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Climate Change, The Gospel, & The SBC

News Division

One of the private evidences of assurance in the remaining, though assuredly long, process of my sanctification is a growing realization that I don’t have to have an opinion on everything. Now, don’t misunderstand, normally I HAVE an opinion, but, praise God, I don’t always feel the gumption to inject myself, or my opinion, into every conversation in which I’m involved or to which I’m privy.

Solomon gives some superficially contradictory wisdom about this, recorded in back to back verses.

“Answer not a fool according to his folly,

lest you be like him.

Answer a fool according to his folly,

lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

Proverbs 26:4-5


What’s the deal? When it comes to dialogue with a fool, first we’re told NOT to respond, and then, in the very next verse, we’re instructed TO respond.   But Solomon’s apparently contradictory advice in Proverbs is perhaps best understood in light of his words in Ecclesiastes 3:7. There’s “a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.”

Given this providentially circumstantial advice, though, I can’t figure out why the Southern Baptist Convention seems to find it necessary to always speak on every issue. Neither can I easily determine exactly who is playing the role of fool when it does.

Perhaps, when you’ve grown to the behemoth size of the SBC, it’s presumed by denominational intelligentsia that the world, society, culture, Washington, D.C., or whomever is waiting with bated breath for the sure-to-be forthcoming resolution from T-H-E S-B-C on the latest critical issue of our times.

In typical SBC self-aggrandizing fashion, an article popped up on Baptist Press yesterday (April 12, 2016) that contains news of such urgency that edge-of-seat congregants of the Convention are surely sighing a prayer of thanks for its release.

Please … if you haven’t yet read it … brace yourself …

“Climate change critics perceive threat from AG’s”

The opening paragraph of the article says something about something and how that something is “seen as contrary to the spirit of a 2007 Southern Baptist Convention resolution on ‘global warming.”

Gee, I forgot all about that SBC resolution on global warming. I guess I’ve been too occupied wondering why we don’t actually preach the Gospel in so many of our churches; or how we can presume ourselves to be faithful edifiers when we tolerate so much heresy in LifeWay; or how we can justify holding hands with false teachers and apostate “churches”; or why our annual convention this year has a theme of “Awaken America” instead of “Reform The SBC.”  What was I thinking?

It’s refreshing to know that we’ve offered an opinion on, truly, a Biblical issue, though. Climate change. For the official Southern Baptist resolution, you can find that HERE. For the Biblical perspective on global warming, please see the following:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”  2 Peter 3:10-13

I’m glad there are, as Baptist Press points out, “evangelical climate change experts” in the world. Technically, the Apostle Peter was a climate change expert too.   Hopefully,  those contemporary experts know his words advising on the issue. That whole “heavenly bodies will melt as they burn” line seems decisively settled for him. Yep, looks like climate is definitely going to change. And, according to an apostle, the science is settled.

On the one hand, I understand why the SBC finds it necessary, playing the fool or not, to issue resolutions, proclamations, and opinions on any and every possible thing it can. There are pragmatic issues. We’ve got to get media! We’ve got to give the ERLC something to do (other than not responding when, say, an SBC deacon has a business profiting from the construction of  an abortuary).   We’ve got to, in the tagline spirit of Lifeway, provide “biblical solutions for life.” We are the SBC and we MUST have an opinion!

However you fall on the very temporal issue of climate change, I’ll inject my opinion for your pondering. Here it comes …

“It ain’t looking good if you’re a fool, but it’s looking mighty enticing if you’re seeking righteousness.”

Yes, I believe we are to be good stewards of the resources God has placed under our authority. But I think the greatest resource that has been given to us is not the environment, not the animal kingdom, not the earth or things that dwell therein. I think the greatest resource is the Gospel, and we ought never miss an occasion to proclaim it to folks facing a fate worse than certain climate change.

So, instead of the SBC’s current climate change resolution, I’d rather support one that said something to this effect,

“Whereas, the earth is under a divine curse because of man’s sin;

Whereas, the current heavens and earth will be set on fire and dissolved in righteous, divine judgment on that sin;

Resolved, Southern Baptists would like to reiterate that there is only one way out;

Resolved, that singular salvation is to be found in Jesus alone, who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Resolved, we implore you to repent and believe.”

It’s not that there’s anything particularly disagreeable about the current resolution. It’s just that I’d like to see a bit more Gospel tossed out there for folks who should be a bit more concerned about climate change than how it affects their price at the pump. When Peter’s words come to pass, their use of aerosol-free hair spray won’t save them.

It’s the Gospel. Remember?

We’re the SBC … the Gospel used to define us …  we oughta get back to it … cuz things are quickly heating up.

[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]