Remember Psalm 24? Verse 1: The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein. Verse 2: The godly who dwell therein should embrace a global-warming pollution tax and a cap-and-trade approach designed to reduce CO2 emissions by over 50 percent. Verse 3: The Panama Canal is America's, for America founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.
I've made up verses two and three to suggest that both the left and the right have problems when they argue that all evangelicals should support the specific policy prescriptions that their leaders think are best.
I became a Christian 31 years ago despite being turned off by one evangelical organization that labeled as sub-Christian a Senate vote to turn the Panama Canal over to Panama. Whether or not the plan was imprudent, hopping from a general beware-of-tyrants principle to a highly specific policy proposal is a large leap indeed.
It's also a large leap to go from the general principle of stewardship to specificity about particular emission controls. Pastors, called to preach and teach what the Bible proclaims, rarely have the expertise to announce with authority which solutions to particular environmental problems are best.
I mention all this because leaders of the mellifluously named Evangelical Climate Initiative are now looking for evangelical leaders to sign a new statement calling for mandatory, federally imposed targets and timetables aimed at bringing about specific reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. The draft document, leaked to WORLD, includes policy wonk jargon that potential endorsers have probably never encountered, let alone understood, well enough to evaluate and compare with alternatives.
Isn't it time to agree not to underuse or overuse the Bible to fit particular policy agendas? Often the Bible is clear: It's fine, combining "you shall not murder" and "you knitted me together in my mother's womb," to preach against abortion-but even then pastors should not be proclaiming which set of pro-life tactics will be the most effective. It's not fine to combine Psalm 24 and . . . nothing, so as to demand that all Christians support specific environmental or foreign policy proposals.