Preaching the Word of the Lord
February 28, 2014 Length: 47:11
Professor Herman Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., a professor of ethics at Rice and emeritus professor of medicine at Baylor University, delivers the St. Ambrose Society lecture on "Preaching the Word of the Lord: Being an Orthodox Christian in a Post-Christian Public Square.” The outline for Dr. Engelhardt's speech is attached here as a PDF.
Fr. Chad Hatfield: We are being recorded for Ancient Faith Radio, so we welcome our listeners to the podcast. I’m Fr. Chad Hatfield, one of the chancellors and CEO here at St. Vladimir’s Seminary. Today’s lecture with Professor Engelhardt is actually part of a student initiative here. At the seminary we have various student interest groups, and the St. Ambrose Society has organized and sponsored this particular event. You’ll notice there are envelopes on your seats. If you use those, St. Ambrose would appreciate donations, so mark them with “St. Ambrose,” and if you use a check, make sure in the memo that it indicates that it is for St. Ambrose Society, which is the pro-life student interest group here.
I have one other thing, and that would be that the book stall is open, and there will be a reception that will follow this event, but I particularly want you to take notice of this particular journal, which is Christian Bioethics. This is a journal that you can find in our library at the institutional rate, but there’s a special deal being offered today. If you use this form—so it’s very important that you use this form—you can actually get your own subscription for $50 as opposed to $97 if you don’t use this form, so there’s quite a savings. What this also will do for you when you take out a subscription is it gives you electronic access to all of the previous issues, and if you’ll look closely, you’ll see that St. Vladimir’s Seminary is mentioned in all of the issues. So you figure that one out.
So Ignatius Green, if you’ll introduce our speaker. Welcome, everyone.
Mr. Ignatius Green: Good afternoon. My name is Ignatius Green, and I’m the president of the St. Ambrose Society. We’re a student interest group at St. Vladimir’s Seminary that promotes pro-life causes and awareness. All Orthodox Christians are pro-life in a broad sense. We believe that every person is endowed with the image of God and called to enter into an eternal relationship with him. This informs our stance not only on abortion, but on a host of other issues, including end-of-life decisions and all the questions posed by recent advances in medicine and biotechnology.
Our speaker this afternoon is eminently suited to address these issues. H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr., has, to quote the director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, done more than any other figure in contemporary bioethics to bring the resources of the entire history of philosophy to bear on the ethical issues that emerge from contemporary biomedicine. Dr. Engelhardt received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin, his doctorate in medicine from Tulane University. He is a professor in the department of philosophy at Rice University, and a professor emeritus at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas. He is senior editor of the Journal of Medicine and Philosophy and the Journal of Christian Bioethics as well as the book series Philosophy and Medicine and Philosophical Studies in Contemporary Culture.
He is the author of over 500 publications as well as editor of over 30 volumes. His books include The Foundations of Christian Bioethics. He is the father of three daughters and has eleven grandchildren. Among his recent honors is the receipt of the lifetime achievement award from the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. Having been raised Roman Catholic, he converted to the Orthodox faith in 1991. When I asked him how he prefers to be addressed, he replied, “The Reader Herman, of course. Everything else passes away.” Please join me in welcoming Dr. Engelhardt. [Applause]
Dr. H. Tristram Engelhardt: Thank you very much for the introduction. Reverend Chancellor, Reverend Fathers, my brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s a joy to be here. Listening to me will be a problem. I’m a defective speaker. As you will note, there’s something wrong with my voice. I was treated by a very zealous student of mine, both with radiotherapy and chemotherapy— the mark of a good oncologist is no compassion, just zeal, but it means that you all will have to have patience with me. There’s a young lady there; Lydia, right? I’m going to appoint you to do what my wife or daughters would do, or my oldest granddaughters, if they were at a lecture. If you can’t understand me, wave your hand; I’ll take that [to mean] I should repeat what I just said, and I’ll do it again. English is not my first language. Deutsch erste meine ist die Sprache, my second language is Texan, and I speak English only with great difficulty. So if you have difficulties for whatever reason, simply wave your hand and keep me on target. Okay, ma’am?
You all have a handout. Now, like all philosophers, I will give a lengthy preface before I do anything. I want to warn you what I’m about to do. The reason for that is: I’m a boring professor. I’m going to put you to sleep. As Fr. Chad knows, as some men chase women, I chase footnotes, and footnotes, at times, even happen in the middle of a lecture, as they go off, like I’m doing now. But let me tell you what the point of the whole presentation is. It’s to attempt to explain why abortion is so widely accepted without any problem by so many people in North America, Western Europe. So I will be addressing, in a very ebullient fashion, an immense change in the dominant secular culture.
So let me explain why the dominant secular culture just doesn’t get it. Now, I will argue the reason is—and here you’ll note my whole lecture is a gloss on another philosopher’s work—Hegel published in 1802 Glauben und Wissen on Faith and Knowledge, and he’s the first person in the 19th century to say, “After God, God is dead.” He understood that once you had a culture without a God’s-eye perspective, everything changes—Christianity, dominant culture—and unlike Kant, he was totally at peace with it. Kant, as I hope you know, was an atheist, but he understood without God and without the postulate of immortality, well, why would you be moral when no one’s watching? They’re just people. Then we are not moral when someone isn’t watching. The introduction left out that in my youth I was a deputy sheriff in Texas. Well, all kinds of people do naughty things when no one’s watching. That’s why God made sheriffs.
So I will talk about why, in the dominant secular culture, morality has been de-moralized into lifestyle choices, and abortion becomes a lifestyle choice. What also happens is all morality gets demoralized. It’s a macro-lifestyle choice. Even taking the moral point of view, well, why would you do that? We were talking, coming up in the elevator, about Julius Caesar and the political discussions I have with my granddaughters about him. (We are anti-Caesar.) But he knew there was a choice between being moral and having gloria, and he pursued gloria. If you don’t really worry about God or immortality, that may not be a bad choice, in a secular framework. So if you think about Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar, people whom Hegel thought of—those are reasonable choices, for [world figures historically].
Picking up Professor Schneiderman after Liturgy almost led me into temptation, by mentioning hermeneutics—God help us—Schneiderman who gave me good advice as a graduate student, is just, as everyone knows, as you know, just warmed-over Hegel, warmed-over Karl Mannheim. If you have… There’s no way out of a hermeneutics circle without God. Otherwise, all facts are just interpretations. As Gianni Vattimo says, or as Rorty says, and as one of my teachers, Marjorie Grene, said, “If you ain’t got no nous, you’ll end up in the hands of Hume.” Sure, that’s what happens to hermeneutics.
So what I will do is say that [is], without a noetic experience, why our culture is the way it is. If you don’t have theologians, I mean real theologians, who know God, not about God, well, it all collapses. So I end up by staying: If you want to stop people from having abortions, convert them to being Orthodox Christians, because only Orthodox Christians will really know why abortion is wrong.
My view here is [at hand back to hermeneutics]. Imagine me—I’m a traditional physician—having an interprofessional dialogue or an ecumenical meeting with homeopaths, chiropractors, ancient practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine. I would respect them as persons, but not their medicine, and I would go through the many reasons why. In many cases, they’re probably killing their patients. I would then try to get them into my hermeneutic circle. I’ll tell them how to read X-rays, how to take biopsies and do blood-stained tissue. I would get them in to see thing my way. The world won’t change until we convert them. That’s an old thought, 2,000 years old.
Now I’ve gone through the whole preface; I’ve taken about ten minutes, and I will begin to go through the lecture. You can more or less follow the handout. Every now and then I will awkwardly stop and drink water with the hope I’ll be able to proceed a bit further.
I start off with the momentous significance in 1973 of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. Roe v. Wade, but especially Doe v. Bolton, make elective abortion a merely medical procedure, so it is totally demoralized and set within a cultural framework where everyone is invited to see it on the same level as an ingrown hernia repair. It has been totally deconstructed. What I will do is to show you how the secular culture ended up that way. So the rest of the day—“day”: it won’t be that bad; maybe half an hour, when my voice gives out—I will be kicking philosophy where it hurts. You will see me as a Wittgenstein, saying to people who take philosophical arguments seriously, “You’re just a little fly in the bottle. I’ll show you the way out. So I’m going to get people to see why they need out.
You’re at I.A. The whole presentation is about geography of difference, because once you understand this, you’ll understand how very different we are and how any well-brought-up member of the dominant culture should hate us. I will talk about traditional Christianity, but that’s a code word for “us.” What my goal is for you to see better why killing an unborn child is harmless in the secular culture, totally unproblematic. The response is to go out and convert the culture, one person at a time.
If you make it down to [I.]B., this is to say no one’s going to appreciate the profound evil of abortion without being able to see within a framework, within a hermeneutic circle, if you wish, or within a paradigm, but some paradigms turn out to be much better than others. If someone comes in to see me about some subacute bacterial endocarditis and is being treated by a homeopath, I’ll have to say, “You know, I know of no one who survived unless they were treated with penicillin. If you want to test me out, just wait.” [Audience laughter] So there’s something out there. We’ve got to get us to that.
To see the truth of what I’m doing is very hard, because we live in a culture, for Western culture that grew out of the dialectic of faith and reason, fides et ratio. The whole Western world was changed by the circumstance that Aristotle was translated into Latin in 1210. The Mohammedans were protected because Al-Ghazali wrote his wonderful book on The Incoherence of Philosophers. But what Avicenna and Averroës were aspiring to became the central part of the West, but that meant the ratio is always tied to a particular sense of reason.
Now we’re down to [I.A.]3.a. There will be a quiz on this, so pay attention. What happens is that the West tried to embrace the rationalist horn, h-o-r-n, of Plato’s Euthyphro, a percussive way of words in that dialogue is do you, can you know the good, the right, the virtuous independent of the holy? Or can you understand the holy in terms of the good, the right, and the virtuous? Now, modernity’s hope was that one would be able to have one sense of reason and therefore replace God. Remember, after the Reformation, there’s this civil war—not the late unpleasantness, but the Civil War in England—and the Thirty Years’ War, and after that Westerners say faith leads to people dying; I’ll just have faith in reason. The assumption was that there would be one rationality. Post-modernity has realized that’s a lie.
And we’re down to 3.b.: Post-modernity is the recognition that moral pluralism is intractable, that there’s no neutral or objective secular perspective to get to the ethics you know, and there’s no universal, canonical secular moral narrative. So now we’re about to see why morality becomes demoralized into a lifestyle choice. There is no way in which you can say, all rational persons should hold that acting in this way is bad, or violates the right, or is vicious.” There is no such standard.
I teach philosophy in a philosophy department with very well-known moral theorists who, it is well-known, don’t agree with each other on any point, which is what you would expect. There is no one moral rationale. So when you’ve made to IV., you’ll see why we’ve come up to I.C. If we begin talking the way Christians have always talked, we will look crazy.
Ma’am, you have that there. Why don’t you help my voice and read from Rorty? Richard Rorty, God rest his soul, is a great-grandson, intellectually, of Hegel. You see there?
Reader: “As Rorty puts it,” from here?
Dr. Engelhardt: Yeah, beautiful, ma’am.
Reader: As Rorty puts it, “They are crazy because the limits of sanity are set by what we (my sort of secular liberal) can take seriously. This (what we take seriously), in turn, is determined by our upbringing, our historical situation.
Dr. Engelhardt: Okay. I mean, Richard Rorty was famous for honestly facing the fact: if you asked him were the National Socialists wrong? Well, he’d say, “I don’t like National Socialists, and all my friends, we hate them, but I don’t know enough to [damn them all].” It’s that deep crisis in moral philosophy and, second, [in] morality I want to invite you to see, and at the end [to try and find a way out]; mine is a simple first-century one: The only way out is to convert the world.
I.D., the take-home message is: (1) to have abortion not be used as much, you have to convert people, and (2) it will be very hard—this is E. at the bottom—for us to remain Orthodox Christians if we’re not going to be very strange people, whom Rorty will characterize as crazy, as wolves, and political liberalism as mad.
We made it to the bottom of page two, II. Why abortion is so important for the secular culture. I’m having another glass of water, and then I’ll try to read it.
The support for abortion in the secular culture is widespread, deeply-rooted, and often passionate. This is the case because abortion is integral to the secular, post-traditional, careerist, “hook-up” lifestyle of many Americans and Europeans. This lifestyle encourages both men and women to postpone marriage and childbearing until they’re economically established. Women in part seek a career as insurance against divorce, but all without postponing sexual activity. The result is that, in a secular, post-traditional, hypo-eroticized culture, persons tend to have numerous sexual partners and delay marriage, putting them at risk for an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy. Abortion, therefore, serves as a protection against the risks of fornication or adultery or the birth of a disabled child.
A second moral, premarital ideal is achieved by having abortion serve as an insurance policy against an unwanted pregnancy interrupting educational plans, an unwanted pregnancy interrupting their career, and an unwanted pregnancy changing of a life plans.
b. Secular, moral, post-marital ideal: For those married, abortion provides a protection against the risk of their life plans being altered with a child at the wrong time for their careers, in addition a child being incompatible with their understanding of minimal acceptable luxury, or the birth of a child with disabilities.
Secular responsible parenting means avoiding having unwanted children, as well as children with serious diseases and disabilities, even if this involves killing an unborn child. The secular emphasis is on having perfect children, and not too many of them, who will place minimal burden on their parents and society.
Besides that, all the cuddly little children that you have grow up to be teenagers. [Audience laughter]
Secondly, it means that prenatal screening, selective abortion, selectively killing children in the womb, is integral to the ethos of responsible parenting which asserts an obligation to avoid the birth of defective children, including obligations to one’s sexual partners, spouse, other children, and society, as well as obligations to the child.
I come from a dysfunctional family. My brother’s a lawyer; my sister was a lawyer. One of the first torts for wrongful life suits was Williams v. the State of New York, and when Williams was a young girl—I think she was two years old when she brought suit, but she was lucky enough to have found a lawyer—she sued the State of New York for being born of a mental hospital inmate impregnated by another mental hospital inmate, arguing that was worse than not being born at all, and she was owed $50,000 for not having been aborted. It was lost on appeal. There have been others that have succeeded, naturally in the showcase of lawyers’ dreams, California. I’m a Texan. I lack impulse control, and that’s genetic. I still don’t understand that it’s a public, involuntary sin, but it’s hard.
There’s another case, Zapeda v. Zapeda, where Zapeda, Jr., sued Zapeda, Sr., in Illinois for having been born a bastard in Illinois. It’s hard for Texans. I mean, usually that’s usually qualification for higher office. [Audience laughter] But that case was also dismissed on appeal. But the point is: abortion, the idea of avoiding harming someone, even the person being killed, has become so integral to a wide fabric of [society regarding] how we look at abortion.
So now we’ve made it to 2.A.3. It’s very hard for people to get it: why we are opposed to abortion. It’s like Jehovah’s Witnesses being against blood transfusion. I mean, when I run into Jehovah’s Witnesses, I figure I should get them to a good Orthodox Jewish rabbi to explain to them how to keep kosher. It has nothing to do with blood transfusions. But we can look just as weird. By contrast, we simply forbid abortion. Read St. Basil’s Letter 188: not because of [the] fetus, or the embryo is ensouled; it’s just forbidden. “Oh, no, God! Not another mitzvah.” “Yeah, I command it.” No. So there we start. We start off in a world where most people don’t get it. St. John Chrysostom, in his commentary—Homily 5—on the second chapter of Romans, says: the ergon of the law worked on the hearts of the Greeks, but this is only like Melchizedek or the king of Nineveh or Cornelius. He realized that most Greeks were as bad as Texans or the North. So I quote here from the pagan bible. I’m German. This is Odin or Wotan speaking:
Early should a man rise if he wishes to kill his neighbor or steal his property, for seldom does the sluggish wolf get his prey or the sleeping man victory.
We have to convert the society for whom it’s very hard, if you’ve ever been to Texas, it’s very hard for us to know why you shouldn’t just go out and kill a man who needs a good killing. That was a question posed [to Judge Roy Bean, a] supreme court justice in Texas, why we hanged so many horse thieves and so few murderers. He said, “I never saw a horse that needed stealing.” Well, you just don’t have a Texan’s sensibility.
We made it down to III. What happens is now an immense, widening gulf between the society of wildness and us. It begins, surely, with Hegel who lives at that point… 1770 to 1831. I don’t remember what Rorty’s dates are…, ah 1931 to 2007 when were morality simply becomes a lifestyle we may or may not wish to embrace.
If you look at III.B.—I may speed things up as I note my voice is having problems—that turns on what Hauwerwas describes as a methodological atheism. Methodological atheism asks the people in the culture around us to act as if there were no God, that is, if, in the end, everything came from nowhere, went nowhere, and for no ultimate purpose. You’re not supposed to mention God in public. At hotels, elsewhere, people ask, “How are you doing?” I answer, “Thank God! And how are you doing?” Most people are embarrassed, as if I’d used an improper four-letter word. Try it. It’s a wonderful Rorschach test. You’ll be able to see how the people around you are embedded.
The problem is that the Western morality required three things that went away. Once upon a time when there was fides et ratio, God was the genesis of morality. Secondly his rationality, his ratio, was what defined our ratio. Don’t forget for Thomas Aquinas—I have a very good memory—our concepts were ante rem in the mind of God. It’s a marriage between Platonism and Aristotle. But the last thing: You needed God to enforce stuff.
Ma’am who’s substituting for my daughters, could you read from Elizabeth Anscombe at the bottom? Just read all there is to read. C.3., please, ma’am.
Reader: As Elizabeth Anscombe (1919-2001) observes, without God the very sense of moral obligation is transformed. “It is as if the notion ‘criminal’ were to remain when criminal law and criminal courts had been abolished and forgotten.”
Dr. Engelhardt: She saw this clearly in 1958. Imagine I were to have been a deputy sheriff without a pistol, without judges to throw you in jail, and I just came up and said, “That’s illegal!” “So what, Bubba?” Anscombe realizes the dog don’t hunt, unless you have some reason to take it seriously. It’s like, read it one more time, ma’am, and then you have what our culture is like.
Reader: “It is as if the notion ‘criminal’ were to remain when criminal law and criminal courts had been abolished and forgotten.”
Dr. Engelhardt: So, then, in IV., I kick philosophy one more time. I point out Protagoras had it right. I mean, he might have gotten bad press, but he knew that you could argue both sides of any question; all you had to do is have different basic premises. Imagine we were to discuss here which was the best country in the world: New York, Texas, or Singapore? Well, in New York, if you’re going to dwell on public policy, it has established something close to a John Walsh of 1971 dream: there’s liberty first and then equality and prosperity only in so far as regards the benefit of the least well-off. In Texas we have freedom.
I had once a wonderful, brilliant graduate student taking my Kant seminar. She also had a law degree. She was also a Texan. So that the foreigners from other states—Canada, Germany, England—would know they were in a different country, I said, “Counsel, let’s imagine. You’re in the backyard, reading some Zum ewigen Frieden for us to discuss next week—Perpetual Peace—and it’s almost sunset, and you see a man crawling over your back fence. What would you do, counselor?” She said, “Well, I’d watch him carefully but continue reading, because I want to be prepared for my seminar.” And she says, “Has the sun set?” I said, “The sun’s totally set, but there’s still a lot of golden rays from the sun.” She says, “Sun’s set? Yep. I’d wait till he got his hands off the fence, both feet on the ground. I’d pull out my .357 Magnum, shoot him six times, and then I’d read to the end of the section. I’d get out my cell phone, call the sheriff, and say, ‘I’ve garbage in the backyard. Please haul it off.’ ” [Audience laughter]
Oh, we have a different ordering of right-making conditions, but in Singapore, like any good, well-brought-up Confucian knows, the first thing we want is security. Who here has been to Singapore? I mean, you can walk at night, right? Were you ever afraid to be mugged? Would you walk in Manhattan at three a.m., unless your want to commit suicide? [Audience laughter] So one, there’s security; then there’s family prosperity. Then there’s liberty insofar as it’s compatible with security and family prosperity. And they’ve never seen two equal people. So it would depend on how you rank values. Everything turns out different.
Ma’am who was playing like my daughter before, if your other child interrupts—well, my youngest daughter has six so far, so I know about this—read the quote at the bottom, IV.A.[1.]b.ii.: Clement of Alexandria: “As Clement of Alexandria…”
Reader: As Clement of Alexandria emphasized, “Should one say that knowledge is founded on demonstration by a process of reasoning, let him hear that first principles are incapable of demonstration; for they are known neither by art nor sagacity.”
Dr. Engelhardt: Perfect. The bottom line is: philosophies don’t hunt. The lady to your right—see, you have much more important things—tell her, yes, ma’am. I was a deputy sheriff when I said, “You’d better stop. I want to talk to you.” I want you now to read in a session, so build up to it. The ways in which philosophy fails were summarized by Agrippa in his famous pente tropoi, the five ways to show the dog don’t hunt, so read for me c. and all the little stuff under it: “This failure of philosophy…”
Reader: This failure of philosophy was famously summarized by the third-century philosopher Agrippa in his pente tropoi, five ways of showing that secular rational argument will not resolve fundamental moral disputes. (i) No one has succeeded in conclusively resolving the disputes at hand.
Dr. Engelhardt: So this says, after eight hundred years of philosophy they’re still at it; it didn’t work. (ii)?
Reader: (ii) Disputants argue from their own perspective and therefore past each other.
Dr. Engelhardt: So when I show up to the intermedical dialogue with the homeopathic chiropractors and the others, we won’t mean the same thing by “disease.” I mean, it’s like Aristotle, Newton, and Einstein: they may all use “space,” “time,” “mass,” “energy,” but the intentions and extensions of the concepts are different. They all talk past each other. Go ahead.
Reader: (iii) Absent common basic premises and rules of evidence, disputants argue in a circle and/or beg the question, and/or engage in infinite regress.
Dr. Engelhardt: Infinite regress: goes back forever. That’s a simple way to show philosophy’s dog doesn’t hunt… anyway, to show that begging the question, arguing in a circle or begging the question, infinite regress—it’s over.
So we end up in a secular culture where people have no problem killing their unborn children and they can’t see why we have a problem about their having no problem, and the reason is the whole project collapsed. Ma’am, you did so well; can I ask you again? Look on page 5, IV., where you have where it says, “As a consequence…”
Reader: As a consequence, the rational project of identifying a canonical secular liberal morality fails. The Enlightenment project has shipwrecked, as Judd Owen summarizes. “Today, belief in the comprehensive philosophic teaching of the Enlightenment appears to lie in ruins, and few hope that any other comprehensive philosophy could successfully replace it. This despair is, to a considerable extent, due to a radical critique of reason as such.”
Dr. Engelhardt: Okay, so: we’re in a culture that has its very fabric that has given it orientation collapsing. Now, all of a sudden, people see it. Post-modernity is to realize modernity failed. Post-modernity is to realize you want one reason to replace one God, and reason turns out to be multiple. If philosophy had been right, I would be the most powerful person in the world, or one of the most powerful class. I’d be a philosopher. And all, I’d be the expert on rationality. All morality would be rationality, and all political power would be the rational power that I justified, and everyone would be part of the one community of rational people. So if you meet the contient sheriff, when he gives you an attitude adjustment, he’s just getting you away from your heteronomy to true autonomy. The problem is the dog don’t hunt. There is no one sense of rationality or autonomy, and then things really look bad.
Go down to the next section, if you’d be so kind, ma’am. And afterwards I’ll give you the emails of my daughters and wife, and you can say, “Boy, it must be terrible going to a conference with him.” Read the other quote from Judd Owen.
Reader: Number three?
Dr. Engelhardt: Yes, ma’am, please. Just the quote: “There is nothing…”
Reader: “There is nothing to which we can appeal in order to settle the most profound human disagreements, and thus there is no possibility that the awesome variety of conflicting opinions about the things most important to human beings, including the best political order, can be transcended toward universal and objective knowledge.”
Dr. Engelhardt: Wow. It’s a disoriented culture. Now, I’ve actually published one book that focused a lot on Hegel. It didn’t sell much. I mean, if you add bioethics to it, reverend sir, it sells more. But the only book I know that sold about Hegel got Hegel wrong. I mean, that was Francis Fukuyama, of The [End of History and the Last Man]. He had learned Hegel from Bauer from Kojève, and may God have mercy on him. But the idea is in the end we will all get to a place where history will end; we’ll no longer fight about ideas.
And now, ma’am, the last quote there from Fukuyama. This is the secular end of history. It starts off: “A dawg…” Oh, excuse me: “A dog…” [Audience laughter]
Reader: “A dog is content to sleep in the sun all day provided he is fed, because he is not dissatisfied with what he is. He does not worry that other dogs are doing better than him, or that his career as a dog has stagnated or that dogs are being oppressed in a distant part of the world.”
Dr. Engelhardt: Okay, here’s where we find ourselves. What can we do? I take it back to the Great Commission, which I quote on the top of [page] six: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” [The] language isn’t: “Go forth and make philosophical seminars with it; people can see them for the right and the virtuous.”
Only people who have become traditional Christians will then properly and fully see the evil of abortion. They will then have embraced the mitzvot of the Lord. Of course, we will use whatever rhetoric will preserve the life of the innocent. I mean, when I was a deputy sheriff and somebody’s about to shoot someone else and says, “I’m going to shoot him unless you tell me the Wiccan faeries are against it,” I would say that Wiccan faeries are against it. I mean, whatever it takes to stop innocent life from being taken, well, use it. But we’re forced back, generally, to how Christians were in the first 300 years of Christianity.
We have to talk about sin. Who am I to judge? Surely only God judges sinners. Who am I to judge whether Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, or Pol Pot burn in hell? If such sinners could at the last minute have repented and been saved, perhaps I have a chance. Still, killing millions of people must, nevertheless, be publicly judged to be sinful. It’s a big-time falling short of the mark, or, to use an ordinary word, it’s seriously sinful.
We do not judge particular abortionists, murderers, adulterers, fornicators, and committers of homosexual acts, but we surely have to condemn the acts as sinful, even though there are very likely genetic dispositions to commit adultery, fornicate, and kill others. One might recall the well-known Texian proverb taught to me by my uncle: “There’s nothing wrong with Bubba that a good killing wouldn’t cure.” There even appears to be a genetic basis for young men being inclined to kill other young men.
So Orthodox Christianity recognizes that even involuntary sins are sins and that penance is therapeutic, not punitive, [and] will, out of love, penance the young JR even if he suffers from a young male’s genetically enhanced lack of impulse control when he shoots and kills Bubba, and even if the typical Texan jury through jury nullification finds him innocent, as it surely will if Bubba needed killing. I mean, whatever is legal, is ethical; we know that, in Texas. Always in Texas “ethical” is what, as Hegel says, is established as law. And there you are, that’s why he says, “[Es ist der Gang Gottes in der Welt, dass der Staat ist, sein Grund ist die Gewalt der sich als Wille verwirklichenden Vernunft]. The state is entered as the real God in history.“But we have to, without condemning those who get abortions, with love, tell the truth. In a culture that wishes to ignore God, there’s enough to recommend as referring to abortion as not just wrong, but, as I said, we need to be oriented up. We should not abet the secular exorcism of God-oriented language from the public square.
Thank you very much for your patience. [Applause]
"I wanted to briefly say thank you for the ministry and Christian witness you provide through AFR on a daily basis. The music and podcasts you provide expose so many to Orthodox faith and worship and make available vital educational resources to the faithful. My Orthodox faith and walk with Christ have certainly been strengthened in the last few years through the ministry of AFR, and for that I am grateful."