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Q What do issues like climate change, recycling programs, or creating energy-efficient spaces have to do with the church? The church’s task is to proclaim God’s Word, administer the sacraments, exercise pastoral care, and engage in mission work. Yet many churches are getting into these other issues big-time.

A You seem to be an advocate of “sphere sovereignty,” believing that organizations like church, state, family, and school should have definite boundaries. But there’s also “sphere universality”: a sense in which how people govern, how people behave toward their parents and children, and how people teach and learn must in part be addressed in the church’s message. There is an ethical dimension to climate change and recycling that all of society needs to glean from the church’s preaching, teaching, and evangelizing. We must hold before people—church members and all others—the importance of being good stewards of God’s creation for the sake of future generations.

I’m thrilled that more and more “creation care” issues are finding their way into our churches’ reflection and action. A current synodical report also recognizes that “deacons shall lead the members in ways that inspire faithful stewardship of their time, talents, and resources and so give life in this world the shape of God’s kingdom.” Perhaps, by the time you read this, Synod 2015 will have agreed.

Even so, your point has validity. We must pursue these things in interaction with our politicians.  And when we do so we must highlight the ethical dimension and not presume that we know exactly what kind of policies our government should adopt. Similarly, the classroom might be a better way for young people to learn about carbon emissions than hearing sermons full of details about fracking and the ozone layer.

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