Below is the text of the resolution on the Gulf Oil spill passed by the Southern Baptist Convention at their meeting last week in Orlando. As you read it, please note that one can see signs of a changing of some of the traditional Southern Baptist stances. As one of the other resolutions states, the normal stance of the Southern Baptist Convention has been “a Free Church in a Free State.” But, as you read the resolution below, notice that the first quotes from Scripture are used to support an ecological view that is stronger than what Southern Baptists have traditionally previously stated.
I find it startling that the first Scripture actually quoted is the Scripture that was chosen as the theme for this year in the Antiochian Orthodox Church, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” And, it was chosen last year, long before the oil spill. To me, it is a small sign that God was aware of what was coming.
But, more than that, catch a phrase that Southern Baptists have not been known to use before, “to promote future energy policies based on prudence, conservation, accountability, and safety.” This is a vigorous statement of an ecological viewpoint, one that had often been derided before as the purview of “liberals.” Notice also that the previous phrases call for an involvement by government that is a partial repudiation of the stance that many conservatives had taken previously, which was that the government should stay out of private business as much as possible.
More than many things that could have happened, the Gulf Oil spill, threatening the shorelines of the Bible Belt for decades, is beginning to wake Evangelicals from their traditional torpor on matters relating to the ecology and their traditional antipathy to the involvement of government in the regulation of private industry to ensure the safety of the workers, the populace, and the environment. I am glad that they also called for church involvement in the clean-up process and in helping those affected by this disaster. Many conservatives have been arguing that it is the Church’s job to do some of the things that government is doing. Well, as the Southern Baptists point out, this is your time. Now, go do what you say.
Sadly, there are still people out there clamoring for a contradictory position. They wish the government to get more involved in capping the gusher while wanting the government to allow all other wells to begin pumping again, without inspections to guarantee that they have safety equipment installed. I consider this the “get Obama” position. It is internally self-contradictory in that it wants government involvement on the one side while forbidding it on the other. It asks the government to do what it has not the equipment to do. The government does not have oil well equipment, and if BP could stop the flow, they would. I have even heard some conservatives say that the government should take over the oil platform and turn it over to another oil company to cap. Hmm, government nationalization of private property. Some people will go as far as they need to, to jump on Obama. Welcome to “socialism.” Of course, they promptly contradict themselves by then saying that the government is wrong for wanting to inspect oil well paperwork and safety equipment before they resume pumping. That is why I call it the “get Obama” position. No, this does not mean that Obama has done everything correctly. But, it is to point out that voices, whose only purpose is to “get Obama” are neither helpful nor ethical at this time. Rather, I would suggest that those voices read the resolution of the Southern Baptist Convention. It has much more balance to it and is clearly Evangelical.
Resolution 4. On The Gulf Of Mexico Catastrophe
WHEREAS, On April 20, 2010, the deadly explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in the deaths of eleven workers and touched off an underwater gusher of oil that has spewed millions of gallons of crude petroleum into the waters of the Gulf; and WHEREAS, This crisis is described already as the largest environmental calamity in American history; and
WHEREAS, The oil spilling from the ocean’s floor now poses a dire and immediate threat to the coastlands and inland estuaries, marshes, and waterways of the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, and to the ecosystems of birds, shrimp, oysters, fish, and other life-forms; and
WHEREAS, Due to the symbiotic relationship between the Gulf of Mexico and the hardworking residents of the Gulf Coast, this crisis jeopardizes an entire way of life for communities, with vast economic, social, cultural, familial, and spiritual consequences; and
WHEREAS, Holy Scripture tells us “the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24:1, KJV), and that God’s wisdom and glory is seen in the teeming of life in the seas (Psalm 104:25); and
WHEREAS, God has designed us with a dependence on the natural resources around us and has assigned us a dominion of stewardship and protection of those resources for future generations (Genesis 2:7-15); and
WHEREAS, Our God-given dominion over the creation is not unlimited, as though we were gods and not creatures, so therefore, all persons and all industries are then accountable to higher standards than to profit alone; and
WHEREAS, The Scripture teaches both love of neighbor for those who are suffering (Mark 12:31; Luke 10:25-37; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14) and accountability for those whose actions harm the vulnerable (Exodus 21:33-22:15; Luke 19:8; Romans 13:1-7); now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Orlando, Florida, June 15-16, 2010, lament the deaths of the eleven oil rig workers and pray for their families; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptist churches and other Christians to pray for the end of this catastrophe and for the homes, lives, cultures, and livelihoods of those in the Gulf Coast region; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on the governing authorities to act determinatively and with undeterred resolve to end this crisis; to fortify our coastal defenses; to ensure full corporate accountability for damages, clean-up, and restoration; to ensure that government and private industry are not again caught without planning for such possibilities; and to promote future energy policies based on prudence, conservation, accountability, and safety; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we encourage persons, communities, industries, and governments to work together to find ways to lessen the potentiality of such tragic accidents and of such devastating pollution in order that we may protect what God loves and safeguard the lives, livelihoods, health, and well-being of our neighbors and of future generations; and be it further
RESOLVED, That we call on Southern Baptists to be ready to assist the communities and churches of the Gulf Coast through the clean-up process with the same generosity of spirit that Southern Baptists exhibited after Hurricane Katrina of 2005; and be it finally
RESOLVED, That we acknowledge that this tragedy should remind us to testify to the love of God in His creation and to the hope, through the blood of Christ, of a fully restored creation in which the reign of God is seen “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).