Overtures 5 and 7 (Anthropogenic Global Warming)

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The supportive material for Overture 7 (at www.crcna.org/resources/synod-resources) provides a superb summary of the reasons why four leaders of the CRCNA should not have committed the denomination to the AGW activist political movement. Synod should support both Overtures and appoint a Study Committee to determine if the CRCNA should take a position on this issue and, if so, what that position should be.

As an extremely brief introduction, I suggest that delegates consider the following six points:

  1. From the perspective of science, please consider the fact that all the IPCC Global Climate models ignore solar variation and its effects (water vapor content of the atmosphere, cloud formation, etc.); yet solar variation, not Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), can account for the current global warming on Mars where, to the best of our knowledge, there are no large-carbon-foortprint Gore mansions.
  2. From the perspective of science, please ponder the Maunder (a time from 1650 to 1710 when sunspot activity reached a nadir and global cooling was present, used as an example to point out several of the inconsistencies of “An Inconvenient Truth” by High School student Kristen Byrnes — her essay contributed significantly to the British High Court ruling that Al Gore’s movie contained alarmist errors and could not be shown to British schoolchildren absent the presentation of a competing viewpoint.
  3. From the socio-political perspective, please note that there is a strong profit motivation behind AGW theories and that, even if we should bankrupt the United States paying carbon tributes, there would be little positive result because China would still continue to pump huge quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
  4. From the socio-political perspective, be aware that “politically correct” is probably the best antonym to “logically correct”, “scientifically correct”, “legally correct” and “just plain correct.”
  5. From the theological perspective, please remember that our world belongs to God, not to the United Nations or the Nobel Prize Committee.
  6. From the theological perspective, please recall that our denomination belongs to its churches and their members, not to Dr. Bergdorff, Dr. Byker, Rev. DeMoor and Mr. Ryskamp. and then study the wealth of information at the referenced location.
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Well said, Peter. A little sarcastic, but well said. I find it interesting that alarms are sounded throughout the world and the Church based on (Nobel Prize-winning) "science" brought under serious criticism by the scholarship of a high-school student.

What does this say about the direction of our denomination in the areas of "social" and "envirionmental justice"? I'm interested to see how far Synod – or just certain committees – believes it can bind the consciences and actions of individual believers on these issues.

One slight - well, not so slight - quibble on your 6th point, Peter. The Church belongs to Jesus. What we teach and espouse is no more bound by a majority vote of the membership than it is by the opinion of recognized experts. We are bound by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The fundamental problem with this entire global warming nonsense is that it is a response to political pressure and is intended to provide a political response. Your own assertion that we should check with "the people" (i.e., members) buys into that politicization of the Church.

In any event, the whole exercise is unnecessary. We already have a statement on creation care - article 51 of the Contemporary Testimony:

[quote]We lament that our abuse of creation has brought lasting damage to the world we have been given: polluting streams and soil, poisoning the air, altering the climate, and damaging the earth. We commit ourselves to honor all God’s creatures and to protect them from abuse and extinction, for our world belongs to God.[/quote]

What if, just maybe, we really are doing damage to God's creation due to our irresponsible use and misuse of the world God gave us responsibility for? If that is true, which is clearly a possibility, regardless of politics, shouldn't we take responsibility and do something. I'm not advocating making this a top priority or spending endless resources to change the trend. However, maybe there are modest and reasonable things we can do to be good stewards of creation. To dismiss it out of hand as a politically driven agenda is irresponsible and poor stewardship.

What if...

Well, what constitutes "misuse" or "irresponsible use"? That's not exactly clear.

If we accept that we are damaging the environment, then we have to ask what will undamage it, at what cost, and what other benefits or advantages will we have to surrender in order to pay those costs (such as cheap food, liberty, easy communications, economic prosperity, etc.). And how much do we do before we figure it's good enough in an imperfect world? Is any task force that might be established by the Board of Trustees or Synod really competent to answer those incredibly complex, even painul questions? I doubt it.

We've already said that we must be good stewards, not ravagers, of God's creation, mindful that it is His, not ours. There's the basic principle. What is more, that principle is largely accepted throughout the Western world, even by some who do not believe there is a God or that he created anything. There is little need to re-iterate the principle.

By pursuing this, particularly the Micah Statement on Climate Change, the denomination is in fact lending its imprimatur to a specific course of political action that is not based on Scripture (supposedly our area of competence) but on a rather hazy understanding of economics, environmental science, climatology, politics, development theory, and a host of other things that seem to be gleaned more from CNN than anywhere else. In the process, we risk saying that those who disagree with this course of action must, by definition, disagree with the basic principle - and that is not at all true.

Forgive me, but I really think that the Church should refrain from saying things that aren't true.

"One slight ..." quibble is with something I did not say. The Church belongs to Christ - our denomination (which is what I referenced) is a part of the Church, and from that perspective, is controlled by a presbyterian form of government (by its members). We do not have a pope or a supreme leader or a prophet who gets instructions directly from God and dictates them to the rest of us. Rather, we deliberate, to the best of our collective ability and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to determine what God has revealed in His Word and in His creation. Nowhere in my post did I use the words "the people."

I totally agree that this is a political issue, and my first suggested task for a Study Committee was to determine whether or not the denomination should take a stand on this issue.

What if ...

I suggested a Study Committee and encouraged delegates to explore the wealth of information regarding AGW provided by the author of Overture 7. That is not "dismissing the issue out of hand."

If the denomination is a subset of the Church universal, and the Church universal belongs to Christ, then it follows that our denomination also belongs to Christ.

True, in terms of secular law, these institutions are owned by the members, but I didn't get the impression that you were speaking in terms of secular law.

I have no difficulty with the presbyterian/conciliar form of church government. This is, however, not a method or system of "control" but a system of determining the will of the Holy Spirit and based on the belief that all believers receive the gift of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit controls.

I know you suggest this in your posts, but you also leave open an alternative understanding. My intent is to close off that alternative. Perhaps I'm a bit hyper-sensitive to it, but there is abroad in the denomination a view of ecclesiastical assemblies as parallel to secular legislatures and factional politics that talk of "owners" and "control" feeds into.

Which is why I called it a "quibble" - a minor point, more along the lines of "I would put it this way..." than "I think you're wrong..."

It was in anticipation of the possibility of a comment such as yours that I deliberately used "denomination" rather than "church." Apparently I was not successful in my intent. Please rest assured that my only purpose was to support the point of both overtures that the collective wisdom of many, delberating in the presence of the Spirit, not the personal opinions of four individuals who hold positions of leadership, should represent the viewpoint of the denomination with respect to this, or other, issues.

As to AGW itself, we may well be in the same camp. Scientifically, I think the jury is still out. We simply do not have so complete an understanding of all the variables that we can commit to a totally defined agenda. To the extent of the knowledge we do have, we certainly have the obligation to be good stewards of God's Creation. Fifty years ago, when I changed the oil in my car, I (like everybody else) just dumped the used oil. I know better now and pay a small surcharge to have it discarded in a way that does less damage to the environment.

Personally, I do not think the denomination ever needed to have an official AGW position, but perhaps we now do, if only to undo what I regard as a misguided action on the part of those denominational officials.

The problem with this isn't the science or politics of climate change, rather whether or not this it the proper sphere for the corporate church to speak in. Are the best and brightest theologians of the CRC more qualified than our laymen in politics and science? I think not. While the church may admonish Christians regarding "creation care", advocacy of this magnitude is inconsistent with the Reformed tradition.

kvanhouten - Concur. The principle is clear. The science and politics are not. We should trust our members to apply the principle in their respective spheres of activity and life.

Peter - I really don't think there's a whole lot of daylight between our respective views on the matter, either. Although I think article 51 of the Contemporary Testimony also goes a bit too far in accepting CNN science, it is a sufficient statement for the Church on the topic. Making bold pronouncements and calls for political activism based on current fads, uncertain science, and a misplaced desire to get along with the movers & shakers of the world is a recipe for egg-on-face.

It's OK for us to confess ignorance on a complex issue where the problem is not clear and the solution even less so. Neither should we attempt to bind the consciences of our members unnecessarily.

What does that say to the believers of Christ who feel the tug of the Holy Spirit and with strong scriptural backing, but feel a obigation to God's creation?  B-ver, I'm not out to hurt you. I'm a broken man, I was very much like you before I got sick. All I ask is you look at what your writing as sending it to someone God loves.

I would say "Have at it." I am not opposed to, or even bothered by, efforts to tend to the creation as God's stewards of it. There is strong scriptural backing for just such a thing.

But the issue here is not caring for creation as such. It is the acceptance of a specific political perspective which is highly suspect on the facts and the binding of the Church to that political view. I object to that most strongly.

I do not think you are out to hurt me, or that you could if you wished to. It is clear that you do not understand me and that you are responding on an emotional level to what are most emphatically not emotional writings. I have very little control over how others perceive these posts.  The desire for precision in my language coupled with the need for brevity leaves little room for the usual sugar one uses to help the medicine go down. It seems that troubles you. Sorry.

Hi B-ver, I know what this discussion is about, for that matter alot of relgious dicussion is political. I am not concerned with the subject as much as I  am with creating "shalom" with our body of believers. I feel the intentional sharp edges of your words like you said. They make me sad because they are meant to cut while you try to make your point. If they do that to me ,what do you think they do to other people? So if your motive is to inform and change peoples minds that should give you pause on your method.

"I have very little control over how others perceive these posts.  The desire for precision in my language coupled with the need for brevity leaves little room for the usual sugar one uses to help the medicine go down".You are to smart to make that statement without being disigenious. I hope you will at least search your heart and pray for God's wisdom in seeking His will on subgects that create diagreement. Another words be wise and humble .That  way your knowledge will be more effective.

Thanks for hearing me, I will leave you alone because I completed the task that the Spirit was prodding me too. God Bless You and your family.