The Briefing, Albert Mohler

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

It’s Tuesday, November 8th, 2022.

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Christian Stewardship and Your Ballot Today — It’s Now Up to Voters

Well, it’s election day in the United States, but make no mistake, and I say this with regret, it may be sometime until we know exactly what the returns will be and what the results of the election will shape up to be. In coming days, we’re going to find out more, but the reality is that right now, the most important thing I can say is that you must be certain that if you are qualified to vote, you vote. That if you are a citizen of the United States, if you are qualified to vote, it is your responsibility to vote.

And as you understand this in a Christian perspective, if in a situation like this, you have a right to vote, not voting becomes a vote. Not voting is actually a part of the math. You basically give a greater value to every other vote within the jurisdiction in which you might have voted.

And from a Christian biblical perspective, the important thing to recognize is that there is no way out of this responsibility. That is a part of the social compact of living in an electoral system of self-government. In such a system, every single citizen who has the right to vote thus has a stewardship, that even if unexercised, is still very significant. The math is still very, very important. Your vote really does matter.

I’ll just say in summary before we are going to turn to other issues, I’ll simply say that we should remember that issues as basic as the sanctity of human life are on the ballot virtually everywhere, especially when you look at Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate. And in several states, most importantly when you’re thinking about pro-abortion moves, you have voters in the states of California and Vermont, of Michigan, facing the responsibility to vote down measures that will be radically pro-abortion and thus injurious to the sanctity of human life and making the womb only a more dangerous place to be.

On the other hand, in a state like Kentucky, voters have the responsibility to vote “Yes” on what’s known here as Amendment 2 that would make very clear that the Kentucky Constitution includes no right to abortion and does not under any circumstance oblige the citizens of Kentucky to pay for abortion.

When you look at this, you recognize this and a lot more is at stake in virtually every single jurisdiction. There is no place thus that is safe, is a refuge from politics, because politics just means policy and the process by which policy and law are put into place. We care deeply about what those policies should be because we care deeply about our community, our state, our nation. We care deeply about the good and the flourishing of our neighbors, and thus we have a responsibility to vote. So if you haven’t yet, go vote.

And since we do not yet know the results of the election and thus it really would not be productive to speculate, we’re going to turn to other issues of great worldview concern, and we’ll do this a bit today and tomorrow because we’re about to be hit with an avalanche of information subsequent to this election.

But this does give us an opportunity while everyone else is talking about the election and saying basically the same thing over and over again, well, let’s just not do that. Let’s look at some other issues because they are also important.

Part II

A Not So United Climate Meeting: World Leaders Gather for COP27. What Is it About?

One of the things we need to think about is a formal meeting known as the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 27. Yes, it takes that many words for the United Nations to say we’re going to have a meeting in Egypt over climate change. Again, the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

What’s going on here? Well, as you know, the issue of climate change is not only controversial, it is presented as extremely pressing. And by the way, I don’t deny that it’s real and I don’t deny that it’s pressing. What I do deny is that there is any simple answer to this that will not come with incredible human costs. And this is one of those situations that’s good for us to think about from a Christian perspective because it reminds us of several very important things. One thing is, even if you are agreed on the nature of a problem, you might not be agreed on the nature of a solution.

So let’s talk about what’s going on there. First of all, this is the United Nations framework. It is the United Nations that has called this conference. And one of the things we need to note from a biblical perspective is that, when you’re talking about something like the United Nations, you need to notice that these nations are not all that particularly united.

There’s a reason for this, and this gets to the biblical, the Christian worldview principle of subsidiarity, which means that the most truth and the greatest order and preservation subsides. That is to say it exists at the lowest, most fundamental level of society. This is why children are best raised by parents. It’s not to say that a community can’t do something on behalf of children. It’s just to say that a community can’t replace parents. And for that matter, a state can’t replace a community and a federal government can’t replace a state or a community, much less the family.

You get to an abstraction like the United Nations, which is supposed to be a Congress of all the nations of the world, and you come to understand we shouldn’t be surprised that there is very little that unites the United Nations. And that’s because, even if you’re looking at the level of a nation, and this is a point I often try to make. When you’re looking at something that is a unit, the size of a nation, that is about as large as the human imagination and as the human social reach. Well, it’s just about as large as it’s able to achieve, because once you get beyond nations, basically all you can have are some treaties among nations for mutual interests.

You might have some mutual recognition, but when it comes to governing, that’s a big enough challenge for nations, particularly for big nations. But when you look at something like the United Nations, it’s implausible to believe that it can actually govern much of anything at all, but it does become a forum for conversation.

The United Nations has a lot of conversation, and by the way, it is the realization of what we see in the Old Testament in the Book of Genesis about God’s curse upon human sin and human rebellion with the confusion of languages, and of course, this takes us back to the classic biblical text of the Tower of Babel. But it’s not just language barriers that marks this kind of international gathering. It is also the fact that there are clashing worldviews here. There are clashing priorities. There are clashing interests.

Now, that doesn’t mean this kind of conversation is useless, but it does mean it is likely to be more about confusion than about clarity and more about disunity than about unity.

Now, the international press are giving us a great deal of attention. The New York Times recently had a headline: “Gathering in Egypt to Address Climate at Critical Moment.” USA Today: “Summit Holds Lessons, Progress for Climate.” Much of the coverage actually comes in a form of an apocalyptic warning such as there is no way to stop climate change, all we can hope is to slow it down and save civilization. Very dire warnings coming out of this.

Some of the language used at this meeting already is similarly alarmist. For example, you have the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, a Portugal; he is making very clear statements even if they are short sentences. The Secretary-General, the UN said, “Our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator.” Well, that’s an easy enough metaphor to understand.

But as you begin to take a look at what’s actually going on there in Egypt, once again, it is not most characterized by agreement but more generally characterized by disagreement, and not by common interest but by different interests. And that’s the issue when you bring all these nations together, every single one of these nations has its own interest or interests.

Now, in the Secretary-General speech, you see him recognize that by talking about the opportunity to join together the interests of the nations of the North with the nations of the South. He’s not primarily there talking about geography, although it sounds like it. He’s talking about industrialization with the North being far more industrialized or having more advanced economies on general terms than the economies of the South. And thus what the Secretary-General is talking about there is a sort of unity that would transcend the differences not only North and South but the differences between the more and less economically developed nations of the earth. But you’ll notice those are two very different sets of priorities.

So one of the things that has emerged already in Egypt is the fact that you have many of the nations in the so-called developing world, that is the less advanced economies, less industrialized, less technological, these less economically advantaged nations are saying that it is the duty and the responsibility of the more wealthy nations to subsidize their own transition to a less carbon intensive form of industry, of energy, and thus of running their economy.

And they’re also looking at the fact that they can point to natural disasters such as floods or famines and such things and say, look, this is being caused by climate change. Is that right or is that wrong? Well, as we’re going to see, that’s a complicated picture.

There is no reason to deny that we are looking at a climate crisis. That’s pretty clear. You can look at the low levels of the Mississippi River. You can look at all kinds of developments from all over the world. You can look at the report in the Wall Street Journal, and that is not a news source that has been pro-alarmist when it comes to climate change. But nonetheless, the Wall Street Journal runs a headline: “Last Eight Years Were the Warmest Recorded.” Now, this can be exaggerated as a problem.

It can also be ideologically contorted in such a way that it is used as a justification for everything from a one world government to some form of global socialism, but nonetheless, you don’t have to deny climate change to say there has to be more to this picture.

And for one thing, even the USA Today story points out something that you’re not going to hear from many of the alarmists. And that is, that if you look at the United States, and you heard the President of the United States frankly fumbling through this issue over the course of the last several days, infuriating members of his own party, not to mention the opposing party, but the President was indicating an end to the use of fossil fuels. And as he said, no more permits for offshore drilling and that kind of thing when it comes to oil, but at the same time, he’s saying that he wants to claim responsibility for future lower fuel prices, and that just to say the obvious doesn’t add up. But nonetheless, there is some good news here.

And as you’re looking at this, you need to recognize that as USA Today reports, the United States peaked in greenhouse gas emissions in 2007, so that will soon be 20 years ago. So in the United States, there is progress, and it’s not just progress when it comes to the transition and energy, it’s also progress that is seen in all kinds of things such as an expansion of consumer choice with the development of technologies. Just used brand names like Tesla. Look at Ford’s new all-electric F-150 pickup truck, things like that. It is likely that we are going to see a further and even more rapid transition, but it’s not going to be even and it is not going to be forced by government if it’s going to be successful. It is likely instead to depend upon market sources and market forces, and it’s not going to be uncomplicated.

So when you are thinking about, for example, electric vehicles, just recognize those require batteries that require precious metals that cause a great deal of ecological damage by extracting those necessary minerals and metals.

And so even as you say, “Look, I drive a Tesla, I don’t use gasoline.” Well, actually at this point, and maybe there’s an economy of scale here that’s going to kick into our advantage, but at least at this point, there may be more ecological damage from making the batteries in your Tesla than say creating a SUV that runs on gasoline. Then again, we might not know, and the trade offs might not yet be clear. It is clear that it is likely to be to the long term advantage of humanity that there would be a further shift from use of fossil fuels to the use of something like, say the batteries and electric vehicles.

But if it were easy, say to just flip that switch, well, someone would’ve done it, but it is noticeable that the advances on this have been very, very fast compared to some prognostications just of even recent history. And we also need to note that the most important of these advances have really come from a market economy, from businesses such as Tesla and Ford, just to give two examples, deciding it’s in their corporate best interest to offer these alternatives to consumers.

So even with all the alarmism, and again, I’m not denying that climate change is real and that it’s a real problem, but still it’s very important to recognize that with all the messaging here in the United States, we are making progress.

Our carbon emissions, we are told, peaked in 2007 have been going down ever since, and you now have people in the United States able to make choices about all kinds of energy use. But nonetheless, worldwide we do face a real challenge. But the point here is that, even as the United Nations has thousands, tens of thousands of people, they’re in Egypt for this discussion. No one really and responsibly expects the solution to come out of that meeting. For that matter, it’s hard even to put it together in usable language.

Part III

More Heat Deaths (But Less Deaths from Cold): Deciphering Climate Change Claims

But I want to point out one other issue, and that is that as we’re looking at this, Christians need to be aware. Indeed, thinking people just need to be aware that sometimes you can hear a case that seems overwhelming when evidence is given until you find out there might be contradictory or contrary evidence, or you might be receiving partial evidence.

Bjørn Lomborg is one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to climate change, and I appreciate what he does and just trying to bring some common sense realism. He’s very informed. He’s the president of the Copenhagen Consensus. He’s a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. And one of the things he does is point out how much misinformation is actually presented out there in the name of climate change.

An article that ran over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal was entitled, “Lancet’s ‘Heat Death’ Deception.” Now, the Lancet is the most venerable and the most influential medical journal of the medical establishment there in Great Britain, and it recently ran an article about the fact that there is an increase in heat deaths due to climate change.

Lomborg writes, “The study offers a frightening statistic: rapidly rising temperatures have increased annual global heat deaths among older people by 68% in less than two decades. That stark figure, we are told, has been cited all over, from the BBC and Time to the Washington Post and the Times of India, the world’s largest selling English language daily. UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez publicized the report, tweeting a link with a grave statement of his own, ‘The climate crisis is killing us COP27,’ that’s that meeting in Egypt ‘must deliver a down payment on climate solutions that match the scale of the problem.'”

But Lomborg comes back to say that the situation is actually a lot more complicated than that. And by the way, he’s not saying that that statistic is wrong, that there has been an increase of deaths among older people, a 68% increase when it comes to deaths attributed to global heat. But he points out there’s something else, and that is, that by the same measure there has been a significantly greater savings of human life from the same age group and others, by the way, by the situation of warming. In other words, more have died of so-called heat deaths, but a significantly greater number of people have not died by lack of heat deaths, or that is, by cold.

Lomborg writes, “Around the world far more people die each year from cold than heat. In the United States and Canada,” he writes, “between 2000 and 2019, an average of 20,000 people died from heat annually and more than 170,000 from cold.” Again, 20,000 compared to 170,000.

Lomborg is asking if you’re going to talk about an increased number of deaths from heat, why don’t you also point out that the very same factor points to a radical decrease in the number of people who are dying of cold?

Now, that’s a very good question, and it just points to the fact that in an ideological conflict both sides are likely to choose the parts of the evidence they think will help make their case or reach their goals at the expense of the other part of the information. That’s at least something of which we need to be aware, whether we’re looking at the way we make arguments or listening to how others make arguments.

But Lomborg points to something else, and that is, that if you’re going to talk about an increase, maybe you need to put it in context. He writes this, “Annual heat deaths have increased significantly among people 65 and older worldwide. The average deaths per year increased 68% from the early 2000s to the late 2010s. But that,” he says, “is almost entirely because there are so many more older people today than there were 20 years ago, in part because of medical innovations that keep us alive longer.” He then writes this, “Measured across the same time span the Lancet maps heat deaths, the number of people 65 and older has risen by 60%.” In other words, he says, almost by the percentage that the increase in heat deaths among people that age have also risen. He said, if you take out the rise of population, it turns out to be a 5% rise, not 68%, but you know what? 5% doesn’t make the headlines that 68% will make.

Now, we’ll be watching with interest to see what comes out of COP, that is Conference of Parties 27. But let’s just remind ourselves that we are talking about United Nations that are not very united, and so it is unlikely that there’s going to be an overwhelming consensus or agreement coming out of this meeting. When that consensus doesn’t happen, don’t be surprised.

Part IV

A Difficult Case in the Midst of a Dark, Conflicted History: SCOTUS Set to Hear Oral Arguments on Navajo Adoption Case

At least in part I wanted to raise that issue because there are some issues of such moral complexity that we, as Christians, just have to admit there isn’t a simple clear “yes or no” here. There’s not a simple clear “this way or that way” here.

Now, there is when it comes to something like the integrity of marriage, there is when it comes to something like the sanctity of human life, but sometimes we are looking at issues in which it isn’t particularly clear what exactly is the right way, or to put it in another context, “This might be good, that might be better, that might be best.” There might be a good argument about which is which, and sometimes you get deeply vexing moral issues in a broken sinful world that simply defy any very clear understanding of what exactly is just, what exactly is right.

The Supreme Court of the United States this week is going to hear oral arguments in a case that will test the moral understanding of any single human being, and that includes the nine human beings who are sitting as justices of the United States Supreme Court.

The headline in the New York Times is this: “Supreme Court Adoption Case May Threaten Tribes’ Sovereignty.” It comes down to this. The Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to take a case that tests the degree to which, for example, adoption should be allowed even when a child is identified as being a part of a certain Native American or Indian tribe, to what degree the interest of the child should prevail is might be determined by a court. This is in the best interest of this child versus this is in the best interest of this tribal group.

And as you’re looking at this, you recognize there is a long history here and that history is deeply conflicted. That history is in many ways deeply tragic. It is one of those histories that is laden with morality and it has to do with the way that the white European settlers dealt with the Indians who were living here and confronted them. And there were atrocities on both sides, but there is no doubt that the Europeans who came to the United States eventually made conquest of the land.

And it’s a different form even of understanding the relationship with the land, because when you’re talking about a tribal way of understanding the land and you’re talking about something like a European model where you end up with a map with states and overlapping jurisdictions and all the rest, well, you’re looking at a clash of civilizations. And we’re now looking at the aftermath of that clash, and we’re looking at the deep brokenness that can occur in human life. And we understand, as Christians, that’s the result of sin, and it’s not just something with individual consequences at times, it comes with massive constitutional questions and it comes down to brokenness, which would explain why there are children in need of adoption and foster care.

And in this story, by the way, there’s a tremendous testimony to the fact that evangelical Christians are deeply involved in trying to help children in such a situation that the focal point of this story and of the Supreme Court case is an evangelical couple trying to help to foster and adopt some Native American children. But there’s an existing law in the United States that says that if a child is identified as belonging to a tribal group, and by the way the percentage of the ancestry of the child is here very much in dispute what actually constitutes that, then the child is to be returned, at least there is a strong legal preference for the child to be returned to the tribe or to what is described here as the tribal nation and its sovereignty.

The Supreme Court is going to have to make some constitutional and legal judgements here, but we as Christians recognize there are some huge emotional issues at stake here. And we’re talking about the welfare of children, and we’re talking about the fact that there are people, in this case we’re talking about an evangelical couple who’ve been doing the brave and courageous work of taking care of many of these children, and at least when it comes to one of them, there’s the threat that the child will be taken away from them.

But the big brokenness in this is the question is what the court should be concerned about, what the law should be concerned about, primarily an individual question of what would be best for this child or what would be best in the larger national and in the larger moral sense for the preservation of a tribal or Indian Nation people. That turns out to be a huge and likely insoluble question, but the Supreme Court’s going to have to rule one way or the other.

And once again, we are reminded of what is presented in the Old Testament as Solomonic wisdom, as the fact that human wisdom can take us very far in many of these issues, but we are also confronting here the limitations of human wisdom. You could have people who intend to do only the right thing who confronted with a question like this, recognize, in a broken world, it is sometimes very, very difficult to know exactly what the right thing is.

One of the issues of intellectual responsibility for Christians is understanding that sometimes issues really are clear. Sometimes even a binary, this is right and that is wrong. And we are living in a society that wants to deny that anything can be that clear. We know that on many of the most basic moral controversies of our day, there really is a very easily understood right and an easily understood wrong, but we also just have to acknowledge the fact that there are some issues that are not so easily reduced to right and wrong; this way is good, that way is bad.

In a fallen world, there are some deeply, even excruciatingly difficult issues, and you can feel for and understand the moral urgency behind every single party to a case like this. Where is Solomon when you need it?

Thanks for listening to The Briefing.

For more information, go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to For information on Boyce College, just go to

With you this day, I am praying for this nation on Election Day, and I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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