(by Craig Branch)
Everywhere you turn – television stories, news stories, magazine articles, regulations, restrictions, hybrid cars, Al Gore – we are confronted with warnings of human induced global warming and catastrophic climate change.
An important dimension of apologetics is to defend and advance a Biblical worldview in shaping culture. Christianity and Christians are called to influence and impact human life, being salt and light. This involves law, government, economics, business, social justice, medicine, sports, recreation, and even the environment.
Yes the Bible teaches about Christians individual and collective responsibility to be stewards of the earth (environment). It is part of the doctrine called the “cultural mandate.” Yet it is one of our most neglected teachings and practices.
Wherever we leave a vacuum because of neglect, others rush in to fill it. In this case it has been New Age, humanists, and the liberal church.
ARC devoted our Jan-Feb 2007 issue of the Areopagus Journal to this topic, titled “Stewardship of the Earth.”
In that journal we present articles on understanding the importance of worldview knowledge and application, our biblical responsibilities on environmental stewardship, a point-counterpoint exchange on the global warming debate, what about animal rights, and an overview of the new ager heresy of earth worship.
It was probably because of this journal that ARC director, Craig Branch, was asked to represent the Evangelical Christian perspective at the Alabama Environmental Education Consortium Spring Conference organized by the Vulcan Materials Center for Environmental Stewardship of Samford University in March.
On the panel were Dr. E.O. Wilson, biology professor at Harvard (and known as the “Father of Modern Environmentalism Movement), the Rev. Sally Bingham, an Episcopal priest and Environmental Minister in San Francisco (and founder of the Regeneration Project), and myself. We each had a chance to speak and responded to questions and answers from the audience.
Sally Bingham also leads the Interfaith Power and Light Regeneration campaign to show Al Gore’s (now controversial) Academy Award winning film “An Inconvenient Truth” (“proving” the catastrophic effects of human induced global warming) to 4000 churches around the country. Time magazine just ranked Al Gore as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world.
Dr. EO Wilson, whom Time magazine ranked as one of “America’s 25 Most Influential People,” two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, is a former Southern Baptist from Alabama, turned agnostic. But Wilson believes that Science and the Christian Church are the two most influential forces in the World and wanted to “extend an olive branch” to the evangelical community to work together on “a common goal of saving Creation.”
I truly related to being Daniel in the lion’s den in the packed Wright Center at Samford that day. Samford’s auditorium was packed with environmental groups from Alabama and from around the country, as well as mostly non-Christians.
But someone had sent me an email with a passage (Duet. 20:1-4) which she correctly understood the Lord had given her to encourage me, and the Lord showed up and is still showing up in the aftermath.
I strongly urge you to go to our website and read the paper referenced “Samford Symposium” on our front page, which contains an abstract of my presentation, the presentation itself, and a very revealing postscript of what happened during and after the conference.
Representing the “Evangelical” perspective on environmental stewardship is not easy as there is not a single position. We do stand fairly well united that (1) there is a biblical doctrine on environmental stewardship that the evangelical Church is generally ignorant of and indifferent; (2) that we should be co-belligerents in varying degrees with secular/scientific goals in issues like habitat conservation, sustainable development of resources, waste management, disease control, soil erosion, endangered species, water quality, hazardous wastes, radiation control, pollutants, landfills, environmental ethics, and the economic effects on the poor and the rest of the population.
The problem arises in the issue of Climate Control the extent of the degree and danger of global warming, the extent of human causation, and the policies used to address it. We have evangelicals all over the spectrum on these issues. Does “science” help resolve the confusion? Do powerful interest groups like oil companies and environmental groups taint the “scientific” evidence?
Above all, don’t be apathetic or complacent. Let us love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength.