My concerns are substantive, and they are three. First, I am concerned about the carefulness of the initiative and of its leaders. The leaders of this initiative are insistent that the issue of global warming is a defining one and that we must enter the conversation. They are, for the most part, attempting to lead Southern Baptists in dialogue, in conversation with popular culture. My concern is not with dialogue in principle; rather, my concern is with this particular dialogue. On whose terms will the dialogue be conducted?
The conversation concerning global warming is already underway, and the conversation is already framed in either pantheistic or panentheistic categories. We must be careful not to enter a conversation on the wrong terms. To “strike out” in baseball is a bad thing; in bowling, it is marvelous. One can use the same terms with almost opposite meanings and intentions and much of the spirituality tied to the global warming movement reflects a misuse of traditional Christian spirituality. Are those involved in this environmental initiative going to challenge the terminology, clarify the categories, and engage in the battle on clearly Christian theological and ethical terms?
Even more to the point of carefulness is a concern that those wishing to lead may, in fact, be choosing to follow. I’m not accusing any one of these leaders of such naiveté. I am saying that such is the nature of leadership. To be a leader means, at base, to know whom you are actually following. To engage in an initiative on the environment and global warming means to be following a chorus of singers who applaud the science of climatologists, some of whom were predicting a coming ice age back in the 1970’s.
Still more significant is the value ascribed by the climate choir to the issue of climate change. Is it really such an urgent and important issue for our time? Why? Because lives may be impacted negatively or even lost? Why is this issue so important today?
It seems to me that this question needs to be fleshed out thoroughly by the initiative in order to demonstrate that they are, in fact, leading and not merely following a chorus in vanity. Why is it that it is this conversation on climate change that needs our attention? Is it because liberal professors are concerned or Hollywood is concerned or democrats are concerned or republicans need to be concerned or Christians need to be engaged? And what is the compelling reason for us—Southern Baptists—to be concerned about this particular issue at this particular time? Is it the case that this needs immediate attention when 3,500 babies are killed in the womb every day in America? Why this initiative and not an initiative against Islamism, which conducted 37 attacks, leaving 263 dead and 447 seriously wounded just last week.
Given the urgency of the situation with AIDS in Africa, hunger and disease in Darfur, the sexual slave trade in Asia, and Christian persecution in more than 40 countries around the world—is the potentiality of human caused climate change the initiative in which Southern Baptists ought to be taking the lead? Are we sure we are leading and not being led by the agenda of another? We must know the answer to these questions. Leaders and signatories of this initiative must be careful and must be clear.