Evangelicals and Climate Change

Caring for Creation: The Evangelical’s Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment, by Mitch Hescox and Paul Douglas (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2016)

Paul Douglas describes himself as “a Christian, serial entrepreneur, meteorologist, Eagle Scout, and staunch Republican.” He forecasts the weather on Minneapolis-St. Paul TV. He believes that people “should be open to the facts, even when they make us squirm.”

Mitch Hescox comes from a coal mining family. In college he “encountered the truth, relevance, and mystery of the Bible.” He spent eighteen years pastoring a local church and then entered a national ministry centered on evangelism. He now heads the Evangelical Environmental Council.

These two authors believe that “there’s a place for science and a simultaneous faith in real absolutes, like a sovereign, all-powerful God. We believe in God. Science we test. And careful observations in the real world confirm that our actions are having unintended and profound consequences.” Their goal is “to turn down the volume of rhetoric, antagonism, and name-calling and focus on finding common ground: faith-based solutions that elevate personal responsibility and conservative values to tackle problems that face us” (p. 17).

Ideas discussed in this 169-page book (plus notes) can be summarized under three recommendations.

First, pay attention to what is happening to the weather, our climate, and the well-being of people and creation. They list six trends that got their attention and that readers should keep in mind; 1. Heat Waves, Droughts, and Wildfires; 2. More intense precipitation events; 3. Sea Level Rise; 4. More Intense Hurricanes; 5. Ocean Acidification; and 6. More “Weather Whiplash.”

Second, reaffirm the biblical doctrine of creation by a loving God and recover the God-given responsibility to care for creation.

Third, make creation care a major part of your life, thereby expressing your love of God and doing your part to bequeath the world to generations still to come.

The authors refer positively to Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality. These two books have much in common, which means that people whose religious commitments differ significantly can find value in reading both books. The Pope’s analyses and proposals are more comprehensive that those given by Hescox and Douglas, but their book, Caring for Creation, is more focused on environmental challenges in the United States. Both volumes can be recommended as religiously sensitive and complementary studies of the environmental crisis facing the world.

For many readers, the most important chapter is the one entitled “We Can Do It—With God’s Help.” Its thesis is: “By working together with God as our guide, we can rebuild our land with unpolluted air, pure water, healthy kids, and good jobs powered by new energies. All of which can also be shared with all of God’s children around the world. . .Government can’t do it, business can’t go it alone, and we won’t be able to do it by ourselves. But we can do it together” (p. 141).

The chapter abounds with examples of actions now under way that are making the kind of difference that will accomplish the hopes that Hescox and Mitchell recommend. Although the author’s do not include a reading list, their thirteen pages of notes provide leads to a significant number of studies, reports, and statements of opinion.

2 Responses to Evangelicals and Climate Change

  1. Thank you for the post about this book and this approach. If people would take the author’s points into consideration, it would help promote dialogue and resolution of not only environmental issues, but a number of social and political issues facing us.

    • Many evangelical Christians resist the mainstream understanding of environmental crisis and are unwilling to acknowledge the full extent of human causes. These two writers appear to have strong evangelical credentials and their interweaving of biblically-based faith and serious environmental ideas may bring more people into the discussion. They seem to be fully attuned with conservative political ideas, too. Thanks for your response to my brief review.

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