“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”
In recent days it has become popular to record encounters with police. In some ways, this is a good thing, it offers accountability to law enforcement. Let's face it, there are good and bad cops just like there are good and bad doctors, lawyers, jewelers, and so on. There is a lot of responsibility and power that is put in a police officer's hands and there needs to be accountability. However, the recordings can be bad too. Most people watch a recording, and because it is video they assume they have all the context they need to make a judgement about what happened. This is a very bad assumption for the following reasons:
In short, when you see a video on Facebook, Twitter, some other social media or news source, assume you don't have enough information to make a judgment. Be a reasonable skeptic and dig a little deeper before condemning a law enforcement officer.
Recently I have seen several posts like this, "Why I Cannot Accept the Ice-Bucket Challenge" and this one, "The ALS Challenge Kills Babies." Being a person who wants to honor God and cares deeply about the unborn I was concerned about accepting the ALS Ice-Water Challenge should someone nominate me. My dear friend Johnny nominated me this morning. This created a dilemma. I am a pastor at a large church and whether I accepted the challenge or not communicates a message. If I don't take the challenge, then I appear to be a pastor who is unwilling to participate in culture even when culture is trying to do something good and positive. If I do take the challenge then I might be supporting embryonic stem cell research which may be the killing of innocent humans.
On the one hand it is important for Christians to engage in culture whenever possible, to say "yes" when it can. Christians are called to be in the world bringing light to darkness. On the other hand, Christians must live thoughtful lives giving consideration to moral issues when the rest of the world remains ignorant, and when something is morally questionable, it should be rejected (1 Thess. 5:22). For people who have written blog posts like the ones above, the framing of the issue stops here, but it shouldn't!!
Even before I received the challenge I had begun to do research because I figured it was only a matter of time. I found out that the claims of embryonic stem cell research have some validity. I could not in good conscience contribute to organizations that used this kind of research. The ALS Association uses that kind of research. Fighting to find a cure for ALS is a worthy cause that should be continued in a moral and God honoring way. The challenge isn't about supporting the ALS Association, it is about fighting ALS in general, it is about seeking a cure, no matter who it comes from.
My research continued. I figured it could not be the case that ALSA were the only ones fightig ALS. So I started to look up other organizations. Unfortunately, almost all the organizations I found did not make it easy to find out if they used embryonic stem cell research. However, I found at least two organizations that fight ALS and do so in a way that gives Christians an option to support the fight against ALS, take the challenge, and glorify God int he process. The first is Team Gleason. They work alongside other organizations like CBR who uses stem cells, but only collects them from the umbilical chord so no human life is harmed in the process. These two organizations are worthy of support based on what I know about them. As a Christian I cannot in good conscience support ALS Association, so instead I will be accepting the challenge and donating to Team Gleason...I hope you will do the same.
I love being in nature. There is nothing that gives me peace more than being by myself in nature. When I go on a hike, I would prefer not to see another human being, but here in Colorado it is difficult to find a trail that isn't occupied. Although I have not been able to do much backpacking in the past few years, it, along with hunting, are my favorite things to do. I enjoy the solitude and the time with God. As a Christian, I have a responsibility to steward what God has given to humans which are the pinnacle of His creation.
Unfortunately many who preach the environmentalist doctrine have done so in a way that has painted some evangelicals as people who hate the environment. Perhaps this is the fault of evangelicals. According to Genesis 1:28 God gave humanity the responsibility to steward creation and this responsibility is echoed in Psalm 8:6-8. Furthermore, the farming practices laid out in Exodus 23:10-11 and Leviticus 25:1-7 suggest a principal of stewardship regarding the health of the environment. Christians should be the ones caring for the environment more than anyone else with the possible exception of those worship creation itself (Wiccan's, pagans, etc.).
Have evangelicals who drive big cars, don't recycle, and don't buy carbon credits forsaken their responsibility? If an evangelical believes fracking is a good idea, some of the restrictions put on car companies or unnecessary, and oil companies are often wrongly demonized, is that person rejecting a Biblical environmentalism?
Before those questions are answered, more information is needed. For instance, is the science really that clear? President Obama popularized a statistic that is oft repeated and proclaimed as gospel; that statistic would suggest that it is overwhelmingly clear that climate change is an absolute fact. The statistic that Obama popularized comes from John Cook of Skeptical Science who published a paper that claims 97.1% of scientists agree that humans are the cause of global warming. Anytime you have 97% of scientists agreeing on anything scientific that should communicate a high level of certainty. For those of us who are not scientists and cannot examine the data in any meaningful way, this should be compelling. However, James Taylor over at Forbes has debunked this study claiming that Cook made significant mistakes in the study. In fact, it appears that scientists are split on the issue. The Daily Caller reported that nearly half of meteorologists are not so convinced.
None of that proves anything regarding climate change. There is not time to go through fracking, issues regarding the oil companies, and all the other environmental issues. The point of this post isn't to settle any of the environmental issues. Instead it is to suggest that this issue is not clearly understood and there is not, in fact, an overwhelming consensus or any real consensus at all.
Living green is all the rage, I was even charged an extra 10 cents for each plastic bag I used at the grocery store the other day. Theologically speaking, Christians should be the best environmentalists, but many evangelicals, like me, questions the validity of the science claiming that humans are causing climate change or that the amount of climate change is alarming. As a Christian who enjoys hiking, camping, and hunting, I have an interest in making sure that we care for God's creation. While some things are obviously harmful to the environment, many of the claims made by "environmentalists" are not obviously true. The Christian then, must make the best decision possible given their understanding of the evidence. It is not acceptable to say, "it's all gonna burn anyway". God has given humans as the stewards of creation, and even all of it is going burn, we don't know when and we should not be flippant. Christians must be true environmentalists doing the best they can, and they must be charitable regarding their judgment of others in relation to this issue. That does not mean we should accept science we think is bad or inconclusive, especially if we think policies enacted as a result brings harm to the economy (the poor) or other are
As I sat down to write this I had tears running down my face because of what is happening in Iraq. The extremist disgusting no, EVIL group called ISIS is perpetrating a Christian Holocaust. No, it isn't at the level of what happened to the Jews under Hitler's reign, and I pray it will not reach that level. If you are unfamiliar with what is going on, PLEASE watch the video at the bottom.
The United States went to Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction and found none. Whether you agree with that decision or not, what the U.S. did there had positive effects. There was some kind of freedom even if it is not what we enjoy here in the U.S. Human rights began to be recognized on some level. Men and women in the armed forces died for those people and for ours. For that I am eternally grateful. Not that long ago, the American forces, for all practical purposes, left. We decided (not me, but the royal we) that it was not in our best interest to maintain a peace keeping presence in the region. Shortly after we left, ISIS went on a rampage against all Christians offering them 3 options: 1) convert to Islam 2) pay the Jizya (tax) for being non-Muslim. 3) die. Of course there really is only one choice unless you are okay with watching your 8 year old daughter become the wife of a Muslim. What lessons should we be learning from this?
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.