Orginally published on Wednesday, January 02, 2008 at 8:46 AM
by Todd Rhoades
Al Gore is EthicsDaily.com's pick as Baptist of the Year for 2007. According to EthicsDaily.com, he "has pressed for the global good with a compelling message about the danger of climate change and a clear call for moral responsibility, knitting together science and faith, reason and passion. He has refused to be distracted by the character-assassins, the fear-mongers, the science-deniers and the merchants of short-term gain. He has remained faithful to his mission of protecting the earth and its inhabitants..."
In the opening paragraphs of his Nobel Peace Prize lecture, Gore said, “I have a purpose here today. It is a purpose I have tried to serve for many years. I have prayed that God would show me a way to accomplish it.”
With an acknowledgment of Providence, Gore tethered his speech to his moral vision. He quoted the Bible, refused to make God responsible for human inaction, called squarely for an ethic of love for neighbor, confessed human failure and placed moral authority at the tip of the needed plan for planetary redemption. His address was profoundly Christian without being offensively so.
“The earth has a fever. And the fever is rising. The experts have told us it is not a passing affliction that will heal by itself. We asked for a second opinion. And a third. And a fourth. And the consistent conclusion, restated with increasing alarm, is that something basic is wrong,” he said. “We are what is wrong, and we must make it right.”
Gore appraised realistically one of the major obstacles to making things right—the deficit of leadership. Quoting from Winston Churchill about those who ignored the threat of Adolf Hitler, Gore spoke about the character of too many world leaders: “They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.”
Gore has challenged that leadership deficit with a decisive doggedness that surely comes from the depths of the prophetic vision.
Regrettably no Baptist has received less applause from Baptists than Gore, a shameful but not unexpected reality from a people snarled in religious fear, suspicious of science and stuck in the rut of spiritualized reading of the Bible.
“No prophet is accepted in his own country” (Luke 4:24, KJV), remarked Jesus after he issued his moral mission statement in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:18-19), which concluded with a pro-environmental vision. That vision proclaimed “the year of the Lord’s favor,” a time that protected the land, its livestock and laborers from exhaustion.
FOR DISCUSSION: Any thoughts on Al Gore being names the “Baptist of the year”?
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