Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Oil spill & the uneasy Evangelical conscience

posted by Rod Dreher

Whatever you do today, you have to read this stunning blog entry from the Southern Baptist theologian Russell D. Moore, who just returned from a visit to Biloxi, Miss., his hometown. He calls the Gulf spill the ecological Roe v. Wade for Evangelicals. Excerpt:

As I pass that sign on Highway 90 telling me I’m leaving Biloxi, I can look out behind the water’s horizon and know there’s a Pale Horse there. A massive rupture in the ocean’s floor is gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, with plumes of petroleum great enough to threaten to destroy the sea-life there for my lifetime, if not forever. Everything is endangered, from the seafood and tourism industries to the crabs and seagulls on the beach to the churches where I first heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is more than a threat to my hometown, and to our neighboring communities. It is a threat to national security greater than most Americans can even contemplate, because so few of them know how dependent they are on the eco-systems of the Gulf of Mexico. This is, as one magazine put it recently, Katrina meets Chernobyl.
I am leaving this morning, but I am leaving changed.

More:

For too long, we evangelical Christians have maintained an uneasy ecological conscience. I include myself in this indictment.
We’ve had an inadequate view of human sin.
Because we believe in free markets, we’ve acted as though this means we should trust corporations to protect the natural resources and habitats. But a laissez-faire view of government regulation of corporations is akin to the youth minister who lets the teenage girl and boy sleep in the same sleeping bag at church camp because he “believes in young people.”

And:

We’ve seen the issue of so-called “environmental protection” as someone else’s issue.
In our era, the abortion issue is the transcendent moral issue of the day (as segregation was in the last generation, and lynching and slavery before that). Too often, however, we’ve been willing not simply to vote for candidates who will protect unborn human life (as we ought to), but to also in the process adopt their worldviews on every other issue.

You’ve really got to read the whole thing, especially Moore’s Kirkian reflection on how the Gulf oil spill destroys local culture, and how Evangelical indifference to that is a failure of love of neighbor. Moore writes:

As I’ve seen the people I love, who led me to Christ, literally heaving in tears, I’ve wondered how many other communities have faced death like this, while I ignored even the chance to pray. The protection of the creation isn’t just about seagulls and turtles and dolphins.

This conservative Southern Baptist gets it, and he gets it in his marrow. Simply a stunning piece of public theology. Read it, and pass it on to everyone you know. We are witnessing a major cultural shift for American Christians, I believe.



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MargaretE

posted June 2, 2010 at 11:50 am


I really enjoyed the essay and I agree that this guy “gets it,” but I almost wish he hadn’t poisoned the well, so to speak, by going into all the “liberal” vs. “conservative” stuff. I have been avoiding that kind of language in my own writing, lately, because I find that nobody really knows what those words mean anymore, and yet people react to them so immediately and passionately that they’re simply detrimental to the discourse… I write a column for a small weekly paper, and when I use this kind of language, I effectively shut down the conversation for at least half my readership. This oil spill is one of the few examples of something we can all agree on. I know that’s part of what Moore is trying to say, but by couching his piece in the language of “liberals are this way, and conservatives are THAT way,” (and, frankly, by focusing on abortion, traditional marriage, etc), he is now preaching only to his own choir… and will end up offending the OTHER choir. (In fact, I wanted to post this essay on Facebook – my page gets almost as many comments as this blog! – but decided not to, for that reason.) Anyway, just my two cents’ worth.



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Jim

posted June 2, 2010 at 12:29 pm


It’s a great column. As to MargartetE’s point, I think Moore’s column is directed at conservatives, so he’s not concerned about what every ideology thinks. In other words, he IS preaching to the choir, and that’s his goal.



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Franklin Evans

posted June 2, 2010 at 12:51 pm


Margaret, I echo Jim’s comment: Moore said some things and in ways that target his siblings-in-faith, and while this liberal blanched at his abortion analogy, by the time I finished reading I was ready to offer unconditional applause.
I frequently (ahem, too often for some, I’m sure) comment on the societal malaise. I rant and rave about the death of courtesy (barely twitching, now), how people would rather blindly follow than do their own thinking (my personal, curmudgeonly favorite), and too often find myself ready to ditch my online rep for civility and lay into some people (not so much here).
Moore puts a key problem in stark relief: We are fair-weather philosophers, all too ready to ride the free market coattails until the catastrophic consequences come home to roost. Moore’s confessional in that direction is what prompts my admiration, and I wish more like him would write more like that.
BP (major oil in general) has reaped tens of billions of dollars in profits over the last couple of decades. That BP now has to spend some fraction of those profits on cleaning up and inadequate compensation for ruined lives and habitats begs the question: Why did we have to wait for this catastrophe? Why couldn’t we just say to BP that restricting your profits by enforcing those measures that might have and likely would have prevented this tragedy and making you pay for it instead of giving out more dividends is actually the ethical and moral thing to do, now proven in hindsight for what, the thousandth time?
The answer was, in the past when more eloquent people than I asked those questions, was: Go away, environmental fanatics, and leave me alone to get even more wealthy on the backs of all those willing slaves to the so-called free market. I like to believe that those “fanatics” are in no way happy to be proven correct these past weeks.



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the stupid Chris

posted June 2, 2010 at 12:59 pm


This is a heartbreaking column, actually. It’s so very hard to understand that what was being embraced as Christian conservatism was actually a very liberal take on things.
When Gulfs are dead, when mountaintops are removed, when forests are razed with nothing left in their place, when deer populations disappear, cultures die too.
And what’s left in the place of these cultures and traditions is an individualism that is defined simply by the appetites for sex, violence, and piling up stuff. That’s not conservative, and it certainly isn’t Christian.
But it is the Libertarian dream society, one that we’ve been told is “conservative” since the rise of Reagan.



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Nicole

posted June 2, 2010 at 1:03 pm


Thank you for bringing this to our attention! It is a fantastic essay.



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Douglas_MacNeill

posted June 2, 2010 at 1:08 pm


Oh? I always thought that conservative evangelicals in general, and Southern Baptists in particular, were all about one of three things:
1) God would “rapture” the faithful away from situations just like this and from any sense of accountability for them, or
2) The same God who created the heavens and the earth would have plenty more resources and plenty more Earths where these came from, so one spill like this is inconsequential, or
3) Any thought about accountability for the natural world would be a direct violation of God’s command to mortals in Genesis 2:28 (New Revised Standard Version): “God blessed [humankind], and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.'”
Not one of these beliefs is particularly compatible with his reaction to the oil spill that is Bleeding Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico.



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John E - Agn Stoic

posted June 2, 2010 at 1:19 pm


Meanwhile, BP has hired Dick Cheney’s ex-campaign press secretary to acts as its US media spokesman.
I wish I were joking…



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Your Name

posted June 2, 2010 at 1:20 pm


Well, Douglass, I am glad he was able to clear up some of your confusion.



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Joe Magarac

posted June 2, 2010 at 1:24 pm


We are witnessing a major cultural shift for American Christians, I believe.
Why does one essay amount to proof of a major cultural shift?



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Cecelia

posted June 2, 2010 at 1:26 pm


I do understand Margaret’s point about the use of liberal vs. conservative – I’ve made it here myself. But I do agree that while Moore does reinforce those stereotypes – he is preaching to the choir and in a language that can be convincing to them.
I’ve been following this on the Oil Drum – the technical discussions are over my head largely but it has still been amazingly informative. I have to admit that despite my normal status as a Luddite I am fascinated by the ability of the undersea robots to do the kind of work they are doing. However – I was shocked and saddened when I read comments on that site from people who live along the Gulf who know they must move now. It hadn’t occurred to me that people would look at the long term risks to their children’s health caused by the spill and decide it was time to move. This really put into perspective the genuine damage this event has caused to the local culture. One of the commentators lives on a farm that has been in his family since the colonial era – and he can smell petroleum in his well water. His distress was so apparent in his post. It truly is heartbreaking.
But for all the people like Moore who have truly had a change of worldview because of this disaster – I hear and read of lots of people who are actually blaming this mess on the environmentalists – the head of Exxon is in Washington testifying to Congress to try to mitigate any new attempts at safety regulations – and he too blamed this all on those environmentalists.
I do think the oil industry has been changed by this – they won’t take the kind of shortcuts that were apparently taken with this well. They will no longer assume it can’t happen. Their insurance costs are going to skyrocket because there will be changes in risk assessment. But I’d bet the general populations willingness to continue to deny the real costs of our way of life will continue. People do not want to change. Perhaps I am being too negative but I do think that even if one wants to change – our whole society is structured for consumption – it makes it hard to change.



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TTT

posted June 2, 2010 at 1:42 pm


If Moore’s use of flimsy and ungracious caricatures of liberals succeeds in getting more evangelicals to care about environmental protection, then I’m all for it and will happily do a Silly Liberal Dance at their next fundraising dinner. I will sacrifice my ego to finish off their eco-denialism.
But unfortunately, I think Douglas MacNeill is right, and that there are just as many essays “from a Christian perspective” that argue either that it is impossible for humans to damage the Earth or that humans will not inhabit Earth long enough for that damage to matter. I’ve read too many of them myself for me to be able to seriously hope that Moore’s epiphany will meaningfully spread.



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Rod Dreher

posted June 2, 2010 at 1:43 pm


Why does one essay amount to proof of a major cultural shift?
It doesn’t. I should have been more clear. I think that this catastrophe will occasion a major cultural shift and that Moore’s essay is a first sign of what may be yet to come. At least I hope so.



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MargaretE

posted June 2, 2010 at 1:54 pm


TTT, I think it was those “flimsy and ungracious caricatures of liberals” that bothered me about the piece. I wish Moore had refrained from using them, even though, as several have pointed out, he was “preaching to his own choir.” In my opinion, they cheapen the piece and lessen its power. But I found Douglas MacNeill’s post about Christian conservatives just as “flimsy and ungracious” and just as full of caricatures. And even though he had a good point to make, my eyes glazed over and my heart sank and I didn’t want to ponder his point…
Captcha: densities empathy



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BobSF

posted June 2, 2010 at 2:28 pm


he gets it in his marrow
Really? I don’t get the feeling of profound realization that he was wrong. In fact, he still seems quite certain he was right about liberals and environmentalists.



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Rod Dreher

posted June 2, 2010 at 2:33 pm


BobSF, you remind me of the sort of conservative who, if confronted by a prominent liberal Christian publicly admitting he was wrong about abortion, and saying to other liberal Christians that we were wrong, and we’ve got to change, would still be complaining that the liberal’s conversion doesn’t really matter because he remains a liberal. Good grief, man, you’ve got one of the top conservative Southern Baptist theologians in the country returning from a trip to the Gulf saying that fellow Evangelicals have it all wrong about the environment and capitalism, and have to change — and all you can see is that he made an unkind remark about liberals? Princess, meet the pea.



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H.S.

posted June 2, 2010 at 2:37 pm


Thanks for posting this. What can I say, but ‘Amen?’



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hlvanburen

posted June 2, 2010 at 2:43 pm


I can only hope that this essay does indeed mark the beginning of a trend in evangelical circles. If so then this tragedy unfolding before us might actually be worth the price, and we might begin to see some change in behavior that will eventually make such oil wells a relic of the past.



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BobSF

posted June 2, 2010 at 3:10 pm


Princess, meet the pea.
Well, Rod, I’m sorry, but I can’t quite imagine how your hypothetical liberal convert on abortion could manage to simultaneously do an about-face on abortion itself and still criticize the people who have fought abortion for decades, distorting their goals, and reassuring his audience that if those anti-abortion forces really got there way, we’d be living in a fascist state (to keep up the parallels).
Also, I don’t know the man or of the man, as I’m not in tune with the Southern Baptist community, but what sort of top theologian can he be if he can look back at history and find his church and his people FIRMLY on the right side in the fights against segregation and, before it, slavery?
His comments about liberals and environmentalists aren’t just “unkind”. They’re also WRONG. And they are fundamentally wrong. It’s not a question of a little pea, it’s a question of basic principles.



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hattio

posted June 2, 2010 at 3:22 pm


Cecelia says;
“I do think the oil industry has been changed by this – they won’t take the kind of shortcuts that were apparently taken with this well. They will no longer assume it can’t happen.”
Cecelia, where do you see any hope of this? The oil companies are fighting like mad to keep this from resulting in any new regulations.



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Douglas_MacNeill

posted June 2, 2010 at 3:22 pm


Your Name, perhaps I didn’t make myself clear the first time.
For one thing, that essay cleared not one iota of any “confusion” I felt as I was reading this.
For another, my remarks suggested that Fundamentalists with a capital F (to use the oldspeak term for conservative evangelical Christians) are the last persons on Earth that would bother to care about this. Either they would be raptured away before the worst could happen, or they would believe in a laissez-faire approach to the use of Earth’s natural resources, or they would oppose the very idea of conservation as an affront to the plain meaning of Scripture.
For any one of these reasons, Fundamentalists would say Moore was no longer a true Southern Baptist theologian.
Do the words “Drill, baby, drill.” mean anything to you?
I expect that Russell D. Moore is going to be kicked out of the Southern Baptist Convention in less than a year on a charge of heresy.



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allbetsareoff

posted June 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm


A lot of us have wondered how long it would take Evangelicals to realize that their faith has been hijacked by right-wing politicians and political operatives, corporate-financial predators and corrupt preachers. Moore has had his eyes opened, but he’s likely to be one of the few for a long time to come.
There is a long, sad history of Evangelical/fundamentalist leaders and their congregations allowing themselves to be co-opted by right-wing political and corporate interests. They exploit the faithful by convincing them that they’re threatened by “others” – blacks, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, foreigners, feminists, gays, environmentalists, intellectuals, city dwellers, gun-control advocates, “the new world order,” etc., etc.
And what do the faithful get for their support of rightists? The places where Evangelical/fundamentalist Christianity is most prevalent are typically the places with the most poverty, lowest educational levels, highest violent-crime rates, least stable families and weakest social safety nets. (Mormon country is the exception; but, then, a lot of fundamentalists consider Mormons not-quite-Christian.)
By substituting a “personal relationship with Jesus” for being “doers of the word” – applying Christian principles to the world around them – conservative Christians have colluded in creating moral and social cesspools in their communities. That’s why the rest of us are so fearful of their taking over American society.



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Michael C

posted June 2, 2010 at 3:52 pm


No where does he actually say that his people were on the right side in the fights against segregation and, before it, slavery.
What he does say is that they were the moral issues of the day.
I found hope in the essay that maybe government regulation is not the end of the world, and that there is a place in society for what we in Canada call, peace, order and good government.
Protecting the population is not always about who has the biggest army. It can be protecting us from the likes of BP, who obviously are more concerned about their shareholders than they are about the planet we all have to live on.
There has been a trend toward evangelicals looking at the good of the earth as a whole, maybe we have another convert.



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BobSF

posted June 2, 2010 at 4:04 pm


No where does he actually say that his people were on the right side in the fights against segregation and, before it, slavery.
You’re right. I’m just so accustomed to seeing the claim from others, I made the connection for him. Perhaps someone more informed on his views can set me straight.



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BrianF

posted June 2, 2010 at 5:37 pm


When it comes to the abolition, evangelical were at the forefront of the movement. Wheaton College, one of the most well known and influential evangleical institutions was founded by abolitionists. I find the sterotypical tropes about evangelicals trotted out by the likes of BobSF and Douglas MacNiell quite humorous, especially since they probably think of themselves as nuanced thinkers, tolerant and open minded.



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Anon Prof

posted June 2, 2010 at 5:54 pm


The stereotypes of fundamentalists and evangelicals in this thread is deeply disturbing. Amazingly enough James Watt is not the final authority on the evangelical approach to environmental ethics. For those interested in exploring the full range of evangelical responses to environmental ethics (the good, the bad, and the ugly), you might find the following helpful:
http://www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/environment/index.html
Lest you think these are fringe elements within evangelicalism, a founder of the modern religious right wrote the following:
http://www.amazon.com/Pollution-Death-Man-Francis-Schaeffer/dp/0891076867
While premillenial-dispensationalism is an influential strain within conservative protestantism, it is not logically entailed by adoption of the “fundamentals of the faith”. Indeed several authors of the fundamentals were ardently opposed to dispensationalism. My experience in Southern Baptist and Presbyterian congregations is that it is largely seen as a non-issue. I haven’t heard a sermon on the rapture since I was a kid in the 1980’s.



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Jon

posted June 2, 2010 at 6:29 pm


Douglas MacNeil,
I think you may have Evangelicals confused with Mormons. The latter group is the only one I know of that posits there are multiple Earths out there just waiting for believers.
Moroever under classical Christian theology we hold the Earth in stwardship from God. Should we despoil it we will be in the exact position of renters who trash property that really belongs to their landlord.
On the larger topic I have to say I agree with the posters who note how Christian conservatives, concerned legitimately with abortion, have slavishly turned into an Amen chorus for the Right in all things. For this reason I have abandoned reading First Things as I simply cannot stand the proliferation of hack articles functioning as apologiae for the Republican party, often without even a remote connection the magazine’s supposed theme, religion in the public square.



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BobSF

posted June 2, 2010 at 6:39 pm


Well, BrianF, I don’t know if it qualifies as tolerant or open-minded, but I seem to recall that while some evangelical Christians were on the forefront of the abolition movement (though they were certainly not alone there), other evangelical Christians were lined up against them (though they, too, were certainly not alone), but it sure seems more nuanced than your claim. By the way, nuance-wise, what denominations would you put at the forefront of abolition? And what does Wheaton have to do with SBs?



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Michael Kelley

posted June 2, 2010 at 7:02 pm


While I appreciate the wise and timely article (as I always expect from Dr. Moore), I don’t think it represents a major shift in his thinking. He has long been a Front Porch, Wendell Berry-reading conservative. I think that this is more of him taking advantage of a very teachable moment in our nation’s history to talk to fellow evangelicals about the things that he already knew to be true, but that have been brought home to him in a painfully vivid way.



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Douglas_MacNeill

posted June 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm


Jon
June 2, 2010 6:29 PM
Douglas MacNeil,
I think you may have Evangelicals confused with Mormons. The latter group is the only one I know of that posits there are multiple Earths out there just waiting for believers.
Moroever under classical Christian theology we hold the Earth in stwardship from God. Should we despoil it we will be in the exact position of renters who trash property that really belongs to their landlord.
On the larger topic I have to say I agree with the posters who note how Christian conservatives, concerned legitimately with abortion, have slavishly turned into an Amen chorus for the Right in all things. For this reason I have abandoned reading First Things as I simply cannot stand the proliferation of hack articles functioning as apologiae for the Republican party, often without even a remote connection the magazine’s supposed theme, religion in the public square.
Anon Prof
June 2, 2010 5:54 PM
The stereotypes of fundamentalists and evangelicals in this thread is deeply disturbing. Amazingly enough James Watt is not the final authority on the evangelical approach to environmental ethics. For those interested in exploring the full range of evangelical responses to environmental ethics (the good, the bad, and the ugly), you might find the following helpful:
http://www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/environment/index.html
Lest you think these are fringe elements within evangelicalism, a founder of the modern religious right wrote the following:
http://www.amazon.com/Pollution-Death-Man-Francis-Schaeffer/dp/0891076867
While premillenial-dispensationalism is an influential strain within conservative protestantism, it is not logically entailed by adoption of the “fundamentals of the faith”. Indeed several authors of the fundamentals were ardently opposed to dispensationalism. My experience in Southern Baptist and Presbyterian congregations is that it is largely seen as a non-issue. I haven’t heard a sermon on the rapture since I was a kid in the 1980’s.
My reply to these posts:
Very well, Jon: I retract that remark about multiple Earths.
Let me say this, however: the idea that God can and could create all the oil mortals will ever need with a wave of his hand is still central to Fundamentalism; what difference is there between creating petroleum in the manner I described above and the miraculous feedings of the five thousand and the four thousand?
My reference to Genesis 2:28 stands or falls on its own.
And finally, pre-millenial and indeed pre-tribulational dispensationalism is the pole of Fundamentalist orthodoxy; all other doctrinal positions are seen as deviations from the pole and measured in terms of distance from the pole.
In reply to Anon Prof, I suspect that the people you are talking about do represent only a fringe position within conservative evangelical Christianity–a fringe position that orthodox Fundamentalists will jettison at the first opportunity.
As for the book you mentioned, how little of it did Francis Schaeffer actually write? (as opposed to his co-author Udo Middleman, or the “contributors” named White Lynn, Jr. and Richard Means)



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Jules

posted June 2, 2010 at 7:16 pm


As a wannabe Liberal evangelical, I’d say to Dr. Moore, welcome and let’s work together to stop corporate profiteers from polluting God’s creation!



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Michael Kelley

posted June 2, 2010 at 7:48 pm


Let me say this, however: the idea that God can and could create all the oil mortals will ever need with a wave of his hand is still central to Fundamentalism;”
Actually, it is central to theism. “Can” and “could” is not the same as “will”.
“what difference is there between creating petroleum in the manner I described above and the miraculous feedings of the five thousand and the four thousand?”
I don’t know of any conservative evangelicals who look for a repetition of the feed of the 5,000 as a meal planning strategy. Neither would we look to a miraculous replenishment of the oil supply as a viable resource management strategy. I’m sure there are some fringe people out there, but I would hardly call it mainstream thinking.
“My reference to Genesis 2:28 stands or falls on its own.”
Many would see that passage as demanding of wise stewardship, and prohibiting exploitation. You seem to be presuming a particular interpretation of it.
“And finally, pre-millenial and indeed pre-tribulational dispensationalism is the pole of Fundamentalist orthodoxy; all other doctrinal positions are seen as deviations from the pole and measured in terms of distance from the pole.
In reply to Anon Prof, I suspect that the people you are talking about do represent only a fringe position within conservative evangelical Christianity–a fringe position that orthodox Fundamentalists will jettison at the first opportunity.”
I’m not sure what an “orthodox Fundamentalist” is, but I assure you that conservative Evangelicalism is hardly monolithic, and evidently quite a bit more varied and nuanced than your presentation of it.
“As for the book you mentioned, how little of it did Francis Schaeffer actually write? (as opposed to his co-author Udo Middleman, or the “contributors” named White Lynn, Jr. and Richard Means)”
I don’t know that we have any way of knowing that, but are you in some way implying that he didn’t actually support the contents of the work?
Read more: http://blog.beliefnet.com/roddreher/2010/06/oil-spill-the-uneasy-evangelical-conscience_comments.html#ixzz0pk4cE9Py



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Jon

posted June 2, 2010 at 8:49 pm


Re: Let me say this, however: the idea that God can and could create all the oil mortals will ever need with a wave of his hand is still central to Fundamentalism
As someone else has also pointed out God could do that; he could even make a million Earths or open up to us a million alternate universes with no humans in them. But there’s absolutely nothing, nada, zip, nill in all the Christian (here, non-LDS) tradition that says he will do anything of the sort.
Revelation does promise “A new Heaven and a new Earth” but even you take that very literally, note the singular number.



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Cecelia

posted June 2, 2010 at 10:09 pm


hattio – I was afraid my comments were too pessimistic! I think the oil companies will change not because they have suddenly become concerned about the environment or the culture of the areas they drill in or the health of the people in those areas – I think they will be concerned about cost – both the economic cost and the “pr” cost. I bet the oil folks are really ticked off at BP now because they recognize this has changed things – and that there will be a lot more scrutiny about risk factors. Again – not because they will have become good citizens – but because they can’t afford to mess up. Consider that BP is probably finished as a brand in the US – no one else will want to risk that.
From the testimony thus far it seems that part of the problem has been a belief that even if things got dicey a real well blow out would not happen because of the safety systems so there had been a willingness to cut the corner. This has made it very clear that the safety systems do not guarantee safety – 11 men have died – an ecology is damaged for generations – the economic implications etc etc – that religious faith in their technology has been shaken. This will change the oil companies – in the same way the Valdez event changed Exxon. I don’t really see that a hopeful – in that the damage is so great I find it hard to feel hopeful – but perhaps it will make them be more diligent and prevent the next one.



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Hector

posted June 2, 2010 at 10:51 pm


Re: Let me say this, however: the idea that God can and could create all the oil mortals will ever need with a wave of his hand is still central to Fundamentalism;”
God has the power to do that, presumibly. He also has the power to rescue you when you fall from a ten story building. Still, it would be a dumb person indeed who jumps off buildings, or indulges in other risky behaviours, on the grounds that ‘God will take care of me.’ Indeed, when the devil tried to suggest that Jesus do that very thing, Jesus answered, “You shall not tempt the Lord thy God.”
It seems to be that behaving irresponsibly and then waiting on God to clean up the mess, is the very definition of tempting God.



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Hector

posted June 2, 2010 at 10:53 pm


Re: Revelation does promise “A new Heaven and a new Earth” but even you take that very literally, note the singular number.
It’s not going to happen till the end of the world, which may be millions or billions of years away, so I suspect the evangelicals are going to be waiting a very long time.



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Richard Bottoms

posted June 3, 2010 at 2:57 am


Congratulations on his conversion.
Oh, by the way, see we told you do.



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Franklin Jennings

posted June 3, 2010 at 6:49 am


“Let me say this, however: the idea that God can and could create all the oil mortals will ever need with a wave of his hand is still central to Fundamentalism…”
In case no one has responded to this particular claim by Douglas, let me do so as a catholic with, shall we say, less than an abiding interest in defending Fundamentalism…
You, sir, are an uneducated buffoon who knows not the first thing about what is central to Fundamentalism. if there is a topic you are knowledgable about, by all means, feel free to bloviate on that.
This one just makes you look like a maroon.



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Anon prof

posted June 3, 2010 at 10:06 am


Fundamentalism arose from the modernist/fundamentalist controversy within the Presbyterian church in the early 20th century. Eschatology (pre-millenial or otherwise) certainly was not the “pole of Fundamentalist orthodoxy”. For example, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (founded by Machen – a leader of the fundamentalist revolt at Princeton and founder of Westminster Seminary) tolerates pre-millenial eschatology, but declined to declare that it “is compatible with church standards”. Then here is a discussion board by folks in the PCA asking whether one can remain an elder and hold dispensationalist views: http://www.puritanboard.com/f46/eschatology-pca-17645/
John Piper, an extremely influential conservative baptist, says he is not a dispensationalist. R.C. Sproul write several books advocating preterism.
Al Mohler, the president of the largest Southern Baptist Seminary, calls the LaHaye books Gnosticism:
http://www.albertmohler.com/2006/05/25/the-danger-of-gnosticism-and-its-attraction/
And explicitly denounces dispensationalism in this interview:
http://www.albertmohler.com/2009/02/09/interview-with-hugh-hewitt-future-of-evangelicalism/
RC Sproul, Al Mohler, John Piper, Machen, the OPC and PCA denominations…indeed the fringe of conservative protestantism.
Regarding Schaefer, I’m not sure how much of the book he wrote, but I do know that he stood by the comments therein. The idea that conservative protestantism is incompatible with taking care of the envriornment is utter nonsense.



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Douglas_MacNeill

posted June 3, 2010 at 11:43 am


Franklin Jennings
June 3, 2010 6:49 AM
“Let me say this, however: the idea that God can and could create all the oil mortals will ever need with a wave of his hand is still central to Fundamentalism…”
In case no one has responded to this particular claim by Douglas, let me do so as a catholic with, shall we say, less than an abiding interest in defending Fundamentalism…
You, sir, are an uneducated buffoon who knows not the first thing about what is central to Fundamentalism. if there is a topic you are knowledgable about, by all means, feel free to bloviate on that.
This one just makes you look like a maroon.
Douglas replies:
I stand by that remark about God creating all the oil mortals will ever need with a wave of His hand. The people who say God does not do so or will not do so, however well that claim may correspond with the facts of the natural world, will have no answer to such questions as these from a committed conservative evangelical:
1)”Don’t your remarks suggest that God isn’t involved in His creation, or isn’t involved anymore?”
2)”Are you prepared to take away from God the prerogatives that make Him divine?”
3)”How do you explain the feeding of the five thousand, or do you even try to explain it?”
If I sound buffoonish, that is simply because I am trying to present the best conservative evangelical case–in the manner of Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, or George Barna–regarding the unBiblical world view associated with modern science and everything derived from modern science.
Michael Kelley, I am honestly glad to see that you are taking an interest in my posts and the arguments they present.
But allow me to answer your remarks, point by point:
1) Let me say this, however: the idea that God can and could create all the oil mortals will ever need with a wave of his hand is still central to Fundamentalism;”
Actually, it is central to theism. “Can” and “could” is not the same as “will”.
Douglas replies: Nothing in conservative evangelical doctrine justifies the distinction you draw between “can” and “could” on the one hand and “will” on the other hand.
2) “What difference is there between creating petroleum in the manner I described above and the miraculous feedings of the five thousand and the four thousand?”
I don’t know of any conservative evangelicals who look for a repetition of the feed of the 5,000 as a meal planning strategy. Neither would we look to a miraculous replenishment of the oil supply as a viable resource management strategy. I’m sure there are some fringe people out there, but I would hardly call it mainstream thinking.
Douglas replies: Whether it’s mainstream thinking or not is unimportant compared to whether or not it is sound conservative evangelical _doctrine_. Conservative evangelical doctrine treats both the feeding of the five thousand and the creation of all the petroleum mankind will ever need as the same phenomenon: a demonstration of God’s superiority over His creation and God’s power to answer prayer. I can cite the miracle story of Elisha and the widow’s oil from 2 Kings 4: 1-7 as another example of this same phenomenon. The prudence associated with living in this world in the manner you just described is a liberal and unbiblical idea, however much it may be justified by actual fact.
3) “My reference to Genesis 2:28 stands or falls on its own.”
Many would see that passage as demanding of wise stewardship, and prohibiting exploitation. You seem to be presuming a particular interpretation of it.
Douglas replies: The “particular interpretation” of Genesis 2:28 that I am presuming is nothing other than that interpretation that is directly derived from conservative evangelical _doctrine_. Conservative evangelical exegesis reads Genesis 2:28 as exactly what it appears to be: a command from God to mortals to “[b]e fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.”
4) “And finally, pre-millenial and indeed pre-tribulational dispensationalism is the pole of Fundamentalist orthodoxy; all other doctrinal positions are seen as deviations from the pole and measured in terms of distance from the pole.
In reply to Anon Prof, I suspect that the people you are talking about do represent only a fringe position within conservative evangelical Christianity–a fringe position that orthodox Fundamentalists will jettison at the first opportunity.”
I’m not sure what an “orthodox Fundamentalist” is, but I assure you that conservative Evangelicalism is hardly monolithic, and evidently quite a bit more varied and nuanced than your presentation of it.
Douglas replies: Fundamentalism is associated with both of the following: 1) a clear description of what constitutes orthodoxy in doctrine about the Bible and the attributes of God on the one hand, and 2) a recognizable population of practitioners whose beliefs are recognizably consistent with that orthodoxy on the other hand.
5) “As for [_Pollution and the Death of Man_], how little of [that book] did Francis Schaeffer actually write? (as opposed to his co-author Udo Middleman, or the “contributors” named White Lynn, Jr. and Richard Means)”
I don’t know that we have any way of knowing that, but are you in some way implying that he didn’t actually support the contents of the work?
Douglas replies: I can imply either that he didn’t support the contents of the work in the first place, or that he renounced the contents of that book when he truly began his career as a conservative evangelical writer.
Finally:
My remark about pre-tribulation rapture as the pole of conservative evangelical orthodoxy is a statement of observed social fact based on my experiences with the Religious Right in American politics–nothing more, nothing less.



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Michael Kelley

posted June 3, 2010 at 1:40 pm


“Whether it’s mainstream thinking or not is unimportant compared to whether or not it is sound conservative evangelical _doctrine_. Conservative evangelical doctrine treats both the feeding of the five thousand and the creation of all the petroleum mankind will ever need as the same phenomenon: a demonstration of God’s superiority over His creation and God’s power to answer prayer. I can cite the miracle story of Elisha and the widow’s oil from 2 Kings 4: 1-7 as another example of this same phenomenon. The prudence associated with living in this world in the manner you just described is a liberal and unbiblical idea, however much it may be justified by actual fact.”
I’m sorry, but as someone who has grown up as a conservative evangelical , your understanding of doctrine is entirely foreign to anyone but the most radical of the “name it and claim it” prosperity gospel types. Most evangelicals, particularly of the non-charismatic variety would say that the miracles of Christ and the prophets had a very specific purpose, which is to attest to the truthfulness and divine sanction of their message. No one would expect a repeat of the feeding of the 5,000 on a daily basis. This does not deny a continuing providential involvement of God in the world, nor does it deny the possibility of miraculous intervention. It does mean that we do not expect obvious supernatural involvement on a daily basis.
Honestly, it appears that your understanding of evangelicals comes from Bill Maher, or that you are determined to only consider the worst representatives of it, or that you are just trolling, or some combination of those three. The reality is that a number of evangelical Christians see caring stewardship (aka, “dominion”) of the planet as not only compatible with, but commanded by an adequate understanding of the Bible. If you think that is somehow necessarily contrary to evangelical doctrine, I’m afraid it is your understanding of it that is inadequate.



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Anon Prof

posted June 3, 2010 at 2:15 pm


Ironically, the folks who founded fundamentalism as a movement (Machen, Warfield, van Til, etc…) were mostly cessationists. They believed miracles occurred during very specific eras to validate the claims made by the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles. They denied that miracles occur today. This is not an uncommon view among fundamentalists (as opposed to pentecostal christians).



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Douglas_MacNeill

posted June 3, 2010 at 3:11 pm


In reply to Michael Kelley:
I’m sorry, but as someone who has grown up as a conservative evangelical , your understanding of doctrine is entirely foreign to anyone but the most radical of the “name it and claim it” prosperity gospel types. Most evangelicals, particularly of the non-charismatic variety would say that the miracles of Christ and the prophets had a very specific purpose, which is to attest to the truthfulness and divine sanction of their message. No one would expect a repeat of the feeding of the 5,000 on a daily basis. This does not deny a continuing providential involvement of God in the world, nor does it deny the possibility of miraculous intervention. It does mean that we do not expect obvious supernatural involvement on a daily basis.
Honestly, it appears that your understanding of evangelicals comes from Bill Maher, or that you are determined to only consider the worst representatives of it, or that you are just trolling, or some combination of those three. The reality is that a number of evangelical Christians see caring stewardship (aka, “dominion”) of the planet as not only compatible with, but commanded by an adequate understanding of the Bible. If you think that is somehow necessarily contrary to evangelical doctrine, I’m afraid it is your understanding of it that is inadequate.
Douglas replies: I am determined to consider the “worst” representatives of it (LaHaye, Falwell, Barna, etc.) because they represent conservative evangelicalism in its purest form. They have been and remain central figures in the Religious Right, or what may remain of the Religious Right in the US of A.
Those evangelical Christians who consider caring stewardship as an act compatible with an adequate understanding of the Bible are liberal evangelicals whose doctrinal positions come perilously close to those that _mainline Christians_ have championed for twenty years or more. In other words, these evangelicals sound much like the Christians In Name Only that conservative evangelicalism opposes.
Christians In Name Only, such as this member of the Anglican Church of Canada. Indeed, I am the same Douglas MacNeill who posts fairly regularly on the “Anglicans and Episcopalians” forum of Beliefnet.
Look for posts by me there.
Now, let me re-express my original point: Right now, I find it very hard to believe that anyone associated with the Religious Right in any way–including that theology professor from the Southern Baptist Convention–would dare to risk putting the movement’s position as the conservative voice in the streets of America’s cities and towns in such peril by daring to break ranks with his Fundamentalist and ultra-Fundamentalist brethren.
It was with that in mind that I predicted that Russell D. Moore would be kicked out of the S. B. C. in less than a year. In fact, I will go further and expect him to be relieved of his post and stripped of his authority to teach in time for the new academic year this September. The Dallas Theological Seminary and its graduates are said to be _that powerful_ among Southern Baptists.



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Douglas_MacNeill

posted June 3, 2010 at 3:18 pm


Anon Prof
June 3, 2010 2:15 PM
Ironically, the folks who founded fundamentalism as a movement (Machen, Warfield, van Til, etc…) were mostly cessationists. They believed miracles occurred during very specific eras to validate the claims made by the prophets, Jesus, and the apostles. They denied that miracles occur today. This is not an uncommon view among fundamentalists (as opposed to Pentecostal Christians).
Douglas replies: I’m glad you brought that up. In order to ensure that Pentecostals and other Charismatics remained faithful to the Religious Right during its days as a political movement, the Pentecostal belief that miracles still occur right here and right now had to be accepted by intellectual leaders of the Religious Right. Apparently, Fundamentalists couldn’t answer the questions about the relationship between contemporary miracles and Biblical miracles (such as the feeding of the five thousand, or the story of Elisha and the widow’s oil) any more convincingly than mainline Christians could. Mainline Christians, like this Anglican.



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Michael Kelley

posted June 3, 2010 at 4:18 pm


“It was with that in mind that I predicted that Russell D. Moore would be kicked out of the S. B. C. in less than a year. In fact, I will go further and expect him to be relieved of his post and stripped of his authority to teach in time for the new academic year this September. The Dallas Theological Seminary and its graduates are said to be _that powerful_ among Southern Baptists.”
It they were that powerful, Dr. Moore’s boss, Al Mohler, would have been removed a long time ago. His Calvinism is a constant irritant to many in the SBC. As would Rick Warren (also outspoken on environmental issues). Like I said, conservative evangelicalism, and the SBC are for more varied than you think. Dr. Moore’s article is provocative, but hardly controversial.
I’m sorry that you’ve had some bad experiences with the evangelicals that you have met, but you are painting with such a broad brush that you are well into dishonesty. I would encourage you to familiarize yourself with people such as Francis Schaeffer, Os Guinness, J.I. Packer, John Stott, John Piper, and Al Mohler and see if it changes your perspective at all.



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Michael Kelley

posted June 3, 2010 at 4:29 pm


You may also be interested in the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative (www.baptistcreationcare.org) among the statements:
“Statement 3
Christian Moral Convictions and Our Southern Baptist Doctrines Demand Our Environmental Stewardship.”
Among the signatories are hundreds of SBC pastors, seminary professors, seminary and university presidents, and the current president of the SBC. I think Dr. Moore will be ok.



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Anon prof

posted June 3, 2010 at 5:39 pm


You have evidence that there were fundamentalists who changed their doctrinal stance on miracles in order to advance the cause of the Christian Right? Really? Name names and document it.
What is an ultra-fundamentalist? Someone you *REALLY* disagree with? I’ve demonstrated that the OPC types that are the ultrafundies (insofar as the term has any meaning), do not hold to the theological beliefs you’ve imputed to them. I’ve demonstrated that your claim that “pre-mill dispensationalism is the pole of Fundamentalist orthodoxy” is false. I’ve also pointed to at least one founder of the religious right who put his name on a book advocating environmentalism (without ever being called on it by the Christian Right).
You now claim that “I am determined to consider the “worst” representatives of it (LaHaye, Falwell, Barna, etc.) because they represent conservative evangelicalism in its purest form.” Really? It sounds like you are determined to hate evangelicalism, so you want to find the most egregious excess within the movement to attack. Replace, LaHaye, Falwell, Barna, etc. with bin Laden, Qutb, and Khomeini and conservative evangelicalism with Islam. Perhaps this will make your bigotry clearer to you. Why hasn’t the “purest form” been that defined by George Marsden in his history of fundamentalism or Alistair McGrath in his introduction to Christian Theology?
The fact of the matter is that you are remarkably ignorant of Fundamentalism/Evangelicalism. Rather than being glad that a prominent and influential evangelical (and a number of other influential evangelical organizations) are advocating for an issue your support, you want to find a way to tear them down. Your paranoid delusions about the supposed power of DTS grads should give you pause.
Have you ever considered that your hateful rhetoric may play some role in keeping evangelicals from embracing environmental calls to action? I agree that most conservative protestant leaders are wary (if not downright antagonistic to) environmentalism. But let’s look at who signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative: The president of Wheaton College, The sr. editor and editor in chief of Christianity Today, the president of Mississippi College (an SBC school), and the pastor of the largest southern baptist congregation in the US (Warren). To suggest that opposition to environmental care is intrinsic to their theology, or a conspiracy coming out of DTS only provides aid to their critics.
Look, if you are happy in your Anglican tradition, good for you. There is perhaps no reason for you know about the minutiae of conservative protestantism. While it is fine to criticize individuals within the movement who make stupid comments, it is not OK to stand in judgement of an entire movement you know almost nothing about.
Captcha: pillows beliefs



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Jon

posted June 3, 2010 at 7:04 pm


Re: In order to ensure that Pentecostals and other Charismatics remained faithful to the Religious Right during its days as a political movement, the Pentecostal belief that miracles still occur right here and right now had to be accepted by intellectual leaders of the Religious Right.
Why was this necessary for what was a purely political alliance? The Evangelical Right has also made common cause with rightwing Catholics and no one needed to hash out the Papacy, Transubstantiation or the Immaculate Conception.



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Douglas_MacNeill

posted June 3, 2010 at 7:04 pm


Anon Prof:
You now claim that “I am determined to consider the “worst” representatives of it (LaHaye, Falwell, Barna, etc.) because they represent conservative evangelicalism in its purest form.” Really? It sounds like you are determined to hate evangelicalism, so you want to find the most egregious excess within the movement to attack. Replace, LaHaye, Falwell, Barna, etc. with bin Laden, Qutb, and Khomeini and conservative evangelicalism with Islam. Perhaps this will make your bigotry clearer to you. Why hasn’t the “purest form” been that defined by George Marsden in his history of fundamentalism or Alistair McGrath in his introduction to Christian Theology?
Look, if you are happy in your Anglican tradition, good for you. There is perhaps no reason for you know about the minutiae of conservative protestantism. While it is fine to criticize individuals within the movement who make stupid comments, it is not OK to stand in judgement of an entire movement you know almost nothing about.
Douglas replies:
I’m not the only one who says that LaHaye, Falwell, and others like them represent conservative evangelicalism in its purest form. Let me offer you some detailed quotations from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, a standard document within conservative evangelical Christianity.
PREFACE
The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian Church in this and every age. Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully obeying God’s written Word. To stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority.
A SHORT STATEMENT
1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.
2. Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.
3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.
5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.
Article VII
_We affirm_ that inspiration was the work in which God by His Spirit, through human writers, gave us His Word. The origin of Scripture is divine. The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.
_We deny_ that inspiration can be reduced to human insight, or to heightened states of consciousness of any kind.
ARTICLE IX
_We affirm_ that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write.
_We deny_ that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God’s Word.
ARTICLE XI
_We affirm_ that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.
_We deny_ that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.
ARTICLE XII
_We affirm_ that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from falsehood, fraud, or deceit.
_We deny_ that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood. [Remark: Genesis 2:28 is included within such teaching of Scripture as a matter of course.]
ARTICLE XIII
_We affirm_ the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.
_We deny_ that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.
ARTICLE XIX
_We affirm_ that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.
_We deny_ that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences, both to the individual and to the Church.
[All _We affirm_ and _We deny_ are emphasized in the original text.]



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Douglas_MacNeill

posted June 3, 2010 at 7:10 pm


Michael Kenney:
Your advice to me included these words: “I would encourage you to familiarize yourself with people such as Francis Schaeffer, Os Guinness, J.I. Packer, John Stott, John Piper, and Al Mohler and see if it changes your perspective at all.”
Douglas replies:
Let me offer you some detailed quotations from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, a standard document within conservative evangelical Christianity.
PREFACE
The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian Church in this and every age. Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully obeying God’s written Word. To stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority.
A SHORT STATEMENT
1. God, who is Himself Truth and speaks truth only, has inspired Holy Scripture in order thereby to reveal Himself to lost mankind through Jesus Christ as Creator and Lord, Redeemer and Judge. Holy Scripture is God’s witness to Himself.
2. Holy Scripture, being God’s own Word, written by men prepared and superintended by His Spirit, is of infallible divine authority in all matters upon which it touches: it is to be believed, as God’s instruction, in all that it affirms; obeyed, as God’s command, in all that it requires; embraced, as God’s pledge, in all that it promises.
3. The Holy Spirit, Scripture’s divine Author, both authenticates it to us by His inward witness and opens our minds to understand its meaning.
4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.
5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.
Article VII
_We affirm_ that inspiration was the work in which God by His Spirit, through human writers, gave us His Word. The origin of Scripture is divine. The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.
_We deny_ that inspiration can be reduced to human insight, or to heightened states of consciousness of any kind.
ARTICLE IX
_We affirm_ that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write.
_We deny_ that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God’s Word.
ARTICLE XI
_We affirm_ that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.
_We deny_ that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.
ARTICLE XII
_We affirm_ that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from falsehood, fraud, or deceit.
_We deny_ that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood. [Remark: Genesis 2:28 is included within such teaching of Scripture as a matter of course.]
ARTICLE XIII
_We affirm_ the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.
_We deny_ that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.
ARTICLE XIX
_We affirm_ that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.
_We deny_ that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences, both to the individual and to the Church.
[All _We affirm_ and _We deny_ are emphasized in the original text.]
By the way, Francis Schaeffer and R. C. Sproul are among the signers of the Chicago Statement.



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Siarlys Jenkins

posted June 3, 2010 at 7:15 pm


I no more agree with Moore’s view on abortion than he agrees with his feminist allies on the role of woman in the family, or with his Mormon allies on salvation or the nature of God or the afterlife. His commentary on the oil spill and environmental stewardship is most welcome, and the Christian foundation for it is both to be expected, given who he is, and, again, most welcome.
I firmly believe in freedom of religion, and that includes the freedom of Southern Baptists to teach, preach and practice what they believe to be true. The only problem in the past forty years or so is chaining a set of religious doctrines to a comprehensive political platform. When we all exercise our freedom, government policy reflects that on certain issues, Southern Baptists find common ground with Roman Catholics, while on other issues, they find common ground with Presbyterians, Methodists, and Unitarians, and on certain issues, they find common ground with Episcopalians against all the rest of the above. Add in the fact that on many issues, none of the above are unanimous within their own churches, and we have a functioning republic.
It is hard for me to understand how any Christian could deny that God told us in Genesis to “replenish” the earth as well as to “subdue” it. James Watt, while serving as Reagan’s Interior Secretary, did opine that we could drill for oil and cut down the forests because Jesus is coming back soon, so we might as well use it while we can. That a leading Southern Baptist has firmly rejected this utterly un-Biblical nonsense is cause for hope and respect.



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Michael Kelley

posted June 3, 2010 at 7:23 pm


I’m sorry, I’m completely at a loss as to what you are trying to communicate here. The Chicago Declaration is concerning the inerrancy of scripture, a doctrinal issue that at least partially defines what it is to be a conservative evangelical. Most all evangelicals would affirm most if not all of the Chicago Declaration, whether they are Reformed, Dispensational, Charismatic, Cessationist, Baptist, or Paedobaptist. In other words, it is entirely possible for two people to both agree with the Chicago Declaration, and still have significant differences in doctrine and practice in other matters. Which is what I’ve been trying to tell you: Evangelicalism is not monolithic. What defines an evangelical is scoped more or less to one’s view of scripture, and one’s doctrine of salvation (and there is even considerable difference here).



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Douglas_MacNeill

posted June 3, 2010 at 8:40 pm


Michael Kelley:
The Chicago Declaration on the Inerrancy of Scripture makes clear judgments on some very specific doctrinal points.
In Article XII, for example: “_We deny_ that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.
In other words:
1) The Chicago Statement affirms that creation occurred during six literal days, as stated in Genesis 1.
2) The Chicago Statement affirms that all geological features of planet Earth are explained by a worldwide Flood that occurred exactly as described in Genesis 6 through 8. The statement further affirms that no other explanation of Earth’s geological features, including but not limited to plate tectonics, provides the correct description of how the Earth achieved its current form.
Or, point 5 in “A Short Statement”:
4. Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God’s acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God’s saving grace in individual lives.
5. The authority of Scripture is inescapably impaired if this total divine inerrancy is in any way limited or disregarded, or made relative to a view of truth contrary to the Bible’s own; and such lapses bring serious loss to both the individual and the Church.
If that doesn’t convince you, let me also allude to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics, a companion piece to the Statement on Biblical Inerrancy:
Article XIII.
WE AFFIRM that awareness of the literary categories, formal and stylistic, of the various parts of Scripture is essential for proper exegesis, and hence we value genre criticism as one of the many disciplines of biblical study.
WE DENY that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual.
Norman Geisler’s commentary:
“The awareness of what kind of literature one is interpreting is essential to a correct understanding of the text. A correct genre judgment should be made to ensure correct understanding. A parable, for example, should not be treated like a chronicle, nor should poetry be interpreted as though it were a straightforward narrative. Each passage has its own genre, and the interpreter should be cognizant of the specific kind of literature it is as he attempts to interpret it. Without genre recognition an interpreter can be misled in his understand-ing of the passage. For example, when the prophet speaks of “trees clapping their hands” (Isa. 55:12) one could assume a kind of animism unless he recognized that this is poetry and not prose.
The Denial is directed at an illegitimate use of genre criticism by some who deny the truth of passages which are presented as factual. Some, for instance, take Adam to be a myth, whereas in Scripture he is presented as a real person. Others take Jonah to be an allegory when he is presented as a historical person and so referred to by Christ (Man. 12:40-42). This Denial is an appropriate and timely warning not to use genre criticism as a cloak for rejecting the truth of Scripture.”
In other words:
We affirm that Adam and Eve were historical persons, and that the Fall of Man is historical fact exactly as stated in Genesis 2-3.
We affirm that Jonah was a historical person who made a trip to Nineveh in accordance with God’s command, exactly as portrayed in the book of the prophet Jonah.
Article XIV.
WE AFFIRM that the biblical record of events, discourses and sayings, though presented in a variety of appropriate literary forms, corresponds to historical fact.
WE DENY that any such event, discourse or saying reported in Scripture was invented by the biblical writers or by the traditions they incorporated.
This article combines the emphases of Articles VI and XIII. While acknowledging the legitimacy of literary forms, this article insists that any record of events presented in Scripture must correspond to historical fact. That is, no reported event, discourse, or saying should be considered imaginary.
The Denial is even more clear than the Affirmation. It stresses that any discourse, saying, or event reported in Scripture must actually have occurred. This means that any hermeneutic or form of biblical criticism which claims that something was invented by the author must be rejected. This does not mean that a parable must be understood to represent historical facts, since a parable does not (by its very genre) purport to report an event or saying but simply to illustrate a point.
It stresses that any discourse, saying, or event reported in Scripture must actually have occurred.
Article XXII:
WE AFFIRM that Genesis 1-11 is factual, as is the rest of the book.
WE DENY that the teachings of Genesis 1-11 are mythical and that scientific hypotheses about earth history or the origin of humanity may be invoked to overthrow what Scripture teaches about creation.
(Capitals in original.)
Norman Geisler, lead author of the Statement, adds this commentary:
“Since the historicity and the scientific accuracy of the early chapters of the Bible have come under severe attack it is important to apply the “literal” hermeneutic espoused (Article XV) to this question. The result was a recognition of the factual nature of the account of the creation of the universe, all living things, the special creation of man, the Fall, and the Flood. These accounts are all factual, that is, they are about space-time events which actually happened as reported in the book of Genesis.” [Remark: Geisler directs the reader to Article XIV for more information; I have included that article above.]
My reading of those passages follows this maxim from conservative evangelical hermeneutics:
“When the plain sense makes common sense, seek no other sense.”



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Michael Kelley

posted June 3, 2010 at 8:53 pm


“If that doesn’t convince you”
Convince me of WHAT?
I continue to be confused as to what this has to do with whether or not a evangelical Christian can be concerned about the environment.
Look, it is obvious from multiple posters that you don’t actually understand the range of evangelical beliefs. When you are corrected by actual evangelicals, you attempt to tell us what we actually believe. This is not constructive. I wish you the best, but I think that there is no point in continuing this.



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Anon prof

posted June 3, 2010 at 10:15 pm


Douglas MacNeil,
Your claim was that the pre-milleneal dispensationalism is the pole by which fundamentalist orthodoxy is to judged. This is false and the Chicago statement contains nothing in it that supports your claim.
Nor have you shown that a literalist reading (one challenged by Meredith Kline of the fundamentalist bastion of Westminster seminary by the way) of Genesis 1-11 requires an anti-environmentalist outlook. Finally, your post does nothing to establish LaHaye (who Mohler calls a gnostic), Falwell, or Barna (a pollster of all things) as examples of the purest form of evangelicalism. In fact none of them were even signees of the Chicago Statement!
http://veritasseminary.com/edu/media/ICBI_1_typed.pdf
After cutting and pasting from the chicago statements on inerrancy and hermeneutics you claimed:
“The Chicago Statement affirms that creation occurred during six literal days, as stated in Genesis 1.”
However the statement says:
“The article left open the question of the age of the earth on which there is no unanimity among evangelicals and which was beyond the purview of this conference.”
Clearly you don’t know what you are talking about.
Captcha: Spearing the (fish in a barrel?)



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Michael Kelley

posted June 4, 2010 at 2:10 am


Glad you looked that up, Anon Prof! Douglas blatantly misrepresented the actual statement. I still don’t know what this has to do with creation care. I think the logic is something like:
1. Evangelicals believe that God created the world in 6 says, including oil.
2. Evangelicals believe that Jesus miraculously multiplied bread and fish to feed thousands.
3. Therefore, Evangelicals must believe that God will replenish the oil supply if believers pray for it.
4. Therefore, Evangelicals contradict their own beliefs if they believe that the environment should be stewarded wisely.
That’s about as much as I can make out. I’m on board with 2 at least…



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Michael Kelley

posted June 4, 2010 at 2:25 am


Gah…got sucked in again when I said I would drop it. Sorry, leaving it now.



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Jon

posted June 4, 2010 at 7:35 am


Re: 1. Evangelicals believe that God created the world in 6 says, including oil.
2. Evangelicals believe that Jesus miraculously multiplied bread and fish to feed thousands.
3. Therefore, Evangelicals must believe that God will replenish the oil supply if believers pray for it.
I don’t see how 3 follows at all from 2, and I have never heard anyone state this in seriousness. Best send that strawman back to Oz– Dorothy needs him for her trip to Emerald City.



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Anon prof

posted June 4, 2010 at 10:16 am


Jon,
Another poster was making that argument earlier in this thread.I assume he was serious, but perhaps I’ve been fooled by terrible parody? Lynn White made a more sophisticated version of this argument back in the 1960’s (published in Science as I recall). Namely christian theology was at the root of the current ecological crisis. Unfortunately, some evangelicals (James Watt is perhaps the best known) have made unfortunate claims along the lines laid out by Michael Kelly above.
The questions being discussed were basically:
1) Does fidelity to conservative evangelical/fundamentalist theology require an anti-environmental stance?
2) Can a conservative protestant advocate for environmental friendly policies and remain in good standing within his/her tradition?
Douglas believes that environmentalism is incompatible with conservative protestantism, Michael and I disagree.



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Michael Kelley

posted June 4, 2010 at 11:39 am


Jon, I entirely agree with you. I was attempting to figure out what the line of argumentation is that Douglas is trying to communicate, and that was my best attempt at tracking it.



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Oil painting gallery

posted July 7, 2010 at 3:13 am


Thank you for your excellent post,I learn more from that! If someone appreciate Chinese art painting ,you may come to this Oil painting gallery which has oil painting for sale and supplies you Fine art oil painting .



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