Friday, March 14, 2008

Southern Baptists heat up over global warming

On Monday, Fox News ran an article called "Southern Baptist Leaders Issue Surprising Call to Fight Climate Change." The subtitle explained that a group of Southern Baptists now believe we have a "biblical duty to stop global warming." Since this story first broke, the Southern Baptist blogosphere has been swirling with strong opinions and responses. If you want to learn more about this environment and climate initiative, you can visit the official website. Tony Kummer has put together a good compilation of quotes and comments on the issue.

So, what is our Christian duty toward the environment? One of the key issues is stewardship. Genesis 2:15 says, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." With these words came the official decree that
man would serve as the appointed caretaker of creation. God graciously offered Adam and Eve the privilege of guarding that which He created in those first six days. What an honor! Yet what a responsibility.

Amazingly, all of God’s handiwork has been entrusted to the hands of mortal men. As the Psalmist beheld creation, he shook his head in wonder: “What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him? Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, And dost crown him with glory and majesty! Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:4-6).

It seems quite clear that the Christian should honor and care for the environment because God commanded us to be stewards of it. But another reason perhaps even more fundamental is that creation bears the signature of God. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands." Romans 1:20 states, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that [those who suppress the truth] are without excuse." There is a sense where all creation is a reflection of the character of our Maker. What greater reason do we need to take care of the world around us?

The Bible tells us that God made the world (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1; Hebrews 1:2), and since He made it, it has value. Francis Schaeffer, in his book Pollution and the Death of Man, explains, “[F]or the Christian the value of a thing is not in itself autonomously, but because God made it. It deserves this respect as something which was created by God, as man himself has been created by God."

Because we are commanded to be good stewards, and because this world is God's workmanship, we should take steps to conserve and protect our environment. So, for example, my family recycles as much as possible. We pick up litter when we see it. We embrace certain energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly technologies.


Humans are not, however, subordinate to nature. We have been given dominion over it. The environment was made for man, not man for the environment. While creation care is important, we must be careful not to expend our resources dabbling in the politics of environmentalism. Yes, we should be good stewards of the earth. But is there really enough scientific consensus about global warming to warrant a denominational resolution against it? I don't think so.

2 comments:

David said...

Stephen,

Isn't it interesting that we were given dominion over creation so that we might rule it well. yet it is our influence on the earth that brings it the greatest harm. No better example of mans fallen nature than his inability to rule and protect that which he was given charge of.

Mark said...

I couldn't agree with you more. While I am all for balancing our activity with the enviroment's needs, the Global Warming crowd goes way too far with too little evidence.