My first reaction to the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) yesterday was to start brainstorming ideas to help. For example, if Christian television preachers and hosts/hostesses voluntarily switched from hairspray to gel I think that would make a big difference in the size of the ozone hole. Maybe the megachurches could start a hybrid bus ministry to save precious fossil fuel for the people that drive over twenty miles to go to their churches instead of local churches. Perhaps the biggest contribution the evangelical community can make is to reduce the volume of hot air generated over philosophical issues that are not critical to essential message of Christianity.
It is okay to disagree about issues like global warming. Really. Global warning is not a part of the Apostolic Creed. I applaud the men and women who took the initiative to produce this document. Are they right about the danger of global warming? Who knows? But a call to action doesn’t seem too radical to me. Here is a sample of the statement from ECI’s website.
“We are proud of the evangelical community’s long-standing commitment to the sanctity of human life. But we also offer moral witness in many venues and on many issues. Sometimes the issues that we have taken on, such as sex trafficking, genocide in the Sudan, and the AIDS epidemic in Africa, have surprised outside observers. While individuals and organizations can be called to concentrate on certain issues, we are not a single-issue movement. We seek to be true to our calling as Christian leaders, and above all faithful to Jesus Christ our Lord. Our attention, therefore, goes to whatever issues our faith requires us to address.”
I can’t find much to disagree with in that statement. Part and parcel to our call to communicate the gospel is to minister to the needs as well as the souls of the world. This powerful passage from Isaiah reminds us that our very petitions to heaven are “grounded” by a lack of caring for the impoverished and the powerless.
The kind of fasting you do
won’t get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after:
a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
a fast day that I, GOD, would like?
“This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The GOD of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, GOD will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, “Here I am.’
“If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossipping about other people’s sins (Isaiah 58, The Message)
If these men and women who generated the Evangelical Climate Initiative feel led of the Holy Spirit to take this action then I will support them. I am not as smart as some Christians who can apparently discern God’s will for everyone. Our Lord said that “wisdom is proved right by her actions.” Time will tell if the Lord is leading their actions. I think that letting the culture know we care about the planet is a good message. And I don’t mean that just to be politically correct. Christians believe in a Creator and we must be excellent stewards of that creation as a logical response to that belief.
I think it is interesting and more than predictable that the Atlanta Journal Constitution led their story with this line.
“A Bible-based call to fight global warming has split evangelical Christians.”
I think that is a pretty big overstatement. The evangelical community does disagree over the extent (or even the existence) of the problem. But I think that when you compare this issue to some of our other “Family Feuds” this is pretty minor.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported on one of the dissenting groups.
Other prominent evangelicals have formed the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance to oppose calls to curb the emission of greenhouse gases. They include Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm; James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; and Charles Colson, an official in the Nixon White House who founded Prison Fellowship Ministries.
I am thinking about starting my own organization today. Here is part of my proposed press release:
A less than prominent evangelical has formed the Evangelical Initiative for Environmentally Independent Observation also known as E-I-E-I-O. They already have a catchy little theme song in mind. E-I-E-I-O founder Dave Burchett said, “I firmly believe that global warming may or may not be a problem so I am calling for a curb on the emission of all gases. Why just curb gases in greenhouses? Thank you.” We now return you to the prominent evangelicals.
“We all agree that there is a basis for global warming,” said Melinda Ronn, a spokeswoman for the alliance, “but we differ in what we believe is the severity, the cause and what to do about it.”
The Interfaith Stewardship Alliance said in a recent letter that “there should be room for Bible-believing evangelicals to disagree” on climate change, saying “global warming is not a consensus issue.”
May I suggest that a consensus issue would be the living out of the gospel message. E. Stanley Jones succinctly noted that “when we talk about what we believe in we divide. When we talk about Who we believe in we unite.” I am willing to allow God to move in the hearts of good men and women to seek His direction for their lives. When we disagree let it be gracefully. When Jesus prayed for us on the eve of his betrayal He spoke about unity.
I pray not only for these,
but also for those who believe in Me
through their message.
May they all be one,
as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.
May they also be one in Us,
so the world may believe You sent Me. (Holman Christian Standard Bible, John 17)
May we hear your prayer Lord Jesus. And may we seek to live it for Your glory.