Acton Institute Powerblog

McClaren’s Failure to Engage

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I’ve followed with concern the debate over global warming for years. But it’s especially troubling to see self-identifying evangelicals weighing in on the issue with such a shallow understanding of the details. Brian McClaren is a case in point. Consider his recent post at the God’s Politics blog. McClaren is bemoaning the fact that some evangelical leaders, such as James Dobson, wrote a letter urging caution on the issue of global warming.

Now, whatever one’s views on this issue, it’s disturbing to see McClaren imply that these and other Christian leaders “oppose taking care of creation.” He quotes anonymous Christians from Asia who ask him:

Again and again, chagrined Christians ask me, “Is it true that some Christians in the U.S. still oppose taking care of creation?”

He then says that he does explain that some famous people (read: famous Christians like the ones referred to above) feel this way, but that many others follow the environmentalist party line like good Christians are supposed to do.

My question is this: Is McClaren so uninformed of the scientific and economic issues in the global warming debate that he actually thinks any Christian who disagrees with him “opposes taking care of creation”? Or is he intentionally misinforming fellow Christians on his international travels (where he has somehow learned that there’s no more debate about the nature of global warming)? In any case, Mr. McClaren needs to do some remedial reading if thinks the only people debating this are, as he puts it, “certain religious and semi-religious radio preachers, along with some fundraisers and lobbyists in the U.S.”

Jay Richards


  • Environmentalists and global warming alarmists recognize that natural resources are scarce, but they don’t recognize that financial recources are scarce as well. They see no connection.

    David Hays
    Grand Coteau, Louisiana

  • I think both Dobson and McClaren and other Christian leaders miss the distinction between the biblical Christian mandate for stewardship of creation, which is a moral issue, and the scientific, economic and often political issues of environmentalism.

    Look – One can be fully engaged in creation care in a number of important areas (soil conservation, water quality, wetlands and habitat restoration, air pollution, etc) without buying in to anthropomorphic global warming. Christians can even be “pro-atmosphere,” buying low-emissions cars and turning off lightbulbs or otherwise avoiding behavior that we know puts pollution into our air, regardless of whether one things these pollutants are changing our climate or not (or in part).

    Unfortunately this has become one of those “we’re fighthing for the children – whose side are you one” sorts of arguments. Particularly unfortunate in that the thousands of evangelicals in the pews watching these debates are likely to be turned off to the whole thing, shrug their shoulders, and walk away.

    But perhaps that’s the enemy’s strategy…

  • dlw

    from what I’ve read the issue isn’t so much the economic costs of changes needed to arrest global warming, but their distribution/incidence that inhibits action from taking place.

    And don’t get me started about our abetting the rise of the Shah in Iran in ’53 to help keep the costs of oil down. We are now seeing the wages of how we designed our economy to be based on cheap oil, bought at the price of cuddling with Middle East tyrants. The wages of sin are always death.