By Rev. Mitchell Hescox
Dear Mr. Limbaugh,
Blessings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
As a lifelong Republican and an evangelical pro-life clergyman who pastored a local congregation for almost 20 years, spent fourteen years working in the coal industry, and now leads one of the oldest creation care ministries, I ask you to refrain from your harmful rhetoric on climate change. It is simply wrong.
Recently, you stated that “If you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in man-made global warming.” Nothing could be further from truth.
You made this false claim as part of a rhetorical sleight of hand wherein you posited a straw-man position, which you then defeated, saying that only God has the power to destroy his creation. But in “winning” such a false argument, you take people further from the truth. I am aware of no one who is saying that human-induced climate change will completely destroy the earth.
From the beginning we were created to be God’s stewards or caretakers of His creation; we were given the freedom to care for it and for each other, or go our own way and selfishly look to our own interests and desires. Sadly, human history shows us that too often we have chosen the latter.
Today, human-induced climate change works against our call to love others and care for God’s creation. Its impacts on creation are already a threat to our children and therefore a pro-life concern. Overcoming climate change is an act of discipleship, stewarding what was created for and through Jesus, the Christ.
We could not agree more for your concern for unborn children. However, pro-life is much more than preventing abortion; it’s a concern for all life from conception until natural death. Focus On The Family produced an excellent video on pro-life as respect for all life from “the womb to the tomb” as many of my evangelical friends state. Putting it simply, pro-life is greater than preventing abortion; it is also concerned with the quality of life or the abundant life promised by Jesus.
Three recent major medical studies link air pollution to birth defects. Currently 1 in 3 American children suffer from Asthma, ADHD, Autism, or Allergies all with connection to pollution – pollution directly linked to fossil fuel energy and petrochemicals.
As Scripture teaches, God created a sustainable earth to provide our physical needs, however Scripture also teaches us that humanity harms God’s creation by not following His commandments: “The people of the earth have ruined it, because they do not follow God’s teachings or obey God’s laws or keep their agreement with God that was to last forever.” Isaiah 24:5
John Calvin recognized our failure to steward God’s creation centuries ago, and our continued spewing of carbon pollution already has given the earth a fever, and we keep adding a blanket atop God’s heating creation.
Of course, you don’t have to believe me, but the Lausanne Movement founded by Billy Graham and John Stott in their Cape Town Commitment state the dangers of climate change:
We lament over the widespread abuse and destruction of the earth’s resources, including its bio-diversity. Probably the most serious and urgent challenge faced by the physical world now is the threat of climate change. This will disproportionately affect those in poorer countries, for it is there that climate extremes will be most severe and where there is little capability to adapt to them. World poverty and climate change need to be addressed together and with equal urgency.
Recently over 200 evangelical Christian scientists wrote a letter to Congress asking for climate change action; Young Evangelicals For Climate Action demanded American Leadership; and over 350 evangelical leaders signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative. All of us recognize along with the National Academy of Sciences, American Medical Association, American Meteorological Association, the US Department of Defense, plus every major scientific body in the United States, that climate change is real; it won’t completely destroy God’s creation, which no one to my knowledge is claiming; but it has and will do serious harm to God’s children.
Believing in God and understanding climate change as one of the greatest threats to our children’s health and well-being – both now and in the future – is an act of following our Risen Lord.
Actually, understanding climate change perhaps is even not the real issue of your comments. Love is. The Apostle John wrote:
“This is the teaching you have heard from the beginning: We must love each other. Do not be like Cain who belonged to the Evil One and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because the things Cain did were evil, and the things his brother did were good.
“Brothers and sisters, do not be surprised when the people of the world hate you. We know we have left death and have come into life because we love each other. Whoever does not love is still dead. Everyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderers have eternal life in them. This is how we know what real love is: Jesus gave his life for us. So we should give our lives for our brothers and sisters. Suppose someone has enough to live and sees a brother or sister in need, but does not help. Then God’s love is not living in that person. My children, we should love people not only with words and talk, but by our actions and true caring.” 1 John 3:11-18
Being a Christian is loving as Christ loves. Your recent claim doesn’t reveal love and therein is the problem.
So in closing: “I pray that the God who gives hope will fill you with much joy and peace while you trust in him. Then your hope will overflow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox
Mitchell Hescox is president of Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), a ministry dedicated to the care of God’s creation. EEN seeks to equip, inspire, disciple, and mobilize God’s people in their effort to care for God’s creation.