You are at a neighborhood block party. Conversation is lagging-until somebody mentions "the environment." Suddenly your problem is not keeping talk going, but keeping tempers under control.

Fueled by misconceptions, misinformation, and even showmanship, the environmental debate rages in the popular media. One side likes to quote Rush Limbaugh, who paints Vice President Al Gore and friends as "tree huggers"; the other charges "rape of the Earth."

It is not very different in evangelical churches. When it comes to God's creation, evangelicals want to have ardent convictions, though misunderstandings and myths get in the way. Is concern for the earth biblical? Should our theology shoulder the blame for the crisis? Is there nothing we can do to make a difference?

CT decided to take such questions to key evangelical thinkers and leaders. When the Evangelical Environmental Network offered to cosponsor a symposium, CT signed on. A dozen people representing an array of disciplines spent the better part of two days late last year hitting the issues head-on. Many of the symposium participants staved on to help shape "An Evangelical Declaration on the Care of r Creation." As expected, there was plenty of vigorous and interesting discussion.

The question arose, for example, concerning whether there really is a problem. Nobel laureate Henry Kendall, professor of physics at MIT (one of the few nonevangelicals present), set the stage by reviewing quantifiable evidence. Citing studies on water resources, oceans, soil, and atmosphere, he noted that the scientific community generally agrees that all is not well.

A public-policy shaper also joined the group, putting to rest the notion that all who work for environmental causes are neopagan New Agers. ...

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