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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Christian or Neo-Pagan Worldview Regarding the Earth?

As we began our investigation of the Evangelical Climate Initiative, we noted that there are two main sections on their web site: The first is entitled “For Concerned Citizens”” and the other, longer article bears the name “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.” These documents were signed by “name brand” Christians or “Christian celebrities” including Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, and Jim Wallis. To these names we can add Leith Anderson (President of the National Association of Evangelicals), Robert Andriga (former-President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, Peter Borgdorff (former-Executive Director, Christian Reformed Church), Paul Corts (President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities), Andy Crouch, (Editorial Director, Christian Vision Project, Christianity Today), Timothy George (Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School), David Gushee (Mercer University), Jack Hayford, Roberta Hestenes, Dan Kimball, Gordon MacDonald, Richard Mouw (President, Fuller Theological Seminary), Ron Sider, and a whole gaggle of United Methodists.

That is to say, all of these signatories have engaged themselves “to offer a biblically based moral witness that can help shape public policy.” (Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action, 1.) Ironically, these are some of the same people who formed such vociferous opposition to the Religious Right trying to shape public policy. This Saul Alinsky-esque approach translates into this: it’s okay to help shape public policy if you’re on the Left and agree with us. These are also some of the same people who descried America’s position as “the most powerful nation on earth” when the issue was war, but when it’s such a noble cause as saving the environment and the planet in the process, it’s acceptable to refer to America’s greatness. The signatories expect the U.S. to “contribute to the well-being of the entire world.” (Ibid. Emphasis added.) Well, that’s going to be a tall order. In addition, we are told that we are in the public square, like it or not, and we will not withdraw.

The signatories admit that they had been lax in engaging in study, reflection and prayer regarding climate change, but now it has become a pressing issue or major priority (p. 2). Now let me get this straight: Christians are in the public square (apparently holding major entertainment sessions that claim to be the worship of God in a building, which qualifies as being in the “public arena”) and it took the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to convince them that they needed to be more involved. Those of us who are on the Religious Right might need to bone up on just who and what the IPCC is. As the line in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid went, “Who are those guys?” If we want more than a Wikipedia blurb, there are some books that will help us get a handle on this auspicious sounding organization. Once you dig a little, you discover that the IPCC and the now-defunct “hockey stick” graph fit together. What is the “hockey stick” graph? Well, it actually has little to do with Canada. If it did, it would probably be known as the “Tim Horton’s Doughnut” graph. This was a graph that ostensibly showed average global temperature over the past 1,000 years, “with a huge spike upward during the twentieth century, giving the graph a dramatic hockey stick-shaped appearance.”[1] The “stick” became synonymous with the manmade global warming “crisis” and was a featured item in “the 2001 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”[2] Oh, wow! The evangelical report seemed to omit that the IPCC was connected with our good friends at the United Nations.

Anyway, the hockey-stick was retired by a Canuck, Steve McIntyre, who got bored with the long, cold Toronto winters, which are due to global warming and Dick Cheney, actually spent $5,000 of his Canadian dollars (plus the obligatory Goods and Services Tax) “trying to validate the hockey stick graph.”[3] What McIntyre discovered was that the “mathematical technique used to generate the graph is prone to generate a hockey stick shape no matter what data are used. Thus, he showed that the hockey stick graph proved nothing.”[4] Well, you’d think that this would be a handy piece of information to have, but if you thought that the kinder, gentler environmentalists would appreciate being shown the truth, you’d be dreadfully wrong. Once McIntyre thawed out from all the hockey-stick global warming, he contacted Dr. Michael Mann of the University of Virginia. Originally, Mr. Iron-Fist-in-a-Velvet-Glove was receptive to his northern neighbor, but eventually dismissed McIntyre as a frivolous nonscientist. This is the environmentalists’ tack of: when in doubt cast aspersion and call names.

This will come as a surprise to you, I bet, but there were some who didn’t consider McIntyre’s works as “frivolous.” In fact, his calculations “resulted in congressional hearings, the discrediting of the hockey stick graph, and the graph’s omission from the most recent IPCC report on climate change.”[5] But that is probably just an oversight among the Evangelical Left devotees. Why, heck, (remember: I don’t swear), we might even call McIntyre’s findings an Inconvenient Truth.

But there are a couple of essential connections I want you to see. This is not the end of the story and it involves more than just some fuzzy math. There are far deeper connections that need to be made. The effects of McIntyre’s findings have more far-reaching effects, apart from the fact that the media all but ignored the man’s findings. There are political and economic implications and ramifications that also need to be brought to the forefront, not to mention some biblical truth. Because there is such scant citing of a few biblical texts in Climate Change, more direct and pertinent biblical truth needs to be brought to bear on this before evangelicals go out and assume that just because the U.N. says it, it must be true.

There are some huge monetary exchanges going on between U.S. tax dollars and “aid” to Africa, for example. Roy Spencer writes, “When you see pictures of emaciated children in a dry desert location in Africa, you can bet it is not because of a lack of food. It is because of governmental policies or deliberate acts of warfare that have prevented food from reaching the people. In today’s world, famines are almost never the result of a lack of food.”[6] Spencer goes on to suggest that the real solution “is to remove the political and economic barriers that prevent food from reaching these people in the first place.”[7] The U.N., however, would be loathe to do that, which leaves the Christian community with the following dilemma: “Even though Americans send billions of dollars in aid to Africa, much of that money is siphoned off by corrupt governments to help them remain in power.”[8] I’m certain that law of “unintended consequences” kicks in here, but the Evangelical Left would do well not to throw more money at Africa, but to spend that money dismantling the U.N. in order to do some real good.[9]

The IPCC is tied in with a number of “protocols” from previous years, including the Montreal Protocol as well as Kyoto. There certainly is no unanimity that the IPCC is “the world’s most authoritative body of scientists and policy experts on the issue of global warming.” (CC, 2.) Roy Spencer opines, “I suspect I really do know the reason why the U.N. is not interested in solutions to humanity’s problems. If the people of the world are empowered to solve their own problems, the U.N. bureaucrats will no longer have a job. It is as simple as that.”[10] The Kyoto Protocol, which is the nickname of the policy actually known as “the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” has not been ratified by the United States. In fact, it was defeated 95-0 during the Clinton years.

Some people are still cheesed (otherwise known as “The Angry Mob with Swastikas Syndrome) that Kyoto got so badly thumped by both Democrats and Republicans, especially in light of the assertion that it is supported by over 2,000 climate scientists that all agree that global warming is a serious problem. Why would reasonable people reject the advice of over 2,000 climate experts? Milloy states, “…it’s no wonder the greens resort to procedural hijinks like touting an imaginary United Nations consensus on global warming endorsed by 2,000 scientists, while ignoring a petition signed by more that 31,000 scientists rejecting global warming alarmism.”[11] Roy Spencer weighs in on the claim made by the 2,000 scientists by explaining to us that all the “Dr. Experts” listed among the 2,000 are not scientists at all. He writes, “In truth, most of those 2,000 ‘scientists’ are actually bureaucrats and governmental representatives; very few of them are climate scientists.”[12]

To someone trying to do his or her best to be eco-friendly, this should come as a shock, even to the Evangelical Left. Someone is cooking the books as far as the numbers go notwithstanding the fact that the signatories of CC are convinced that the IPCC is the world’s most authoritative body of scientists and policy experts on the issue of global warming (CC, 2.) If Spencer is correct then the IPCC is weighted more on the side of policy experts (otherwise known as the Dr. Pinhead Expert Syndrome) rather than on bona fide scientists, even if Sir John Houghton, a devout evangelical Christian is involved. Any Christian accepting something on face value simply because someone is touted to be an evangelical Christian might get fooled in the process. Brian McLaren is considered to be an evangelical. Dan Kimball, who authored a book entitled The Heretic’s Guide to the Trinity, is considered to be an evangelical. Jim Wallis ostensibly falls within the evangelical camp, as do the proponents of Open Theism. In other words, the word evangelical has become so elastic and inclusive that it means little or nothing anymore.

As far as the sacred 2,000 are concerned, they might have bowed the knee to the god of Big Government Grants, otherwise known as the Follow the Government Money Syndrome. Spencer adds regarding the assertion that the 2,000 scientists and scientist-wannabes that they never actually signed on the dotted line; they never really subscribed to the global warming statements of IPCC. He writes, “And no one actually polled any of the scientists to ask them to agree to any such statement on global warming. Instead, a handful of politically savvy scientist-bureaucrats use the IPCC as a scientific cover to promote policies for which the science just happens to be a latest justification.”[13] This statement precedes another when Spencer concedes that the IPCC report is pretty thorough and even-handed. Why the criticism then? Well, it sounds very much like what our legislators are doing now with the universal health care bill. Spencer believes that no “policymaker has read it all the way though [sic].”[14] Instead, the IPCC has a talking points memo entitled “Summary for Policymakers,” which is a tenured professor’s “Global Warming for Idiots.” The summary makes Al Gore and Michael Moore giddy and sends a tingle up their legs. In Michael’s case, it takes a while for the tingle to travel to his happy place.

Summaries are summaries, but this one is especially tendentious. “Any uncertainties associated with predicting climate change are either downplayed or ignored. Potential natural sources of climate variability are treated only superficially, and the bulk of the report deals with a variety of estimates of what will happen to the climate system for various assumed future scenarios of manmade greenhouse gas emissions.”[15] Recall that in the section “For Concerned Citizens” the signatories of CC called for an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This is more than aggressive. A more appropriate word might be “unreasonable” or worse. Once Kyoto went into effect in 2005, it was abundantly clear that those who signed on to it would not meet their emissions reduction targets by a long shot. “The negative impacts on business are being increasingly felt, power outages are starting to occur in Europe, and the bureaucrats are learning a lesson in basic economics the hard way.”[16] Apparently, these hard economic lessons are being lost on the New Evangelical Left. By the way, “even if these countries do meet their emissions reduction targets, it has long been understood by everyone that the resulting effect on global temperatures would likely be unmeasurable.”[17]

Next time we’ll compare the “Claims” in CC with reality.

[1] Steve Milloy, Green Hell, (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2009), p. 221. Please note: one person on my blog, who has a foul mouth, has accused me of hypocrisy because I cite the work “Green Hell.” Of course, it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Citing a title and having a foul mouth as a Christian are synonymous. Therefore, any further reference to the book will contain the words Green Heck.

[2] Ibid., 222. No swearing now! Emphasis added.

[3] Ibid. I mean it! No swearing!

[4] Ibid. Emphasis added. I’m not kidding! Don’t do it!

[5] Ibid.

[6] Roy Spencer, Climate Confusion, (NY: Encounter Books, 2008), p. 148.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] See Eric Shawn, The U.N. Exposed. How the United Nations Sabotages America’s Security and Fails the World, (NY: Sentinel, 2006).

[10] Spencer, Confusion, 148-149.

[11] Milloy, Green Heck, 5-6. See

[12] Spencer, Confusion, 149. Emphasis added.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid., 150. Emphasis added.

[16] Ibid., 151.

[17] Ibid. Emphasis added.

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Blogger donsands said...

"We need to discover what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, that the church shouldn't be the servant of the state, and it shouldn't try to be the master of the state either. But it should be the conscience of the state...and I would add, its imagination, to have a vision of what is possible with God's help.

But it's not just the state: it's also political and economic ideology that can domesticate our faith. I think it's tragic when our churches become uncritical in their accommodation to say left-wing politics or socialist economic assumptions. And the same is true when we accommodate to right-wing politics and economic assumptions. I believe the gospel calls us to higher ground, to a higher set of values and perspectives. It calls us not to be conformed to this world's systems, but to be transformed by the good news." -Brian McLaren Nov. 2007

McLaren is way out in left field, he's way beyond the foul line, and even up against the bullpen fence. Is he any less left-liberal than Obama? He may say he is pro-life, but he sure doesn't show it.

He endorses Obama as president, says he is a Christian, and I believe he really belives it, because he has no idea what the Holy Scriptures teach.

He is the same with global war... whoops, Climate Control is all about.

I don't want to have a right-wing mind-set, and i don't think I do, but I for the life of me don't understand how people can eat all this Al Gore stuff up.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Wow Ron. I'm glad that your economic policy trumps taking care of God's creation. Good GDP should always be at least as significant to us as our mandate to care for the creation.

Honestly, I'm glad that you've shown your true colors by taking on some of the most respected reformed voices in America other than the far-right/pre=Barth types such as yourself. Do you put a star or your crown too, or do you leave that up to your followers?

Poor poor poor scholasticism from a supposed reformed voice.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Jhonsun said...

Anna, which of the voices on this list are Reformed again? I looked at at it but didn't see any. Do you define "reformed" as post-Barthian neo-orthodoxy or as evangelical semi-pelagianism rather than as the doctrines of the Protestant Reformation whose stalwarts include Luther, Calvin, & Spurgeon, and whose standards include the Heidelberg & Belgic Confessions, Westminster Standards, etc.? I guess if you do that would explain a lot.

Is Ron placing economics which is politics and more importantly - freedom (not GDP) over Creation? I suppose you might be able to make that argument if you could show why any credibility should be imputed to inadequate computer climate models which have not been scrutinized nearly enough and explain why there isn't even remotely the kind of consensus among scientists and other experts on this issue of anthropogenic global warming that Al Gore declared there was (even at the time he declared it). Never mind the horrible track record the "experts" have had in predicting this sort of thing in the past (the 1970's spring to mind).

Also worth noting is how the governmental agencies and regulations supposedly in charge of "protecting creation" actually legislate and direct where pollution CAN be dumped! What do you want to bet that these decisions are not influenced by some especially astute insight as to what lakes and populations can be infected by pollution and in what amounts ((as opposed to which ones can't) by supremely wise men but rather by political expediency & to the benefit of politically favored constituencies who in many cases write the so-called conservation bills themselves(!) at the expense of the poor and less politically connected? Why would you trust any government that does this with even more power? Until you can go indepth and satisfy those questions, I would say that you don't get to accuse any one of putting God's creation on a lower priority just because they don't roll over and swallow everything their wise overlords in government tell them.

If you're concerned about God's creation, I would expect you to look into how these policies are actually devised and executed to see how much it actually has to do with saving the planet before you go judging someone because they haven't accepted the politically-approved Cliff's notes version of a climate bill. Or possibly even consider that promoting property rights is closer to a real solution to the environment since people don't tend to "you-know-what" where they also eat.

I forget, in a neo-orthodox interpretation of Scripture, is it even okay to judge someone (in any sense of the word) or not? I suppose the answer depends on who you're talking to.

3:10 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

My economic policy does not, in any way, trump the Creation Mandates or the requirement to be good stewards of God's creation. In fact, my economic policies establish those mandates.
As far as the anonymous reformers to which you refer, I would be very interested in getting some of their names. Very interested.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

One more thing. No anonymous Internet bravado types are allowed on here. If you publish a profile, then you are more than welcome to come, participate, and let us know your point of view. If not, then I will remove your posts.
I think I've figured out that you are really Nancy Pelosi or Loretta Sanchez.

9:29 AM  
Blogger randy buist said...

You sure are rude to someone new to your blog. Do you treat new people at your church the same way?

Is it only the attribute of God to be kind, or is it also for his followers?

10:01 PM  
Blogger Jhonsun said...

You gotta be kidding me Randy. If you've got such a finely tuned "rudeness detector", how come you couldn't detect it in Anna's comments? Maybe it's because she sounds just like you.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Jhonsun said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Jhonsun said...

*removed post was a duplicate.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Yes, as a matter of course we at Grace tend to be very "seeker hostile." Visitors are given cold metal folding chairs kept in the meat locker just in case--it's a rarity--that we do have a visitor.
If they stay for coffee after the service and ask nasty questions about why we're Presbyterian or why we baptize infants, we have 7 Christian hit men who take them outside and water board them, reminding them that if they ask questions again cousin Vinny will visit them and they'll loose their kneecaps.
But I have trouble finding such an approach rude. Do you?

2:59 PM  
Blogger randy buist said...

Richard Mouw is a significant reformed voice whose life has been a testament to faithfully following Yahweh.

If you are reformed, it is o.k. to shape public policy regardless of your political persuasion. IF we believe all the world belongs to God, there isn't a sphere of life where we shouldn't be engaging.

at least from a Kuiperian & Calvin perspective.

9:37 PM  

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