Tuesday, March 25, 2008

In my most recent column in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Baptist plea churns up a tempest, I addressed some of the correspondence I have received.

"The environmental problems we are facing are real, and Americans —- especially Christians —- are morally obligated to address them," I conclude. "If the opponents to this declaration and environmental stewardship would check their facts and begin personally investing in their communities, many rises in blood pressure would be averted and my e-mail box wouldn't fill up so quickly."
Check out the full story by clicking the link above, and feel free to leave your comments below.


Heather Marie said...


As I've told you before, I'm a fan of your thinking. I'm not always a fan of what you say, but I love that you are willing to say it and that you often seem to see things in a way others don't.

Let me start of by being honest: I have not read the entire initiative. I have read most of it, but I have yet to sit down and finish the entire document. With that said, here are a few of my thoughts:

1) This might sound nit-picky, and I understand your identification with the SBC, but the fact that your document has SB in the title bothered me. I've read several statements you've made, including your article in the AJC, and in those instances you appeal more to people of faith and Christians, in particular. I guess I would have preferred you to call it a Christian initiative instead of a Southern Baptist initiative. I think it's an issue all Christians should be aware. Not that you meant it this way, but I'm bothered by the high levels of separatism in the Christian faith. We need more unity in Christ.

2) I like that you have brought light to such an important issue. It is our duty to care for creation. God created such a beautiful planet and we, particularly Christians, should do our best to protect that beauty. I don't believe that radicalism is the answer to any problem, but there are small ways that each person can make a difference. I like that the document provided no direct ways by which to go about caring for creation. I think people often feel cornered when they are told exactly what to do and are then less willing to do it. However, if people are given the opportunity to come up with ways in which to participate, they are generally more willing to do so.

3) Conversations are the key to change. This issue could have continued to be swept under the rug for years if someone, in this case you, had not raised the issue. I commend you for your willingness to step up. You have undoubtedly been put on the front lines of a media barrage and, unfortunately, you seem to be receiving criticism from all sides. Let me say that I appreciate your efforts.

As this conversation continues, I pray that the world will be blessed by the efforts of you, and others, who are willing to stand up and speak.

--Heather Marie

Jonathan Merritt said...

Heather Marie-

Very insightful thoughts. Here are some thoughts:

There are multiple reasons that I did an exclusively Southern Baptist declaration. First, there is a need there. Other denominations are well ahead of ours on these issues, and Southern Baptists have a powerful voice that could send a powerful message. As Andy Stanley has said, you should always focus your efforts where you have the greatest potential for success. Furthermore, I have to work in circles where I find influence. As a Southern Baptist, my small circle of influence sits within my own denomination.

But you are really making a larger statement, I think. Our generation is not all that fond of denominations. As one former Southern Baptist said to me in an email this week, "I want my church to stand for Jesus and Jesus only." But we should not be rash and write off denominations like the SBC that are still powerful forces for missions and evangelism. If the SBC could develop a voice of relevance, I think they would become an attractice place of ministry for our generation.

Does this make sense? Do you disagree?



Heather Marie said...


Your statements make sense. And I don't fully disagree, but I don't fully agree either. I guess in several ways I am an idealist. I have no personal problem with the SBC; I just don't like denominations. I don't like the division within the church. I often feel that people find more allegiance to their denomination than to Jesus. In some ways it's a new form of idol worship and that is a troublesome point for me. Jesus is what it all boils down to.

Denominations do provide positive points, such as a tangible sense of belonging. I realize that denominations are not going away. So if they can make a positive impact, as the SBC seems to be doing, then that's perhaps the best that can be hoped for.

in Christ,