Republican Senators Doing God’s Work by Providing Leadership on Climate Change

Statement by Rev. Mitch Hescox:

On behalf of the 900,000 supporters of EEN’s work, our staff, and our Board, I want to thank Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and his colleagues, Senators Kirk (R-IL), Ayotte (R-NH), Portman (R-OH), and Collins (R-ME), for the introduction on the Senate floor of a statement affirming that climate change is real and that “human activity contributes to climate change.”

The statement recognizes that: (1) climate impacts are already hurting people; (2) Congress must act to reduce climate pollution and support clean tech R&D, and; (3) the U.S. should be a world leader in overcoming climate change.

These affirmations are all that is needed to set our country on a bold course of overcoming climate change by creating sustainable prosperity powered by clean energy.  It is time to set aside what has been holding our country back – partisanship, misguided ideology, fear of change, and simple greed – and embrace a cleaner and healthier future.

We pledge our support to Senator Graham and his Republican colleagues as they lead us towards this bolder course and brighter future.

Discussion of Faith, Children, and the Moral Dimensions of Climate Change at Eastern University

Sen. Casey Leads Panel Discussion on the Biblical Imperative For Climate Action

Starting at 2:30pm ET TODAY watch a live stream of the event by clicking here

On Friday, September 18, 2015 from 2:30pm ET, Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA) will moderate a discussion on the moral call for climate action issued by Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, the Cape Town Commitment by senior evangelical leaders worldwide, and by the Evangelical Climate Initiative representing over 300 senior evangelical leaders in the United States.

Climate-intensified water and food scarcity, the spread of disease, sea level rise, and ocean acidification are impacting the vulnerable worldwide, leading to forced migration, violence/instability, and even death.

2014 was the warmest year ever recorded and 2015 may break that record.  The increased temperatures worsen asthma and are linked to the rapid rise of Lyme Disease here in Pennsylvania.

“Climate change impacts every person in the world making it the greatest moral challenge of our time,” states the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President of the Evangelical Environmental Network. “It also presents the greatest opportunity for hope in building a clean energy economy providing  good jobs, clean air, pure water, and a quality future for all God’s children worldwide.”

Integral to discussion will be ways to implement the Environmental Protection Agency’s The Clean Power Plan, investing in clean energy, and working to ensure a just tradition for Pennsylvania workers.

What: Panel Discussion on the Biblical Imperative for Climate Action

When: 2:30pm ET, Friday September 18, 2015

Where: Eastern University’s McInnis Auditorium, 1300 Eagle Road, St. Davids, PA

The event is free and open to all by registering at (Seats are limited). http://www.eastern.ticketleap.com/climatechange/

Welcome & Opening Prayer: Dr. Keith Iddings, Provost of Eastern University

Panelists include:

The Rev. Mitchell Hescox, President & CEO, The Evangelical Environmental Network
Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, The Sisters of Saint Joseph Earth Center
Daniel P. Scheid, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, McAnulty College & Graduate School of
Liberal Arts, Department of Theology, Duquesne University
Ms. Gretchen Dahlkemper, National Field Manager, Moms Clean Air Force
David W. Unander, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, Eastern University

Laudato Si’ and Our Cultural Moment

by Alexei Laushkin

In 2006 the Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI) was launched, prominent evangelical leaders like Rick Warren, Rich Stearns, and Bill Hybels signed. It stated:

Human-Induced Climate Change is Real and increasing international instability, which could lead to more security threats to our nation. Poor nations and poor individuals have fewer resources available to cope with major challenges and threats

The ECI helped take the lead in opening up a space for Christians to care and act on climate change. Over the last few years thanks to the leadership of the ECI, EEN has greatly benefited from an increased focus on the reality that human life and care of God’s world go hand in hand. From mercury pollution that impacts the unborn, air pollution that impacts children suffering from Asthma, to water pollution and its impact on children’s health, from toxics and their impact on the unborn, to carbon pollution which has its own impacts on human life.  In the past four years, over 600,000 people have taken action with EEN on a variety of initiatives that put human health at the center of why pro-life Christians act on pollution.

Laudato Si is a ground breaking teaching for Christians who are concerned about the care of God’s world, because in many ways it builds on the existing concerns and places them within a wider context. Much like the leadership of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the leadership of Pope Francis is opening up the door for a wider and deeper understanding of our cultural moment.

Laudato Si is about the environment and its about climate change, but much like the work of EEN it’s about a lot more than those particular concerns. It’s about the sort of culture we’ve created that has in turn created this current moment with grave consequences for human life.

The truth is we are fighting against as the encyclical puts it ‘the globalization of indifference’ and a ‘throwaway culture’ where the disregard for human life is at the center of many of our contemporary ills. What we need today is refreshment from the Holy Spirit. For God to so transform us into the likeness of his Son that we have the tools and talents necessary to deal with challenges like climate change which if we help create the proper culture will also help us deal more fully with issues like abortion and marriage culture.

What we see in the world and in the church is as old as every challenge, presented to ever age, mainly sin. What we are seeing today is a slow calcification of heart muscles, and what we need is to be fully made alive by the Holy Spirit so that we can turn from our sins and wicked ways and follow more fully the Risen Lord.

If we would humble ourselves there is so much God would want to do with each of us when it comes to tackling climate change. Do we have eyes to see how God can use markets, entrepreneurship, and the church to bring about a better way of relating to each other and God’s world? What is needed is no less than a revival of the life of the church.

Quotable Laudato Si ‘Praised Be’

Click below for the full teaching:

http://m.vatican.va/content/francescomobile/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

  • “The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us, men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement.”
  • “Outside the Catholic Church, other Churches and Christian communities- and other religions as well- have expressed deep concern and offered valuable reflections on issues which all of us find disturbing.”
  • “He [St. Francis] shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.”
  • “The world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.”
  • “to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it.”
  • “the climate is a common good.”
  • “It [climate change] represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
  • “The warming caused by huge consumption of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating to farmers.”
  • “As the United States Bishops have said, greater attention must be given to ‘the needs of the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable in a debate often dominated by powerful interests.’”
  • “Still less is there room for the globalization of indifference.”
  • “We still lack the culture needed to confront this crisis.”
  • “Many people will deny doing anything wrong because distractions dull our consciousness of just how limited and finite our world really is.”
  • “For all of our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity, and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love.”
  • “This is the way human beings contrive to feed their self-destructive vices: trying not to see them, trying not to acknowledge them, delaying the important decision, and pretending that nothing will happen.”
  • “Rather, all creatures are moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God, in that transcendent fullness where the Risen Christ embraces and illuminates all things.”
  • “Jesus lived in full harmony with creation and others were amazed: What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him! (Mt 8:27)”
  • “A certain way of understanding human life and activity has gone awry, to the serious detriment of the world around us.”
  • “Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used.”
  • “In conjunction with the omnipresent technocratic paradigm and the cult of unlimited human power, the rise of a relativism, which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one’s own immediate interests.”
  • “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world.”
  • “We urgently need a humanism capable of bringing together the different fields of knowledge, including economics, in the service of a more integral and integrated vision.”
  • “We know that technology based on the use of highly pollution fossil fuels- especially coal, but also oil and to a lesser degree gas- needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”
  • “Those who will have to suffer the consequences of what we are trying to hide (i.e. the need for global action on climate) will not forget this failure of conscience and responsibility.”
  • “Some economic sectors exercise more power than states themselves.”
  • “The rich heritage of Christian spirituality, the fruit of twenty centuries of personal and communal experiences, has a precious contribution to make to the renewal of humanity.”
  • “The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast.”
  • “They all need is an ‘ecological conversion’ whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident with the world around them.”
  • “No one can cultivate a sober and satisfying life without being at peace within him or herself.”
  • “Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good, because lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life.”
  • “That is why the church set before the world the idea of ‘a civilization of love.’”

Caring for God’s Creation is Part of a Pro-Life Ethic

by The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox

From the formation of a child’s first tiny cell to life’s final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God. And that is why when we talk about being “pro-life,” it’s not just about a political issue. It’s a world view…it’s a life-view. It’s a way of looking at each human life that transcends culture, class, race, age and opinion.

— The Dignity of Life by Focus on The Family

My organization, the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), has long believed “creation-care is a matter of life.” For us this means protecting human life from conception until natural death. As the recent video, The Dignity of Life, by Focus on the Family puts it: “From the formation of a child’s first tiny cell to life’s final breath, all life has dignity and value because each and every one of us is made in the image of God.”

For us, being pro-life includes not only defending our unborn children, but also the biblical mandate to care for all life. Toxins and other pollutants foul our water, air, and soil, impacting the purity of life God intends for His creation. Every concern mentioned in the video by Focus on the Family is impacted by our poor stewardship of God’s creation; creation-care is foundational to our quest to overcome poverty, human trafficking, racism, women’s rights, and Jesus’ call for abundant life. That’s why creation-care remains integral to being pro-life. As the Focus video states, being pro-life is “not just about a political issue. It’s a world view “it’s a life view.”

Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its latest study on the human impacts of climate change already occurring, and the more serious threats yet to come. On a recent EEN trip to Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, we saw the consequences ourselves and listened to those whose lives have been made worse. Listen to this firsthand account from Lifnette James, mother of six. Recently the Assembly of God’s relief agency in Malawi sent a letter asking the American Church to awaken to their plight. Will pro-life Christians answer this call? Will we answer the call of the one who is leading the way in overcoming climate change, our Risen Lord?

As we approach Easter, our current inability to seek the opportunities for overcoming climate change reminds me of my favorite Bible passage describing Jesus’ resurrection. In John’s gospel, there is a unique and often overlooked story:

14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.” (Jn. 20:14-18, NIV).

This text has caused lots of thoughts and opinions throughout the Church’s life. To me the text is quite simple. Mary, so overcome with joy in finding Jesus alive, wanted to hold on to him. Mary clings to what she knew. She desires holding on to the past and is completely blind to a new future.

Most of us can identify with Mary. We don’t like change and are apt to live in the past. Mary couldn’t understand that Easter was a transforming moment. The past, wiped clean at the cross, became a new hope and new opportunity in the resurrection. Beginning with Mary on that Easter morning, the Risen Lord offers us the choice to follow Him into a new future, a new reality.

Today part of following our Risen Lord means letting go of our outdated dependence on fossil fuels and seeking new opportunities. Coal, oil, and natural gas provided some great benefits, but with a cost long unknown and a price unrealized. Now we know that part of the price we have paid and will pay is the health of our children. Dirty air, fouled water, and contaminated soil have left a legacy of brain damage, malfunctioning lungs, and a host of other health concerns.

It’s hard to let go. Our history remains filled with examples of people and industries failing to grasp new ideas. In the 1800′s Western Union turned down the opportunity to buy the telephone; in the early 20th century the equine industry believed automobiles to be a fad, and the list of foolish decisions could go on and on. Let’s not make the same mistakes again.

Climate change already impacts food production, water resources, increases disease, and forces more and more of God’s children to flee their homes. Addressing these pro-life concerns will require us to let go of the past, dream big, and together follow our Risen Lord toward a new day.

Here’s what I see: I see cleaner skies and purer water; healthy children free to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, their bodies not hindered by pollution, their brains not diminished by toxics. I see an economy that is the envy of the world, producing the technologies that help us achieve life, liberty and happiness, ones that lead to a cleaner environment, plentiful, affordable energy to power our homes and vehicles and businesses, freeing up time to spend with family and loved ones, to rebuild community life, and to be creative with the gifts God has given each of us. I see such a life being made possible in the Majority World, where American technology creates clean energy that empowers sustainable economic progress, lifting billions out of poverty and into prosperity.

It’s time to see visions of a new day, a new beginning. Let’s move beyond our fear in holding on to the past and see what Risen Lord is doing. Being pro-life is caring for life and following our Risen Lord. This Easter let’s move beyond our past and rise to a better future; Jesus did.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/foolsconfidence/2014/04/caring-for-gods-creation-is-part-of-a-pro-life-ethic/#ixzz3YiksNdYk

How The Trinity Changed My Mind on Creation Care

by R. Scott Rodin, MTh, PhD

Ten years ago I faced a crisis of faith.  I’d been raised to believe that there was a pecking order to God’s love: our eternal souls first, our physical bodies a distant second, and creation a very distant third.  Life and faith were evaluated through this criteria screen, and creation almost always paid the price.

What caused me to question this flawed filter was my Trinitarian theology.  In considering God’s triune nature I reached a point where I could no longer accept that God cared less about how we treated his creation than by how we treated one another. I wasn’t sure where to go next, but I was determined that the Trinity would prevail in wherever this took me.  I began by stepping back and looking again at creation through the lens of relationship and not utility. Let me explain.

We believe that our God is triune in his very nature.  This means that the nature of God is defined by relationships at the most profound level. It also means that he created a world that would feature relationships as its defining mark. Quantum physics, the Genome Project and a wide array of scientific discoveries continue to affirm that our universe is an amazing display of interrelatedness and interdependence. In this way creation declares the glory of its Creator. When humanity entered the scene, God continued the theme, created us male and female for the highest form of created relationship.  And he immediately placed us in a garden with the command to tend it.

We witness four levels of relationship that are established in Genesis 1-2; our relationship with God, with our self, with our neighbor and with creation. How else would a triune God create than by establishing everything in the context of relationship? We were meant to live in whole, meaningful and mutually fulfilling relationships at all four of these levels.

This relational understanding of creation is critical if we are to grasp the breadth of the devastating impact of the fall. Scripture tells us that the fall brought brokenness to these relationships at all four levels. Our relationship with God was broken, requiring the mediation of priests, temples and sacrificial rites.  Our relationship with our self was broken, requiring us to find meaning and purpose in a life now dominated by sin and its consequences.  Our relationship with our neighbor was broken ushering in the history of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. And our relationship to creation was broken, relegating us to work the earth and produce a crop from the sweat of our brow.

With this Creation-Fall backdrop understood in Trinitarian terms, I turned to Christ’s work of atonement. There is a powerful moment in The Passion of the Christ is when Mary works her way through the crowd to come to Jesus’ side as he falls under the weight of the cross.  There Mel Gibson takes Jesus’ words of victory and hope from Revelation 21:5 and has him speak them to his mother on the way to Calvary, “I am making everything new!”

Indeed he was.  Our understanding of the atonement must be as comprehensive and inclusive as that of creation and the fall. We are told that everything that was lost in the fall was restored in Christ. The broken relationships at all four levels were taken up into Christ in the Incarnation, healed by his wounds on the cross, and restored in his resurrection.  Paul tells us, “Just as one sin resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in the justification and life for all people.”  (Romans 5:18)

Here was the critical moment in my journey.  If God created us for whole, loving, and fulfilling relationships at these four levels, if we then lost everything in the Fall, and Christ subsequently bought all of it back for us in his life, death and resurrection, then it follows that God has given back these relationships to us saying, “Take care of these, they are not yours.  You lost them and I bought them back for you.  It cost me the blood of my Son.  These are precious gifts.  Steward them out of your love for me.”

That settled it for me.  My commitment to creation care became the unquestionable result of my Trinitarian faith. The moment I realized that all of life’s relationships at every level of my existence were precious gifts from God, my understanding of faithful stewardship was expanded further than I ever could have imagined. For me the most radical expression of that steward responsibility was a redeemed understanding of my call to care for God’s creation.

So as a result of this Trinitarian journey, here are my newfound commitments.

  • I care for creation because I love the triune God, the Creator.
  • I care for creation because God loves me and created me in His image for this work.
  • I care for creation because in doing so I reflect God’s relational nature and His image in me.
  • I care for creation because Christ has redeemed me with his blood, and that redemption includes my relationship to the world he created and called ‘good’.
  • I care for creation because to do so is an expression of my love for my self and my neighbor.
  • I care for creation because it is not mine, it is God’s, and I am its steward, created and redeemed for this work.
  • I care for creation because to do less would be to deny God’s intent in creation, pour contempt on the cross and disdain the free gift God has made possible for me through Jesus Christ.
  • I care for creation because as a child of the triune God and a follower of Jesus Christ, I can do no less.

R. Scott Rodin has been in not-for-profit leadership and consulting for over twenty-seven years.  He is the President of Kingdom Life Publishing.  He also serves as a Partner and Executive VP for Strategic Alliances for Artios Resource Partners and he is a Director and Principal of the consulting group of OneAccord NFP.

 

Frances Schaeffer on Creation Care

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  —Hebrews 12:1

 Francis Schaeffer

Man has dominion over the “lower“ orders of creation, but he is not sovereign over them.  Only God is the Sovereign Lord, and the lower orders are to be used with this truth in mind.  Man is not using his own possessions….. Nature belongs to God, and we are to exercise our dominion over these things not as though entitled to exploit them, but as things borrowed or held in trust, which we are to use realizing that they are not ours intrinsically.  Man’s dominion is under God’s Dominion and in God’s Domain.

Surely then, Christians, who have returned through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ to fellowship with God, and have a proper place of reference to the God who is there, should demonstrate the proper use of nature.  We are not going to use it as fallen man uses it.  Christians, of all people, should not be destroyers.  We should treat nature with an overwhelming respect.

The Church has not spoken out as it should have done throughout history against the abuse of nature.  But when the Church puts belief into practice, in man and in nature, there is substantial healing.  One of the first fruits of that healing is a new sense of beauty.

If I love the Lover, I love what the Lover has made…. If I don’t love what the Lover has made—in the area of man, in the area of nature—and really love it because He made it, do I really love the Lover?

—Francis Schaeffer, Pollution and the Death of Man, 1970

 Francis Schaeffer (1912 – 1984) held to the inerrancy of Scripture and passionately proclaimed the “sanctity of human life.”  He accurately predicted that if the Church did not participate in the debates surrounding ecological strategy, then the emerging environmental movement would adopt forms of pantheism for its foundations.  He and his wife, Edith, revitalized the ancient idea of intentional Christian community and formed L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland.  They welcomed and challenged seekers and scholars from around the world.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/foolsconfidence/2013/03/from-the-cloud-francis-schaeffer/#ixzz3YiivLmNp