Is God Silent About Environmental Issues?

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.

At the recent national Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) conference in November 2012 in Milwaukee, WI, Russell Moore spoke in the second plenary session on “Heaven and Nature Sing: How Evangelical Theology Can Inform the Task of Environmental Protection, and Vice-Versa.” I appreciate his pastoral concern. The task of creation care should be included in the pulpit ministries of pastors. Thus, I ask each pastor, “When is the last time you spoke of creation care from the pulpit?” I’m not talking about forcing creation care on the text, but talking about creation care when you speak of loving your neighbor, stewardship of God’s gifts, loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, etc. Since all of us live in God’s creation, creation care is a daily issue for all Christians. We must respond biblically. Although creation care is a complex issue, God is not silent; Christians should not be silent either.

Bio: Russell D. Moore is the dean of the School of Theology and senior vice-president for academic administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. The grandson of a Mississippi Baptist preacher, Dr. Moore also serves as a preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church, where he ministers weekly at the congregation’s Fegenbush location.

Dr. Moore writes and speaks frequently on topics ranging from the kingdom of God to the mission of adoption to a theology of country music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, and also blogs regularly at Moore to the Point. He is the author of several books, including The Kingdom of Christ, Adopted for Life, and most recently of Tempted and Tried. Dr. Moore and his wife, Maria, have five sons.

Zondervan recorded the plenary sessions, and offers them here. Dr. Moore is introduced at 01:05:45, and starts speaking at 01:08:18.

Summary of Main Points

There are certain environmental issues that demand a government response and biblical rebuke. A company dumping toxic waste in the environment deserves government prosecution and a Christian rebuke. However, there are issues that are not as clear, such as tobacco use. Most evangelicals agree that cigarettes cause cancer, should not be marketed to children, etc. All of us, however, do not agree on how the government should respond. Is it right for government subsidies to tobacco farmers to immediately cease even if thousands of communities are rendered bankrupt in the South as a result? There are environmental issues that are cut-and-dry, and there are also many that are not. Thus, we cannot move simply from an awakened environmental conscious to a specific policy in one easy move.

One must understand that just because environmental care takes prudence, it does not mean that the church has no responsibility. The church disciples her members into wisdom and Christian theology and biblical revelation informs such prudence and wisdom, but there is an ascending scale of specificity with which the church informs and disciplines those consciences. We see this already in family and marriage issues: adultery, sexual immorality, homosexuality, etc. But, we do not set an age limit on marriage or getting a Facebook page. Just because we do not have a biblical blueprint for energy policy, that doesn’t mean the conversation is left up to the culture as if God is silent. The answer is that the church must take the long approach so that Christians have a robust understanding of creation care: human dominion, creational stewardship, the limits of the appetite, and our responsibility to future generations.

This article was originally posted at my site. I’m married with three children, an SBC pastor, a PhD student at SBTS, and an average Southern Baptist. I’ve authored two books. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and YouTube.

Comments

  1. says

    When was the last time I preached on “creation care?”

    Never, and I never will, at least under the rubric of the faddish, alliterative phrase now bandied about, “creation care.” It sounds like some perfumed, moisturizing bath product. I will certainly acknowledging covering the subject in the context of loving one’s neighbor and one’s overall stewardship of God’s creation.

    But let’s be honest here, Southern Baptists, Moore included, are not at all known for the least bit of environmental sensitivity. Name one current environmental issue on which the ERLC, Moore, or any other prominent SBC individual or institution would be termed an “environmentalist.”

    Southern Baptists generally join a movement when it is profitable for us to do so, not because it is prophetic to do so.

    You wouldn’t care to pick a specific environmental issue (fracking, nuclear waste, solar/wind power, ethanol, pipelines, solid waste, or any other of your choosing) and show us how God is not silent on these, would you?

      • William Thornton says

        Well, no nerves need be struck because I have long since passed the age of irascibility.

        I will get back to you on this.

    • Christiane says

      WILLIAM,
      you wrote this: “Southern Baptists generally join a movement when it is profitable for us to do so, not because it is prophetic to do so. ”

      Can you give an example of this?

      • William Thornton says

        Environmentalism, racial equality (going back several decades) are a couple…no one calls us cutting edge on those. Being conservative often means we conserve our positions until change becomes more comfortable for us.

  2. Rick Patrick says

    God made the world. We are stewards of creation. Take care of the earth. Water your trees. Cut your lawn. Pick up your trash. Do not pollute the air. Don’t leave a mess when you go camping.

    As for all the other global warming, rain forest saving, whale preserving issues–in other words, the liberal environmental groups, I think they all too often border on creation worship rather than Jesus worship, and are based on sketchy science. Resources raised to deal with these issues could more meaningfully be used in the support of spiritual missions work.

    I hope Southern Baptists, through our ERLC, will never embrace the radical environmental movement championed by liberals. Yes, we have responsibilities as stewards of the earth, but our culture has taken that WAY too far, and I hope we do not plan to join them on that extreme edge.

    • Bill Mac says

      Rick: I’m not sure I quite follow you. Cutting grass=Good, saving whales from extinction=bad? Or are you just suggesting that we can all see that grass needs cutting but you aren’t convinced that humanity has driven some species to the brink of extinction, and we don’t need all those rainforests anyway? It is faulty logic to suggest that just because a liberal is in favor of something that Christians must be opposed to it.

    • Rick Patrick says

      Just wanting balance, friends. The liberal environmentalists have gone too far. I don’t mind a bit more environmental consciousness, but I don’t want to wander to the other end of the spectrum, either. That’s all.

      • Christiane says

        Hi RICK,
        thanks for responding . . . I’m hopeful each successive generation is more involved with a conscious effort not to cause harm. I know my own daughter is way more into being conservative about things like recycling and organic gardening than I am. ‘Conservative’ in the sense of more involved in doing these things correctly and with integrity. I am not althogether slap-dash, but my daughter, who could be a poster child for conservation, far exceeds my commitment and effort, and I am in awe of her.

        And my Coast Guard son, wow! He is VERY knowledgeable about a lot of the effects of pollution. He was one of the Coast Guard’s volunteers to work in Florida during the BP oil spill . . . he was given recognition for his service to his country in these efforts.

        The younger generation seems more informed and more involved in ways meaningful . . . that gives me much hope.

  3. says

    You said, “Most evangelicals agree that cigarettes cause cancer, should not be marketed to children, etc. All of us, however, do not agree on how the government should respond. Is it right for government subsidies to tobacco farmers to immediately cease even if thousands of communities are rendered bankrupt in the South as a result?”

    For some reason, I don’t recall the same sort of reasoning making gambling, prostitution, and State Lotteries a “difficult” issue. I don’t see the SBC expressing concerns about the economic hardship to Las Vegas and Atlantic city or Native American casino operators when discussing gambling.

    The fact that this issue comes down to money instead of the morality is quite telling. What about the economic hardship of the whiskey distiller who gets saved? Is that a gray area as well? Or the moonshiner? Why not apply the same discipleship strategies we use for those folks as we do for tobacco growers?

  4. says

    Moore seems to be saying that moving from a personal moral objection to a particular activity to public policy is complicated. Most of us find use of alcohol objectionable but I know of no prominent Southern Baptist who believes the government should, once again, end the production, sale, and use of alcohol.

    Tobacco is a product that when used as intended is personally harmful. While most of us would agree that a reasonable government policy would be to promote the health of its citizens; hence, the warnings, restrictions on sale, and taxation of such products, but should Christians favor the state’s heavy hand prohibiting it or extending to those who produce the product ?

    Gambling is an activity most of us find to be morally objectionable and deleterious to society as a whole; however, most people who engage in this activity do so without harm to themselves or others. At what point should Christians insist that their personal moral values be codified by the state so that the freedoms of others are restricted?

    • says

      I would think that ending government subsidy of tobacco would be something everyone can rally behind. It is one thing to appreciate the thorny complexities of government prohibition. And in that regard, I lean more libertarian on most issues involving prohibition. However, that is a far cry from subsidizing tobacco farming. I would think this would be a no-brainer, despite the “economic cost” to tobacco farmers. In free market capitalism, we would applaud someone who left unproductive or marginally productive activity and transitioned to more productive activity. If the only reason farmer raise tobacco instead of rice, wheat and corn is because there’s more money in it, and the reason there is more money in it is because of the subsidy, won’t ending the subsidy provide them a financial incentive to explore other areas of agriculture? I fail to see how diversifying agricultural production is an “economic hardship.”

      • Bill Mac says

        I guess I have been living in naive-land because I didn’t know the government subsidized tobacco farmers. I find the thought pretty disturbing. Our taxes actually pay for people to produce one of the most lethal products on the planet?

        • William Thornton says

          Tobacco is not one of the most lethal products on the planet, but hyperbole and ridiculous exaggeration are well established here.

          The gummit subsidy for tobacco farming is tiny, under $200 million, and it should be noted that gummit also spends (rather heavily) to educate people not to use the tobacco that some farmers are paid to grow…but no one says tax and spending policies have to make sense. Shoot, gummit subsidizes the housing of wealthy clergy.

          We all have our sacred tax and spending cows.

          • Bill Mac says

            William,

            In terms of the number of people who die or are rendered sick by the product, what would you say is more lethal than tobacco?

            Yes, it doesn’t kill like cyanide, so it is not more lethal in that sense, but in the sheer number of people harmed by it, I cannot honestly think of much else that does such widespread harm.

          • William Thornton says

            Bill Mac, excessive caloric intake accounts for far more health problems than tobacco.

          • Bill Mac says

            William,

            What you say may be true in America, but I don’t think it holds around the world. Smoking is far more accessible around the world than is an overabundance of calories.

          • William Thornton says

            Use of tobacco is a poor health decision; however it is not lethal and you will have to document that it is the top cause of death or illness.

            ..I am afraid that you are blowing smoke here…

          • dean says

            William, I am not sure you are not blowing smoke. It may be that caloric intake accounts for no medical issues. Michael Phelps took in 12,000 calories a day during training and was considered to be the greatest athlete alive during his first Olympics. Smoke em if you got em boys but they are going to kill you and the government should not be subsidizing them in any way.

      • Bennett Willis says

        A major issue with tobacco subsidies is that the land that grows tobacco usually does not economically grow much else. Tobacco patches were almost always just a very few acres (at most) and grown around hills and in small valleys. It was the “cash crop” for many small (few acres) farmers in areas where it was grown. Tobacco is very labor intensive. But you harvest the whole (leafy) plant and you got a good price for it.

        In my part of Tennessee, I only knew of one tobacco patch and it was planted by someone who had moved there from further east in the state. Economical farming these days usually means large fields and huge equipment run by very few people.

  5. William Thornton says

    Rick, I favor ending all agricultural subsidies and some indirect clergy subsidies.

    …and I am headed to church this morning and hope I do not have to wade through a cloud of cigarette smoke to get in.

    • Bennett Willis says

      I remember well the break between Sunday School and Preaching. There were a significant number of people somewhere on the church grounds that were smoking. Over the last 30 years or so, the numbers have decreased and essentially disappeared. Now, the place you see people smoking is in their cars (trucks in Texas) as they leave the parking lot.

      The data say that you shorten your life about the same amount of time that you spend smoking the “cancer sticks” (as some called them when I was in high school). Of course this is on average–and we know that we all are above average.

      • cb scott says

        “cancer sticks” . . . . “coffin nails, etc.

        Bennett Willis,

        You must be of the generation that used to say, “Live fast, die young, and leave a good looking corpse.”

        • Bennett Willis says

          I do remember that saying. I had forgotten “coffin nails,” but that was another common substitued word.

          I sometimes wonder how the lawyers managed to say that smokers did not realize what they were doing. It must have been all the articles that the tobacco industry got published saying that smoking was not harmful.

          One of the most dramatic “statistics” that I ever say was that if you smoked and worked in a shipyard during WWII, you would die of lung cancer. Of course you could get run over first, but it was (for practical purposes) 100%.

          • Bennett Willis says

            Yep. Some of the pictures I have seen of shipyards showed a fog of material coming out the vent openings–asbestos fibers.

            I also remember seeing a series of pictures (Life Magazine) of a Kaiser shipyard. It took them 4 days from the time they put down the first material in the “Liberty Ship” until they launched it. It still had to be “fitted out” but it was floating.

    • John Wylie says

      William,
      I’m going to have to depart from my typical conservative position and say I’m not for ending all agriculture subsidies. Those farmers (not tobacco) put food on the tables of our nation. I know several farmers who are absolutely dependent upon those subsidies, but at least they benefit us all. Also, you do realize that if they stop the dairy subsidies you would be paying $8 a gallon for milk?

      • Bennett Willis says

        John, I thought that the inflated (based on 1949 prices) support for milk prices was what was going to get us to $8. In other words, the government would pay $7.95 for milk and if you wanted to buy some you would have to pay $8.

        But maybe I did not get it right. I had stopped paying careful attention to news. In general, we pay very little (measured in hours of work) for our food. The fact that my cousin farms our family farm with a 38 foot disc (and similar equipment) has a lot to do with that. Our family farm and several others as a matter of fact.

        • John Wylie says

          Bennett,

          If I understand rightly if the dairy subsidies would have lapsed they would have reverted to the 1949 levels and that’s what would have made prices skyrocket.

          Also, you make my point well, we do pay relatively reasonable prices for food in America thanks to farm subsidies. This is one of the few sectors of our nation that welfare is actually falling out to the benefit of the entire nation. There are many things that could be cut before we even consider hurting our food supply.

          • Bennett Willis says

            Notice that we both said that the agreed government purchase price on milk in 1949 was about $8 (adjusted for inflation). At that point, the government was buying surplus milk (they were the buyer of last resort) for essentially $8/gallon. We got butter and cheese in our rural school cafeteria for a very low cost or maybe even for free. It came out of the surplus milk that the government bought to keep the price up. Putting it into school lunches was a place to “dump” it without messing up the market price.

            For most farmers, the government subsidies are very low (other than the rules about having ethanol in the gasoline supply). I don’t think it is appropriate to credit our low cost of food on government subsidies.

            It seems to me that (on the home place) we get most of the subsidies as a result of doing things that reduce erosion. There are various crop insurances and price guarantees but for the last few years, they have not come into play on our farm (that I recall Mother mentioning). The reason that this would be a good time to cut out subsidies completely is that farm prices (particularly grains) are extremely good (translated high) and the disappearance of subsidies would not be significant to most farmers.

          • John Wylie says

            Yes a lot of subsidies are anti erosion campaigns. It’s called CRP (Conservation Reserve Program).

      • William Thornton says

        I think the free market would deliver milk and any other commodity to consumers more effectively and cheaply than a market designed by government. Why should dairy farmers get gummit cash and not shoe stores? We all need shoes.

        I do not buy the scare argument about milk prices and would not care if it went to $10/gal. I can drink less milk. When the gummit picks winners and losers we all lose.

        • cb scott says

          William,

          You, like me, don’t need milk. Our bones have done about all they are going to do. However, milk at $10.00 a gal. would be rather hard on families with babies and young children who do need milk, don’t you think?

          • William Thornton says

            High prices would (1) generate increased supply and (2) depress demand…both of which would press prices downward. Markets are inherently more efficient in delivering goods to consumers.

            The argument about needy families and food would apply to gasoline, clothing, and housing.

        • John Wylie says

          William,

          It’s not just a matter of drinking less milk. Lots of commodities are affected by the price of milk. It’s also not a matter of picking winners and losers because all dairymen qualify. Surely you don’t believe that the dairyman is in competition with the car maker?

          • Bill Mac says

            Something doesn’t add up. The US produces incredible amounts of milk. It doesn’t make sense for us to pay the government to pay farmers so we don’t have to pay much for milk. If we didn’t pay the government, we could pay more for milk.

            It is the fact that farmers get so little for their milk that has led to the demise of the family dairy farm. The only people who can compete are huge industrial farms where the cows never see the light of day, are milked 3 times a day, are pumped full of BGH, and die in 5-8 years (very premature for a cow).

          • William Thornton says

            We give dairies cash. Why not shoe stores, clergy, or dentists? If you are a dairy farmer you are a winner over other occupations.

          • Bennett Willis says

            Bill Mac, I think that we don’t give dairy subsidies now but if the farm bill had not been redone (that portion anyhow), we would have reverted to the 1949 support prices ($8 or so) which are a lot higher than current prices.

            But I say this because it seems logical and consistent with all the news about the possibility and the solution. It may not be true at all.

  6. Greg Harvey says

    I confess jadedness on the issue due in part to understanding how much our lives are enriched by technology and progress. I don’t want to trigger a reactionary tendency that we “rightists” sometimes fall into.

    But let’s be honest: much of environmentalism–like MANY, MANY other things we latch onto–is self-righteousness. Driving a 40K car (with a 7K subsidy) that in a slightly less righteous form is just a Chevy Cruze because the govt insists the world will come to an end if we don’t get on board is roughly equivalent in its pomposity to the Southern Baptist traditional position against alcohol. The reason tobaccy sits in the sweet spot of Southern Baptist life is that it was a source of economic support for Southern Baptists before there was a Convention by that name. And it was that profitable because it brought enjoyment in addition to death.

    Our messaging on all three issues is precisely anti-Gospel and might well be anti-Christ because the tendency is to fall back to a legal analysis. Instead, we ought to take the step back and ask: “how did we get here?” How did our hearts get inflamed by alcohol yet resistant to tobacco? For those of us who have lived in the haze of major metropolitan areas, can’t even we SBs admit out loud the benefit of pollution regulation?

    Or were you in the group who sawed off your catalytic converters to spite your own children so you could keep spewing lead? (We intentionally bought a pre-73 Ford LTD in ’77 to avoid the whole no-lead regime, but by 1980 Dad bought several post ’73 cars in CA because you pretty much couldn’t buy leaded gas anymore there. Not to mention the Inland Empire of San Bernardino and Riverside was one huge smog pit attached to the eastern end of the LA basin inversion layer.)

    I think the goal needs to be to examine our hearts on political hot spot issues and ask why we inflame or why we resist on popular issues. Some of it is political calculation and whether we are “fer” or “agin” the politics, we ought to be able to exegete the argumentation at least a couple of levels deep. This includes a serious look at our own short-sightedness (like my recitation of the family “leaded gas” response.)

    But at the end of the day, one key instinct of Southern Baptists remains profoundly important: popular political issues risk getting the cart before the horse spiritually. Salvation is important and everything else is truly secondary to that no matter how “life giving” it seems. But taking care of practical, physical needs demonstrates the love Christians ought to be known for at the very least towards each other. So there is room to seek to show love by caring directly for human creation and by extension the rest of the earth.

    But that active concern needs to be expressed in terms of a consideration of a world that enjoys both benefits and curses if technological progress that sometimes isn’t as neatly black and white as erstwhile progressives would have us believe. Which is ironic since we’re the folks who ought to have the deep understanding of how continuing sin clouds our judgement…

  7. cb scott says

    In the mountains of VA, KY, and WV, there is a popular bumper sticker you see on trucks owned by strip miners:

    It has a D9 dozer picture on it pushing earth off the top of coal deposits. The words printed on the bumper sticker are:

    THE EARTH FIRST, THE OTHER PLANETS LATER.

    • Bennett Willis says

      Completely off subject, but my favorite sticker says, “You would probably drive better with that cell phone stuck ______.”

      I have been in a chemical production area for nearly 50 years. Things have changed dramatically since I moved to the area. [The changes had little to do with me.] Fortunately, we have always burned natural gas so we did not have fly ash everywhere.

      Coal is a dirty fuel. Period. You can defend it (and I have) but it is a dirty fuel. And it has side effects (mercury and sulfur) that are not so common in other fuels. In China, there are areas where the coal mined has significant amounts of arsenic in it. The stoves there apparently are not well sealed and inside many homes the arsenic level is significant. It is just a dirty fuel.

      • cb scott says

        Bennett Willis,

        In the years I ministered in the coal fields, I buried many, many men who died from some form of respiratory disease directed related to working in the coal mines. Some were not “old men.” Several who died young (what I would call young) worked in the mines and smoked also. They became dead-men-walking in their 30s-40s. It was a hard death.

        I agree. Coal is dirty and the mining of it has been costly in human life. I have never envied coal miners, but I have always had an admiration for them.

        • Bennett Willis says

          There are lots of tough ways to make a living and coal mining (tunnel) is certainly one of them. The current strip mining is not so bad in that sense of the word.

          • cb scott says

            Bennett Willis,

            You are right. Strip mining does not cause the respiratory disease in the same numbers as does deep mining.

            I guess we could say, Deep mining kills men and strip mining kills the environment.

            Any way you look at it, coal is, as you stated, “a dirty fuel.”

  8. says

    William: “But let’s be honest here, Southern Baptists, Moore included, are not at all known for the least bit of environmental sensitivity.”

    I’ve got a 350 page dissertation on the “environmentalisms” of Southern Baptists, defending it next month. There is a good bit of concern and sensitivity, although that’s not what SBCers are known for.

    Richard Land was very much an evangelical environmentalist from 1989-1993. When the 1994 mid-terms happened, Land began to sing a different tune and disassociate from these perceived “liberal” issues.

    Moore is probably to the left of most Southern Baptist leaders on environmental issues. I’d say his advocacy against strip mining would put him in good company with many environmentalists. But his involvement with Cornwall Alliance would not (that’s an affiliation that makes little sense, IMO).

    From late 1960s thru the early 1970s, a number of SBC leaders were connected to environmental organizations as environmentalism was a popular bipartisan movement during that period. There was a big focus on the various energy crises among SBCers during 1973, 1976-77, and 1979 – including among conservative leaders like Paige Patterson’s father. The emphasis was on conservation.

    Jonathan Merritt’s environmental statement was not a wimpy list. He had some influential voices sign-on.

    I personally don’t like “creation care.” I don’t use the phrase. It is faddish. I like stewardship and I like environmentalism (hence the title of my dissertation and the focus on environmentalisms plural as there is certainly not one environmentalism).

    Southern Baptists vary in how they deal with environmental issues based on their location. Texans generally have different issues than Wendell Berry-loving Kentuckians like Moore and folks in North Carolina have different set of issues too.

    Most people worried about mountaintop removal aren’t having to deal with toxic waste siting in poor white and African-American communities. Environmental issues are not just about caring for the rest of Creation but also have implications for humans too, specifically human health. Early 20th century environmentalists were not worried about preserving wilderness but about the health and safety of their neighborhoods. The same is true of most African-American environmentalists who generally are only concerned with urban issues and appropriately so.

    • William Thornton says

      I had forgotten that this was your PhD area. I defer to you on this.

      Today, when environmental advocacy is the subject, are Southern Baptists even in the conversation?

      JMerritt’s profile seems to have dropped somewhat.

      • says

        There’s a couple types of environmental advocacy going on. There is the advocacy for additional (and enforcement of existing) environmental regulations and there is advocacy for environmental deregulation (see Cornwall Alliance/Calvin Beisner). The latter group are really anti-environmentalists in that Beisner & Company is opposed almost 100% to the major goals of the nation’s major environmental organizations.

        Beisner has a platform through Baptist Press and SBCers like Barrett Duke and a handful of SBC academics are very active in organizations like Cornwall advocating for environmental deregulation.

        Moore has aligned himself with Cornwall, testifying before Congress and submitting Cornwall statements/position papers as part of his public testimony. But he’s also called for increased government regulations, specifically in light of the oil spill in MS/LA. And, best I can tell, Moore is a huge fan of agrarian Wendell Berry who is certainly no champion of deregulation.

        Beyond that, there are few Southern Baptists addressing environmental issues. Merritt started with the environment and has pivoted to focus more broadly on anything that is in the news. He seems to have kept a lower profile in recent months since the Chick fil-A debate and the personal stuff that followed.

        By the way, I’m back in your neck of the woods – now residing across from Mercer in Atlanta (Chamblee), working for CBF, just moved back a few days ago and waiting for the wife and toddler to join me in a couple weeks.

        • Rick Patrick says

          So at least one CBF employee’s “favorite Southern Baptist” is Russ Moore. Anecdotal, perhaps, but informative just the same.

          Since I did not receive a direct answer to my yes-no question from either individual, I will venture forth to answer my own question: “With regard to political affairs, is Russ Moore to the left of most Southern Baptist leaders generally?”

          I say yes.

          I think most Southern Baptists care more about what’s going on with Hobby Lobby than environmental concerns. At least, I do.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Jared,

            My question was not, “Does Russ Moore consider himself to be to the left of most Southern Baptist leaders?” It was whether you or Aaron consider him to be to the left of most Southern Baptist leaders, as I do. Mine is not an assumption, but an opinion.

            Here are two more. Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are politically to the left of most Southern Baptist leaders. For that matter, so is Aaron Weaver. When one offers an opinion, it is unnecessary to consult the subject of the opinion.

            If I consider Meg Ryan more attractive than Angelina Jolie, must I contact Angelina first, interrupting her supervision of all the little Cambodians?

          • Greg Harvey says

            http://www.russellmoore.com/

            I would say just glancing through his front-page blogs that Russ Moore is in the center of conservatism. Aaron might think he’s to the left of that center, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s just an opinion, after all.

            And Aaron very clearly stated that the left/right spectrum isn’t particularly helpful in this case. I don’t think that was Big Daddy Weave damning with faint praise. I think he just called it like he saw it. And the fact that there are leaders that find common ground with some in the CBF–particularly since the common ground isn’t in the center of conservatism but does address common concerns–doesn’t strike me as being a cause for dismissal or ejection. But I have to admit I have a pride issue and it centers on the thought that God gave me an intellect and expects me to actually use it.

            I think a bigger question is whether Russ Moore is theologically correct in asking tough questions about the environment or if he is leading us down a rat hole. I rather much think we have an obligation to join the discussion. The tendency to think we can veto the discussion by simply not participating seems strangely childish to me. Or perhaps it’s just Baptist polity in action?? ;) <– because a month has gone by since I assaulted Dave's senses last…

          • says

            Rick, then, I think you have an unfounded opinion. If you want to know if your opinion is true, it’d be best to ask Dr. Moore. For example, if I’m of the opinion that you’re more to the left of most Southern Baptists on inerrancy, my opinion should be founded on something. The best thing would be to ask you or to interact with things you’ve written. You’ve done neither with Dr. Moore.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Well, Aaron offered an opinion about Dr. Moore being to the left of most Southern Baptist leaders on the environment.

            I guess some of us have the right to share their opinions and some of us do not.

          • cb scott says

            Rick Patrick,

            Jared Moore has presented his opinion that your opinion is unfounded.

            You must realize that Jared Moore’s opinions are always well founded especially when relating to your opinions which, in Jared Moore’s well founded opinions, are always not well founded.

          • Rick Patrick says

            CB,

            Have you talked with Jared Moore about his opinion of my opinion of Dr. Moore’s opinions? If not, then you too may have an unfounded opinion.

            If you need to clear your opinion of Jared Moore with Jared Moore himself while I need to clear my opinion of Russ Moore with Russ Moore himself, then, in my opinion, I have the better of the two situations.

            Leaving Jared Moore and Russ Moore out of this for a moment, I believe Roger Moore was too passive as James Bond and that Mary Tyler Moore should never have thrown her hat in the air.

          • cb scott says

            Rick Patrick,

            I did not ask Jared Moore to validate my opinion of his opinion of your opinion.

            Although it is my opinion that constant observation of his well and often stated opinion of your opinion that I have sufficient evidence to state my opinion of his opinion of your opinion without his validation of my opinion to do so. . . . although, now that you have presented a secondary opinion, it is my opinion that my original opinion may be flawed. Therefore, I shall ask Jared Moore for his opinion of my opinion of his opinion of your opinion.

            Jared Moore,

            What is your opinion of my opinion of your opinion of Rick Patrick’s opinion?

          • cb scott says

            Rick Patrick,

            I have another opinion that I would like to share with you.

            It is my well-founded opinion as a NCAA FOOTBALL Prognosticator and SEC Specialist, that the ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE led by St. Nick Saban shall defeat the Little Irish Munchkins of the Monk School in South Bend and win their Fifteenth (15) National Championship tonight, January 07, 2013.

            CAN YOU HEAR IT?
            I CAN!

            IT IS ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!!

          • Rick Patrick says

            CB,

            Your earlier paragraph was a classic, and I am just twisted enough to have understood every bit of it.

            Catholics vs. Cousins. Golden Domers vs. Mobile Homers.

            Rudy was offsides.

            Enjoy the game!

    • Jess Alford says

      BDW,

      You mentioned mountain top removal, and how it effects poor white and african-american communities. This is just the tip of the iceburg,
      it effects everyone in the mountain regions, especially those that have water wells. The junk they blast the mountain tops with trickles down through the mountains into the water wells.

      I grew up in the mountains, and have 15 years behind me in an underground coal mines. It is a dangerous life. I hate mountain top removal with passion. What was once a beautiful majestic mountain with all the beautiful trees now is totally flat with the tops gone. Not very pretty to look at.

      The coal seam could have been augered or deep mined. Someone found it to be cheaper to just destroy the tops of the mountains because it takes less employees.

      I hate mountain top removal. When coal companies strip mine and reclaim the land, they plant pine trees, not the trees that used to grow in the region, but worthless pine trees.

      • cb scott says

        Jess Alford,

        I don’t think Pine trees are exactly worthless, at least not in such Southland states as GA and AL. Yet, I do understand that strip mining is taking the hardwood forests of the mountains and they shall not return. . . . Not in our lifetime anyway. This also has greatly affected wildlife in the mountains as well as the “way of life” in the mountains.

        There is something you mention that, in my opinion, brings about a hazard to human beings that seems not to draw much general attention. You mention the water polluted due to mountain top removal in the mountains. I think that a lot of the immune deficiency diseases that are increasingly prevalent among people living in coal fields will someday be attributed more to the pollution of ground water from strip mining than we hear now.

        • Jess Alford says

          cb scott

          You are right, I have an autoimmune disease. Alot of friends of mine have died of cancer. How do you know so much about the mountains?

        • John Fariss says

          I tend to agree with you here C.B., though I must put in a cavaet: the pine trees that grew naturally in most of Georgia and Alabama are long-leaf yellow pine. It grows slowly; faster perhaps than hardwoods like oak, but slow compared to many other pines. Left to its own devices (nature and God), it grows a “heart” which is much more strong than the outer layer of wood, and if kept dry after harvesting, is virtually inediable to termintes and other bugs. 100 years ago, when my grandfather was in the sawmill business, such timber was the heart of his operation, and anything less was little more than scrap. In untouched settings of virgin forest, that heart will become up to 90 or even 95% % of the wood, but that takes a hundred years more or less to grow. At least in the eastern US (don’t know about the west), there is virtually no virgin forest left, even on government land and in parks, and the pines that are replanted for harvest by commercial interests are white loblolly or “lollypop” pines, which grow to maturity in maybe 20 or 25 years. Of course, growing that fast, their layers are softer and weaker, and very susceptiable to termites and other wood-eating insects.

          Furthermore (this is just FYI, not an issue you raise), logging practices have changed drastically since about World War II. Before that, trees were selectively cut and snaked out. In my father’s day, they were cut from a few inches to a foot or so above ground with chain saws, in Grandaddy’s day, two to three feet above ground because they used man-powered crosscut saws, but either way, it was selective cutting, with the branches and scrap piles up and burned. Now whole forests are clear-cut using dozers and tree harvestors. The smaller trees are just pushed aside or trampled down. I have seen whole areas, hundreds and thousands of acres, of barren former forest, left to erode and and be useless, all in the name of the almighty dollar. Don’t get me started on conservation–the root of which is “to CONSERVE” and “to be conservative with our resources.”

          John

          • cb scott says

            John Fariss,

            Your comment brings back memories. When I was a little kid I used to sale heart pine to widow women and older couples to use as quick kindling for their wood stoves and fireplaces.

          • Bennett Willis says

            When you drive the Washington coast, you regularly see the signs saying when the trees are scheduled for harvest. Some of the dates are quite a while away.

  9. Rick Patrick says

    “Moore is probably to the left of most Southern Baptist leaders on environmental issues.”

    What about all the other issues? Is he to the left of most Southern Baptists on them as well? (Not trying to hijack here, but the post does have Moore’s photo at the top.)

    What I want to know is, in your informed opinion, is Russ Moore not only to the left on environmentalism, but is he to the left generally speaking, compared with Southern Baptists, which would somewhat explain his being on the left environmentally, or is this one particular issue of the environment an outlier for Moore?

      • Rick Patrick says

        Jared,

        Aaron Weaver (aka: Big Daddy Weave) characterized Russ Moore as being to the left of Southern Baptists environmentally. Because Aaron’s work and expertise is in the area of political science and church-state issues, I was interested in his broader interpretation of Russ Moore’s place on the conservative-liberal spectrum relative to most other Southern Baptists.

        If Moore is to the left of Southern Baptists generally on all other issues as well, then I think being to the left of Southern Baptists environmentally is simply a matter of consistency with regard to his true convictions, which may explain his former service as a staffer for a Democratic congressman.

        If, on the other hand, Moore’s leftward tendencies on the environment issue alone represent some kind of departure from his typical political philosophy, then my next question would be, “Why do you think he moves to the left on this issue and this issue alone?”

        • says

          Rick, I don’t think Dr. Moore can be characterized as “liberal” in anything. As Bill Mac said above, to agree with liberals on certain issues does not make someone a liberal. It simply means that liberals get some things right. There are certain issues where we should join them.

          • Rick Patrick says

            Jared,

            Although I also hope to hear from BDW, thanks for your response as well. I don’t think BDW characterized Dr. Moore as “liberal.” He claimed that, with reference to the environment, Dr. Moore was “to the left of most Southern Baptist leaders.”

            My question is not, “Is Russ Moore a liberal?” It is, “Is Russ Moore ‘to the left of most Southern Baptist leaders generally?'”

            Now that you have entered the thread in addition to BDW, I would also be interested in your answer to that specific question.

          • says

            I don’t know how useful the Conservative vs. Liberal labels really are here.

            Theologically, Moore is as conservative as they come. I see him as a consistent, compassionate conservative – consistent because he’s pretty dang consistent on issues like gender and compassionate because his approach/politics seems in line with what what touted as “compassionate conservatism” in 2000 during the Bush campaign.

            Moore worked for a Democratic Congressman from Mississippi. I think his background as a former MS Democrat helps understand his approach to certain issues—at least to some extent. He’s not some small government, anti-government regulation crusader. That is, of course, my characterization of many southern Republicans. But, it’s not off the mark entirely. Moore appears to be more friendly to government and its regulative function than many of his Southern Baptist peers. And with regard to environmental issues, Moore has emphasized the importance of regulation and the harm of a consistently anti-regulation mentality.

            I like Moore. He’s probably my favorite Southern Baptist. Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with Moore on many many issues. He’s no moderate or liberal or anything other than very conservative. But I like his approach, his consistency and his willingness to provide an ethical critique of his fellow conservatives and trends in political and theological conservatism. I disagree with him on much especially gender-related issues. So, I respect him very much.

      • cb scott says

        Jared Moore,

        Why do you feel that you need to run interference here?

        You put up this post. Russ Moore and his position paper is the subject of the paper.

        Several comments have been made — some very interesting comments have actually been made here.

        Big Daddy’s comment is very interesting. Rick Patrick asked him for an opinion based on the reality that Big Daddy does have expertise as a researcher and he is writing on the subject at hand.

        Why is it that you seem to, and without fail desire to take Rick Patrick to task when he enters these threads? Why don’t you just let it alone. Let the dialogue continue. Allow Big Daddy to answer the question.

  10. says

    I like the topic title, “Is God Silent About Environmental Issues?” because it looked like a good subject for discussion. Although Jared composed the title and picked Moore’s quotes, neither he nor anyone else has offered much in the way of explaining exactly what God says about environmental issues.

    An anecdote: While doing a summer mission project in a small church in WV about a decade ago, I got to know two of the members. One was a lady who was very concerned about mountaintop removal and the environmental harm that she believed resulted therefrom. The other was a man who was a chief detonator, explosives guy with one of the mining companies. He blew off the mountain tops. She hugged the trees. Both were solid Christians, members of that little church. I wondered how they could sit in the same service together.

    In a case like that, what should the pastor preach? I’m guessing he left the issue alone, and what does God say about that form of mining?

    The discussion of farm policy has been interesting, though not quite on the topic. I do appreciate Moore’s statement that these public policy matters are complicated and the tobacco and dairy subsidy discussion illustrates that. It seems to me that there cannot be a definitive pronouncement of exactly what God says about these.

    Perhaps Jared or Dave will return to the topic with more specificity. I admit to not having the patience to endure the tedium of listening to Moore’s entire address. Perhaps later.

  11. Randall Cofield says

    Dave,

    Here’s hoping you post something provocative…soon. (emoticon inserted, then expurgated)