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Let me lead in here by saying I’m not by nature an overly emotional or "pentecostal" guy (lowercase ‘p’), though I have known personally the transforming movement of God’s Holy Spirit in my life and the lives of others at particular times.

Let me also say that I’ve been to dozens of environmental conferences over the past 15 years or so, and while I have usually learned a lot and developed some great relationships with others in this business, I almost always leave with not much more than a couple of logo’d pencils, a pocket full of business cards from people I don’t know, some hazmat tracking software demos on CD-ROM, and if I’m lucky, a shiny golf ball or yo-yo or something entertaining.

I flew out for two days (1-2 August) to take part in Let’s Tend the Garden, an environmental conference hosted by Vineyard Church in Boise, not knowing what to expect; l left there 12 hours ago with a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit, and a realization that God’s doing something very big here.

Very. Big.

I know you all hail from many different denominations and various places in your faith and perspectives on ecology. But please take about 10 minutes to scan through my blog post of the conference. You may get a sense why it is clear that God is calling Christians to restore the ethic of environmental stewardship within the local church, something many have longed for in our generation, but have never really seen.

This is not a new thing – clearly there is scripture from the beginning of time that demonstrates God’s interest in our stewardship of Creation. Perhaps this is something like the way Dobson and Swindoll and Smalley brough the ethic of family values back to the Church over the past decade or so. Each generation needs to be revitalized in particular areas.

Take it from Tri Robinson, the senior pastor at Vineyard Boise:

All great movements of God begin with brokeness and conviction over the failure to follow Christ. We are in a repentance process still, that we’ve bought into politics and fear and set aside something that we have passion about. The significant thing about Boise is that we did it and survived it. The evangelical church wants to see authentic discipleship, biblical teaching, and yet want to watch environmental ministry thriving in action first.

When’s the last time you heard talk of discipleship, missions, repentence and biblical teaching in the context of ecology?

And this, in a response he had to a lambasting he was getting in an interview by a conservative radio talk show host:

I know what you’re saying, but I also know that guys like you and conservatives like you are the very reason that bible-believing pastors are afraid to do what is biblical and right. You’re making us afraid to do the right thing, and so we have given the liberals the program to do, and they have blown it. So if you like that, and you think that’s ok, then keep it up.

The Godless, liberal environmental agenda has given the world nothing but angst and anger and hopelessness and fear and false worship and man-centeredness (or misanthropy). The instrument Christ uses to effect change in the world is through the Church, the Body of Christ, in a spirit of love, joy, peace, compassion, and action. Not just caring, but thoughtful and wise doing. God is clearly now linking the efforts of Christian ecology organizations with pastors and lay ministry to give the Church back her permission to love all that God loves, people and all that He has made and called very good.

We need larger hands, and smaller feet.

Please, go read the post. Send it to your friends. When I get the audio links up, listen to the lectures. Dig out your Bibles and look up the scriptures and see for yourself. Drop me a line or a comment on this post if you want to engage on a particular aspect of this. Buy a copy of Saving God’s Green Earth.

All I can say is that from God’s perspective on creation care, it was very apparent this week that that ship has left the pier. Like Noah, we all had best be on it.

To conclude this series, let’s recap what is meant by natural law by parsing the term.

The “nature” referred to in natural law can mean different things, but I mean by it the divinely engrafted knowledge of morality in human reason and conscience, that which all human beings share by virtue of their creation in God’s image. Theologically speaking, I think this understanding of nature points back to our original creation in God’s image, but it also anticipates the fall into sin, where the divine image was corrupted but not destroyed.

“Law,” too, can vary in meaning, but we have used it here as shorthand for the universal moral law written into the human heart by God. Law as a representation of God’s will can be known through a variety of means such as the Ten Commandments, the Torah, the Sermon on the Mount, the pangs of conscience, or the rational intuition of good and evil. When “nature” and “law” are understood in these ways, the claim that natural law is a forgotten legacy of the Reformation is certainly an understatement.

Natural law holds great promise as a bridge to connect the Christian faith to culture, although from the fuller perspective of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, natural law has limited but significant value. Natural law is not merely the quest for order on the part of the state and non-Christians as Karl Barth held, it is also a profound source of truth revealed to every person — according to their capacities — through creation, conscience, and reason. When natural law is understood properly, only so much should be expected from it as a source of revelation. God does not save the world through natural law, nor does he reconcile the world through the pursuit of justice; but he does provide a public record of his eternal power and divinity through the law written on the heart.

This has been cross-posted to my blog on natural law, Common Notions.

Blog author: jspalink
Wednesday, August 2, 2006


Almost everyone has been critical of the government’s methods when it comes to disaster preparedness and response.

We here at Acton also tend to be very focused on the importance of private enterprise when it comes to dealing with local problems.

And so I present an interesting case study for your analysis: The Department of Homeland Security has created a website,, that promises to be a resource for those facing an imminent natural disaster. The Federation of American Scientists has released their own version (suprisingly, they’ve copied the layout and general structure of the website, so the Department of Homeland Security must have done something right),, claiming that there were several problems with the government’s version that they hoped to correct in their own version.

The homepage of ReallyReady also contains a link that explains some of the problems that they found with the government’s website and also includes a 38 page report explaining these problems.

So, take a look and tell us what you think. Which version is better? Which one would help you be more prepared in the face of a large-scale disaster?

One more thing – the FAS page, ReallyReady, was created by a single intern in the space of about nine weeks.

Blog author: kschmiesing
Wednesday, August 2, 2006

I’ve commented previously on Randall Balmer’s new book. The online article this month from First Things is Ross Douthat’s excellent review of a raft of books (including Balmer’s) that take up similar themes. In a nutshell, there is currently a lot of hyperventilating about the danger of an unholy alliance between church and state in the United States, which, to most religious folks probably seems to read the trends 180 degress wrong.

Douthat doesn’t even include Damon Linker’s book (an expansion of a New Republic article about which I posted here), which dubs First Things editor Richard John Neuhaus a theocon—and which Neuhaus in the latest issue characterizes as “what is known in the publishing business as an ‘attack book.'”

As I’ve noted before, concern about the relationship between church and state is legitimate, and it is dangerous to both sides when religious institutions snuggle too comfortably with government. Unfortunately, most of the accusations of theocracy currently being tossed about in the public square appear to consist more of grandstanding than valuable criticism.

In this Beliefnet interview conducted by Charlotte Allen, conservative firebrand Ann Coulter references the work of Acton senior fellow Marvin Olasky:

Is it possible to be a good Christian and sincerely believe, as Jim Wallis does, that a bigger welfare state and higher taxes to fund it is the best way in a complex modern society for us to fulfill our Gospel obligation to help the poor?

It’s possible, but not likely. Confiscatory taxation enforced by threat of imprisonment is “stealing,” a practice strongly frowned upon by our Creator. If all Christians and Jews tithed their income as the Bible commands, every poor person would be cared for, every naked person clothed and every hungry person fed. Read Marvin Olasky’s “The Tragedy Of American Compassion” for further discussion of this.

Very often Coulter comes off sounding crazy, and her rhetoric would certainly be more at home in the sixteenth rather than the twenty-first century. Even so, I found this interview eye-opening on a number of levels, and in her answer to this question she makes a lot of sense. Ron Sider makes the same point about tithing a number of times in his recent book, The Scandal Of The Evangelical Conscience.

Also, Rod Dreher doesn’t approve of Coulter’s “schtick”.

HT: GetReligion

Blog author: dphelps
Friday, July 28, 2006

G. K. Chesterton on Journalists:

“…there exists in the modern world, perhaps for the first time in history, a class of people whose interest is not in that things should happen well or happen badly, should happen successfully or happen unsuccessfully, should happen to the advantage of this party or the advantage of that party, but whose interest simply is that things should happen.

“It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exception. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not accounted on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding…[Editors] cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complete picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious.”

My posts on the PowerBlog tend to highlight / debate / mull over the threats and challenges to freedom, goodness, prudence, etc. (I.E. today’s earlier account of Chavez’s shopping spree in Moscow.) This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but perhaps it is just as important to remind ourselves that we did not fall off the scaffolding.

So, blogworthy or not, newsworthy or not, here is the Friday Afternoon News: Today, I was free–free to work, lunch, pray, think, write, etc. Deo Gratia.

“‘Disproportionate’ in What Moral Universe?” asks Charles Krauthammer in today’s Washington Post.

He continues:

When the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, it did not respond with a parallel “proportionate” attack on a Japanese naval base. It launched a four-year campaign that killed millions of Japanese, reduced Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to cinders, and turned the Japanese home islands into rubble and ruin.

Disproportionate? No. When one is wantonly attacked by an aggressor, one has every right — legal and moral — to carry the fight until the aggressor is disarmed and so disabled that it cannot threaten one’s security again. That’s what it took with Japan.

Britain was never invaded by Germany in World War II. Did it respond to the Blitz and V-1 and V-2 rockets with “proportionate” aerial bombardment of Germany? Of course not. Churchill orchestrated the greatest air campaign and land invasion in history, which flattened and utterly destroyed Germany, killing untold innocent German women and children in the process.

Now I don’t take Krauthammer to be trying to undermine the principle of proportionality in just war itself, but rather to be arguing for a different way to apply that principle in this conflict compared to how some others, including Prof. Bainbridge, have done. He continues, “The perversity of today’s international outcry lies in the fact that there is indeed a disproportion in this war, a radical moral asymmetry between Hezbollah and Israel: Hezbollah is deliberately trying to create civilian casualties on both sides while Israel is deliberately trying to minimize civilian casualties, also on both sides.”

I would respond to Krauthammer, however, that simply being attacked on your own sovereign soil does not give carte blanche to pursue your enemies in whatever manner and to whatever extent you deem fit. And even if your enemies are conducting themselves in an evil fashion that ignores just war principles, which clearly Hezbollah are, you are not then relieved of your moral duty to conduct war justly.

The assertion that by being attacked in whatever fashion “one has every right — legal and moral — to carry the fight until the aggressor is disarmed and so disabled that it cannot threaten one’s security again” simply does not follow, and itself seems to undermine the principle of proportionality. The only way to guarantee that your security cannot ever be threatened again is to utterly destroy and annihilate your opponent…and this is not something that just war theory allows for.

As previous discussion here has determined, the validity of the causus belli and the legitimacy of jus ad bellum does not mean that the principles of jus in bello no longer apply.