Pro-Life Cage Match: The Tussle in Tulsa
It could have been billed as “The Tussle in Tulsa.”
On April 25, Gregg Cunningham of Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) debated T. Russell Hunter of Abolish Human Abortion (AHA) on the topic of pro-life incrementalism vs. pro-life immediatism. You can link to the debate here or watch below.
At the heart of Hunter’s position are the notions that (a) attempts to save some babies and moms from abortion by passing abortion restrictions actually amount to a defacto endorsement of the practice (i.e., “abortion is OK as long as it is restricted”) and (b) the babies saved in the short-term by incrementalist measures will be fewer than the babies saved in the long-term if we would all abandon incrementalism in favor of immediatism.
No matter what we may think of the issues, the debate, or the personalities involved, we praise God for Mr. Hunter and for AHA … If the rest of the “pro-life” church were doing as much, this would have been over long, long ago.
Hunter and AHA have ruffled the feathers of many in the pro-life movement by harshly criticizing their methods and motives. Of course, we at FAB must always be open to criticism; we ourselves have not failed to challenge those in our movement who reject or even suppress the only strategy that can ultimately win. As with any debate, the distinction between instructive criticism and destructive divisiveness can often be a matter of whose ox is being gored.
But for the sake of babies, moms, and families, we must always be open to exhortation and correction (2 Timothy 4:2). Sometimes we receive it, and sometimes we dole it out. In this regard, most of us have no problem embracing Acts 20:35, where God tells us it is more blessed to give than to receive.
The Tussle in Tulsa resulted from Hunter’s public challenge calling for any pro-life leader to debate him on incrementalism. Cunningham accepted. He is widely regarded as the premier pro-life strategerist on the planet. (Here at FAB, that belief is unanimous.)
The most compelling points made by Cunningham:
- Martin Luther King was an absolutist in his goal of equal rights, but an incrementalist in his approach to civil rights legislation.
- Similarly, William Wilberforce fought for the complete abolition of slavery, but he also endorsed incremental laws that would reduce suffering in the short-term.
- Even God Himself, although an absolutist when it comes to sin, was (is?) an incrementalist when giving the Mosaic Law.
- There is no conflict between reducing suffering in the short-term and abolishing injustice in the long-term. They are not mutually exclusive; we can and should do both.
As a side note, Cunningham addressed Hunter’s criticism of those of us who raise money for pro-life work. He noted (and praised) AHA’s use of abortion imagery obtained by CBR and provided to others in the movement free of charge. This is made possible only by an enormous amount of fundraising. Cunningham observed that Russell does raise funds, but “he just lets me do it for him.” Then he quickly added, “And I don’t mind that.”
One issue that arose during the Q&A was CBR’s policy regarding spiritual discussions vs. social justice discussions in the presentation of the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP). FAB will address that issue in a separate post.
In the aftermath of the debate, a number of summaries and analyses have been posted, most of them in favor of Cunningham’s performance/position. Notables:
- Scott Klusendorf: Debate Between Gregg Cunningham and T. Russell Hunter
- Jonathon Van Maren: Four observations from the Cunningham vs. Hunter debate
- Jill Stanek: Abolition of Reason: Pro-Life Apologists Deconstruct “Immediatist” Ideology as Presented in Cunningham-Hunter Debate
- Jill Stanek and Clinton Wilcox blog posts:
- Part I: Let babies die today, we can save the rest later
- Part II: There’s only one way to cut down a tree?
- Part III: Social justice history vs TR Hunter
- Part IV: Straw men and the Bible
- Part V: Sacrificing children to the idol of abolitionism
- Part VI: Christians and the legislative process
- Part VII: So fundraising is wrong?
If Stanek & Co. get their way, the “Tussle in Tulsa” will now and forevermore be known as “The Tulsa Takedown.” But there were dissenting opinions:
- Don Cooper: Former Pro-Life Leader Reviews the Cunningham/Hunter Debate on Immediatism
- AHA Blog: What about these babies?
- Abolish Human Abortion Facebook Page (scroll down)
- T. Russell Hunter Facebook Page (scroll down)
No matter what we may think of the issues, the debate, or the personalities involved, we praise God for Mr. Hunter and for AHA, because (a) they are using abortion photos to expose the cruelty of abortion and (b) they are sharing the Gospel of Jesus. If the rest of the “pro-life” church were doing as much, this would have been over long, long ago.
As to the debate and the issues, you be the judge. See it here:
This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015 at 2:30 pm and is filed under Pro Life Strategy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.