By Richard Cizik
Published in the Washington Post's On Faith blog
Pastor Mark Driscoll, who ministers in Seattle, told a Catalyst gathering a few days ago that “I know who made the environment and he’s coming back and going to burn it all up. So yes, I drive an SUV.”
No joke. That’s what he said. Actually, Driscoll says it was all just a joke.
A lot of people didn’t get the humor. Maybe it was because last week scientists declared that CO2 levels had reached 400 parts per million (ppm), and 350.org released their film, “Do the Math” on the crisis of climate change.
Reputable scientists in this impressive film say “civilization is in jeopardy.” [Disclaimer: I am in the film saying oil companies should be held liable.]
Researchers at Columbia University, in a study published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change, estimate deaths linked to warming climate may rise by some 20 percent by the 2020s, 90 percent or more 70 years hence.
By the Rev. Richard Cizik
Who hasn’t heard the charge that “God is going to burn it all down, so let’s all drive an SUV”? If you haven’t heard it, you’re not paying attention.
Indeed, a statement along those lines is attributed just a few days ago to Evangelical pastor Mark Driscoll. My suspicion that this off-the-cuff comment was more a joke or political commentary than it was a statement of biblical interpretation. At least I hope so, since the latter would be a more serious problem.
It reminds me of the story often told about Martin Luther: When asked, “If Jesus were to return today, what would you do differently?,” the finest theologian of his day and founder of the Protestant Reformation responded, “I’d finish planting this tree.” In other words, he regarded the care of creation and effort to continue striving to bring the world closer to the Kingdom to be our biblical duty and best way to prepare for Christ’s return.
For the past two years, NEP co-founder David Gushee has been serving on a high-level panel on detainee treatment, a project of the Constitution Project. Here are his candid remarks about his service in this important endeavor:
NEP Congratulates Melissa Rogers on her appointment to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships! Melissa resigns from NEP's advisory board to take on her new responsibilities. From the Wake Forest press release announcing her new position:
Melissa Rogers, who teaches in Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity, has been asked to lead the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
New Evangelical Partnership Releases "A Call to Christian Common Ground on Family Planning, and Maternal, and Children’s Health"
Worldwide, about 125 million women face social, emotional, and spiritual trauma – and for some, the life-threatening risk – of not having access to family planning. As a result, one in four births worldwide is unplanned, leading to 42 million abortions each year (half of them clandestine) and 68,000 women’s deaths.
Death in childbirth takes one woman’s life per minute per year and ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in poor countries. Many more women survive but have their health permanently ruined by repeated childbearing.
Here in the United States, lack of access to affordable health insurance results in an estimated four in ten poor women of reproductive age without family planning services. Although public funding by itself cannot meet the total need, it can make a real difference in the lives of women and families. Researchers have estimated that publicly-funded family planning helped to prevent 973,000 unintended pregnancies .
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 18, 2012
Leading Evangelicals Discuss How Conservative Christians Can Also Be Liberals
ST. LOUIS, MO - Being theologically conservative doesn’t also mean being politically conservative. A significant, emerging segment of these right-wing Christians/left-wing voters believe being faithful to Christ doesn’t mean complete agreement with the Christian right’s agenda on a wide variety of American political issues.
A New Evangelical Manifesto: A Kingdom Vision for the Common Good, the first book from the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, features the writing of Christians who resemble Republicans theologically and Democrats politically. This fascinating, important demographic represents a highly prized audience both major political parties will spend millions of dollars courting this year.
Too often the words “Muslim” and “terrorist” are interchangeable in the public mind. The caustic effect of the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath of two wars in Muslim countries has left many wondering: can Muslims ever embrace democracy? Will Muslims ever be truly American?
The New Evangelical Partnership announces a new program opportunity for your church or university. "Inheritance: Wounds in the hearts, minds, and landscape of the Holy Land" is a traveling photo exhibit that provides the perfect opportunity for a discussion of conflict, peace, and justice. NEP Executive Director Steven D. Martin brings photographs and stories about his time in Israeli and Palestinian cities and will bring a message of how deep wounds, not religious differences, create the context for the challenges of this part of the Middle East.
Christians by definition are those who bear witness to our faith in Jesus Christ, including his identity, his teachings, and his mission in the world. We bear witness in many ways. One way is to offer proclamation and action concerning the moral will of God for human communities.
The Bible teaches that every human being is precious in God’s sight (Ps. 8). All are the beloved objects of God’s creating, sustaining, and redeeming grace. What happens to human beings matters immensely to a God who “so loved the world that he sent his only Son” (Jn. 3:16) to redeem it. Christians are called to embody and articulate God’s love for the world in all that we do. This is the heart of Christian evangelistic and moral witness, and is critical for our calling to proclaim the Gospel to all the world.
Much Christian moral witness takes place quietly in families, local congregations, and local communities, as Christians simply go about their daily lives and seek to live as faithful followers of Christ. This is the responsibility of all Christians.
But some Christian moral witness occurs at national and international levels, where many significant challenges to human well-being are often created and addressed. Christians have no choice but to engage religious, economic, cultural, and political institutions with our best efforts to articulate and embody the love and justice of Jesus Christ for the well-being of God’s world. These arenas will be the focus of the New Evangelical Partnership.
This is what we see, and what we want to see:
- We see Jesus Christ, our Lord and the world’s Savior, whom we love—he is the center of our lives.
- We want to see more Americans choose to believe in Jesus and live as his disciples.
- We see that the evangelistic and discipling work of American Christianity has been badly damaged by a generation of culture war-fighting—“some doubt” Jesus—because of Christians.
- We see the allegiance of America as a whole to Christian faith slipping a little bit more each year, partly as a consequence.
- We want to see a renewed Christian public witness in America for the sake of the Gospel.
- We want to see an engagement of Christians in American public life that is loving, rather than angry; holistic rather than narrowly focused; healing rather than divisive; and independent of partisanship and ideology rather than subservient to party or ideology.
- We see in many sectors a Christian public engagement that calls itself Christian while often damaging the work of Christ and violating the teachings of Christ.
- We see other excellent examples of Christian public engagement that need to be celebrated and encouraged.
- We want to see a Christian public witness that reflects the actual life, ministry, and teachings of the Jesus Christ we meet in Scripture and experience in the church at its best.
- We want to see the incarnation of the teachings and example of Christ, not just the articulating of those teachings in word alone.