Thursday, February 09, 2006

EVANGELICALS & GLOBAL WARMING

Led by such megachurch megapastors as the ever purpose-driven Rich Warren, a group of evangelicals have signed a global warming initiative (actually anti-global warming, I think):
Despite opposition from some of their colleagues, 86 evangelical Christian leaders have decided to back a major initiative to fight global warming, saying "millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors."

Among signers of the statement, which will be released in Washington on Wednesday, are the presidents of 39 evangelical colleges, leaders of aid groups and churches, like the Salvation Army, and pastors of megachurches, including Rick Warren, author of the best seller "The Purpose-Driven Life."

"For most of us, until recently this has not been treated as a pressing issue or major priority," the statement said. "Indeed, many of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that climate change is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians. But now we have seen and heard enough."

The statement calls for federal legislation that would require reductions in carbon dioxide emissions through "cost-effective, market-based mechanisms" — a phrase lifted from a Senate resolution last year and one that could appeal to evangelicals, who tend to be pro-business. The statement, to be announced in Washington, is only the first stage of an "Evangelical Climate Initiative" including television and radio spots in states with influential legislators, informational campaigns in churches, and educational events at Christian colleges.

Now I'm a big proponent of Christian stewardship, particularly as advocated by such individuals as Wendell Berry. But I confess I'm somewhat skeptical of this sort of grandstanding; I fear this is simply more pointless feel-goodism that seems to characterize so much of the megachurch movement. And not everyone is convinced by the initiative:
Some of the nation's most high-profile evangelical leaders, however, have tried to derail such action. Twenty-two of them signed a letter in January declaring, "Global warming is not a consensus issue." Among the signers were Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries; James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; and Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Their letter was addressed to the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group of churches and ministries, which last year had started to move in the direction of taking a stand on global warming. The letter from the 22 leaders asked the National Association of Evangelicals not to issue any statement on global warming or to allow its officers or staff members to take a position.

E. Calvin Beisner, associate professor of historical theology at Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., helped organize the opposition into a group called the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance. He said Tuesday that "the science is not settled" on whether global warming was actually a problem or even that human beings were causing it. And he said that the solutions advocated by global warming opponents would only cause the cost of energy to rise, with the burden falling most heavily on the poor.

The facts seem to be that far more global warming gases are pumped into the atmosphere by a single volcanic eruption than by all of us driving our cars. Yes, I'm for responsibility, but the reality is that the US is not the place where pollution is out of control. If you want pollution try the developing world.

Generally when it comes to issues like this these pastors would be better served to go work on their Sunday sermon instead.

2 comments:

Joel said...

Go back and work on their Sunday sermon when they could be heeding Jesus' words found on the Sermon on the Mount? He said, "Blessed are those who are concerned with Global Warming."

Oh wait a minute. That's not in the Bible! Never mind. I guess they should stick to God's word after all. ;)

Steve said...

I agree. I've no doubt that the climate is changing, as it has over the long history of this planet. The relevant question is whether any recent change is human-caused or not.

We are called to be careful stewards of the creation that He has given us. I liken it to being a gardener. Our job is not to keep it in a pristine state, but to work it responsibly for our own sustenance.