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.