Don, at The Evangelical Ecologist, has a couple posts on a new statement written by some Southern Baptist leaders who feel their denomination’s stance on anthropogenic climate change and other environmental issues is too weak:
One thing I appreciate that Don points out is that rather than being a hinderance to evangelism and missions, environmental issues provide a vast opportunity for gospel-based outreach.
The statement, which is not an official SBC document, can be found at the Southern Baptist Environment & Climate Change Initiative site. There is nothing radical in the statement that should cause division. There are four main points:
- Humans Must Care for Creation and Take Responsibility for Our Contributions to Environmental Degradation.
- It Is Prudent to Address Global Climate Change.
- Christian Moral Convictions and Our Southern Baptist Doctrines Demand Our Environmental Stewardship.
- It Is Time for Individuals, Churches, Communities and Governments to Act.
Here are a few quotes from the statement:
We believe our current denominational engagement with these issues have often been too timid, failing to produce a unified moral voice. Our cautious response to these issues in the face of mounting evidence may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless and ill-informed. We can do better. To abandon these issues to the secular world is to shirk from our responsibility to be salt and light. The time for timidity regarding God’s creation is no more.
There is undeniable evidence that the earth—wildlife, water, land and air—can be damaged by human activity, and that people suffer as a result. When this happens, it is especially egregious because creation serves as revelation of God’s presence, majesty and provision. Though not every person will physically hear God’s revelation found in Scripture, all people have access to God’s cosmic revelation: the heavens, the waters, natural order, the beauty of nature (Psalm 19; Romans 1). We believe that human activity is mixed in its impact on creation—sometimes productive and caring, but often reckless, preventable and sinful.
God’s command to tend and keep the earth (Genesis 2) did not pass away with the fall of man; we are still responsible. Lack of concern and failure to act prudently on the part of Christ-followers reflects poorly to the rest of the world. Therefore, we humbly take responsibility for the damage that we have done to God’s cosmic revelation and pledge to take an unwavering stand to preserve and protect the creation over which we have been given responsibility by Almighty God Himself.
We recognize that Christians are not united around either the scientific explanations for global warming or policies designed to slow it down. Unlike abortion and respect for the biblical definition of marriage, this is an issue where Christians may find themselves in justified disagreement about both the problem and its solutions.
Yet, even in the absence of perfect knowledge or unanimity, we have to make informed decisions about the future. This will mean we have to take a position of prudence based partly on science that is inevitably changing. We do not believe unanimity is necessary for prudent action. We can make wise decisions even in the absence of infallible evidence.
This is not our world, it is God’s. Therefore, any damage we do to this world is an offense against God Himself
Our motivation for facing failures to exercise proper stewardship is not primarily political, social or economic—it is primarily biblical.
We must care about environmental and climate issues because we are called to love our neighbors, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us and to protect and care for the “least of these”
We realize that we cannot support some environmental issues as we offer a distinctively Christian voice in these arenas. For instance, we realize that what some call population control leads to evils like abortion. We now call on these environmentalists to reject these evils and accept the sanctity of every human person, both born and unborn.
We realize that simply affirming our God-given responsibility to care for the earth will likely produce no tangible or effective results. Therefore, we pledge to find ways to curb ecological degradation through promoting biblical stewardship habits and increasing awareness in our homes, businesses where we find influence, relationships with others and in our local churches. Many of our churches do not actively preach, promote or practice biblical creation care. We urge churches to begin doing so.
Grace and Peace