My last post was a little skeletal, so I thought I would offer a few more thoughts about the recent ecostatement by some Southern Baptists.
Global warming. Man! Is there such a thing as a QUATERNARY doctrine? Because, for all the talk about creation care and the like, can anyone identify a single Southern Baptist who's saying, "Pollute the land! Crank out the chemicals! Let it all BURN!!!"? I think that Southern Baptists are in consensus that God has commissioned us to have dominion over the earth. I think that Southern Baptists are in consensus that littering or pollution or the lacing of public drinking water with hexavalent chromium is wrong. Nobody thinks that God's plan is Love Canal.
"Creation care" we're in agreement on; global warming we're not so sure about. And we're not so sure about Kyoto and its "pollute all you want" pass to places like China. If I buy a hybrid car, will the electricity I use to charge it pollute the atmosphere more or less than the gasoline I was using to fill my old car? If I buy ethanol, doesn't that cause more chemicals to be sprayed all across Iowa to grow the corn?
Is there any substantial disagreement among Southern Baptists on issues actually touching upon the THEOLOGY of "creation care"? Or is it basically a difference over which of conflicting political approaches to endorse in trying to care for creation?
And if it is the latter, how important is that, really?
In my last post, I speculated that the recent statement was all about public perception. I offered that speculation without offering evaluation. I'll fill in the blanks now. I'm not sure that this action will help public perception of Southern Baptists at all. I don't think there's anything wrong with paying an appropriate level of attention to public perception. As a pastor, I sometimes consider public perception of my actions. We're foolhardy if we completely disregard public perception. I don't think that our ideology or the truth should ever be at the mercy of our quest for positive public perception, but a desire to improve public perception of Southern Baptists by the world is not, in and of itself, a bad thing.
But perhaps, just maybe, it harms public perception in some ways for a bevy of Southern Baptist employees to go out of their way to slap at a resolution just adopted by the SBC in the immediately preceding annual meeting. Global warming is a topic on which people are certainly free to arrive at their own opinions. But before I would rise up to rebuke the SBC in The New York Times, I would want it to be a pretty important issue, especially if I were regularly cashing a CP paycheck. [NO, I don't want ANYBODY getting into any TROUBLE over this. I'm just saying that it has a negative effect on public perception] Somebody should have rebuked the SBC on the issue of slavery, but on CO2 emissions?
I can't help but think that some of the people involved didn't anticipate that this statement would be construed as a rebuttal of our Southern Baptist messenger body. After all, Baptist Press is reporting that Frank Page endorses the past two SBC resolutions on the topic in addition to this statement. BP also reports that negotiations were ongoing with the ERLC involving some modifications of the document but not a final endorsement. Obviously at least some of the people generally in support of the idea were trying to achieve different wordings of the text.
And, of course, a great many of the signatories don't work for the SBC and can disagree any old time they want to, but let's do so agreeably, and preferably away from CNN.
While we're greening, let's keep grinning at one another.