I was not able to attend or listen to the discussion at Synod 2012 about creation care. It’s only fitting that the physically largest report to Synod engendered one of the longest, and warm, if not most heated, discussion. (Talk about global warming!)
Though largely respectful, I’m told, the debate and vote were not without their oddities. All the advisory committee recommendations were adopted. How many, if any, were done so unanimously, I do not know. Four registered negative votes on three recommendations (Acts of Synod 2012, pages 803-804) indicate that at least three decisions drew disapproval. That’s fine.
What I found most puzzling, though, were that the first three negative votes registered came against these two recommendations:
“a. It is the current near-consensus of the international scientific community that climate change is occurring and is very likely due to human activity.
b. Human-induced climate change is an ethical, social justice, and religious issue.”
I can understand, even though I thoroughly disagree, why recommendation “b” might be disputed. Not everyone understands the Reformed accent of the Christian faith to embrace all things as ethical, social justice and religious issues—even though that’s precisely what I thought Abraham Kuyper meant when he thundered about “every square inch” being under the Lordship of Christ. I get this disagreement, because not everybody agrees that climate change is human-induced.
But I just plain don’t get why anyone could possibly vote against recommendation "a.” That is not a matter of personal opinion that should be voted on. It is, if anything, merely a carefully, even weakly, stated declaration of a fact: Whether or not anyone agrees or disagrees that climate change is human-induced, the international scientific community certainly does. That’s all recommendation "a” says.
Why would anyone dispute that when papers, conferences and speeches have again and again shown that to be true? Is it just that we want to believe what we want to believe, regardless of fact, argument, evidence, demonstration? (See David Schelhaas's article in May 2012 Perspectives for similar thoughts.) If that’s the case—because I can’t imagine anything else--that’s highlights a significant problem of community, communication and trust, demonstrated by known leaders in the CRC and probably by not a few of their congregants and colleagues. All I can think to say about that is “YIKES.” And pray for reasonableness and something other than mulishness.
So, you may have guessed by now that I am pleased with Synod’s decision on creation care report, despite unreasoned stubbornness among some colleagues in the debate. The decisions are careful, deliberate, modest and potentially effective. I argued that at the end of a moderately critical blog I posted on The Network a few days before Synod began. But, because I am a little dubious about our collective will to work seriously on our decisions, let me end this first of two creation care blogs by quoting a blog I posted a few days before Synod:
“Will we look seriously and deeply into changing lifestyles? If we do . . . and even succeed . . . what about the nearly 9 billion people who aren’t part of the CRC? Will what we do matter? Or will we do some right things regardless, just because we believe and want to live like our word does belong to God?”