Tag Archives: National Association of Evangelicals

Why I’m Going to Paris

Many of you know that I am joining with Christians from many churches, missions and relief agencies in an effort organized by the global evangelical Lausanne Movement in Paris next week.

We’ll be bringing prayerful gospel support and witness to the nearly 200 nations gathered there to forge a plan of action to address the climate crisis. 179 of them have already submitted plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The US – one of the biggest polluters – has pledged to cut emissions 26% from 2005 levels by 2025. Japan and Europe have also promised strong action. And the developing world, led by China and India, is also on board, with plans to cap emissions by specific dates, as they pull their people out of poverty.

These may be the biggest plans the world has ever made together to confront any problem. But they’re still not nearly enough. Without enacting these pledges, the world will likely be 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit hotter by 2100. That’s enough to make a city like New York as hot as Orlando, or Boston as hot as Charlotte.

But even with these plans, the world will be 6.3% hotter by the end of the century, turning Atlanta into Vegas, or Dallas into Phoenix. No one wants to think about what Phoenix or Miami would be like (although Miami is a special case, since it would then be part of the Atlantic Ocean). And no one wants to think about the species and human populations who inhabit all these places, suffering the impact of dramatic changes at unprecedented speed.

Picture2The global goal has been to keep global temperature increases to 3.6 degrees F. So we still have a long way to go. We will have to ratchet up commitments over time, hold our leaders accountable, invest in new energy technologies, and reexamine our lifestyles for the sake of the creation, for millions of species, and for our children. And we will have to fend off efforts here in America to gut even these modest plans, funded by energy companies whose business model presumes an unending oil and coal binge.

This isn’t a problem for technocrats alone. This calls for transformation of people; for what Pope Francis calls “an ecological conversion.” It calls for us to listen to the National Association of Evangelicals, which has called us to renounce destructive consumption habits, and to persuade our governments to address climate pollution.

So I’m going to Paris to listen, to pray, to resist and support. I’m going to communicate in a small way that God’s church cares about His creation with its beautiful but threatened web of interconnected life. I’m going to affirm that the Earth is the Lord’s, and that in Christ He is reconciling all things that are broken and tainted. I’m going to stand with the poorest countries bearing the brunt of environmental disruption.

I’ll be posting on Facebook and Twitter regularly regularly over the next couple of weeks, and on ClimateCaretakers.org. If you want to hear my updates, just respond to this post, or shoot me an email, or “like” Beloved Planet’s Facebook page, and I’ll make sure you’re in the loop. And I would be so glad if you would pray for me and my companions. If you aren’t so sure about prayer, I’d be glad for your kind thoughts, or a word of encouragement.

Gullible Press Brands Evangelicals as Climate Deniers

Several week s ago, we asked the question: “Climate Change – Who Speaks for Christianity?” We traced the formal resolutions adopted by the largest Christian denominations and ecumenical bodies around the world. And we found that churches comprising over 90 percent of the world’s 2.2 billion Christians have formally acknowledged the reality of manmade climate change and its harm to the poor.

Apparently, the New Republic, a prominent progressive magazine, did not read our findings.

We know this because the New Republic just bought hook, line and sinker the claims of a libertarian fringe group – that they speak for Evangelical Christianity in America when it comes to denying the findings of climate science. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here’s what happened.

The New Republic just published an article titled “Pope Francis Has Declared War on Climate Deniers.”  Overall, it’s a pretty decent little essay. Yes, Pope Francis is planning to publish an encyclical on climate change in 2015. Yes, most Catholics around the world are united in demanding strong climate action. Yes, Christians everywhere recoil at the injustice inherent in carbon pollution, where rich countries pollute heavily, and poor ones suffer the bulk of the consequences.

So far, so good. But then they note that not everyone is cheering. And here’s where they go completely astray. “Evangelical Christians,” says the New Republic, “have already warned that they will protest” the Pope’s encyclical and related actions.

Photo by: Pastor Augustine Joseph of Disciple Union Ministries , Pakistan

Photo by: Pastor Augustine Joseph of Disciple Union Ministries , Pakistan

Really? So who – in the view of the New Republic – speaks for “Evangelical Christians?” Maybe the U.S. National Association of Evangelicals? Maybe the massive World Evangelical Alliance? Maybe major mission agencies like World Vision International?

No, nope, and no-siree. Instead, they chose to listen to a guy named Calvin Beisner. He’s not a pastor or an evangelist. He doesn’t represent any Christian church or denomination. But he does have one of those libertarian think tanks, and he’s a treasure trove of climate denial quotes.

“The pope should back off,” said Beisner on behalf of the controversially-named Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. “The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles but has been misled on the science. It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect. Our position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the U.S.”

That’s what the New Republic settled on as the voice of American Evangelicals.

Oh my. A think-tank spokesman named Beisner speaks for “millions of evangelical Christians” in the U.S.? Well, I suppose that would be hard to disprove, wouldn’t it? In a majority-Christian country of 316 million living souls, it’s entirely possible that “millions” might indeed join Beisner in his denial of climate science. We suspect millions of others might believe that Elvis is still alive, or that the President faked his birth certificate.

But what do we really know about evangelical beliefs about climate change? Well, for starters, we could look to the National Association of Evangelicals, the biggest affiliation of evangelicals by far in the U.S.

National Association of Evangelicals (NAE): In 2011, the NAE published a survey of the impacts of climate change, called “Loving the Least of These.” The NAE’s president, Rev. Leith Anderson, introduced the work with these words:

“While others debate the science and politics of climate change, my thoughts go to the poor people who are neither scientists nor politicians. They will never study carbon dioxide in the air or acidification of the ocean. But they will suffer from dry wells in the Sahel of Africa and floods along the coasts of Bangladesh. Their crops will fail while our supermarkets are full. They will suffer while we study…. Please read with an open mind and with open hands. But most of all, join me with an open heart for the poor.”

Okay Rev. Anderson, our minds are open. And what does the Evangelical report actually say? Regarding climate science, the NAE is measured, but firm: “The global average temperature has risen at a rate that is most likely greater than natural variability can account for. Evidence suggests that an increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases accounts for much of the warming over the last 50 years.”

The Evangelical group urges us to listen to the scientists: “Look to official joint statements from professional societies,” they write. “For example, the nation’s top scientists in the National Academies of Science (NAS) and other professional societies represent the conclusions of tens of thousands of scientists.”

And for all their scientific acumen, the NAE majors in ethics and ministry, not science. That’s why they devote most of their ink to the injustice of rampant climate pollution. With eyewitness testimonies from missionaries and Christians around the world, they tell us of increasingly erratic weather, of glaciers disappearing, of sea levels rising, of increasing water stress and drought, of the loss of forest habitats, of disappearing fisheries, of malnutrition and spreading tropical diseases.

In summary, the institutional leader of Evangelicals in America issues this call to action: “If the things we have been reading are true—that we are called to love God and to love our neighbor, that our climate is changing, and this change will affect the poor most of all—then we, the evangelical family, have no choice but to act on this problem.”

It’s clear. The U.S. National Association of Evangelicals believes that the global climate is being threatened, and that we’re complicit in the harm. But what about Evangelicals all over the world?

World Evangelical Alliance:  The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) represents 600 million Christians in almost 200 countries. And it’s no secret what the WEA thinks either. In 2010 and again in 2012, the WEA sponsored global gatherings of Evangelicals under the banner of the Lausanne Conference on World Evangelism. And each time, the conferees issued global calls to action on climate change.

“We lament over the widespread abuse and destruction of the earth’s resources, including its bio-diversity,” they wrote in 2010. “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.”

World Vision International (WVI): When Evangelicals want to engage in missional giving to the world’s poorest people, more often than not they turn to World Vision. And if evangelical associations like the NAE and WEA are calling for action on climate change, their concerns pale in comparison to WVI, which is constantly combating the ravages of drought, flood and famine.

And what does WVI think about climate change? Christopher Shore, WVI’s Director for Environment and Climate Issues, speaks with a passion driven by first-hand experience among the world’s poorest:

“For the people whom World Vision serves throughout the world, climate change is not a fictitious or a far-off threat. It’s a very real intensifier of poverty today. For those already struggling under the weight of poverty, climate change increases vulnerability to environmental shocks that are outside their control, and it decreases the resources that would help them cope. The effects have already undone years of development investment by driving people climbing out of poverty back down the development ladder. Climate change is a global phenomenon that affects people everywhere, but it hits the poor hardest.”

So please listen, New Republic editors. For the sake of the Christian church in America, I deeply wish that evangelicals were more vocal about protecting the world that belongs to our Savior. And I wish that we were much quicker to demand justice for those who suffer from the effects of manmade climate change. But when you run to non-credentialed fringe elements as spokesmen for Christianity, and ignore clearly recognized religious associations and authorities, you participate – unwittingly, I’m sure – in a gross distortion of the witness of the church of Jesus Christ in our country.

If you take the time to look, you’ll find that evangelicals everywhere know who this world belongs to, and who has been appointed for its stewardship. “The earth is the Lord’s,” the Psalms tell us. And mankind was placed in the Creation to “tend and keep it” on behalf of its Creator, whom we love.

Please take the time to look. Climate deniers speak for themselves and their sponsors, not for the rest of us.

It’s Time for the National Association of Evangelicals to Step Up

Rev. Charles Redfern

Rev. Charles Redfern

Written by Rev. Charles Redfern

Think of it as the gentleman in the tweed cap or the lady in horse riding apparel. The National Association of Evangelicals has emblematized dignity and poise since its 1942 inception. Perhaps its first president, the late Harold Ockenga, branded it with his personality when he — along with Edward J. Carnell, Carl Henry, Daniel Fuller, and others — cracked fundamentalism’s isolationist shell and emerged as the intellectually muscular “new evangelicals,” eager for debate, dialogue, and cultural engagement. Disparate denominations and organizations from Charismatic, Holiness, and Reformed traditions gather in the NAE manor.

Such is the NAE’s noble past, but it now faces a decisive 21st-century test. The gentleman must roll up his sleeves while the lady summons the children. Can they remember Ockenga’s savvy boldness? Will they be brave? Will they risk controversy and do the right thing? Will its board see through the reek of qualms and fears at its October meeting and validate a petition drive “to affirm publicly the reality of human-induced climate change and endorse the responsibility of individuals, churches, and the federal government to act to reduce carbon emissions and protect our natural heritage for our children and grandchildren”?

No doubt some will worry over potential dissensions and withdrawals and accusations of left-wing pandering; others may call for tabling and further study; still others may file the time-honored balk: “We’re not ready yet.” More possible deflections: What about evangelism and spirituality? And prayer? And Bible study? And theology? And youth (shouldn’t we fix a laser-focus on teens?)? And abortion and birth control and government spending and poverty and greed? And more fears of disunity — never risk that vital unity …

Picture5Consider: Isn’t truth-evading unity kindred with an identity-robbing computer hacker? Our credibility vaporizes. No one listens. The organization re-seals itself in fundamentalism’s anti-intellectual cave, with its censure of mainline waffling dismissed as hypocrisy: “What’s the difference between you and those supposedly truth-evading theological liberals?” Consider Deborah Fikes’ insight when she interwove youth outreach with the climate change battle. Adolescents face an adulthood of deserts, droughts, rising sea levels, and storms. Ignoring their future in the name of evangelism hardly sounds like “good news.” And consider once more: When, precisely, will we be ready? All other major branches of Christianity — Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and mainline Protestantism — have repudiated denial. We’re at risk of aligning ourselves with outliers and fringe thinkers.

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Love God, Love Your Neighbor


Among the many excellent Christian works on the moral imperative behind caring for the creation, the National Association of Evangelicals offers one of the most compelling. Here is a brief excerpt from their booklet, Loving the Least of These: Addressing a Changing Environment.

In Matthew 22:39, Jesus gave us a “second” command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

For us to be faithful in loving God, we must love our neighbor. In Luke’s account of the same incident, a bystander asks, “But who is my neighbor?” thus setting the stage for one of the best-known of all Jesus’ parables: the story of the Good Samaritan. Loving my neighbor, according to the parable, includes responding to the needs of someone who has been hurt. We are to feed him, clothe him, care for his wounds and provide for him.
Care of the poor and oppressed is a resounding theme in both the Old and New Testaments, as, for example, in Deuteronomy 15:10-11:
”Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.”
God gave the Israelites structures and rules that established provision for the poor. Relatives were to redeem sold land and support widows; cloaks could not be kept in pledge; the poor could glean in the fields. We are told to care for those who are hungry and thirsty, even if they are our enemies (see Proverbs 25:21-22; Romans 12:20).

 

Free downloadable NAE booklet
Nothing could be clearer than Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:36-44. Jesus tells his disciples that on Judgment Day, we will stand before God and answer for the way we treated those who were hungry, naked and sick, and for those who were strangers and prisoners: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (v. 40). And, on the other hand, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (v. 45).
When we care for the poor, we are ministering to Jesus himself: To care for the weakest is to care for Christ.
There are millions of suffering people in the world, and thousands of Christians who offer them assistance. Unfortunately, the realities of climate change mean that those suffering millions may become billions. All of us who follow Jesus will need to respond.
Reproduced from National Association of Evangelicals: Loving the Least of These. To download a copy of the complete NAE document, click here.