Affirmations and Denials
(Topic No. 22)
Copyright 2006, International Church Council Project
A. FOUNDATIONAL BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES
- The Bible is truth
We affirm that the Bible—being God’s inspired, inerrant, written Word—is truth in its entirety, and as such, is the ultimate standard by which all other truth-claims are to be judgeda, and thus
offers mankind the clearest, most complete picture of all reality and the only logically coherent
We deny that there is any source of truth higher than, or equal to, the Bible or that the Bible’s
truth may be judged by any other standard.
Jn 17:17; Ps 1:1; 111:7; 119:89, 128, 151, 160; Mt 24:35; Nu 23:19; 2 Tim 3:16–17; 2 Pt 1:3; 1
- Science, medicine, and law are part of a worldview
We affirm that no one is religiously, metaphysically, epistemologically, or ethically neutral—
having no presuppositions, no view of truth, no view of right and wrong, and no worldview by
which to see reality and filter all data. All humans live and work on the basis of either the
Christian worldview or some non-Christian, anti-biblical worldview.
We further affirm that modern history declares that scientists, medical researchers, and medical
practitioners (including psychiatrists and psychologists) who are not submitted to the absolutes
of the Christian worldview have often become very dangerous weapons in the hands of a
We deny that non-biblical worldviews can provide an adequate basis for the sanctity of human
a See Appendix, “Non-biblical worldviews provide no basis for the sanctity of human life”
- God created humans in His own image
We affirm that the infinite, personal, Triune God of the Bible created man in His image;a thus
human beings reflect and represent God to some degree and are qualitatively distinct from and
superior to all the rest of creation.b Since man is the image of God, each human life is of
inestimable value from conception to death.1
We deny all views that would undermine the absolute and eternal Creator-creature distinction or
that claim man is divine or can ever become divine.
We further deny the rationality and morality of any attempt to distinguish persons from nonpersons within the human race.
a Gn 1:26f; 5:1, 3; 9:6; 1 Cor 11:7; Ja 3:9; cf. Ps 8:5
b Gn 1:27–30; 2:19f; 9:1–3; Job 35:10; Ps 8:6–8; Ec 7:29; Mt 12:11f
- The fall of man disrupted, but did not destroy, the image of God
We affirm that, after the fall of man, sin disrupted and marred God’s image, but fallen man still
bears the image of God, however distorted it may become.a
We deny that, after the fall, man no longer retains any aspects of the image of God, including his
original, God-ordained value that makes him superior to all animals, vegetables, minerals or
a Gn 5:1ff; 9:6; 1 Cor 11:7; Ja 3:9
- Humans were created for God’s glory, pleasure and purposes
We affirm that the triune God, Who reveals Himself in the Bible, created mankind for Himself,
and thus all people, Christian and non-Christian alike, are obligated to exist primarily for God’s
own glory, pleasure, and purposes.a
We deny that people have a right to exist for the purpose of serving their own pleasures, security
or prestige, or that any human may rightly deny Gods existence and not live in grateful
obedience to God’s biblical commands.b
a Col 1:16; Ro 11:36; Rv 4:11; 1 Cor 10:31
b Ro 1:18–21ff
- God’s plan and providential control of life
We affirm that: God is the ultimate givera and ownerb of human life, and therefore He alone can
determine and delegate the lawful means for bringing new human life into existence.
We further affirm that as the Creator, God has the right to take human lifec and determine and
delegate what is the lawful means for ending a human life.d
We further affirm that God opens and closes the womb and thus is active in the conception
processe, and that children are a gift from God.f
We deny that the forming of new life, or that the control over human beings, belongs to man to
do as he wishes, independent from God’s written law-Word.
We further deny that the formation of a new human life should introduce seed or eggs beyond
that of the husband or wife.g
We further deny that any person or state has the right to take human life in violation of God’s
a Gn 2:7; 4:1; Dt 32:39; Job 33:4; 32:8; Ec 12:7; Is 42:5; 57:16; Zc 12:1; Heb 12:9
b Ezk 18:4; Ps 24:1; Nu 16:22; Heb 12:9; Dn 5:23
c Dt 32:39; 1 Sm 2:6; 2 Ki 5:7; Job 1:21; 14:5; Ps 68:20; Rv 1:18
d 2 Ki 14:6; Ac 25:11
e Gn 16:2; 20:18; 30:2, 17–24; Ex 23:25f; 29:31f; 30:22f; Ru 4:13; 1 Sm 1:5f, 10, 19f)
f Gn 17:16; Ps 127:3–5; 128:3f
g Mal 2:14f; 1 Tim 5:14
- God’s absolute sovereignty over the time-space universe and over all history
We affirm that God works all things according to His sovereign, all-wise, and all-comprehensive
We further affirm that (though we may not understand why) God’s plan includes physical and
mental defects,b debilitating diseases,c calamities,d the extent of each person’s financial
resources,e and God’s plan exercises control over the sinful acts of every person.f
We further affirm that God has His own good purposes for human suffering, and gives people
grace to endure it, and that suffering is never meaningless.
We deny that anything or anyone is outside the scope of God’s sovereign plan and providential
We further deny: that there are any “accidents” from God’s perspective; that God has no future
knowledge of all things; and that there is any real thing called “chance” in this universe.
a Eph 1:11
b Ex 4:11; Is 45:9–11; Jn 9:1–3
c Jn 11:4; Ex 15:26
d Am 3:6; Job 1:21
e Job 34:19; 1 Sm 2:7; Dt 8:18
f Gn 50:20; 2 Sm 16:10; 24:1; Ps 76:10; Ac 3:13; 4:27f; Ro 11:32
k Job; Ro 5:3f; 2 Cor 1:3–6; 12:7–10; Ja 1:2–4; Ro 8:28; 1 Cor 10:13
- God is in control of all death
We affirm that God has ordained human mortalitya and that—though death2 is an enemyb—
dying is not always to be resisted.c
We further affirm that—though life is a gift from God—life is not to be worshipped and that
God’s will includes some self-sacrifice—sometimes even to death.d
We further affirm that the biblical definition of death is God’s separation of the human body
from its spirit, and that the physical criterion for death is the coagulation of the blood so it can no longer circulate the “breath of life.”
We deny the errors that: death is the end of human existence; death is an illusion; and death, in
itself, is a good thing.
We further deny that the continuation of an individual human life is always the highest good or
that it is always God’s will.
We further deny that the recent technological definitions of death (other than that stated above)
are either adequate or ethical.
a Gn 2:16f; 3:19; Job 14:5; Ps 90:10; Ec 3:2; Ro 5:12; Heb 9:27
b 1 Cor 15:26
c Gn 49:33; Mt 27:50; Ac 21:13; 25:11; Ro 14:7f; Ph 1:21
d Jn 10:11; 15:13; Ro 5:7f; 1 Cor 13:3; 2 Cor 4:7–18; chapters 11–12; Ph 1:20–26; Heb 11; 1 Jn
3:16; cf. Est 4:16; Dn 3:17f
- Stewardship: A person’s body and soul belong to God, not to the person
We affirm that people are God’s creation,a and they belong to Him in their entiretyb—bodiesc
We further affirm that, since we are the Lord’s, no one has a right to live or die to himself.e
We deny that a person’s body belongs to oneself, and that one has a right to do with it whatever
a Ps 100:3
b Ps 24:1
c 1 Cor 6:15–20; 7:4
d Ezk 18:4
e Ro 14:7f
- Human knowledge is finite
We affirm that, because man’s knowledge is finite,a apart from the Bible, there is no logically
coherent standard for ethicsb and no adequate standard for determining: human value; the
purpose of human life; or the usefulness or the quality of someone’s life.
We further affirm that finite human knowledge, coupled with the depravity of the human mind
and will, is incompetent to control life and to develop a superior form of humanity.
We further affirm that—though the Bible speaks truth—the truth we humans know is finite and
will always be so—even in heaven.
We deny that man, starting from himself, has the right, or the mental or moral competence, to
develop his own ethical standards,c to control life or to determine whether someone’s life has no
We further deny that people can know with absolute certainty who is incurable, or that they can
know all of God’s purposes in allowing suffering.d
a Dt 29:29; 1 Cor 13:9, 12; Ro 11:33f; Ps 139:6; Is 55:8f
b Ja 4:12; Ex 20
c Jn 9:1–4; Job 38–41
d Job 1–2; Ps 44
B. GOD SAFEGUARDS HUMAN LIFE WITH BIBLICAL LAWS
- Normative ethics for all humans
We affirm that God reveals His absolute ethics to man through the Bible and that the Bible’s
ethics and principles are binding upon everyone, everywhere, for all time. We further affirm that
normative ethics, the “ought”, cannot be derived from what “is”.
We deny that ethics is relative and that ethics may be personally, culturally, pragmatically or
We further deny that, because man is scientifically and technologically able to do something, it
is necessarily morally right for him to do so.
We affirm that murder is the intentional killing of a human being in violation of God’s law.
We deny that murder includes: accidental manslaughter;a killing in self-defense;b Biblically authorized capital punishment; or killing combatants in a just war.c
a Ex 21:13f; Nu 35:11–15, 22–25; Dt 19:4–6, 10; Jos 20:1–9; with the exception of Ex 21:22f
b Ex 22:1
c 1 Ki 2:5f
- God decrees that all convicted murderers must be executed
We affirm that, because all humans bear the image of God, God forbids murder and commands
and exemplifies in the Bible that all murderers must be executed by legitimate civil
governmentsa as swiftly as reasonably possible.
We deny that the New Testament overturns capital punishment and that any state, legislature, or
court may rightfully dispense with capital punishment for murder.b
We further deny that the Church has ever been given authority by God to execute capital
a Gn 9:5f; Ex 21:12–14; Nu 35:16–21, 30–33; Lv 24:17; Dt 19:11–13; 21:1–9
b Mt 15:3 (citing Ex 21:17; Lv 20:9); Ro 1:32; 13:4; Ac 25:11, 25; 26:31; Rv 13:10; cf. 1Ti 1:8–
10; Mt 5:17–19
- Failure to execute murderers brings God’s judgment on such societies
We affirm that when a murder occurs the land is polluted,a and the murderer’s family,b his cityc
and his nationd share the guilt of the murderere until the murderer is justly executed.
We further affirm that God will judge nations that fail to execute murderers,f but He will bless
cities and nations that obey Him in this matter.g
We deny that God holds guiltless cities and nations that fail to execute murderers.h
We further deny the erroneous belief that God brings no judgments within history.i
a Nu 35:33f; Gn 4:10f
b 2 Sm 21:4–6; 2 Ki 9:26
c Dt 21:1–9; Jer 26:15
d Dt 19:10, 13
e Dt 21:7f
f Jer 2:34–37; Ho 1:4; 4:1–5
g Dt 19:13
h Am 1:11–15;Na 3:1
i Gn 6:13; 19:24; 1 Ch 16:14; Ps 105:7; Jer 18:7; Dn 2:21
- Various forms of murder
We affirm that abortion (i.e., the intentional killing of an unborn human baby)—at any stage of
his or her development, regardless of motive—is murder.
We further affirm that:
- infanticide (i.e., the intentional killing, by act or omission, of a human infant);
- euthanasia/“mercy-killing”/assisted suicidea (i.e., the intentional killing, by act or omission, of a human being, whose life is deemed not worth living or too painful);3
- suicide (i.e., the voluntary and intentional killing, by act or omission, of oneself; selfmurder);b4
- hastening death to obtain fresh organs;
- birth control involving the destruction of fertilized human embryos (e.g., IUD, progestin “minipill,” progestin injections, high estrogen “morning after pill,” etc.);5
- destruction of fertilized human embryos when using reproductive technologies (including freezing human embryos, much in vitro fertilization, human embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, etc.);6
- human embryonic and fetal experimentation resulting in death;
- reckless actions causing physical injury to a pregnant mother that directly results in the death of her babyc
are all forms of murder by God’s standards.
We further affirm that mercifully allowing natural death may be right in cases of imminent and
irreversible7 death from incurable disease, fatal injury or old age—without unnatural, lifesustaining
equipment, unless the person desires such heroic measures and has financial means to
pay for them.
We deny that patients and their families have a moral obligation to receive medical treatments
for which they have no righteous means of paying.8
We further deny: that it is the state’s God-given responsibility to provide for, or to fund, medical
care;9 that civil magistrates may enact legal definitions of death that are unbiblical,10 for the
purpose of furthering organ harvesting, without becoming an accessory to murder; and that the
end justifies the means.d
We further deny that birth control methods that do not prevent conception, but prevent
implantation of a fertilized human egg in the uterus are not murderous.
We further deny that it is ever proper to withhold basic care and love for those who are dyinge or that laying down one’s life to save the lives of others is murder or unlawful suicide.f
a 2 Sm 1:6–16
b (Every instance of suicide and assisted suicide in the Bible is directly associated by the Biblical
authors with the person’s spiritual collapse and disobedience against God) (Jdg 9:52–57; 1
Sm 31:3–6 // 1 Ch 10:3–6; 2 Sm 1:6–16; 17:23; 1 Ki 16:15–20; Mt 27:5; Ac 1:18).
c Ex 21:22f11
d Ro 3:8
e Pr 13:6; Job 29:13 with 31:19; Mt 25: 35–45
f Jn 15:13;1 Jn 3:16
- The fetus is a human person, distinct from its mother
We affirm that the Bible is unambiguous in teaching that a fetus12 is a human person, a living
child,13 distinct from its mother.a
We further affirm that the fetus has its own unique set of genes and chromosomes, brain waves
We deny that it is either biblical or scientific to claim that the fetus is merely a part of the
mother’s body or that it is simply “tissue”.
a See Appendix “Evidence that a fetus is a person: Biblical evidence,” which discusses the
following verses: Gn 16:11; Ex 21:22; 2 Sa 11:5 NKJ; Is 7:14; Ex 21:22; Lk 1:41, 44; Gn
25:22; Job 3:3; Lk 1:36; Lk 1:15; Lk 1:41, 44; Lk 2:12, 16; Ac 7:19; 1 Pt 2:2; Lk 18:15; 2
Tim 3:15; Job 3:13; 31:15; Ps 22:9f; 139:13–16; 51:5; Is 49:1, 5; Jer 1:4f; 20:17f; Ho 12:3;
Job 10:8–12; 31:15; Ps 119:73; 139:13–16; Jer 1:5; Ps 78:5f; Ex 21:22f; cf. Gn 9:5f; Gn
25:23; Ex 21:22f; Lk 1:15, 36, 41–44; Gal 1:15; Ps 51:5; Ro 5:12ff; Job 3:13–15; Lk 1:15;
Lk 1:41, 44; Ps 51:5; Lk 1:41, 44; Gal 1:15f; Jdg 13:3, 5, 7; Is 49:1, 5; Jer 1:5; Ro 9:11f; Heb
10:5; Mt 1:20; Lk 1:35; Lk 1:31; Mt 1:20; Lk 1:31; Heb 2:17, 14; cf. Ps 22:9f; Is 49:1, 5; Lk
3:23–38; Ho 9:14; Job 3:10–16; 10:18f; Ec 6:3; Ex 23:26
- Birth defects, rape and incest
We affirm that the Bible teaches that children must not be punished for the sinful lifestyle or
crimes of their parents.a
We deny that it is not murder to abort a baby for reasons of birth defects,b rape, incest, lifestyle
choice, overpopulation or financial or personal stress.
a Dt 24:16; Ezk 18
b Ex 4:11; Is 45:9–11; Jn 9:1–3; 11:4
- The life of the mother
We affirm that, in very rare cases in which pregnancy directly threatens the physical life of the
mother, the doctor has two patients, the mother and the baby, and his efforts should be to save
We further affirm that, in the process of seeking to save the lives of both mother and child, it is
not murder if medical science is unsuccessful in saving the life of one or both.
We deny that it is morally right for a doctor to care for a pregnant mother and neglect attempting
to save the life of her unborn baby.
- Non-lethal violations of the sanctity of human life
We affirm that eugenics14 (now expanded through the technologies and use of sperm banks,
artificial insemination by donor, surrogate mothers, in vitro fertilization, genetic engineering,
cybernetics, nanotechnology, etc.) is a violation of the sanctity of human life.
We further affirm that:
Torturing prisoners of war, or torturing for any reason;
Dangerous medical experiments with humans;15
Unbiblical buying and selling human beings, including:
Kidnapping people to sell them and buying kidnapped people;a
Buying or selling human sperm or human eggs for the purpose of producing human embryos;
A woman renting her womb as a surrogate mother;
Buying and selling one’s sexuality (e.g., prostitution, pornography);
Racial prejudice;16c and
Imprisonment as punishment for crime
are all non-lethal violations of the sanctity of human life.
We deny that any of the above acts can be justified by the Bible.
a Rv 18:11, 13; Ex 21:16; Dt 24:7
b Ex 22:19; Lv 20:15f
c Contrast the racial solidarity of all mankind in:
• Creation (Gn 1:26–28 God created all mankind in his image; Ac 17:26);
• Fall (Gn 3:15–19; Ro 5:12; 1–3); and
• Redemption—including: the atonement (Jn 3:16; 1 Tim 2:4; 1 Jn 2:2); the preaching of
the gospel (Mt 28:18f; Ac 1:8; 2:8–11; 10:15, 34f); and union with Christ and unity in
Christ’s church (Mk 11:17; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 3:8, 28f; Eph 2:13–19; Col 3:11; Rv 5:9f; cf.
- Citizen’s obligations to obey God where man’s laws contradict God’s laws in the Bible
We affirm that individual citizens and civil magistrates are not Biblically-bound to obey human
laws or court rulings that violate the laws or commands of God’s written Word.
We further affirm that people must disobey any unjust law (as Biblically defined) whenever
obedience to that law would cause them to disobey God’s written Word.
Endnotes to the Sanctity of Human Life Document
- “Scripture never defines the image of God in terms of specific qualities or abilities. Instead, Scripture teaches that
human beings as such are individually created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26f; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; James 3:9)
and that a ‘human being’ is anyone who belongs to the race of Adam (Genesis 5:1–3ff). Thus everyone who belongs
to the race of Adam bears God’s image (cf. Genesis 5:1–3ff). Because being the image of God is the scriptural
ground for having the rights of a person (Genesis 9:6; James 3:9), we can say that Scripture equates ‘being God’s
image’ with ‘being a person.’ … In Genesis 9:6 and in James 3:9, Scripture commands us to respect the image of
God. And the context of these verses absolutely excludes any attempt to distinguish persons from nonpersons within
the human race” (John M. Frame, Medical Ethics: Principles, Persons, and Problems [Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R,
1988], p. 35).
- Death is not merely a biological event; it is also a spiritual event. Death occurs when a human spirit leaves its body (Ec 12:7; Ja 2:26) and goes either to heaven (Lk 23:43; 2 Cor 5:6, 8; Ph 1:23; Rv 7:9–17; Ec 12:7) or to hell (Lk 16:22–27).
- Patients and their families normally have a moral obligation to receive available medical treatment that is clearly effective in restoring their health and saving their life. Cf. the Westminster Larger Catechism’s positive requirement to save life implied in the Sixth Commandment (Q. 135–136).
- Thus suicide does not include acts of self-sacrifice in which persons do not directly will their own death, but are prepared to accept death as a possible consequence of performing some act of charity, justice, mercy, or piety to which God has called them. Such acts of self-sacrifice may include: attempting to save the lives of others during a military campaign or rescuing someone during a natural disaster; defense of family or friends unjustly attacked (Est 4:16); ministering to the infectious sick; and bearing witness to Christ in times of persecution and martyrdom (Dn
3:17f; 1 Cor 13:3); cf. Jn 15:13; Ro 5:7f.
- Franklin E. Payne, Making Biblical Decisions (Escondido, CA: Hosanna House, 1989), p. 38.
- In this paper no distinction is made between the terms “zygote” (the cell formed by the joining of the male sperm and the female egg), “embryo,” and “fetus.” The term “embryo” is commonly used to denote the first eight weeks of human development, and the term “fetus” often denotes human development from the beginning of the third month of pregnancy through the ninth month.
- “A condition is ‘irreversible’ from a human perspective when there are no known available medical means to correct the injury or disease process leading to death. In other words, there is no medical hope for recovery, and it is only a matter of time before a person dies. Medically, this means that even the best unnatural (mechanical) means will not stop death” (Norman L. Geisler, Christian Ethics: Options and Issues [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1989], p. 169). Cf. John J. Davis, Evangelical Ethics, 3rd ed. (Phillipsburg, PA: P&R, 2004), pp. 192f.
- Furthermore, the responsibility to save one’s life must be balanced against other biblical responsibilities, such as: providing for one’s family (1 Tim 5:8), leaving an inheritance to children (2 Cor 12:14; Pr 19:14) and grandchildren (Pr 13:22), supporting spiritual leaders (1 Tim 5:17f), etc. (cf. Franklin E. Payne, Biblical Healing for Modern Medicine [Augusta, GA: Covenant Books, 1993], pp. 43, 58, 70, 97). Furthermore, does the Old Testament limitation of debt to six years apply to contemporary debt incurred for medical services?
- There is no biblical basis for the state paying for medical expenses—except the medical expenses for diseases and injuries acquired in the “line of duty” by military personnel, policemen, firemen, and other civil servants. See Franklin E. Payne, Biblical Healing for Modern Medicine, p. 169. There is no inherent right to medical treatment.
- The term (physical) “death” denotes the total and permanent (i.e., without possibility of resuscitation or recovery) cessation of all the vital functions and signs of any organism. In determining a biblical definition for physical death the following concepts are relevant:
- the life is in the blood (Gn 9:4; Lv 17:11, 14; Dt 12:23; cf. Jn 6:53f);
- the breath of life (Gn 2:7; 6:17:7:15, 22; Job 7:7; 12:10; 27:3; 33:4; Is 2:22; Ezk 37:5–10; Ac 17:25; Rv 11:11);
- to cease breathing is to die (Gn 25:8, 17; 35:29; 49:33; Jos 10:40; 11:11, 14; 1 Ki 15:29; 17:17; Ps 104:29; Mk 15:37, 39; Lk 23:46; Ac 5:5, 10); and
- the heart is the wellspring of life (Pr 4:23) (metaphorical usage).
Since life is in the blood/circulatory system, we must not treat a person as dead as long as his blood continues to provide oxygenation (the “breath of life”) to the cells. Once the blood dies (i.e., is coagulated), the person can be treated as dead. This encapsulates the cardio-pulmonary definition of death (i.e., irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory functions), since the blood carries the oxygen (the “breath of life”) to the person’s body cells (Phillip G. Kayser).
Thus “brain-death” alone is not a sufficient criterion of physical death. A medical definition of “death” should include the irreversible loss of heart, lung and perhaps brain function—making each a “necessary criterion and all three together the sufficient criteria for declaring someone to be dead.” Other criteria, such as body temperature, color, kidney function, etc., may be used by way of confirmation (John M. Frame, Medical Ethics: Principles, Persons, and Problems, p. 58–62, 75–81). (Note that a human embryo does not have brain waves or brain function
until 6–7 weeks after conception, but he or she is most definitely alive.)
- H. Wayne House, “Miscarriage or Premature Birth: Additional Thoughts on Exodus 21:22–25,” Westminster Theological Journal 41:1 (Fall 1978), pp. 109–123. John M. Frame, “Abortion from a Biblical Perspective,” in Thou Shalt Not Kill: The Christian Case against Abortion, ed. Richard L. Ganz (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1978), pp. 51–57. Umberto Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Exodus (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1967), pp. 275, 277.
- “Fetus” is a Latin word meaning children (of human beings) or offspring (of animals); it is used for both the young already born and the young still in their mother’s womb (P.G.W. Glare, ed., Oxford Latin Dictionary [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2004], p. 695).
- Personhood must not be confused with personality. Personhood is an ontological category; personality is a psychological concept.
- The term “eugenics” denotes the scientific and social attempt to produce “superior” offspring by processes of selective breeding of humans, encouraging childbearing among those deemed most “fit” and impeding or preventing parenthood among those deemed “inferior.”
- In such scientific or medical experiments, the risks to the participant or patient outweigh possible benefits to him or her.
- Racism may be defined as the belief that one race is inherently superior to another race/s, and that the superior race has the right to dominion over the other/s. Biblically, individual acts of racial prejudice (e.g., refusing to hire or to conduct business with a person of another race) are sins, but they are not crimes to be punished by the state.