The pastoral call requires shepherding a congregation through difficult circumstances, including challenges from the spiritual message and economic consequences of environmentalism. It is difficult to develop the knowledge and wisdom necessary to give biblical counsel on such issues, especially in light of complex scientific problems and intense policy debates. Yet the church must evaluate alarms raised about the environment and policies to address them. This paper is intended to assist ministry leaders, policy makers, regulators, and the public in understanding and applying biblical worldview, theology, and ethics, coupled with excellent science and economics, to promote a free, prosperous, and just society in a fruitful, beautiful, and safe environment.
The Introduction, “Thinking Biblically about the Environment,” contrasts biblical guidance on the nature of environmental stewardship and the roles of government and the market with ideas that grow out of alternative worldviews like secularism and pantheism, and examines evangelical environmentalism.
Section One, “Stewardship, Markets, and Prosperity,” explores the nature of environmental stewardship, how to count the cost of decisions about stewardship, and how to promote biblical stewardship in the political arena.
Section Two, “Regulation and Replacement of Conventional Energy Sources,” examines claims that conventional fuels such as coal harm people, and the effects of proposed new regulations on human health and the economy. A technical Appendix (at the end of the paper) investigates whether additional restrictions on mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants are justified. (We focus on coal rather than oil or natural gas because it receives the most attention in current public debate.)
Section Three, “Economic Growth and Alternative Energy,” discusses the relationship between prosperity and environmental quality. It explains the “environmental transition” and the role of prosperity in promoting environmental quality. It weighs the wisdom of pursuing “green jobs” and “alternative” or “renewable” energy, examining the impact of such policy on both the environment and human well-being.
The paper concludes with a call to honesty in place of the exaggeration of environmental hazards, and a call to caution in the use of coercive, regulatory means rather than more productive voluntary, marketbased means, supplemented by tort action, to care for people and the planet on which we live.
This paper rests on foundations laid in four earlier Cornwall Alliance documents: The Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship (2000), A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming (2006); The Cornwall Stewardship Agenda (2008); and A Renewed Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Examination of the Theology, Science, and Economics of Global Warming (2010), all available at www.CornwallAlliance.org.