Is Conservative America Waking Up to Global Warming?

Is conservative America finally waking up to the damage which its lifestyle of unrestricted oil use is doing to our planet? Are the ostriches at last taking their heads out of the sand and looking at the irrefutable evidence that global warming is happening, and is very probably caused by burning of fossil fuels? There are at least hopeful signs of this even in the Bible belt of Kentucky, from the blog of the influential Ben Witherington, Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary. But then Asbury, with its continuing emphasis on “well-trained, sanctified, Spirit-filled, evangelistic ministry”, is sadly not a typical part of the Bible belt. I will be more hopeful for the future of the earth when the same attitude spreads across Kentucky from the Lexington area to Louisville and Al Mohler’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

0 thoughts on “Is Conservative America Waking Up to Global Warming?

  1. The short answer to your question is, “No!” Ben is very fond of movies and I can imagine him finding “An Inconvenient Truth” to be compelling. But he is not typical. The majority of American Christians are not going to listen to Gore, nor am I convinced that they should. Witherington is doing something noble: trying to give someone a fair hearing despite a long history of fuzzy thinking and misleading the public. But that doesn’t mean we will ultimately buy Gore’s snake oil.

    The one argument that Witherington makes which I can whole-heartedly agree with is that we as Christians should not use some sort of apocalyptic vision to excuse us for mismanaging the earth. I believe the Lord’s intent for humanity from the beginning was for us to “rule” the earth in the sense of “administer” not “lay waste.” Peter, perhaps you have some insights into the use and intent of that word in Genesis 1:26 and 28.

  2. Lingamish, thanks for your comments. I don’t want people to buy Gore’s snake oil any more than to buy too much of Bush’s crude oil. I just want everyone to take care of the earth, not to lay it waste.

    In Genesis 1:26,28, humans are appointed to “rule over” animal life, and to “fill the earth and subdue it” (TNIV). The word translated “subdue”, כבשׁ kavash, is quite rare and often means “bring into bondage”, as in Jeremiah 34:11,16. I’m not sure this is the best place to start for a “green” theology. Genesis 2:15 might be better: Adam is to “work” (עבד `avad) and “take care of” (שׁמר shamar) the garden; after the fall there is no mention of care, only “work” (3:23, again עבד `avad). But a comment here is not the place to develop such a theology, and after midnight is not the time to do so! Anyway, this posting was intended not as a theological one, but as a social and political one.

  3. Gore may be a liar, but that doesn’t mean everything he touches is a lie as well. Global warming is happening, it’s just a matter of how much of an impact it will have.

    And to me, a Christian, all politics and social policy have religious implications.

    BTW, I like your blog, Peter!

  4. Thanks, TS, and thanks for linking me to your interesting blog.

    I won’t defend Gore. But even in his large houses he may still be living in a “carbon neutral” way. I was shocked at how cheaply I can offset carbon, for example according to Climate Care it costs only £7.50 (less than $15) to offset 1 tonne of CO2 emission, and for that much emission I can fly from London to Miami (one way). I can’t find similar simple figures for emission from homes, but it would probably cost Gore only a very small part of his fortune to offset all of his carbon consumption. Whether he does this or not I have no idea. But if for example he spends much of his winters in Nashville rather than Arlington he is saving a lot of energy for heating.

    The kinds of offsets this Climate Care site suggests are interesting, such as providing efficient light bulbs to schools in Kazakhstan. In a rather different way, I can claim that ALL of my electricity consumption comes from renewable sources and so is carbon neutral, and at zero extra cost to me – through the npower Juice scheme. I suppose that such approaches could be condemned as tokenism, as they wouldn’t work if everyone signed up for them. But they are certainly better than nothing.

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