Over the years I’ve observed churches succumbing to the temptation to wrap the ordinary duties of life in the shiney foil wrapping paper of high theology. That seems to be the case with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The NPR website gleefully reports that a couple of weeks ago the SBC passed a resolution calling for governmental action to prevent future drilling disasters of the sort currently polluting the the Gulf of Mexico.

Here is the key portion of the Resolution : “We call on the governing authorities to act determinatively and with undeterred resolve to end this crisis; to fortify our coastal defenses; to ensure full corporate accountability for damages, clean-up, and restoration; to ensure that government and private industry are not again caught without planning for such possibilities; and to promote future energy policies based on prudence,
conservation, accountability, and safety.”

The sentiments are unobjectionable. Who is opposed to deteminative action, corporate accountability, and good energy policies?

But in what sense are these sensibilities uniquely Christian in character? Why do we need church conventions weighing in on issue or topics such as energy policy? What special charism does ecclesiastical leadership possess in the domain of government regulation of off shore drilling?

The churches possess a unique, revealed knowledge germane to the salvation of our souls. The churches also have a rich understanding of the moral vocation of the human person, which includes many aspects of our social existence. But, as the Body of Christ, the churches do not possess policy expertise. There is precious little in the Word of God that can guide our judgements about how to respond to the BP drilling disaster—not in the endeavor to limit damages, not in the job of assigning blame and accountability, not in the job of revising regulations and new policies.

Christian citizens have a duty to think clearly and responsibly about matters such as energy policy. Churches? I don’t think so.

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