Here we go again! A "core group" of "influential" evangelical leaders is about to try to address "global warming" using political weapons.
Like previous efforts - Prohibition in the 1920s and the Moral Majority with which I was associated in the 1980s - this one is doomed because it distracts and dilutes the primary calling of evangelicals.
Do evangelicals have time on their hands because they've finished the mission to "go and make disciples of all nations"? Is this not a great enough commission that "global warming" and a host of other "issues" must be added to make evangelicals contemporary and relevant?
The Rev. Rich Cizik, vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, a Washington lobbying group, was quoted in The New York Times as saying, "I don't think God is going to ask us how he created the earth, but he will ask us what we did with what he created."
Rev. Cizik offers no biblical citation for his view. There is no biblical expectation that a "fallen" world can, should or will be improved prior to the return of the One to whom evangelicals are supposed to owe their complete allegiance.
Rev. Ted Haggard, president of NAE, says he has become passionate about the issue because he is a scuba diver (but not a scientist) and has seen how "global warming" affects coral reefs. What about passion for Jesus Christ?
The religious left has long tried to sway evangelicals into embracing its social agenda. It would appear they are finally succeeding. Rev. Ronald Sider, who heads Evangelicals for Social Action, a liberal Christian group with an agenda that reads like Democratic Party talking points, told the Times, "Evangelicals have sometimes been accused of having a one- or two-item political agenda."
A document he helped draft, called "For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility," is aimed at making "it very clear that a vast body of evangelicals today reject a one-issue approach," he says.
Jesus is appropriated these days for all sorts of things with which he would have nothing to do. Remember the "What Would Jesus Drive" campaign that attempted to convert people from their SUVs to more environmentally friendly cars?
Those on the left and right who misuse Jesus think they can have the best of both worlds. Desiring the approval of one, however, mostly leads to disapproval from the other.
Should politicians be unclear as to the source of evangelical power, Rev, Haggard says, "We do represent 30 million people, and we can mobilize them if we have to." Leaving aside whether he "represents" 30 million people and whether they would all vote and lobby in lock-step (they didn't in the '80s), this is a far cry from "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty." (Zechariah 4:6)
The first description of Satan is that he is "subtle." (Genesis 3:1) Another translation says "crafty." Satan tempts to do what seems good. Liberal churches have long believed in a doctrine of salvation-through-works, as if helping the poor was the chief responsibility of government and an end in itself, rather than a means for individuals to communicate the love of God to poor people.
The social gospel is about causes, not Christ; agendas, not Alpha and Omega; politics, not the Prince of Peace; more of this world and less of the next one. It's a subtle, but effective, means of distracting evangelicals from their paramount calling, which is about conversion, not political convictions.
By focusing on the other kingdom, one can have the most influence on this kingdom. By attending mainly to improving this world, one is doomed to futility and can do little for the other one. Look at past efforts of religious activists - left and right - and note their limited success when the focus has been on transforming culture, rather than converting hearts.
This is going to be another failed effort that will lead many astray, divert resources from more effective pursuits and leave little of eternal value. Better to "store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal" (Matthew 6:20) rather than on earth where they do.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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