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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pollute the Bible to Save the Earth

Noting that some Christians now are claiming -- literally -- to speak in the name of Jesus Christ ("In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, we urge all who read this declaration to join us in this effort") when they make pronouncements on global warming, I thought I would direct blog readers to this excellent paper by Samuel Casey Carter, "What Scriptures Tell Us About Environmental Stewardship."

Some excerpts:
Now that secular liberalism has all but driven orthodox religion out of public life, it should come as no surprise that heterodox spirituality has become the latest battering ram of the left. In a time when the Bible has been expunged from schoolrooms as an icon of Western bigotry, biblical arguments are now oddly on the comeback, recast as a fashionable means of pushing a leftist agenda. What is not to be expected is the degree to which well-meaning Christians have become the spokesmen of these distortions. Embracing the tenets of radical environmentalism without an eye to the manner in which these teachings are fundamentally hostile to Christian tradition, a new brand of Christian is out to save the earth, but in so doing he may well flip his faith upon its head...

...A number of Evangelical organizations have recently risen to prominence by popularizing what they take to be biblical mandates for their activist brand of environmentalism. With names like the Evangelical Environmental Network, the Christian Environmental Association, and the Christian Society of the Green Cross, a whole swarm of seemingly mainstream Protestant organizations conjures support for their activist programs through specious readings of disconnected biblical texts...

...But regardless of anyone's support for the Endangered Species Act, Superfund, or any of the programs initiated by the Environmental Protection Agency, the specific manipulation of biblical passages in order to achieve certain political goals is an abuse that must be met head on. If the Bible says anything about man's sound management of natural resources, it does so only in the setting of man's relationship with God...

...The [Evangelical Environmental Network's Declaration on the Care of Creation] sums up this state of affairs with the odd formulation, "because we have sinned, we have failed in our stewardship of creation." As it turns out, the material world is suffering for man's spiritual deficiencies. Make no mistake about it, this way of talking subordinates religious belief to a materialist view of the world... Throughout the Declaration all of the appeals to scriptural authority are a ruse. All of the pious inflections are a sham. The only concern here is for how the genius of human science will overcome the finite limits of God's creation. Interestingly, one of the chief expressions of that genius are the contraceptive methods necessary to "insure thoughtful procreation."

The reference to extending Christ's healing is particularly telling. In the same way Christ redeemed man, now man has to redeem the Earth. Needless to say, in all of man's saving activity, God is made redundant...

...Earth is not the proper object of man's religious longings. But when a man is taught to care for the Earth with a zeal reserved for the love of God, a few things are sure to be misplaced: God and man, for starters...

...Christian environmentalists have turned the world on its head. In using language reserved for God to show their concern for the Earth, they have only bred contempt for man and made a mockery of real religion. What they have not done is to make the Earth a proper object of worship. It can't be. But more to the point, theirs is not a genuine religious concern. They have simply invoked religious rhetoric to give new urgency to their worldly agenda. Sadly, for those who don't discern this agenda, this manner of speaking will make an idol of the Earth...

...When the Lord God revealed himself to Moses on Mount Sinai, he commanded all of Israel to have no false gods before him. In their fidelity to the Lord God, the people Israel kept the Lord's words in their hearts, on their wrists, before their eyes, and upon their door posts. When later they crossed the Jordan to take possession of the land that the Lord God had given them, they were careful to observe all the statutes and decrees that he had set before them.

Should they ever follow false gods, they would lose the land that the Lord God had given to them for their benefit...
These excerpts do not do the paper justice. Please read it all here.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:34 AM

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