Mohler: Why Christians should care about Global Warming

One podcast I listen to regularly is done by Albert Mohler, the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In his most recent podcast, “Should Global Warming Matter to Evangelicals?”, Albert Mohler has an interesting argument to put forth.

Firstly, I would like to note that quite often Mohler can be what I would call a “hard core” Baptist. He truly believes that not only Christianity, but Baptistism is the 100% correct faith system. While he goes as far as to admit that certain details are up to personal opinion, he always has reasons for why he believe what he does over other beliefs — something that is both impressive and somewhat frightening. I believe it’s critical to think through what you believe and why, and Mohler will never be faulted for the opposite. But sometimes, it’s a bit frightening to consider the tone of his voice when he says that Baptistism is the single way for him; it makes me almost feel like I’m wrong for figuring that Christians share a common bond of truth.

That aside, however, Mohler presents a very intriguing argument in his show on global warming, and one that, quite frankly, I never would have expected from him. Perhaps it’s my slight bias against American conservatives (who quite often can verge on fundamentalism), or perhaps it’s just that he is socially conservative on every other issue he has ever confronted (most of which I agree with, I may add…), but the fact that he believes that Christians should consider Global Warming as an issue was a pleasant surprise.

Mohler argues:

When it comes to the issue of global warming, here’s what I want to suggest to some Evangelicals. There were many evangelicals, many conservatives who woke up this morning and heard that the Swedish Nobel Committee had awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore, and they just thought “oh, here we go again.” Here we go again. Al Gore’s going to get more publicity about global warming, and this is going to receive more cultural attention and all the rest. I want to suggest to you that this could be, in the end, a good thing, if it leads to a sane discussion about some of this. I’ll let the Nobel Prize Committee worry about the Nobel Prize, but I just want to tell you that I think we should be unashamed and unhesitant to have this kind of discussion. It’s now an issue that is on the front-burner of our culture; that means it ought to have our attention as well! While all the people are adding their two cents to this issue, Christians need to be there to say, “You know, we have to respond to this out of a certain worldview. We have to respond to this out of certain presuppositions.” And our presuppositions mean that we’re not only looking to global warming on this earth, but we’re looking at how this fits with God’s purposes throughout eternity.

[…]

Let’s talk about the foundations of a Christian environmentalist, and let’s also talk about this with a background that we know that there are many people who have desecrated the earth. There are many people who have misused the earth. Let’s just name that as sin. It is sin to deliberately misuse what you are given as a gift. It is sin to deliberately misuse that which you have been given as a stewardship. And we have been given creation as a stewardship. In Genesis, Adam and Eve are given a responsibility to care for the earth, and to even subdue the Earth.

Now, the Liberal secular worldview says that we are to be stewards, but not to have dominion. Well, that’s not the way it works. In the scripture we are told to be stewards, we’re also told to have dominion. There is a Biblical warrant for eating, for tilling the ground, for toiling in the earth, for doing the type of things we do to make the earth yield forth it’s goodness for us. We dam up rivers in order to have electricity. There are a lot of things we do in subduing the earth, and a lot of these things have led to human happiness. I am one who is thankful that the human beings discovered carbon-based fuel. I am thankful that we discovered electricity and how to use it. But every one of these things comes with a trade-off.

And the interesting thing is, now that we have global warming — and I think it’s clear that most persons are at least convinced that there is something going on — now that we have it, the big question is “what then?” Well, if the Christian worldview says that we are to be stewards of the earth — that we’re to call it sin when someone deliberately desecrates the earth — then our responsibility is to be good stewards of what God has given, and to glorify God in the process, and to do so without believing that the earth is the point. In other words, we do not, in our motivation, seek to care for the earth because we care for the earth, we care for the earth because we care for the Creator, and it’s His. It’s like a garden that He’s allowing us to use; we need to return it to Him better than it was before.

I personally am all for his interpretation of the scriptures, in this case. It hinges, perhaps, on the idea that Genesis occurred as it is written. Therefore, as long as you accept that (which I do), then there should be no doubt about our stewardship of the world. That being said, even a more liberal Christian surely can accept that we are the dominant species on the earth, as is God’s will, and as such we should be caring for it even though it was not directly passed on from God to Adam.

One debate, I think, would be over the definition of stewardship. In this case, I think Mohler would be proud that I want to bring Jesus Himself into the equation, with one of his parables. Matthew 25:14-30, often referred to as the Parable of the Talents, places the onus on the steward to care for his possessions. Jesus states that “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.” If indeed we are stewards of the earth, then how much more pivotal is it that we care for it than a few coins? To those who believe that having dominion over the earth involves no responsibility (and I have met those who do), then Jesus’ parable should be a strong cautioning.

Otherwise, I think it’s simply appreciable that there are arguments to sway the uber-conservatives. As he states in the show, there is a stereotype that liberals are the ones who care about global warming, while conservatives and evangelicals are considered to be against such movements. So get that, people… even Southern Baptists support the notion that we shouldn’t treat the earth carelessly!

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Plastic-ish

This is an issue that was actually brought to my attention last summer by my girlfriend, Rose, when she returned from her trip to Germany for World Youth Day with her church. The event is a gathering of Catholic youth from all over the world to hear the Pope speak. It is held every few years, and the country it is in changes each time. The previous one was in Toronto, and from what I understand the next is to be in Sidney. But Rose has a passion for Europe, and when she was given the chance to go to Germany with her Youth Group, she jumped. Fast.

Well, she came back enthused not just by some of the landscapes and buildings she saw, but also with a completely unique issue: That of plastic. She has mentioned it a few times now, because to this day she thinks it is one of the neatest things she has seen. And, of course, I, too find it intriguing, but have never heard of it from anyone but her until today.

I guess much of Europe is defined by pretty innovative environmental movements. One friend has mentioned large incinerators that serve not only as a way of eliminating landfills, but as a source of energy nearby as well, while still being environmentally friendly in general. Something that large scale would be pretty hard to adapt here in North America, though, although that doesn’t mean it’s not something to look forward to. But for the time being, something like what Rose came across in Germany should be an easy way of moving past some of our problems as they stand. And of course, when dealing with plastic, two issues automatically come to mind: Oil and Waste.

Both should theoretically be confronted with the ability to transform naturally-occurring glucose into plastic. The article points out that this notion is a long way off from being mainstream, but from what Rose said, that was just where it was appearing in Europe. Her disposable fork at mealtimes was composed of corn, and, surprisingly, it was even more durable than a normal plastic fork.

Yes, it will take some time for the process to be perfected. But if they are making cutlery out of corn in Germany, is there any reason that in North America it couldn’t be done? Not only would it help some of our landfill problems, since glucose is bio-degradable, but it’ll help slow the demand for oil and it makes forks that are far more usable? How could you say no?

Personally, I hope to see this in the news a lot more, soon. It’s a lot like replacing the old light bulbs — a project that is currently taking place throughout Ontario. By eliminating archaic technologies, we can begin to move past the legacy of the past generations — and avoid the eventual inevitable environmental crises that will result from our constant lack of action. Of course, until we get over our culture of purchasing a new computer, or TV, or couch every 2 years, then the landfill issue will not go away. But each step needs to be taken in turn, and something like converting from oil-based plastics to glucose-based plastics would be a good place to start.