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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Cal Thomas on Global Warming

A recent column by Cal Thomas (who is an evangelical, I believe) says:

Do evangelicals have time on their hands because they've finished the mission to "go and make disciples of all nations"? Is this not a great enough commission that "global warming" and a host of other "issues" must be added to make evangelicals contemporary and relevant?

Thomas is referring to recent publicity over a position paper, "For the Health of the Nation," from the National Association of Evangelicals, and criticizes two officials of that organization, and Ron Sider, by name. He goes on to write:

Look at past efforts of religious activists — left and right — and note their limited success when the focus has been on transforming culture, rather than converting hearts.

Thomas is correct in believing that the primary business of Christians is to "go and make disciples," and he is also correct that Christians have sometimes ignored this in favor of peripheral causes. Trying to stop global warming, he says, "distracts and dilutes the primary calling of evangelicals." However, there are differences of opinion on whether various causes are issues, or "issues." There are differences of opinion as to whether global warming is a serious threat.

Thomas has taken positions on embryonic stem cell research and the Schiavo case (and other issues). Many evangelicals have taken the same positions that he has on these. Did Thomas criticize them for their activism? Where is his consistency? Are opposition to embryonic stem cell research or trying to thwart the wishes of Michael Schiavo ways of "making disciples?"

Surely Thomas would not have us go back to the days of slavery? Much of the opposition to that awful institution was from evangelical Christians, in spite of supposedly Bible-based justifications of slavery. Christians involved themselves in a social cause while following God's will.

There is a scriptural basis for trying to protect the environment, perhaps as good as those for abolishing slavery or for taking a stand on the Schiavo case. Genesis 1 says that God put humans in charge of other creatures, and the earth itself. The Babylonian captivity of the Israelites was for seventy years, because they had disobeyed God's command to let their land lie fallow every seventh year for 490 years (II Chronicles 36:21). Psalm 24:1 says that the earth is still God's, not ours. God had Noah build a boat large enough for many animals. Matthew 10:29 says that God knows about the death of sparrows. There are other Bible passages which also indicate that we are to be stewards of the earth, taking as good care of it as possible.

Thomas is entitled to his opinion on global warming. Christians can, and will, disagree about the significance of various perceived threats to the environment. But to imply that Christians shouldn't be concerned about the environment is a mistake.

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Note added March 19. The Evangelical Ecologist has posted a similar statement here.

1 comment:

Science Watch said...

Some related articles: 99.7% of Greenhouse Gasses Beyond Our Control and A review of the research literature concerning the environmental consequences of increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide leads to the conclusion that increases during the 20th Century have produced no deleterious effects upon global weather, climate, or temperature.