Home > Brian's Blogs, Politics > Are Evangelicals Going Green?

Are Evangelicals Going Green?

MSNBC reporter Alex Johnson claims the “evangelical awakening” to the environment and climate change has begun. Rev. Richard Cizik, a VP for the National Association of Evangelicals, agrees. But, as Johnson continues, not all evangelicals agree. In fact, there seems to be a significant rift within evangelicalism regarding the environment. Could this mean global disaster for evangelicals?

My goal today is not to debate the environmental movement or climate change. Rather, my goal is to discuss the evangelical response to these issues…a response that concerns me.

On the one hand you have the increasing number of evangelicals who are involved in the environmental (or “creation care”) movement. Johnson reports that 70% of self-described evangelicals are concerned about global warming and 54% would vote for a presidential candidate who agrees (which is good news for Repbulican Mike Huckabee, an evangelical candidate who favors creation care). Even the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is joining forces with the EPA’s Energy Star for Congregations program “which seeks to persuade churches to become more energy-efficient.”

On the other hand you have the traditional, conservative evangelical leaders such as James Dobson, Gary Bauer, Tony Perkins, and the late Jerry Fallwell. These leaders are vehemently against the environmental (or “creation care”) movement. Johnson reports that “25 conservative evangelical leaders demanded the NAE fire Cizik for his environmental advocacy.”

So what is concerning about all of this? Division. Here we have at least one segment of evangelicals who is broadening the definition of what it means to be an evangelical. According to them, evangelicalism is more than the four traditional cornerstones (biblicism, a cross-centered piety, conversionism, and personal/social transformation). Rather, evangelicalism now includes how one feels about global warming (not to mention mormon presidents!).

This concerns me because it is further evidence that a large segment of evangelicals have lost their focus. They are losing focus that Jesus Christ is passionately concerned about the unity of his church, that the body of Christ is diverse in many ways, and, most importantly, that Jesus Christ is the answer to any and all global issues, even global warming. This is why so many younger-/post-evangelicals are losing faith in evangelicalism. And, frankly, I understand why.

I’m not encouraging an evangelical retreat from politics or social issues. Absolutely not. But I am encouraging unity in essentials, liberty in non-essentials, and charity in all things. I think some of our evangelical leaders need to learn some charity and re-learn what is really essential.

  1. November 7, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    My opinion is that there is a growing disconnect between the people who say they speak for evangelicals (Dobson and the rest) and who really is representing what we want.

    I know for me the environment is now as big an issue for my voting standards as more traditional issues like abortion. My thinking is… clearly nothing significant is going to change on the abortion issue… so let’s invest our time somewhere that can make an impact today.

    Personally, I haven’t found a candidate for state or national elections that represents me just yet. Still shopping.

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