Thursday, February 10, 2005
This stuff scares me. Both bloggers say essentially that it is about time Christians pay attention to these issues. Says "Truth"
Hopefully they'll start talking, because this is another one of those very important common grounds that ought to be recognized.
What I'm upset at many conservative evangelicals over is not that they don't adopt liberal policies on these issues but that they don't seem concerned about the issues at all.
There is a very good reason that conservative evangelicals have not picked up on these issues. In the first place, the Post article has little understanding of what is, or is not, an "evangelical." They paint with a very broad brush and seem to use the term to mean anyone that goes to a Christian church. While the article does mention a couple of notable conservative Christians, it's not exactly like the names mentioned are attaching themselves to a lot of the issues discussed in the article.
No Christian would deny that as Christians we have a responsibility to good stewardship towards the planet -- but past that point, things really start to hit the fan.
There are two issues that raise their heads really rapidly when the discussion of Christian environmentalism crops up. The first is priorities. Too many, way too many "environmentalists" put the environment on a higher plane than people. Bottom line this -- environmentalism, as a movement, is anti-industrialization. From toxic air contaminants to garbage disposal, from species diversification to global warming, its all about beating back the actions of mankind, particularly those acts that result in industrialization. But industrialization is absolutely necessary for the planet to support the levels of human habitation that it now does. Push industrialization back very far and people are going to start dying -- in droves. Is that really reflective of Christian priorities?
The second issue that comes up is purely technical. What is an environmental issue and what is not. Let's examine just a single example -- global warming. The fact that the planet is warming is not arguable, but how much and why are hotly contested in the scientific community.
Even if we accept for a moment that global warming really is our problem, as opposed to just a natural occurrence, Bjorn Lumborg, argues, quite effectively, in "The Skeptical Environmentalist" that it is far less expensive to cope with it than to try and prevent it. So where is the church supposed to come down on something like this? In light of the technical debate going on around global warming, the questions confronting the church are out of their field, or purely political. Such technical debate could go on about any number of environmental "issues."
A few years ago I chaired the Missions Committee of my church. We had a member that was a rabid environmentalist and he wanted to direct our church's given to all sorts of stuff that was highly debatable technically, and some of it ethically (pesticide bans for example -- 1000's die each year in the third world for want of DDT) I refused to take committee time for the argument, but he and I spent hours on the phone debating vary technical issues. In the end we agreed to clean up litter in the LA River basin, necessary, but hardly a large scale environmental "issue."
As Christians, we should be good stewards of the planet. Fine, now what?