» Mount Nebo Papers

The Mount Nebo papers are a series of papers offering an overview, from an orthodox Christian perspective, of significant public policy issues. Written by IRD staff and adjunct fellows, the papers are grounded in the best biblical, historical, scientific, economic, and policy scholarship. They are intended to help Christian lay and clergy leaders think through issues from a Christian perspective. They are designed to be read by individuals or studied in a group educational setting.

The papers offer a model of how thoughtful Christians should engage public policy issues. They start with a survey of relevant biblical teachings. They then look for guidance from church history and tradition. The papers next examine the perceived problem facing society. The pros and cons of several policy options are weighed. Attention is given to the positions adopted by church bodies and leaders of various Christian traditions. The papers conclude with a summary of matters on which all Christians should be in agreement, as contrasted with matters that should be left to the prudential judgment of individual believers.

The name Mount Nebo is borrowed from the mountain, in present-day Jordan, from which Moses was permitted to view the Promised Land that he would not be able to enter (Deuteronomy 32:48-52). We find in this biblical incident an apt analogy for what we wish to accomplish in this series of papers.

We are trying to take a broad view of large topics, gaining a sense of the “lay of the land.” We look ahead to the country that is our home and our destiny—God’s kingdom in its fullness, as promised in the Scriptures—while recognizing that we do not dwell in that country today and might not enter it in our earthly lifetimes. We cannot discern every policy road that we will need to follow. But with our eyes fixed on the revelation that God has given us, we can be properly oriented to move forward by faith amidst all the uncertainties of this age.

Dr. E. Calvin Beisner

People are called to wise stewardship of the Earth that God created. Today, many environmental concerns clamor for attention and investment. Some Christian leaders point to possible climate change as the greatest threat facing the planet, proposing multi-trillion dollar efforts to prevent predicted global warming. Others prefer to concentrate on addressing more immediate problems such as air and water pollution, toxic and nontoxic solid wasts, contamination of land and waterways by agricultural chemicals and wastes, deforestation, and habitat and species loss. How do we prioritize these challenges? What is the most important environmental task facing American Christians today?

Alan F.H. Wisdom

By many measures, marriage has weakened in our society over the past two generations. Fewer people marry. More people divorce. Increasing numbers of people follow a pattern of “serial monogamy,” moving along a string of sexual relationships (often including childbearing) without ever forming a lasting marriage.

Not only the practice but also the understanding of marriage has shifted. Our society’s view of marriage, centered on mutual emotional satisfaction, is increasingly distant from classic Christian teaching. Now pro-homosexuality advocates are seeking to use judicial fiat to radically redefine the institution, reducing it to a relationship between any “two people who love each other.”

With all this conflict around marriage, is it worth the cost for Christians to continue to defend and promote this embattled institution? Should they insist that their churches commend and bless the lifelong union of one man and one woman as God’s design for human sexual relationship? Should they insist that the state also recognize and favor this same relationship as of unique social value?



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