ERLC president reacts to ‘Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change’

By Staff
Mar 11, 2008

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, issued the following statement today regarding the recently released “Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change.”

Land answered questions about the ERLC’s lack of support for the declaration explaining that as an official SBC entity, the ERLC follows the consensus of Southern Baptists on public policy matters as determined by the SBC meeting in session each year.

He also stated, “The ERLC does not agree that Southern Baptists have been ‘too timid’” in addressing the issues of creation care and environmental stewardship.

Land’s statement follows:

“While official Southern Baptist Convention resolutions are not binding on the conscience of any Southern Baptist, they are instructive, particularly to those of us who have the privilege of serving all Southern Baptists through one of the Convention’s official entities.

“One of the responsibilities that accompanies this privilege of serving Southern Baptists is to seek the broadest possible consensus on issues where the Convention has spoken and to encourage change, when it is considered appropriate, through private discussion and dialogue to reach new consensus rather than public critique. We continue to encourage, and to participate in, such dialogues on this issue, as well as many other important issues.

“Southern Baptist public policy advocacy is most effective when it is supported by the broadest possible consensus among Southern Baptists.

“The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has a Convention-assigned role to express the consensus of Southern Baptists on public policy matters when they have reached such consensus. If the ERLC asserted Southern Baptists were in a different place on an issue than they actually were, we would lose the trust of Southern Baptists, and we would rapidly lose our credibility in Washington as well. Individual Southern Baptists may feel greater latitude in expressing disagreement on issues on which the Convention has spoken than do spokespersons related to official SBC entities.

“The Southern Baptist Convention had an opportunity at its 2007 Convention in San Antonio, Texas, to address this issue in the manner it is addressed in ‘A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change.’ Instead, the Convention’s voting messengers, elected by their local churches, voted approximately 60 to 40 percent to remove the following language from the proposed resolution:

RESOLVED, That we encourage continued government funding to find definitive answers on the issue of human-induced global warming that are based on empirical facts and are free of ideology and partisanship; and be it further. . . .

RESOLVED, That we support economically responsible government initiatives and funding to locate and implement viable energy alternatives to oil, reducing our dependence on foreign oil and decreasing the amount of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions; and be it further’

“The officially adopted resolution, minus the above language, is as close to an ‘official’ position as the SBC is capable of making, apart from its formal confession of faith, The Baptist Faith and Message.

“Consequently, in our Convention-assigned role to share faithfully with Washington and other public policy venues where the Convention is on an issue, it would be misleading and unethical of the ERLC to promote a position at variance with the Convention’s expressly stated positions.

“Given the fact the Convention has officially addressed the issues of creation care and environmental stewardship in its 2006 and 2007 Conventions through resolutions adopted by the Convention’s duly elected messengers (see links below to view cited SBC resolutions), the ERLC does not agree that Southern Baptists have been ‘too timid’ in addressing these issues.

“Southern Baptists, collectively and individually, jealously guard their independence and autonomy. They reserve to themselves the right to decide through Convention action what the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy positions are to be. The ERLC will continue to share the officially adopted positions of the Convention with public policy makers and the media. Thus, the ERLC has declined to endorse ‘A Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change’ in its present form.”

Links to past resolutions: http://www.sbcannualmeeting.org/sbc07/resolutions/sbcresolution-06.asp?ID=6 and http://www.sbcannualmeeting.org/sbc06/resolutions/sbcresolution-06.asp?ID=8.

The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest non-Catholic denomination with more than 16.3 million members in over 44,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is involved in representing Southern Baptists on issues such as creation care and environmental stewardship. If you would like to help us continue our efforts, please click here.

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19 Comments

1 On Mar 11, 2008, at 5:50am, Sigmund Morel wrote:

I agree that the Southern Baptist Convention has not been “too timid” on the issue of global warming. Not only are we not sure if global warming is human induced, but we are not even sure global warming exist.
In January 2002, the journal “Science” published findings of researchers Ian R. Joughin and Slawek Tulaczyk. In measuring the vast West Antartic Ice Sheet, the researchers found it was growing thicker instead of melting.
In another study pulished in the journal “Nature”, Peter Doran and his colleagues at the University of Illinios took actual temperature readings and found the temperatures in the Antartic have been getting slightly colder - not warmer - for the last 30 years.
As conservative Christians, we should not perpetuate the lies of a liberal, non-Chritian society,

Sigmund Morel

2 On Mar 12, 2008, at 5:58am, Shane wrote:

I was disheartened to see the article that 46 prominent Southern Baptists were agreeing with the factually incorrect belief that global warming is a manmade problem.  Just as more and more scientists are presenting scientific evidence that yes, the earth did warm slightly but it was a natural cycle, the level of human impact on carbon dioxide emissions is minuscule, and the earths temperature has begun to decrease and in one year has wiped out any increase of the past 100 years.  There is an informative article on the US Senate Environmental and Public Works website (http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=f80a6386-802a-23ad-40c8-3c63dc2d02cb) detailing scientific evidence that disputes man-made global warming.  Let’s show that we are intelligent, thinking people who are factually based on what we believe.

3 On Mar 12, 2008, at 5:59pm, John P. Finley wrote:

Let’s be good stewards of God’s earth.  Seriously, let’s take care of what God has given us; but let’s not fall prey to a humanistic, godless ideology that “we must make this planet last us forever”.  It will last as long as God wants it to last.  And by the way, if anyone is interested, the Bible does teach that the earth won’t last forever.  One day there will be a New Heaven & New Earth… (2 Peter 3:10-13, Revelation 21:1) according to God’s Word.  Hey, let’s take care of the planet, but let’s not allow the liberal, secular ideology AND the much-refuted issue of global warming to become a major concern to those who have been given the Great Commission.  If I understand my Bible correctly, God is MUCH MORE concerned with the 6 billion souls on this planet than He is with the less than “One degree” of Global Warming - which many know is very much hotly debated(no pun intended)even within the scientific community.     

First time respondent.

4 On Mar 12, 2008, at 10:25pm, John Gaskin wrote:

I have been taking flak for the statements of the prominent Southern Baptists who jumped onthe global wrming bandwagon just as so many climateologists were shooting out the wheels of the wagon.  I hope the convention reproves their actions during the convention in June.

5 On Mar 12, 2008, at 10:36pm, Stan May wrote:

Perhaps the most telling comment in this debate is the fact that many of the scientists who put their stamp on “Global Warming” vociferously advocated “Global Cooling” in the 70s. Even non-conservatives such as Michael Crichton (author of Jurassic Park and others) have taken the ideas of global warming to task. It is sad that some think that the only way to express concern about the environment is to capitulate to flawed science that will further erode this nation’s financial stability.

6 On Mar 12, 2008, at 10:47pm, Dr. Stephen Joiner wrote:

THANK YOU for this wonderful article.  I was disturbed over the attitude of these “leaders” signing this document.  They do not speak for ME!  While I have respected many of them in the past, the respect has been damaged.  Why can’t religious organizations keep the main thing the main thing.  6 Billion lost souls!

7 On Mar 13, 2008, at 12:12am, John Wallace wrote:

The evidence for and against global warming is complex and subject to misinterpretation and manipulation.  Yet, as stewards of God’s creation, we have a responsibility to examine the facts as presented by all sides in the matter.  We must be open to the possibility that human activity is contributing to undesirable climate change.  This is not a conservative vs. liberal issue.  The persons who have signed this document are solid, responsible conservatives and soul winners.  If we are wise, we will listen to them without casting labels.

8 On Mar 13, 2008, at 12:42am, William E. Whitfield wrote:

I am disappointed that a number of self-appointed voices of Southern Baptists have spoken on the issue of Global Warming. Let us do that in session at the Annual Southern Baptist Convention in Indianapolis. This group of Southern Baptist spokes persons do not speak for me and I would believe a majority of Southern Baptists. I know that there is a creeping secularism in the Southern Baptist Convention, but I do not believe that we are that far gone to go along with these socialist plans for bigger government and more intervention in the lives of the citizens of the United States. Thanks Richard Land, for making the proper SBC entity response.

9 On Mar 13, 2008, at 1:33am, Jim Parker wrote:

As an individual born into a Baptist church, and a lifetime believer and supporter of the SBC faith and message, I was very disappointed to hear the liberal stance the SBC has taken on the global warming hoax.  There is constantly new evidence produced that man’s imput in any of this is insignificant.  Who are we as mere humans to think that we can inflict any long term impact on God’s creation, Earth.  This is just jumping on the liberal’s bandwagon.  They have finally got a question to their answer that capitalism is bad, and now we’re going to help support their myth.  I guess next year we’ll have to sign onto abortion and same sex marraige as well.

10 On Mar 13, 2008, at 6:24am, John A. Voholetz wrote:

I can’t tell you how sad that I felt when I first heard that our dear convention had chosen once again to lurch toward liberalism. We must repent of this silliness and return to sound science and biblical fidelity.

11 On Mar 13, 2008, at 7:37pm, Charles Enlow wrote:

I want to urge the Southern Baptist officialdom to refrain from taking positions on matters not of a spiritual or moral nature.  Global warming, if such there be, is a legitimate concern of each of us as citizens and as individual followers of Christ, and we have the option of making our influence felt on such matters. But we do not need to have a corporate position on everything which excites the pop culture.

12 On Mar 13, 2008, at 9:17pm, L. Lane Fast wrote:

Dr. Land is correct.

While the bandwagon-jumping group of SBC “conservatives” (who seem to be shallow, trend surfing moderate/liberals on the global warming issue) have every right to privately organize and advocate whatever big government political policy they want, THEY DO NOT SPEAK EITHER FOR THE SBC nor the vast majority of conservative Southern Baptists.

Thus, claiming that their private political statement is a “Southern Baptist Declaration on the Environment and Climate Change” is almost as materially misleading as would be Bill Clinton claiming that his admitted gross immorality in the Oval Office was a “Southern Baptist Declaration on Marital Fidelity and Adultery.”

13 On Mar 14, 2008, at 8:33pm, Don Bosch wrote:

Been observing the growing rift with some frustration.

In response I’ve posted an open letter to the SBC and Pastor Merritt on my website:

http://www.evaneco.com/?p=1070

Grace and peace,
Don Bosch

Managing Editor,
The Evangelical Ecologist
http://www.evaneco.com
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

14 On Mar 14, 2008, at 9:34pm, Bob Morgan wrote:

I am appalled to the rapidly compromising positions of many denominations over ethical positions based more on politically motivated scientific evidence rather than on biblical positional statements. A good friend of mine, a orthodox Jews own 9 year old son stood up in class and after a triad of a teacher rehashing that the oceans would rise 20 feet from global warming caused by human activity, reminded everyone that the rainbow reminds us that God will not again destroy the human race through a flood-out of the mouth of small   s whew.

todays news state that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today - 03142008 said that we are in the coolest winter since 2001. remember all the hype concerning the hurricane seasons getting progressively worse and worse? Please reconsider your positions carefully, I think your earlier statement needed to be held not his later one recently posited- there are words from Our Lord concerning false warnings being spoken to Gods people.

15 On Mar 15, 2008, at 4:11am, Bernie Lutchman wrote:

It is indeed scary, first of all, that brother Jonathan Merritt learnt about this from a seminary professor at Dr. Akin’s Seminary!  The question should now be asked -has the left now moved into conservative SBC seminaries! I can guarantee Dr. Mohler has nothing like this at Southern!

Secondly, while living responsibly, a Christian’s first responsibility is to share the Gospel and help prevent “ETERNAL WARMING”...not to perpetuate the pagan GLOBAL WARMING hoax!

Third, we ALL know that is GOD WHO CONTROLS AND CHANGES the Climate!

Finally, Dr Land is correct, this is a matter for the floor and not a few.

16 On Mar 15, 2008, at 11:28pm, Rick Moore wrote:

Thank you so much Dr. Land for responding to this so-called declaration.  I’m continually amazed how a minority finds it necessary to push their agenda outside the normal process that was designed by the people of our Convention. And, in so doing they claim to be speaking on behalf of the same people they are circumventing.
Hopefully, they will see the error of their ways and pull this nonsensical diatribe from the public domain.
Thank you again Dr. Land.

17 On Mar 16, 2008, at 3:00am, Tony McManus wrote:

Dr Land

It brothered me greatly that SBC leaders has taken the side of global warming. I believe that we should take care of the earth as much as possible but we need to remember God gave us these natural resources to us.
I notice this week that the weather channel leaders have recanted on global warming they said they had been decieved. May we ever be good stewards of God’s earth and remember we are here to win the world to Christ.

Tony

18 On Mar 18, 2008, at 8:38pm, Greta wrote:

I am glad to see voices of reason in the Southern Baptist Churches, not just misled children given a voice by their elders.  If you look at the global warming issue you see its connection to Socialism.  Read “Socialism and the Envirnonment”. And similar titles.  The idea is that Socialism will use the ‘issue’ to subvert Capitalistic systems into non-existence by subverting systems through the faulty premise that the environment is warming, they can tax and take away freedom through government fiat, destroy capitalism.  They see a glowing future of taxation without our consent, and elite being the only ones allowed to drive and be able to purchase fuel.  They see the masses in a depression era non-fueled future burning wood for warmth, and walking and riding bicycles to go to non-electrical job site.  They see us repairing what shoes we still own with cardboard and kissing the rings of the government officials driving by in their limos using their gas cards.

19 On Mar 24, 2008, at 10:37am, Paul J Tetreault Jr wrote:

Like the little Jewish boy, I think God’s Covenant with Noah is dispositive.

Besides the promise not to destroy the earth again with a flood, we find in Gen 8:22:

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”

No matter how much man may pollute, the Bible is clear that God controls the weather, and that should settle the question among Bible believers.

We should also ask who benefits from limiting the use of resources in the Judeo-Christian West and the areas where the Gospel is going out? Global Warming seems like just another Tower of Babel, whose real beneficiaries are the oil producing nations under the bondage of Islam.

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