Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The ‘Environmental Crisis’ and the Christian Faith

A recent article in Christianity Today contains a theme that is becoming a bit over-worked in establishment evangelical circles.  The article is about the broader implications of the Christian doctrine of creation.  It is not bad, but the author seemingly cannot resist the urge to load Christianity onto the bandwagon of “environmentalism” when at one point he says:

All of this adds a further dimension to our thinking about the present environmental crisis. If being made in God's image involves stewarding the natural world, we need to steward in a Christlike way, as servants rather than as dictators. As Christians, we can share with all humanity a concern for preserving the environment for future generations. And we can share with other faith communities a sense of preserving the Earth as a divine gift. But we should want to go further, and proclaim environmental responsibility as a consequence of living under the lordship of Christ.

It is striking that Genesis 1 ends not in the creation of Adam and Eve, but in the Sabbath day on which, as Scottish theologian David Fergusson says, "the whole creation glorifies its maker." That is, resting in, rejoicing in, and living out the Sabbath praise of God is regarded in Scripture as the very summit of earthly existence—the purpose for which it was breathed into being. Viewed this way, we humans are called not just to "use" material reality for our own ends, but to hallow it, to reverence it as God's gift, to work for its flourishing, and, in this manner, to be viceroys of the world over which he graciously superintends.

First of all, what, exactly is “the present environmental crisis”?  People have been using this terminology for decades now, and yet, when I take a walk “the environment” is still there.  The ever-present “crisis” language is clearly not just wrong, but deceptive.  Here is a Christ-like quality for Christianity Today to consider:  truthfulness.

Also along the lines of deception is language about “servants rather than as dictators” of the creation and that we should “not just ‘use’ material reality for our own ends.”  God told human kind to “subdue” the earth, which necessarily involves using it and thereby changing it.  All the theological mumbo-gumbo talk incorporating environmentalists lingo you can muster does not change that.

God made the earth for our use, and He made it in an amazing way such that, even when we make mistakes with the earth, it is very difficult for us to destroy it.  (Isn’t God tricky that way?)

This never-ending attempt by evangelicals to kowtow to environmentalism is yet another manifestation of the triumph of culture over Christianity.  It is not helpful, it is not “prophetic” and it amounts to a betrayal of the Christian faith.

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