Both/AndJune 16, 2006
Robert Parham has an excellent column at Ethics Daily today reminding us that we can be both for environmental protection and evangelism. In particular he notes the logical fallacy of the false dichotomy that says there are only two competing options. He argues:
Sadly, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution in Greensboro that slams thoughtful evangelicals who have committed themselves to working on global warming. The resolution rightly criticizes the worship of nature and wrongly ignores the worship of the American marketplace. It offers not a word of admonition about our materialistic culture and scientists who do the bidding of greed driven corporations.Amen! It is not an either/or option but a both/and. We can and should do both. We must stop arguing against one good and biblical duty by placing it in competition with another. That is as illogical as, for example, saying you can love your mother or your father, when you actually can and should love both.
As bad as those failures of moral reasoning are, an even worse mistake is in a false choice.
The SBC resolution warns that environmentalism may divide and distract the evangelical community from the great commission.
Good theology refuses to engage in an either/or framework about missions and moral action. Good Baptist theology values both the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) and Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37-40). Good theology does not play one off against the other.
Most often Great Commission work takes places where environmental degradation is profound, causing widespread human suffering, in the very places where Great Commandment work is critical.