The Case for Pro-Life: My Experience With Divine Pathos and Prophetic Sympathy

Well given the news has leaked the article Planned Parenthood Defends Selling Body Parts of Aborted Babies, Calls Body Parts “Tissue,” here are a few of my thoughts.

Abraham Joshua Heschel

While I don’t need the Bible to make a pro-life argument (it is scientifically proven life begins at conception), I would say that the one thing that happened to me at this presentation is what is called divine pathos and prophetic sympathy.  Divine pathos and prophetic sympathy  is expounded on in a monumental  book called The Prophets by Jewish author Abraham Joshua Heschel. Heschel is one of the greatest thinkers in the history of Judaism.  Divine pathos refers to Heschel’s daring suggestion that God Himself is capable of emotion, is in fact more emotionally sensitive than human beings. In Heschel’s words, “He is moved and affected by what happens in the world, and reacts accordingly.” (1) Prophetic sympathy, in Heschel’s technical sense, is a sharing in the emotions of God, as exemplified preeminently by the prophets of Israel. “The prophet,” he says, “is guided not by what he feels, but by what God feels.” (2) The mode of pathos to which Heschel devotes most attention is the frustration God experiences at human perversity, “his disillusionment at people’s disloyalty,” (3) his anguish at human suffering, with which he completely identifies. The classic expression of this aspect of pathos is of course the book of Hosea, where God’s feelings with regard to Israel are compared to those of a husband betrayed by his wife. And it is not beneath God’s dignity to plead with his people to return (Hosea 14: 1). (4) Heschel proceeded to argue that the God of pathos, not the neutral God of the philosophers, has the stronger rational credentials. Now I don’t go around and say I am a prophet and say “thus says the Lord.” But to see pictures of baby parts (arms, legs, etc…) on a tray and then ponder that we have killed close to 50-60 million people was when I saw  God’s pathos and prophetic symphony in action. It was horrifying. Sometimes God needs to shock us to help us see reality! But as I said, I don’t always have to appeal to emotion. The arguments for the pro-life position has strong scientific evidence to support it.

Conclusion All people are entitled to life, liberty, and happiness, not death, liberty and happiness.  As we look at a presidential candidate and ask what is he going to do to make me happier, how about asking will this candidate do all they can to promote one of the core values of our country- that all people are created equal and not discriminated against based on age, development, etc.  

Sources:  1. Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets, Vol. II; New York: Harper and Row, 1962. p. 4. 2. Ibid., p. 94 3. Ibid., p. 93. 4. This section was taken from a summary of the The Prophets which is available at


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