Among the Intellectualoids

The Southern Baptist Capitulation

A leading Christian denomination throws in the towel on "climate change" and the "damage" man has done.

By 3.12.08

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The Christian denomination that was so ostracized (or admired, depending on your perspective) for resisting liberal modern-day pleas to conform to contemporary culture has finally caved in on so-called "climate change."

Maybe it shouldn't surprise that the Southern Baptists have thrown in the towel on the environment. Having been beat up for so long on issues like homosexual marriage, evangelizing others' religions, and wifely submission to their husbands, they were overdue for a compromise. Sure enough some who claim to represent conservative Christians, like Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals, have baited the hook with the tempting rhetorical phrase "creation care," and apparently the Southern Baptist Convention's discernment has melted away.

What is surprising is that the SBC, which prides itself on its claims of adherence to Biblical inerrancy and authority, has absolutely botched its interpretation about what man's responsibility over the Earth is. Its position statement (featured at its brand new, Soylent Green-tinted website), titled the "Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative," makes so many absurd statements about planet protection (with allegedly supportive Bible citations) that you'd think you're reading the beliefs of the Unitarian Universalists.

Examples from SBECI:

God's command to tend and keep the earth (Genesis 2) did not pass away with the fall of man....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.

This is perhaps the most misunderstood passage when it comes to so-called "creation care," a term repeatedly invoked by leftist social gospel promoters to lay guilt trips on conservative evangelicals. Unfortunately now the SBC has bought it. First, God didn't "command" man to "tend and keep the earth;" He "put him into the garden of Eden" (not the whole earth) "to cultivate and keep it" (Genesis 2:15). There is no obvious "command."

And, both before and after the fall of man, the garden (and later the earth) was given for the man's use and benefit. "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely," God told Adam in Genesis 2:16. Verse 2:9 says, "God caused to grow every tree" good for food. Therefore, the natural resources were brought forth by God and He told Adam, "have at it!" (with one significant exception, of course). To summarize, there is no declaration by God (or within Scripture) to maintain the earth in some pristine, unspoiled, Garden-of-Eden-type condition. God gave for man to use as he saw fit -- and after the fall He cursed it and explained that the work was going to get much harder.

More from SBECI:

We must care about environmental and climate issues because of our love for God...through whom and for whom the creation was made....Therefore, any damage we do to this world is an offense against God Himself (Gen. 1; Ps. 24; Col. 1:16). We share God's concern for the abuse of His creation.

This section is lifted entirely from Claim #3 of the alarm-sounding Evangelical Climate Initiative, which among many other outrageous statements claims, "millions of people could die" if global warming is not addressed. And it appears that none of the theologians who signed the SBECI actually read the verses that are supposed to support the claim that "damage we do to the world is an offense to God Himself." I defy anyone to read the entire Bible and find clear condemnation from God for "damaging the world." People, yes; dirt, no. Have SBC theologians counted the cost versus the benefit of the onset of global warming, if indeed it is true? Doubtful.

More Bible misapplication from SBECI (and the ECI):

Within these Scriptures we are reminded that when God made mankind, He commissioned us to exercise stewardship over the earth and its creatures (Gen. 1:26-28).

Again, there is no principle to "exercise stewardship"; man was told to "rule over" the living creatures of the planet and the earth. I take "rule over" to mean that humans call the shots, not dogs and cats.

And by the way, why all this SBC commotion over keeping the soil and water immaculate, while the poor puppies and kitties get short shrift? God, as with the earth, created all the non-human living beings on the fifth and sixth days of creation, called them "good," and commanded for them to be fruitful and multiply -- yet we haven't heard the Baptist leaders call for their members to go vegan. Why must we preserve a pristine earth but not the special critters He created?

It's all evidence that the SBC has been intimidated into addressing an issue over which there is no clear Biblical mandate, and in which its members are sharply divided. When the signers say they must "humbly take responsibility for the damage we have done...," they should speak for themselves. They only reveal their ignorance in areas of science and economics, and their cowardice in compromising their Biblical principles in the face of political pressure.

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About the Author

Paul Chesser publishes CarolinaPlottHound.com, a news aggregator for North Carolina, and is a contributor of articles, research and investigative reports for both national and state-level free-market think tanks.