Incrementalism - A Lie from the Pit of Hell!
By Flip Benham
There is a lie that has infected the pro-life movement for the past 29 years. It has paralyzed the Church of Jesus Christ. It has moved us from standing upon the Word of God to end child killing, to relying upon our own ability to make compromises with the enemy of God in order to stop abortion. This lie, more than anything else, has rendered us defenseless and ineffective in the battle for life. It is the primary reason that we still have abortion in our land today. It has caused us to believe that we can legislate this evil out of our culture slowly but surely by education, sound reasoning, and political maneuvering. It is called incrementalism. It gives the appearance of accomplishing a desired end but, in reality, it only enables the enemy to continue killing.
You've heard it from well-meaning Christians time and again, "Can't we just get together with those in the pro-choice community and find some common ground so that we can educate them and win them over?" As if education were some great panacea or light that, once revealed, would convert people to the truth. The only problem is that education does little good to those who refuse to see the truth, just as light does little good to those who are blind. Whether or not one can see, according to the Scripture, is a spiritual choice. If one is born again, he will be given eyes that see (John 3:3). If he is not, he will remain blind (John 3:19).
Attempting to share light with those who are blind is a futile endeavor. Attempting to educate those who already have their own "truth" is just as futile. Have you noticed how the pro-choice crowd has admitted that the child in the womb is a human being? We believed that if they were educated to that fact, the killing would cease. Not a chance! The battle for the lives of children will never be won by educating and seeking common ground with those who refuse to see the truth. It will be won only when they are enabled to see.
Again, whether or not one can see the truth is a spiritual choice. Just ask Norma McCorvey, the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade, or Bernard Nathanson, the founder of NARAL . They were both pro-abortion and instrumental in ushering us into the culture of death. But today they are both Christians. Their eyes are opened to see the truth and they are fighting for life. Jesus is the one who changed their worldview.
You've seen the lie of incrementalism in the "all or something" legislation proposed by many in the pro-life movement to end Roe v. Wade under the auspices of parental notification, parental consent, and the partial birth abortion ban. The idea is that we can slowly but surely win a few here and win a few there and ultimately end legal abortion. In doing so, however, we've compromised some biblical principles along the way. We have been led to believe by the political icons of the pro-life movement that standing on God's Word alone will never make legislative muster. It won't work. Politics is the art of compromise. One can't go for the whole enchilada all at once. We will save some babies now, even though we can't save them all at this time, with the sincere desire that slowly but surely the ultimate "victory" will be won. Again, the idea is that we win one little "victory" at a time and one day the battle will be won. Sounds right, doesn't it?
After all, isn't this the way God was expelled from school and banished from the schoolyard? Satan slowly but surely removed God from our public schools over the years. First, prayer was removed from school (Engle v. Vitale, 1962). Then bible reading was removed from school (Abbington v. Schemp, 1963). Then the Ten Commandments were removed from the walls of school classrooms and hallways (Stone v. Graham, 1980). Now Satan is attempting to remove student-led prayer from high school football games and graduation ceremonies (Santa Fe School District v. Doe, 2000). Yes, Satan does accomplish his murderous purposes slowly but surely. It is called incrementalism!
A case in point would be Satan's first appearance in the Bible. The murderous serpent made his serpentine way to Eve and called God's Word into question, " Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" (Gen 3:1) Of course the serpent knew exactly what God had said and so did Eve, but he began his temptation by calling God's Word into question. He did not outright deny it -- not at first. That would never have worked. This incremental slithering of the serpent ultimately did end in his outright denial of God's Word to Adam and Eve, "You will not surely die For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:4-5)
What we see here, and what is repeated throughout the pages of the Bible and history, is the incremental way of the serpent. It works! It sucks us into sin slowly until we find ourselves blind and dead to God. It is pragmatic and willing to compromise principle for a "higher" end. Satan is the ultimate incrementalist!
Common in today's Pro-Life thinking is that if it works for the devil, then it ought to work for us. Attempting to use Satan's means to achieve God's ends, however, is always a huge mistake. The ends never justify the means in God's economy. When we convince ourselves that we can outsmart the devil at his own game, he has outsmarted us. God's ways are not our ways!
Incrementalism is a devastating lie that prevents Christians from standing upon God's Word and God's Word alone. It causes us to make compromises with "the seed of the serpent" that God would never have us make. Case in point, Parental Notification and Parental Consent: it is not all right to kill children when their parents have been notified. Neither is it all right to kill children whose mothers have been given parental consent. A Christian cannot sign on to legislation like this, no matter how well intentioned the motive, for it is contrary to God's Word. Unfortunately, incrementalism, has caused us to be ashamed of God's Word (Mark 8:38).
But you may say, "At least it is a step in the right direction and think of the thousands of lives that will be saved." This is the lie of incrementalism at its finest. It causes one to make bargains with the enemy by compromising the Word of God. Babies may or may not be saved but, in signing or sponsoring legislation like this, you have just put yourself in the place of Almighty God. He never gave you the moral authority (the bargaining chip) to make this kind of a decision. Your duty is to stand on His Word and His Word alone. All children are precious in His sight and all human life is sacred.
Partial Birth Abortion Ban is another example of incrementalism. It is not right to kill children in the womb at any point from conception and beyond. What happens here is that we begin to place higher value on the children that are further along in gestation (third trimester) than the ones in first and second trimester. When did God ever say that a child in the third trimester is of any greater value than a child in the first trimester? Recall Luke 1:41, when third trimester John leaped for joy in the womb of his mother Elizabeth upon meeting first trimester Jesus. All human life is sacred to God, and He calls us to speak for all of those who cannot speak for themselves, from third trimester to one second old in the womb. We are not called to make deals for their lives.
But you may say, "You don't understand. We are not trying to make distinctions here as to who is more valuable - first or second trimester. We agree that all human life is sacred. We are trying to save as many as we can until ultimately child killing in the United States of America is finished." I do not question the sincerity of your motive to serve God and end all abortion, but you have been sucked into the lie of incrementalism.
Instead of relying upon the power of Almighty God to watch over His Word to perform it, you end up relying on your own wiles to out-negotiate the enemy. Of course this always involves the need to compromise God's Word. The devil demands this of you, for the Word of God is intolerant of him and absolutely unacceptable in the art of politics. To try to end child killing in America by outwitting the devil will end in utter futility. It causes us to rely upon our own ingenuity to accomplish God's purposes in our culture. Incrementalism is not God's way!
What is God's way? Look at the instrument Jesus used to defeat the devil during his wilderness temptations. It was the Word of God and the Word of God alone that brought Satan to his knees. There was no attempt at negotiation with this liar. Standing upon God's Word without apology, without exception, and without compromise is God's way.
The lie of incrementalism is that we become as God trying to negotiate with the enemy the terms of peace. This is not our job. The terms of peace have already been negotiated at the cross. The victory has been won through Christ. Jesus has made a public spectacle of the devil's defeat. Our sworn duty is to represent our risen Lord's commands to an already defeated foe. There is no need for negotiation. We win when we stand uncompromisingly on God's Word. It is the only offensive weapon we have and the only one we need.
This is a Benham paraphrase of a G. K. Chesterton thought: Modern philosophy and old seek to find common ground between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. Christianity does not. There is hatred between the two seeds and absolutely no common ground. Christianity says red is red (enjoy it in all of its character and beauty). It says white is white (appreciate it and enjoy it too). But Christianity has enmity toward the color pink (red and white together). Pink, however, is the color that the devil and the philosophers of our day demand. Everyone should be of the same color (multi-cultural, multi-racial, gender neutral, etc.) - robbing the particular individualism of God. The world looks for mixture while God looks for distinction. He is seeking a peculiar people who will represent Him to a lost world.