I belong to an American Baptist church. When we’re not poking fun at ourselves, we sometimes target the Southern Baptists. It’s all in good fun and no lightning has struck us yet.
One of the perceptions many people have of conservative Christians—whether true or not—is of an indifference to problems of pollution or climate change. Some of this is earned, as parking lots of evangelical and fundamentalist churches have a higher percentage of SUV’s than the more liberal churches; and certain prominent church leaders deny any human involvement in global warming. (!?!) While this denial may or may not be politically motivated (Big Oil contributes big to the Republican Party and its socially conservative platform) the reason often stated or implied is that God is sovereign, and that man can do nothing to alter God’s plan for creation. Some imply that attempting to do so would be an act of pride, works-righteousness, idolatry, and yada-yada-yada (and besides, it’s on the liberal agenda).
And so, I’m thrilled that one of the most conservative Christian denominations in the United States has passed the following resolution concerning the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Some of it may even seem in alliance with, well, the “liberal agenda” in its wording, such as: “Our God-given dominion over the creation is not unlimited, as though we were gods and not creatures, so therefore, all persons and all industries are then accountable to higher standards than to profit alone.”
But this is not just liberal; it’s also how conservatives should act.
Good on you, cousins. Y’all make us proud.
Resolution 4. On The Gulf Of Mexico Catastrophe
WHEREAS, On April 20, 2010, the deadly explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in the deaths of eleven workers and touched off an underwater gusher of oil that has spewed millions of gallons of crude petroleum into the waters of the Gulf; and WHEREAS, This crisis is described already as the largest environmental calamity in American history; and
WHEREAS, The oil spilling from the ocean’s floor now poses a dire and immediate threat to the coastlands and inland estuaries, marshes, and waterways of the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, and to the ecosystems of birds, shrimp, oysters, fish, and other life-forms; and
WHEREAS, Due to the symbiotic relationship between the Gulf of Mexico and the hardworking residents of the Gulf Coast, this crisis jeopardizes an entire way of life for communities, with vast economic, social, cultural, familial, and spiritual consequences; and
WHEREAS, Holy Scripture tells us “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1, KJV), and that God’s wisdom and glory is seen in the teeming of life in the seas (Psalm 104:25); and
WHEREAS, God has designed us with a dependence on the natural resources around us and has assigned us a dominion of stewardship and protection of those resources for future generations (Genesis 2:7-15); and
WHEREAS, Our God-given dominion over the creation is not unlimited, as though we were gods and not creatures, so therefore, all persons and all industries are then accountable to higher standards than to profit alone; and
WHEREAS, The Scripture teaches both love of neighbor for those who are suffering (Mark 12:31; Luke 10:25-37; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14) and accountability for those whose actions harm the vulnerable (Exodus 21:33-22:15; Luke 19:8; Romans 13:1-7); now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Orlando, Florida, June 15-16, 2010, lament the deaths of the eleven oil rig workers and pray for their families; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptist churches and other Christians to pray for the end of this catastrophe and for the homes, lives, cultures, and livelihoods of those in the Gulf Coast region; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on the governing authorities to act determinatively and with undeterred resolve to end this crisis; to fortify our coastal defenses; to ensure full corporate accountability for damages, clean-up, and restoration; to ensure that government and private industry are not again caught without planning for such possibilities; and to promote future energy policies based on prudence, conservation, accountability, and safety; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage persons, communities, industries, and governments to work together to find ways to lessen the potentiality of such tragic accidents and of such devastating pollution in order that we may protect what God loves and safeguard the lives, livelihoods, health, and well-being of our neighbors and of future generations; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptists to be ready to assist the communities and churches of the Gulf Coast through the clean-up process with the same generosity of spirit that Southern Baptists exhibited after Hurricane Katrina of 2005; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we acknowledge that this tragedy should remind us to testify to the love of God in His creation and to the hope, through the blood of Christ, of a fully restored creation in which the reign of God is seen “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).