Sunday, May 14, 2006

Is Jesus a Green?

Conservative evangelicals are split on Global Warming, says Mark Tooley:

ON THE RELIGIOUS LEFT, the great hope these days is that the Religious Right is melting down over Global Warming. Liberal evangelical activist Jim Wallis rejoiced about the crack-up in a recent column, claiming that "the Religious Right is losing control" thanks to environmentalist evangelicals. Wallis, head of "Sojourners" and author of God's Politics: Why the American Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Just Does Not Get It, is predicting a "sea change" among evangelicals since the Religious Right has "now lost control of the environmental issue."

The reason for Wallis's optimism is the newly-created Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI), endorsed by 86 religious leaders, which declared early this year that "human-induced climate change is real" and which urged legislation limiting carbon dioxide emissions. Those endorsing the ECI were mostly academics from evangelical colleges, with the notable exception of mega-church pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren. The New York Times and other media outlets lavished much attention on ECI's stance.

Absent from the ECI endorsement was the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and its long-time Washington representative, Richard Cizik. An enthusiast for environmental causes, Cizik is prominently included in Vanity Fair's May 2006 "Green Issue," which features the cover-line, "A Graver Threat than Terrorism: Global Warming." Inside is a full-page shot of Cizik, clad in clerical black and walking barefoot across the water, back-dropped by an apocalyptic and no doubt very hot landscape.

Vanity Fair reports that Cizik often cites Revelation 11:18's ostensible warning that God will "destroy those
who destroy the earth." "Amen to that," Vanity Fair concludes.
So Jim Wallis is excited. "The Evangelical Climate Initiative is of enormous importance and could be a tipping point in the climate change debate, according to one secular environmental leader I talked to," he writes. Concern about the environment, he hopes, will lead to an evangelical embrace other issues of the Left.

All of which hopes are somewhat dampened by the National Association of Evangelicals' decision not to join the ECI. According to Wallis, Cizik and NAE president Ted Haggard, a Colorado mega-church pastor, attended environmental seminars and have experienced an "epiphany" on climate change. They were fully onboard with the issue.

That is, Wallis laments, until the "Religious Right reared its head." Twenty-two of the "Right's prominent leaders" publicly asked the NAE not to adopt a position on climate change. "Global Warming is not a consensus issue," warned conservatives, including Focus on the Family's James Dobson, Prison Fellowship's Charles Colson, and the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land. (This statement was also signed by the then-interim president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, for which I work.)

"We are evangelicals and we care about God's creation," read the Dobson-Colson-Land letter. "However, we believe there should be room for Bible-believing evangelicals to disagree about the cause, severity, and solutions to the global warming issue." The letter urged NAE to foster "unity" in the Christian community.
No doubt the NAE was responding to Dobson, Colson, et al. But their response also reflected the truth that evangelicals do not have a clear scriptural or historical teaching on Global Warming--as they do on an issue such as same-sex marriage.

You mean God didn't give Man a complete and comprehensive blueprint for handling every situation that Life may throw at him? What is a Biblical literalist to do? Use his own powers of reason? Get thee behind me, Satan!


Blogger Hey Skipper said...

It is probably worth noting that God gave detailed food preparation instructions to at least a couple religions.

While completely failed to mention the importance of keeping human waste and drinking water strictly separated, or the equal importance of boiling water before providing it to children.

Both are among many simple measures to avoid easily preventable suffering and death that had to wait until the germ theory of disease.

You mean God didn't give Man a complete and comprehensive blueprint for handling every situation that Life may throw at him?

Heck, God didn't even bother with the obvious.

May 15, 2006 5:32 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

Well, Skipper, there were priorities. I mean, before a society can tackle water sanitation and global ecological catastrophe, it absolutely has to know how to deal with a woman's menstrual cycle or a boy's adolescent habits.

May 15, 2006 6:06 PM  

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