most people from both sides of the cultural-political-religious fence still adhere to the concept of just war.

    I repeat what I said in my first response to your blog: the Bible makes it perfectly clear that, not only in the case of individuals, what is sown is what will be reaped. As Christians we can only proclaim the truth that abortion is wrong–the chips will fall as they may, one way or the other.

    By the way, in case you wonder–I own no guns!

    Steve Swartz

  • This is an extremely difficult case and immediately begs the question; what should we do when we see so much wickedness taking place around us, not just with abortion? Was the naked hatred of the man who killed Dr Tiller greater than his concern for the babies being aborted? Dr. Thomas L. Constable in his Bible notes points us to Acts chapter 7:23 -29

    “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. The next day Moses came upon two Israelites who were fighting. He tried to reconcile them by saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why do you want to hurt each other?’
    “But the man who was mistreating the other pushed Moses aside and said, ‘Who made you ruler and judge over us? Do you want to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?“ When Moses heard this, he fled to Midian….

    Corrie Ten Boon was also going to repeat the action of Moses after her sister, Betsie had just received a terrible beating from a prison camp guard. But her sister prevailed upon her not to act rashly, out of the flesh.

    There is lesson here for all of us, myself especially, when we wish to protest at the idolatry and wickedness taking place around us. Perhaps if the man who murdered Tiller had simply tried to gain access to the operating theatre and attempted to restrain him, this would have been a legitimate act and a way of drawing public attention onto Tiller rather now on himself and the pro-lifers. This was counterproductive for Tiller has now become the victim rather than the many babies he has murdered.

    Ephesians 5:11 says, “Take not part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

    One thing this does show us is that when our governments become godless, disorder results and people are driven towards extremism. I am glad to hear, Steve Swartz, that you own no guns. Has that been for some time or only within the last day or so?

    David Skinner, UK

  • Dear David Skinner,

    I am 58 years old. I believe in the death penalty. I have lived in Australia since 1977, a country that has very few privately-owned guns, has abolished the death penalty, and per-capita probably aborts as many babies as in the USA or Britain. I have never owned any kind of gun, except for a BB gun when I was a young boy. I did not shoot at birds. I have never killed any living creature excepts for ants, mosquitoes, cockroaches, etc. and two dogs who had to be put down–I did that with borrowed .22’s and it made me sick to pull the trigger.

    Steve Swartz

  • How many thousands of children has Tiller murdered in the past twenty years? So I ask, what law has his killer broken. certainly the law of the land, but I ask in this case does God’s law over rule it. The Noahic Covenant, found in Genesis 8-9, appears to apply to the whole of humankind with a clear and binding command for humankind to shed the blood of those who shed blood (Gen9:6). This apparant command of capital punishment was in the context of defining God’s justice for humanity. As far as I know this covenant is still in effect today, so I ask, who is supposed to address the matter of capital punishment if the government doesn’t convict abortionists as murderers?
    Nino Suraci

  • Does Numbers 25:6-13 have anything to tell us?

    What will happen to the killer of George Tiller? Will he in turn face execution; be sentenced to life imprisonment; or be hailed, behind closed doors by those of us who lack the courage or don’t want to get out of our comfort zones, as a hero?

    Christians were at the centre of the fall and execution of Romania’s tyrant Nicolae Ceausescu. What is certain is that Jesus Christ will return some day and it won’t be as a baby meek and mild.

    David Skinner, UK

  • I’m with Bill on this one. No matter how barbaric late-term abortions are, George Tiller was also barbarically murdered. To think otherwise would defy the message of Jesus. Whilst the loss of Tiller’s life is heinous enough, the likelihood that it was a pro-lifer undermines that pro-lifer’s stance and makes them a hypocrite. I can’t believe I’m typing this, but can’t we agree there have been enough victims of abortion already? There should be no more victims of abortion, whether unborn or born. As Bill has acknowledged, this is a highly sensitive issue. The issue of abortion should rightly make Christians very justifiably angry, but Christians must never forget who they are.
    Murray Bentham

  • Thanks David

    What the passage from Numbers teaches us is that we should have God’s heart on matters; that we should have a zeal for God’s house, his honour, and his holiness; and that we should want only the best for God’s people.

    What it does not teach us is that we are to take the law into our own hands today and try to achieve God’s justice by carnal, fleshly means. The story of Moses striking the Egyptian dead (Exodus 2) is one such story of a person having a zeal for justice, but relying on human power and ingenuity, instead of doing things God’s way.

    God is vitally concerned about justice in human affairs, which is why he has ordained the institution of the state to execute justice and judgment on his behalf (Romans 13, eg.). So that is the means by which justice should be achieved, not by vigilante action or taking the law into our own hands.

    To revert to the law of the jungle leads to anarchy and the destruction of the rule of law, which is one of the great gifts of the Judeo-Christian heritage. But as I mentioned, there will be times when we are called to disobey the State when it directly orders us to violate God’s commands, or keeps us from carrying out God’s commands. But that, as I wrote elsewhere, must be very carefully and prayerfully thought through.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks guys

    This story is going to be very newsworthy for quite some time to come. And as some commentators have already rightly noted here, the pro-death camp will milk this incident for all its worth. Here is one good early reply to this:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • The one thing that I hope the pro-life movement does is make statements to the mainstream media as brief as possible and cover two subjects:

    1. The condemnation of the murder of George Tiller.

    2. The condemnation of those in the ‘pro-choice’ cause who attempt to use this situation for political purposes.

    Mark Rabich

  • Wanting vengence, justice and payback seems so natural when faced with gross injustices but this is not God’s way of dealing with evil. I think such need for vengence are fed to us through tv westerns etc. It is of the flesh not of the Spirit. These dire issues requires believers to trust in God’s justice. “Vengence is mine” means leave judjement to God and that takes faith. Believers are instructed to love the sinner but hate the sin. I certainly could not love Dr. Tiller so I need to allow Christ in me to love him. After all He loves me and I don’t deserve it. God’s love is stronger then violence. He did not instruct the church to fight evil but to flee it. He did not instruct Ananias to go and murder Saul because of the evil he was doing to His church but to bring him to Christ. Certainly those who worked close to Dr Tiller had a responsibility to register their outrage and then remove themselves from the crime. If enough people were to do that he would not have had anyone to help him. Takes alot of faith doesn’t it. I hope I can live His love out when I need to. It is easy to talk about loving the person who is doing evil but when it gets close and personal that is when it counts.
    Keith Lewis, Ballarat

  • Hi Bill, do you really believe your statement;

    “God is vitally concerned about justice in human affairs, which is why he has ordained the institution of the state to execute justice and judgment on his behalf”,

    If the government is God’s vehicle for justice, then who are we to question the government on their stance on abortion, homosexuality or any other issue.

    Is a government sanctioned baby murder God ordained?
    Your answer has to be No!

    So I ask, (again) what law has his killer broken?
    Government law or God’s law?

    Nino Suraci

  • Thanks Nino

    Of course it does not matter in the least what I think about the role or place of government. What really matters is what the Bible teaches. You need to remind yourself of what Romans 13:1-7 says:

    “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

    But I have repeatedly stated here that there will be times when human and divine laws clash. When that occurs, what are believers to do? I have already discussed that question in detail here:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi Bill, looks like that we are going round in circles.

    Please let me clarify that I hold a high view of government as a Divinely appointed institution. Now, having said that, I want to state, government sanctioned murder of babies is in total opposition to God’s law. So what do we do? I am not talking about vengence or human good, but simply asking who is responsible for bringing abortionists to justice when the state fails to do so.

    Nino Suraci

  • Thanks Nino

    Yes quite good and fair questions. As I already mentioned, when human laws are unjust or strongly oppose divine laws, then we seek to change those human laws. That is the main way to proceed.

    However, in some very rare and extreme cases, when the laws are especially unjust and immoral, and nothing changes, then some Christians have argued that a just revolution might be allowed – sort of half way between civil disobedience and a just war. But that is another big and complex topic which requires a whole article to elaborate on, so stay tuned.

    But the normal biblical response is to seek to change the laws of the land, or seek to change the government of the day. As just one example, slavery was a great evil, but believers like Wilberforce did not go around shooting slave owners. They worked to change the laws, including by being involved in the political process itself, even as MPs. And after 46 years of hard work, the labours of Wilberforce were rewarded.

    I am not sure if any of us have worked against unjust and immoral abortion laws for 46 years yet. But as I say, I will have to pen another article on these issues. They are very important topics indeed.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Nino,

    Would it help if you realized that the end times will include the vilest and most horrible acts en masse? (We may not be there yet, or it may be around the corner) And God will allow it for a time?

    Sure, we should do everything within our power (within what Scripture commands) to fight this modern day version of Molech worship (it bears a frightening resemblance if one does a little reading), but ultimately, we must remember that it is God Himself who will bring complete and righteous justice. But when the dust settles after Judgement Day, we can be assured that every life taken unjustly will be honoured.

    But, as has been pointed out, taking matters into our own hands is not usually the way God works. It reeks of impatience, which I’m glad to say is not one of His attributes. Otherwise we’d all be finished.

    Mark Rabich

  • In what position, exactly, are any of you to judge Dr. Tiller’s work or the decisions of his patients?
    Rachel Smith

  • Thanks Rachel

    But if anyone can read the above descriptions of a late term abortion, and still ask a question such as yours, apparently with a straight face, it seems that person is the one who has a whole lot of explaining to do. Most people who are part of the human race, whose hearts are not cold as ice, as Dr Tiller’s must have been, do not need any justification for complete moral outrage over what had been taking place in his clinic.

    And what about the decisions of the babies Rachel? You might as well have asked, “In what position, exactly, are any of you to judge Hitler’s work or the decisions of his victims?”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Impatience, hastiness of spirit, unrighteous anger are as nothing to compared God’s smouldering and righteous anger that he is saving up for the day of judgement. I am also guilty of wanting to take short cuts, wanting the quick fix and to do things my way, thinking that maybe God has gone walkabout. How many of us as Bill pointed out, with the example of Wilberforce, are prepared for the long haul and in particular prepared to spend long hours in the apparent inactivity of prayer?
    David Skinner, UK

  • This is my fourth contribution to this vigorous debate engaged in, thus far, by sincere people of faith who seek the truth in this this recent incident. May I commend a four-sermon series on Romans 13:1-7 preached by John Piper, a man I respect as a straight-forward explicator of the Scripture within the modern context. The series can be found at:

    Here is a short excerpt from part three:

    “…some Christians have come to the point in history where they believed laws were so unjust and so evil, and political means of change had been frustrated so long, that peaceful, non-violent, civil disobedience seemed right. What factors should we take into consideration to decide if we should do that kind of civil disobedience? It seems to me that it would be a combination of at least these four things.

    1. The grievousness of the action sanctioned by law. How atrocious is it? Is it a traffic pattern that you think is dumb? Or is the law sanctioning killing?
    2. The extent of the unjust law’s effect. Is it a person affected here or there? Or is it millions? Does the law have an incidental inconsistency? Or is it putting a whole group of people into bondage because of their ethnic origin?
    3. The potential of civil disobedience for clear and effective witness to the truth. This is the question of strategy, and there will certainly be room here for differing judgments about whether a particular act of civil disobedience will be a clear and effective statement of what is just.
    4. The movement of the spirit of courage and conviction in God in people’s lives that indicates the time is right. Historically, there appears to be a flash point of moral indignation. An evil exists for years, or perhaps generations, and then something strange happens. One person, and then tens of thousands of people, can no longer just get up and go to work and say, “I wish it weren’t this way.” A flash point is reached, and what had hung in the air for years as tolerable evil explodes with an overwhelming sense that this state of affairs simply can no longer be!”

    The death of Dr. Tiller at the hands of a gunman is, one way or the other, the judgment of God before whom Dr. Tiller now finds himself standing. The gunman will now be judged by the laws of the State of Kansas, presumably for murder. I still don’t know the name of the gunman or anything else about him. A quick look at The Australian and CNN online yielded no further details of his identity. I will not yet label the gunman as either murderer, assassin or hero until I learn more of the facts of the matter. Right now, he allegedly is a man who felt compelled to kill Dr. Tiller with a gun.

    But in terms of Piper’s four principles, numbers one and two have certainly been met. Principle three seems up for grabs in terms of how this act will further the pursuit of truth, whether it was strategically or tactically sound (probably not). I wonder whether this man prayed before he pulled the trigger? There are already a multitude of assessment being made as to how this act will ‘play out’ in the long term. Principle four, the matter of a flashpoint, remains to be seen. Barring the use of guns, at what stage will abortion clinics and hospitals performing abortions be confronted, not with on or two or a handful of right-to-life picketers, but by tens or hundreds of thousands of Christians saying enough is enough, when to arrest one anti-abortion campaigner will necessitate arresting thousands?

    I’ve never joined a protest march in my life–what would be my tipping point? Only recently, I have placed Abort73 bumper stickers on my car and mailbox, and my wife and I own two of their T-shirts, but haven’t worn them publicly. This is protest at its tamest, to say the least, and even with this small first step, I wondered if someone would egg my car or smash a window to get back at me. So far, I have paid no price to protest abortion. My tipping point for escalation of even the the smallest increment? I don’t know. What would be yours? As always, God help us, before it is too late for help!

    Steve Swartz

  • Bill,

    There is another issue this tragedy raises. An issue that will be drowned out by the shock and outrage of Tiller’s murder. An issue more pertinent and pressing for Christians (in my opinion, at least).

    What is a late term abortionist doing being an usher in a Christian church?

    The article I read quotes, I think, the widow,

    “This is particularly heart-wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace.”

    What is a church doing offering peace and shelter, respectability and legitimacy to an unrepentant murderer?

    This is the issue the churches need to be grappling with. What is each denomination doing about evil ideas that lead to evil practices in our midst?

    What can I, am I, will I do about it in my denomination?

    While the church harbours evil there is little chance the laws of the land will be righteous.

    What do others think?

    Do any churches have an official statement on this issue?

    Do any have a policy actually in practice?

    Michael Hutton, Ariah Park

  • You know what is interesting about all the carping about “pro-life terrorism” and the like is just how rare it actually is. is a pro-abortion groups compilation of what has been done over 30 years.
    Given the insistent and repeated lawlessness of pro-abortion groups and their absolute refusal to let any even modest restriction on abortion be allowed when the public overwhelmingly want such things, the amount of actual violence is quite small. If it was not a fringe phenomena how do people account for its rarity given the vast numbers of pro-lifers in the US?

    Jason Rennie

  • Thanks Michael

    Yes I too have been wondering why a Christian church would allow a mass murderer to be a member in good standing. This church is to be condemned as strongly as Tiller. Both are responsible for the death of thousands of unborn babies: the church indirectly and Tiller directly.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Aside from this act being wrong, it is also pointless. Somebody else will simply step into Tillers shoes and the killing will continue.
    The culture needs to change from one of self-centredness, weakness and discrimination for abortion to be understood to be a revolting act. Shooting this guy will simply interrupt business for a short time.
    Kelly Williams

  • Of course any killing of humans is legally and morally wrong but let me say how society is being snowed about accepting the death of an unborn child and the death of animals. I thought I would put my foot through the TV today when a news item mentioned that the whale which had been beached would be taken for a dignified burial. The next item reported that in Queensland it was whale watching season and that the watchers were keen to see the white whale but they were warned that this whale is protected by legislation from harassment. We have been attempting to protect babies from abortion by legislation for years but to no avail.
    Patti Smith

    Kind of says a lot about our legislators doesn’t it?

  • Michael Hutton,

    Do you really believe anybody should be denied the right to worship in their place of choice? Surely a sin is a sin and if we start preventing certain people from entering churches, we will have to logically ban everybody from attending church.

    Murray Bentham

  • Thanks Murray

    But that is not the issue. The real question is: should any church which calls itself Christian allow an unrepentant mass murderer to be a long-standing member in good standing, as Tiller apparently was?

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hi friends,
    In our debates about the rightness of Christian violence for a good cause let us not forget that the time of the greatest influence of Christianity on society probably occurred during the first few centuries of the church’s existence. Christians renounced all violence and even refused to serve in the miltary. They were involved in numerous reforms by example and by word. They fought slavery not by fighting slave raiders, but they bought back the slaves to set them free. They set up hospitals, orphanages, and many other charitable works.

    One notable way in which they were used by God was in the overthrow of the gladiatorial games. In these games as many as 5000 people could be cruelly put to death in a single day for the purpose of entertainment. The demise of the games was largely the work of a monk called Telemachus, who jumped into the arena pleading for an end to the slaughter. He was cut to pieces, but from then on the crowds began to stay away. Not long afterwards the games were banned.

    With the founding of the Christian empire the state began to enforce Christian values. The state had the full power of Rom. 13, to punish wrongdoers with the sword. With the failure of our modern states to do their duty the answer is not for Christians to take the law into their own hands, but to go back to the pre-Christendom model. We must again lead by example and wise counsel, willing to give our lives for the sake of Christ’s Kingdom. We must do everything we can to stop evils like abortion, but not by using the means of the abortionists: murder!

    Bill Berends

  • Thanks Bill

    You raise a number of good points. However, the issue of military involvement and the early church is a complex one. I have written up some thoughts about it here:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Actually Murray I disagree with your thoughts strongly. Churches should be allowed to throw out anybody from the congregation that they want. They are not obliged to allow anybody in to worship.

    If we took your idea seriously, then that would mean Satanists bent on carrying out worship that could only rightly be called desecration, would have a “right” to use a Christian church for such things.

    Something is wrong with your thinking I suspect. I’m not sure there is a “right” to worship in a particular place and particular way at all. There is a right to freedom of religion that should be respected, but surely private property rights and the right of free association give the church lattitude in who they let through the door.

    Jason Rennie

  • Hi All,

    Why is it wrong to kill an abortionist without state sanction? It is wrong because God forbids it. As Numbers 31 says: “A murderer may not die before he stands trial before the assembly.”

    God has set in place four jurisdictions of authority:

    1. The State
    2. The Church
    3. The Family
    4. The Individual

    God has given the state the right to punish those who do wrong with the sword (physical punishment). (see for example Romans 13:1-7). This is the only institution that God has given the right to inflict the death penalty.

    The church can punish with exclusion from the assembly when someone is an unrepentant sinner(1 Corithians 5:13) and it has the keys to the kingdom.

    The family is given the rod of discipline to maintain discipline.

    Therefore, we must leave each of the separate authorities to do their work. The state should not interfere with the jurisdiction of the family to inflict punishment on the children nor should an individual take it into his own hands to take the life of another.

    Also, is it ever right to rebel against God given authorities? According to the scriptures there is no right to try and overthrow the government but we must obey the government except if it contradicts a express command of God. (See Acts 4:19-20, Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1-2, 1 Peter 2:13-17, Proverbs 21:1) After all if all government is given by God, we are fighting against God if we are fighting against the government and we are disobeying God if we are disobeying the government except when there is a direct command of God to the contrary, for instance sharing your faith, making disciples of all nations ect.

    Timothy Coombe

  • I thank God that some babies will live now that Tiller is dead. At the same time this situation shows how low the abortion issue has sunk to when a supposed christian commits murder every day and his church sees nothing wrong with it. I can only assume it is not a church, it is a religious organisation.

    The church if it is one, should have ex communicated him Murray because Paul told the church to throw out the man having sex with his mother and let Satan deal with him. He didn’t tell the church to throw out everyone who had sinned.

    One of the reasons why abortion has got the traction it has is due to so called churches who are pro-death. I feel I want to get hold of a truck with billboards on it (bill boards, not Bill Muehlenberg) saying things like “Abortion is child abuse” or “Every abortion kills a baby” and drive it through a different suburb each day.

    Roger Marks

  • Murray Bentham,
    the necessity and categories of Church discipline is clearly outlined in Scripture.

    1Corinthians.5:9-13 commands us not to keep company with those who claim to be Christians but are immoral people. I think an abortionist is defenately immoral.

    2Corinthians chapter 2, explains that Church discipline brings the offending person to repentance. I think an abortionist defenately needs to repent.

    1Timothy 5:20 allows for certain sins to be rebuked in plain sight of the Church. I think an abortionist defenately needs to be rebuked in the open for all to see.

    1Corinthians 5:5 commands the Church to deliver an unrepentant sinner to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that he himself may be saved. This was for sexual sin, how much more for the unrepentant murder of innocent babies?

    Nino Suraci

  • Well Jason I disagree with your thoughts strongly. Let’s keep the Satanists out of this, shall we? If somebody wants to come and engage in Christian worship peacefully and in the same manner others are carrying out Christian worship, then I think it’s a very un-Christian ethos that says you can kick that person out. Did not Jesus dine with “the least of these”?
    Murray Bentham

  • The alleged killer Scott Roeder appears to have an affiliation with extremist political groups but not with the mainstream pro-life movement. It won’t stop the prenatal baby-butchers screaming about the evil pro-life movement though. Yet although recent polls show that over half of Americans are pro-life, these hundreds of millions of pro-lifers should be compared with only a handful of abortionists killed.

    And there is no dancing on the streets when an abortionists are killed, unlike the “Palestinians” on 11-9 when 3000 innocents were murdered. And although Obamov the Hopeychanger-In-Chief feigns moral indignation at the Tiller shooting, he sat for 20 years under a “Pastor” who screamed that 11-9 was “America’s chickens coming home to roost”.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Mark Rabich,

    thank’s for the lesson in eschatology, but Satan’s ability to do evil within the permissive will of God is not in question here. Please read my first post for the context.

    (1).The ‘Noahic’ covenant mandates the death penalty for Murder, Abortion is murder.
    (2). The covenant is in place–“While the earth remains,” 8:22
    (3) God expects a present tense accounting for murder, again, abortion is murder.
    (4) The government allows for abortion and doesn’t convict abortionists as murderers.

    I am not advocating taking matters into our own hands,vengence or human good.
    I simply want a reasonable answer for God’s expectation of a present tense accounting for murder when the God ordained state refuses to execute justice and judgment on his behalf.

    Nino Suraci

  • Murray,

    I would only ban the unrepentent, oh, and false teachers.

    And I would only be obeying the Bible on both counts.

    But of course sinners are welcome. All stray sheep, like myself, are welcome back in the fold.

    But no wolves. Wolves, goats and dogs don’t belong.


    Thanks for your comments. I was struggling to process Bill’s post and couldn’t help having similar thoughts to yours. You have helped me see why what I was thinking is unacceptable.

    I think it comes down to this:

    “The end doesn’t justify the means.”

    The laws of England (on which America and Australia base theirs) embraced the Judaeo-Christian framework and so have as foundations the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial, the abhorence of false witness, the weighing of evidence, the limitation of revenge, etc. (Bit vague here – I’m neither historian nor lawyer)

    A vigilante shooting bypasses these and sits squarely in the same category we want an abortion to be in- unlawful murder.

    We can’t yell and scream for a standard we don’t keep ourselves. We want ethical lawfulness, I don’t think we can achieve that by lawlessness.

    Michael Hutton

  • I’m not celebrating Tiller’s death, but I’m not mourning it either. I agree we can condemn his death as murder, but I appreciate the questions raised by other commentators here regarding the comparison with the Bonhoffer example. One difference I see with the Bonhoffer example is that the assassination of Hitler would have potentially had a far greater impact on the activities of the murderous Nazi regime than the death of Tiller will have on the equally murderous abortion regime. Tiller was just one of many abortion providers and I expect his death will not impact much on the continuing slaughter of the innocent, although maybe a few will be saved. It would be like Bonhoffer targeting not Hitler but a Commandant of a Nazi death camp.

    Like Michael Hutton, I too was amazed to hear that Tiller was actually an usher in a allegedly Christian church. This is an outrage and further evidence of the lukewarm state of much of Christianity in the West. With “churches” like these not the exception but commonplace, it’s no wonder moral standards (and most everything else) in the West is going down the toilet. I know it’s stating the obvious, but we need Revival.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Nino,

    You already have an answer from others here – we must rely on God, and work within the limitations of our circumstances, talents, gifts, and the government we have. It’s the high road, not the easy one and you must leave execution of justice in the hands of the One who has authority if it fails here on earth. Do you or I have that authority?

    And, btw, you missed my point about end times (I admit it wasn’t that clear) – for things to get worse, logically one would expect an abrogation of responsibility by governments of the day. I think you need to consider a little more carefully if God has this under control, even if it seems dreadful to us. (and speaking for myself, it truly does, so I admit it is hard – but we have to respect that God is sovereign) Psalm 2 (especially verse 4)


    Mark Rabich

  • Bill
    Yes the nurse’s story is ugly. I have watched the video of an abortion in “The Silent Scream” and I understand the horror the nurse felt. And any notrmal person should be horrified by the violent act of killing of an innocent baby.

    There is an attempt to justify laws permitting abortion on the basis that the unborn child is a fetus not a person.
    I have never heard a sensible explanation as to when a baby somehow changes to be a person. Birth cannot do it. The baby has hands and feet , a head and heart, it breathes and feeds just like a born person. Perhaps the baby lives in a different environment pre-birth but nowehere in the devolpment of a baby from a zygot to a born child is there any redefinition of the nature of the baby. It is simply where the baby is in its formation and existence.
    Abortion should never be allowed. Hard circumstances never made good laws.
    The abortionist should never have been killed either. Bad his actions may have been but harsh circumstances do not make it legal to kill him. Neither they should. Just as harsh circumstances should not make the killing of unborn babies legal.
    Rather society should act in Christian charity to help the mother of the child as much as possible.
    David Grace

  • Thanks Murray

    But you are confusing issues here. Should believers hang around with non-believers, and should the church be open to reaching all people? Of course. But that is an altogether different matter from issues concerning church membership and church discipline. Nino has already offered a number of the relevant biblical passages on this.

    We have a clear Scriptural obligation to enforce church discipline and to maintain doctrinal and ethical purity in the church. Jesus said the same in Matthew 18:15-17. It is exactly because the church has lost sight of this that the farce of having a mass murderer as a regular member and usher of a church could take place. He should have been challenged on this and urged to repent long ago.

    If a believer will not receive biblical correction, we are obliged to put such a person out of the church fellowship. Whether we call it excommunication or some other term, we are to do this, not just as a mere punitive measure, but in the attempt to win back the wayward brother. Church discipline always should have restoration in view. The purpose of excluding the deliberately sinning brother from fellowship is both to show him the importance of what he is doing, as well as to maintain ethical standards within the fellowship of believers.

    Not all believers living in known un-repented of sin will want to be restored. In that case, we have no choice but to ban them from church fellowship, until they repent and change their ways. This is explicitly taught throughout the Bible.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • A couple of useful links…

    Bill O’Reilly’s response to the pro-aborts is worth watching: (note this link may require finding the clip “The murder of Dr. George Tiller” on the page, and in time may become unavailable)

    A bit more history on Tiller:

    Mark Rabich

  • Rachel, sometimes in life we have to take a position we have to CHOOSE between right and wrong.This is the pysical life we were brought into. In this occassion the sheer heart rending reading of this (I didnt read it all, I couldnt proceed) makes us all have to look deep within and CHOOSE. God has not gone walkabouts there are no shortcuts. In HIS time rights and wrongs will be judged and our positions included. HE has full knowledge of what goes on but we cannot take matters into our hands. Even though we can, the question must always remain, should we?
    Siti Khatijah

  • One thing for certain is that when a government declares war on its own people, be that families, children or unborn babies, war has been declared and there is nothing that the mass of people can do to alter that reality. They can pretend that this is not so, dig their heads in the sand, deny that this is the case but the fact will not go away. The British government has declared war on its own people and as a Christian I have to respond to that. Many in Britain are already secretly signing up to extremist and fascist parties like the BNP – even Christians; we are about to enter an extremely dangerous period of our history. Could civil war be just around the corner? Surely the Christian’s duty is to expose evil, as it commands in Ephesians. For too long we have remained silent and gone with the flow. It is time we used whatever means available to speak out. The word is mightier than the sword.
    David Skinner, UK

  • “The difference between the D & X procedure and homicide is about three inches. If the head had also been taken out of the mother, the doctor would have a legal requirement to do all he can to save the child. But by leaving the head in, he can perform his ‘family planning’ technique without fear of consequence.”……My God what has this society become?
    Anthony McGregor

  • Its so unfortunate that people feel like they have to take justice into their own hands and punish the evil in the world by committing acts like murdering an abortionist. In doing so, not only do these people give the rest of us pro-lifers a bad name and tear down everything we stand for, they are also failing to deal with the real problem at hand. Yes, Tiller is no longer able to kill innocent children, but what happens now? Inevitably (and unfortunately) someone else will step in and take his place. Although most of us would agree that this unnamed shooter was wrong to kill Tiller, we have to admit that WE often attempt to solve problems in this way. We deal merely with the symptoms of the problem, rather than the root cause. Pro-Lifers need to pour their efforts into changing the legislation that allows such murder to take place legally. Even if we aren’t as extreme in our actions as the man who took Tillers life, we can’t follow the same principle and let emotions drive our decisions when it comes to standing up for the right to life. We need to be smart and focus on doing something to actually change the system and solve the foundational problem.
    Jennifer Raynes

  • Nothing would surprise me less than to learn that Obama and/or his pro-late-term-abort friend Governor Sebelius arranged the hit on Tiller, so as to be able to turn around and blame innocent pro-lifers for the deed.

    If certain persons on this website continue to believe that the Obama regime warrants any Christian’s obedience (and to misquote Pauline and Petrine scriptural injunctions in the hope of arriving at this conclusion), then all I can say is that they must be pig-ignorant not only of totalitarian dictatorships, but of what American regimes have been capable of doing, ever since the apostate Catholic JFK sleazed, cheated and fornicated his way into the White House.

    But whoever brought about Tiller’s death, it shows – just as the death of JFK, soon after the latter connived at the murder of South Vietnam’s president Diem, also showed – that God is not mocked. I do not mourn Tiller. I never mourned JFK either. And I will not mourn Obama when the Grim Reaper chops him down.

    R J Stove

  • Steve Swartz,

    Given the context, I take it you really meant to say ‘insightful’ in your first comment.

    Michael Hutton

  • For those questioning what type of “Christian” church the late Dr Tiller was attending can now read the church’s media statement re the killing.

    Dallas James

  • If the conscience is an evolutionary advantage over the animals then shouldn’t we use it? If it is the God given knowledge of right and wrong within us then why don’t we obey it? Call it naive, but I find it hard to believe that anyone could carry out either of these two executions without dealing with their conscience at some point in time. We justify whatever we do, so we can do whatever we want. That to me doesn’t sound like a sustainable society.
    Edward Ferguson

  • Thanks Dallas. The church website looks and reads orthodox enough, except for this line “We …… consider diversity to be one of our attributes.” Clearly then “diversity” trumps the Bible when it comes to things like abortion.

    Ewan McDonald.

  • Thanks, Michael, for catching me on the Freudian Spoonersim at the start of my first comment. Bill’s original blog has proofed both inciteful and insightful!

    For Roger Marks, if you are interested in T-shirts, bumper stickers, pens, etc with anti-abortion slogans, check out

    Steve Swartz

  • Hi Dallas,

    Thanks for posting the link to this “church’s” statement.
    I suppose the job of these ‘crisis intervention specialists’ is to prevent anyone in the congregation actually seeing the irony in ‘deploring violence’ whilst harbouring child murderers. Their evident skill at blending meaningless waffle about lurve with God talk should see them safely through this crisis, though.

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Looks like you haven’t stopped trying to blame everything from A&E to the Inquisitions, Crusades and WW 2 on atheism.

    You also ignore things like “Gott Mit Uns” on the soldiers’ belts and how atheism has no holy book calling for the murder of non-adherents.

    Winston Jen

  • Roger, or anybody else, regarding t-shirts, bumper stickers, you might want to check out an Australian website (There is also another T-shirt “Time for Truth”, which has just come out but not up on the site yet.)
    Trevor Grace

  • Thanks Winston

    But please inform us as to where exactly in my article I mention anything about atheism. It is much closer to the truth to say that you atheists will use any cheap excuse to attack Christians, as you are attempting to do here.

    And please spare us the old canard about the Nazis. As has been documented time and time again, they were quite happy to use Christian and nationalistic symbols to promote their godless, atheistic ideology. And of course the bloodiest century in human history was the 20th century, in which the regimes of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot killed millions, all in the name of their atheistic ideology.

    And there are plenty of atheist holy books, including Das Capital, The Communist Manifesto, The God Delusion, and so on, which the adherents of atheism religiously follow.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Incorrect, Bill. Atheists take a look at the evidence and use it to make up their own minds. They never take things on faith and are always willing to change their minds if the evidence warrants it, which the religious are so adverse towards doing.
    Winston Jen

  • Thanks Winston

    I am not at all clear as to how your latest comment follows from anything I have just said here. But at least you are being consistent in your remarks: consistently wrong.

    Most atheists have their faith-based naturalism and materialism solidly in place, and will not even consider evidence to the contrary. A few honest atheists like Antony Flew have genuinely considered the evidence, and after weighing it up, they have abandoned their atheism.

    And millions of non-believers have considered the evidence and turned to Christianity, including many former atheists. I too left a life of atheism for theism. Too bad most atheists have their minds already made up, and will not even consider the alternatives.

    Just how much evidence for Christianity, or Jesus and the resurrection have you carefully considered Winston? Please inform us all about it. We would love to hear how you have carefully weighed up all the available evidence and determined it was unacceptable.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • You seem to have “faith” in naturalistic science that enables you to have this blog. I suggest you shut it down lest people think that you are a closet atheist.

    Anthony Flew became a deist. A very far cry from the personal god you worship.

    And for the record, atheism is on the rise worldwide. We made up about 15.5% of Australia at the last census.

    Winston Jen

  • Agreed, Bill. We always take our basic presupposition of whether or not God exists on faith. Winston, you might benefit from being a little more honest about how unwilling you are to believe in God.
    Carly Sigsworth

  • Thanks again Winston

    But with all due respect, your comments are becoming increasingly nonsensical (and are getting quite far off the topic of abortion). I am not even sure what you mean by your first sentence. It appears to be nothing other than a complete non sequitur. If you mean I rely on science in parts of my life, as do all people, then when have I suggested otherwise? It is scientism (a naturalistic, faith-based philosophical pre-commitment) that I and all genuine scientists rightly reject.

    And please inform us as to when and where I said Flew was anything other than a deist. A deist is ideologically light-years away from an atheist. This was a major shift for Flew, which is why his fellow atheists are foaming at the mouth over his apostasy from the true faith.

    And so what about the number of atheists? Who cares if the whole world embraces atheism? Since when is truth determined by mere numbers?

    We of course have heard all these lame objections before, both from you and others. You atheists really need to try a bit harder here. If this is the best you guys can muster, you really should consider finding new day jobs.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • In Wichita, Kansas, Dan Monnat (Tiller’s lawyer) said, “the whole town is grieving for a man who stood up for what he knew was right and who stood up for women. He was the 100-percent real deal, committed to rights that are not very popular with a lot of people.” I live just outside of Wichita, and know for a fact that this is not true. Yes, people are upset that he was murdered, but he will not be remembered by me, and many of the people I know, for a man that stood up for women. There were several occasions when Tiller let women go through significant trauma as a result of his own malpractice and neglect. Some of this malpractice has even lead to the death of the mother, from both Sepsis as well as blood loss.

    Kale Bergen

  • Winston, your idea that belief in God is mutually exclusive with natural laws only demonstrates that you don’t understand Christianity in even a basic way.

    But never mind all that, you never got around to answering Bill on what atheism has to do with this thread! (It’s about the shooting of Dr George Tiller and abortion in case you weren’t aware of this) So much for ‘rational’ thought. I sure hope what you’re showing is not representative of other atheists’ views. Or maybe it is…

    Mark Rabich

  • Hey Bill, I haven’t read through all posts as this is a lengthy topic, but I caught your comment about the church challenging him. What if they were? What if they included him in their congregation, hoping and praying that one day he would repent? You might know more details than I, but I would find it very interesting to speak to other members of the congregation.
    Something that is important to remember also, is that Tiller is not the only victim. The victims are the men, women and children, no doubt standing or sitting nearby who now have to deal with the memory of seeing a man shot to death. In saying this, I in no way intend to minimize the enormity of his crimes.
    Kelly Williams

  • Thanks Kelly

    I am not privy to how he and his church conducted their mutual affairs, so I can’t offer much help here. I did lay out some general biblical principles of church discipline in an earlier comment, and as far as I can determine, this was not occurring at his church. But as I say, I know little about his actual relationship with his church.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Oh well, maybe he was killed for being a Christian. Obamov should make sure churches are protected from more mad gunmen.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Rachel,
    People are making this terrible decision everyday, without the full facts, i.e.informed consent! Believe me, I am there, standing right outside the operating room and I see the terrible sadness when the mums leave the facility. They have no idea what is going to happen to them or how they are going to feel. Its all a big con – its all about money! Many mother’s cry and say “I just want my baby back!” Do you think the doctors really care? I can tell you most solemnly, they dont!
    Jane Byrne

  • Thanks guys

    Here is a good piece on Obama’s double standards concerning this issue:,_world_of_double_standards

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • And a good article on media duplicity:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • 49 million to 5: Ann Coulter shows up pro-abort hypocrisy:

    For years, we’ve had to hear about the grave threat that Americans might overreact to a terrorist attack committed by 19 Muslims shouting “Allahu akbar” as they flew commercial jets into American skyscrapers. That would be the equivalent of 19 pro-lifers shouting “Abortion kills a beating heart!” as they gunned down thousands of innocent citizens in Wichita, Kan.

    Why aren’t liberals rushing to assure us this time that “most pro-lifers are peaceful”? Unlike Muslims, pro-lifers actually are peaceful.

    According to recent polling, a majority of Americans oppose abortion — which is consistent with liberals’ hysterical refusal to allow us to vote on the subject. In a country with approximately 150 million pro-lifers, five abortionists have been killed since Roe v. Wade.

    In that same 36 years, more than 49 million babies have been killed by abortionists. Let’s recap that halftime score, sports fans: 49 million to five.

    Meanwhile, fewer than 2 million Muslims live in America and, while Muslims are less murderous than abortionists, I’m fairly certain they’ve killed more than five people in the United States in the last 36 years. For some reason, the number “3,000” keeps popping into my head.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • It’s a terrific article by Coulter, Jonathan. Thanks for the tip.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I think Robert George had a niced perspective on the whole thing, which he penned back in 1994. Probably the last time this sort of thing happened:

    “I am personally opposed to killing abortionists. However, inasmuch as my personal opposition to this practice is rooted in a sectarian (Catholic) religious belief in the sanctity of human life, I am unwilling to impose it on others who may, as a matter of conscience, take a different view. Of course, I am entirely in favor of policies aimed at removing the root causes of violence against abortionists. Indeed, I would go so far as to support mandatory one-week waiting periods, and even nonjudgmental counseling, for people who are contemplating the choice of killing an abortionist. I believe in policies that reduce the urgent need some people feel to kill abortionists while, at the same time, respecting the rights of conscience of my fellow citizens who believe that the killing of abortionists is sometimes a tragic necessity–not a good, but a lesser evil. In short, I am moderately pro-choice.”
    –Robert George, First Things, 1994

    Jason Rennie

  • Hi Jonathan, thanks for raising that point!

    It’s amazing how fickle and arbitrary “tolerance” and liberal activism often are. And it’s true that with this many pro-lifers in the country, there is no way to call this anything other than an exception to the rule!!

    However, I’d be careful with statements like, “Unlike Muslims, pro-lifers actually are peaceful.” Yes, many Muslims publicly applaud violence and events such as 9-11 (spontaneous street celebrations in many major Muslim cities!) but to generalize that onto all Muslims will hurt (and probably incense and alienate) those who don’t.

    Yes, this is a tangent off the abortion issue here, but I feel it’s important to address this topic. I’m not advocating complacency about Muslim violence and I deplore the appeasement strategies many countries (including mine) pursue, but let’s be very careful in our wording – careful not to avoid offending, but to avoid spreading untruths and panic. Not that I believe you meant to!

    Chris Freyschlag, Germany

  • Thanks Jonathan and Jason for your posts.

    The last two paragraphs of Ann Coulter’s article make a great complement to Jason’s post:

    “I wouldn’t kill an abortionist myself, but I wouldn’t want to impose my moral values on others. No one is for shooting abortionists. But how will criminalizing men making difficult, often tragic, decisions be an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the shootings of abortionists?

    Following the moral precepts of liberals, I believe the correct position is: If you don’t believe in shooting abortionists, then don’t shoot one.”

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Thanx Chris Freyschlag. All the same, see my article Unfair to Islam? and its sequel.
    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • R J Stove. With that sort of compassion I wonder what reasons you would give for the deaths of MLK, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, or indeed those who lost their lives during 9/11. It’s incredibly reckless to start bandying about God’s wrath for the murders of people you don’t like very much.
    Murray Bentham

  • If you would like to know the position of the group Protect Life (which engages in non-violent direct action at Brisbane abortion clinics) on this subject, an article “Should violence be used to stop abortion?”, has been posted on the website,, under “Articles: Rescues – Objections”. And I would be happy to engage with any responses.
    Graham Preston

  • Thanks guys

    Another great article on Tiller:

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • For those wondering what kind of a “church” Tiller could have been a member in good standing with, here is part of a statement by Pastor Mark Holick of Spirit One Christian Center, Wichita, Kansas.

    Did they say an abortionist was shot and killed…in “church?” Surely that is a misprint? And I don’t mean how could someone be shot in church as that has happened numerous times in recent years. I mean, what was an abortionist doing in “church,” any church, being allowed, welcomed, even venerated? This man kills babies for a living. He charges large sums of money to do it, then goes to “church,” makes large contributions, and the “church,” Reformation Lutheran in Wichita, KS, accepts it??

    In fact, several years ago, another pastor and myself and some of our members were going out to this “church” to witness on Sunday mornings, asking these members to please reconsider what they were doing in providing false spiritual sanctuary for someone who sheds innocent blood for a living. Again, Tiller has been a long term member of this “church.” This pastor and I had a meeting at that “church” with the pastorette and their board members, us two and maybe eight of them. The meeting lasted over an hour. They were as impenitent and unyielding as you could imagine. Not one ounce of concern for the child in the womb. It was personally one of the most disturbing meetings I have ever been a part of. This church is void of any moral or biblical standard. I can still recall one board member saying, “we have members who believe both ways.” You see, to a person without biblical standards, what is right or wrong is solely up to the individual. Jdg. 17:6, “Every man did what was right in their own eyes.”

    George Tiller attended this church for around 30 years. He was even a board member at one time.

    Do you think anyone in this “church” will dare ask the question, … “Where is George Tiller now?”

    Ewan McDonald

  • Great news. It is reported that Tiller’s baby slaughterhouse is set to close and his family is getting out of the baby killing business.,27574,25614393-401,00.html

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Are you sure it is good news? I mean, I am not sad that his abortuary is closing, but doesn’t this essentially validate the use of violence like this to achieve the political end?

    There is a reason you do not negotiate with terrorists. It encourages them.

    Jason Rennie

  • Hi Jason,

    I suppose you’re saying that Tiller’s killer (Scott Roeder) has behaved like a terrorist. Maybe, but this certainly is not the whole story. As you know, America (and most of the Western world), condones and legitimises the indiscriminate mass killing of innocent babies. Roeder, it seems, may have recognised this slaughter as terrorist action and taking the same position as yourself – that it is wrong to negotiate with terrorists – acted accordingly.

    Mansel Rogerson

  • Hi Mansel,

    Sort of. The problem I see with this turn of events is that it validates that shooting abortionists is an effective means of getting clinics closed down. I agree with you abortion is murder and perhaps that was Roeder’s thinking when he decided on this course of action.

    But what it will do, especially if more actions like this are inspired, is succeed in validating the sorts of idiocy the pro-abortionists have been trying to paint all pro-lifers with in light of these events.

    Sadly, unlike when Muslim’s shoot military recruiters as part of a global jihad, the authorities are unlikely to look the other way or try to play down such actions, and instead will use them as excuses to make more draconian laws that seek to suppress pro-lifers because the pro-abortionists know they cannot win on the arguments and so must resort to force to “win” the debate.

    Pro-lifers don’t need to resort to force to win the debate, they can actually win on the merits of the case, so resorting to force at this point is likely to be counter productive.

    Jason Rennie

  • Hi Jason,

    It’s certainly a complicated issue. Your practical considerations are sensible and I agree that in such a mixed up world practicalities are worth considering. I do not agree, however, that practical considerations should have the last word. God is above all circumstances and He desires obedience to his revealed will even when this seems impractical or working against the ‘greater good’. Uzzah found this out the hard way (2 Sam 6)!

    In the following discussion I will lay out what I see as Biblical principles and ideals in handling murder cases. I am well aware that we never have had, nor probably ever will have this kind justice system, but I am of the opinion that it is helpful to consider the ideal to know how to judge the less than ideal happenings we see every day by comparing them to an ideal framework.

    In the case of murder I believe the Bible teaches that it is the state’s role to try such cases (Numbers 35), and that the crime of murder requires the punishment of death (Genesis 9). The execution, however, should not be carried out by state officials, but by the aggrieved party (Numbers 35).

    In the case of Tiller, the state should judge Tiller for his crimes, but what if somebody kills Tiller for his crimes before his case gets heard? Is that person automatically guilty of murder (or some other crime)? I tend to think that if possible, and if there would be no prejudice to the case owing to the death of the accused, the original trial of Tiller should take place after his death and if he is found guilty of murder then his killer should be freed as having carried out a (albeit premature) righteous execution. There would be no incentive to commit murder here because if there was prejudice to the trial because of the death of the accused, or if the accused was found not guilty, then the killer would be executed for murder themselves.

    Secondly, but separately, I do not believe that murder has been committed if it was necessary to kill to prevent other killings from being carried out (this actually is the law in most Western countries – it is just not applied).

    So how should we view Roeder. I think he should be freed on both counts. He undoubtedly carried out a righteous execution of a murderer, and in any case, it could be very well argued that he was justified in acting to act to prevent further bloodshed. In an ideal justice system he should be freed. Of course, we have a far from ideal justice system and Roeder will do a lot of jail time, but I think we should view Roeder in that light, much as we do Bonhoeffer.

    Note that I am not saying it is desirable for Christians to kill abortionists. We have no examples from the New Testament of the apostles doing this sort of thing. When it does happen, however, then I believe that what I’ve outlined above should be the take we have on it. For those worried about the ‘image’ of pro-lifers if we make these statements, I believe we have a higher duty to declare the whole counsel of God and let God vindicate His reputation.

    Mansel Rogerson

  • See reconstructionist Gary North’s open letter to Paul Hill (1994), who was awaiting trial for killing an abortionist, and who had previously been excommunicated by his church:

    you were not entitled to gun somebody down. God allows the sword to be used only by someone who is ordained to do it. “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.” So says Romans 12:19. Romans 13 says that the state is authorized, as a minister of God (v. 4), to act as God’s lawful agent of vengeance. If he brings vengeance against evil doers, then God does not have to, and He will not bring vengeance in history against the society as a whole for authorizing a civil magistrate to do evil.

    There is a biblical hierarchy of vengeance. God is at the top, and the civil magistrate is under him. You and any other private citizen are not part of this hierarchy. That is why it says, “vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.” You forgot that. Those with a revolutionary bent in their psychology will also forget that.

    Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane

  • Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for that link. Gary North makes a lot of good points.

    North and I seem to agree that:
    1. Abortion is murder
    2. Murderers must be executed
    3. The state must try murderers
    4. The sentence must be carried out by the aggrieved party / the witnesses

    We also both agree that these points should normally unfold in chronological order. Where we differ, however, is that he holds that anyone who does (and I would stress wrongly) go to step 4 before step 3 is guilty of murder, whereas I would argue that this is not always the case.

    North’s reasoning is bit difficult to untangle because he is referring to another case which involved multiple killing, a wounding and was preceded by excommunication, but his reasons applicable to a plain vanilla case of a man killing an abortionist are:
    1. His motives are rebellious
    2. He is not authorised to bear the sword in this way

    I agree with North in general here, but in the same way the evil of divorce was regulated rather than completely banned, I believe there is evidence that God makes special provision to regulate the evil of killing murderers before they can be brought to trial. I refer to Numbers 35 where, seemingly, the ‘avenger of blood’ may kill the accused before he reaches the city of refuge without being guilty of murder himself. The text doesn’t state whether the guilt of the accused must be established after the fact, but I suppose it must have been otherwise it would legalise any killing for those who proffered this as an excuse.

    North also addresses the question of whether killing an abortionist is justified to prevent worse bloodshed. He goes to quite some length to make the case that killing abortionists will not prevent babies being killed and even suggests that it could make the situation worse.
    He may be right in many cases, but it is very difficult to say what the effects in individual cases will be beforehand. In the Tiller case, for example, his slaughterhouse has now been shut down. Will the gap in the market just be filled? Only time will tell.
    The question of assessing culpability for murder, however, should only rest on whether a man has a reasonable and firm belief that it was necessary to act to prevent further deaths. The key point here is whether his belief is reasonable. This is for the courts to decide, but in some situations I believe a case could be made for this.

    In conclusion, I agree with North completely in general practical terms – God has appointed the state to try murderers and one is a rebel circumvent this. Where we differ is that I believe there is a regulative principle which may mitigate the guilt of anyone who does transgress. Because this is a regulative principle, however, consideration of it in any premeditated action is ruled out. Differences amongst Christians may also surface in its application (what qualifies one to be the ‘avenger of blood’, what is the significance that we no longer have cities of refuge?).

    I also believe that the defence of preventing further murders is sometimes applicable. In some cases a reasonable belief of this may genuinely be held, but establishing this is never a clear-cut case.

    Mansel Rogerson

  • This is a pretty good epilogue to this story. I note that the Victorian laws got a mention on the O’Reilly video (embedded in the link) as an example of where they don’t want to go.

    Mark Rabich

  • Abortionists need to change their views, not be executed! I don’t know, I might be sounding unenlightened here, but as Christian’s don’t you think we should try and help abortionists see truth in more creative and effective ways instead of acting out the anti God act of murder like Tiller’s killer?

    The biblical ethic upholds the dignity and worth of the unborn, from the moment of conception until birth. Yes I believe abortion is morally and ethically wrong in every case except in the rare cases where continuation of the pregnancy would present a threat to the mother’s life. Rather than letting two lives perish, surgical intervention is suggested in order to save the life that can be rescued.

    Paul Spyrou

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