ORIGINALLY POSTED March 19, 2008
TAYLORS, S.C. (BP)–Recently, Southern Baptists’ attention has been focused on media reports which relate to the release of and the signing of a document titled, Southern Baptists Environment and Climate Initiative. Seldom have I seen such a reaction. Part of this has been slightly humorous.
For example, I had no idea that we had as many experts in climatology and earth science as we seem to have. Second, I have seen an arrogance among a few that is truly discouraging. Third, I have been called names that I have not been called in my entire life. As you might remember from last year’s annual meeting, I do not like to be “yelled at” and this has brought out some redneck reaction in me, to be totally honest.
However, I also see this as an opportunity for very healthy debate about important issues. Unfortunately, this issue has been brought to a point where it is an internecine debate.
This has been caused, in part, by secular media misconstruing the very basis of this issue. I will take responsibility for part of that misunderstanding. Unfortunately, because of the title of the document in question, it has seemed to the secular media, as well as to persons within our convention, that this was a Southern Baptist Convention initiative or approved document. For that, I do apologize. It is a Christian worldview statement on biblical stewardship of the environment which was endorsed by a host of Southern Baptists in order to encourage a biblical perspective.
In the initiative are many items for discussion and debate. I continue to stand by the content of this document and believe that it is needed and appropriate. However, let me mention again my surprise at the amount of energy that has come forth, both positive and negative, since the announcement of this document. Honestly, if we could harness some of the emotion from this and turn it to evangelism and missions, we could see a massive change in our missionary and evangelistic endeavors. Many people have reacted strongly and negatively without having even read the document. We have been accused of being a part of a left wing, liberal agenda on global warming. There has been much misunderstanding, much anger, and much speaking of unkind and demeaning words.
I ask that Southern Baptists review the events of the last few days. Have we acted in a way to honor our Lord? Have we evaluated our positions in the light of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit’s leading?
Since being elected in 2006, I have called for Southern Baptists to be people who can honestly debate and dialogue about important issues. This is a prime opportunity to do so. Without listening to secular media reports, let’s truly dialogue about these issues. However, let us remember the words of Ephesians 4:15 and “speak the truth in love.”
I love each one of you and pray that we will be able to apply the greatest passions in our life to the greatest issue which are before us, and that is winning this world to Christ.
Frank Page is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C.