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The latest Barna survey was published last night. Its intent was to evaluate the Evangelical position concerning the environment. You can find it here.

One paragraph in particular caught my attention:

"Most Christians are not satisfied to be mere observers of the green movement. Three-quarters of self-identified Christians (78%) agree they would like to see their fellow Christians take a more active role in caring for God’s creation in a way that is both informed and biblical. Among evangelicals, 90% would like Christians to take a more active role in caring for creation, with 67% agreeing strongly. This sentiment is firmly endorsed by a majority of active churchgoers who are Catholic (52%), mainline Protestant (62%), and non-mainline Protestant (67%)."

I would agree with the basic thrust of this as I too am concerned about the environment. However, I am not going "Green" or even "going Green" in any way.

I, as an Evangelical, protest this association.

I think that it is important to distinguish here the difference between "going green" and a biblically based concern for the stewardship of creation. In my mind, "going green" has massive political overtones that not only speak to a concern for the environment, but a prioritized concern for the environment that highlights many "green" issues to the neglect of those that are much more important.

For example, most of the prolific greeners who represent the movement and the agenda are those support abortion. It is hard for me to take seriously those who want to save a tree yet tear apart a baby in its mother's womb. It is hard for me to see how taking a stand about a highly controversial issue about Global Warming can take precidence over murder of an innocent life.

Again, don't get me wrong, I will do my part as God has given me stewardship over his creation, but I cannot be identified with the imbalance of those who are "going Green." They can go green alone.

Views: 26

Comment by JL Vaughn on September 23, 2008 at 4:17pm
I agree Michael.

When I was looking at a hybrid car the other day, I found that the "hybrid" markings were an extra cost option. (I want a hybrid because it is quiet and has lots of low-end torque.) No deal. They won't sell it without the "green" stamp. I have to advertize my political correctness. They might as well put "Save the Whales" and "Abort the Babies" bumper stickers on it.

On the other hand, a green stamp on my hunting rig might be excellent camoflauge.

Blessings.
Comment by Holly on September 23, 2008 at 10:49pm
What about those who are pro-life and pro-creation? There are Christians (real ones) in existence who believe humankind had/has a redemptive, maybe even transformative role to play in creation (a theory explored by both Torrance and C.S. Lewis, among others) but instead has become a destroyer and usurper himself. I know my stance on these matters will never result in an invitation to "The Inner Ring" as Lewis termed it, but in every generation God does seem to raise up people to call attention to unpopular contemporary concerns, whether they be animal cruelty, slavery, environmental issues, etc. and to a great extent they do stand alone against the majority opinion. I can rattle off their names if you like.

I seriously do not understand why the church is so threatened by the "politics" involved, when the church is neck-deep in politics of one form or another anyway. Why not bring something to the table? Why bow out of the discussion?

I wish people wouldn't make generalizations about "green" or (here comes the REALLY bad word) "sustainable" living. Trot that one out in Christian company and see if you aren't INSTANTLY labeled a Marxist, despite the fact that that word may mean something completely different to you...like living simply. Living the words of Jesus out radically. Living frugally. Giving sacrificially.

Marxist indeed.

Yeah, some people would rather save a whale and not the baby, but honestly a lot of people can do and WANT to do both, see no reason to dichotomize life, know it is all sacred (every moment of it) and know that everything was made by and for God, everything reflects his glory, everything belongs to him and to have great compassion for all living beings is to also reflect his image in the world.

I don't know what is so difficult about that.

Peace.
Comment by Rey Reynoso on September 24, 2008 at 9:01am
Michael: spot on.

JL: lol!
Comment by James Gibbons on September 24, 2008 at 10:14am
Green is not a way of thinking. It is a political movement. We must fight to keep Christianity from becoming (or being perceived as) a political movement—for the sake of the gospel. So, I agree with you, Michael. Mahalo, brah.
Comment by Scott on September 24, 2008 at 10:28am
I posted this comment on Parchment and Pen, but thought I would post here as well.

Michael -

Thanks for the challenge. It is amazing that we can easily get off track. When we read Scripture, we have to see what our main purpose is as followers of Christ. I see our main goal as proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom rule of God, for it was Jesus’ goal to bring and announce the rule of God. We have a message of God wanting to be in our midst and bring us to reconciliation with Himself. And it’s our mission that is based upon that message.

As you rightly say, there is absolutely nothing wrong with caring for the environment. From the beginning, God mandated our first parents to take care of the garden (Gen 2:15), the little bit of ‘environment’ they had. I’m going to do a little gardening myself today, for it is a good thing. I never want to embrace a theology that says, ‘Well, we are headed out of here soon anyway, so no need to take care of the earth, creation, etc.’

But God has first called us to a mission of proclaiming the message of the gospel of the kingdom in the midst of the world. It is this message of grace upon grace from the King Himself that compels people to be changed, not specific movements. All else is to become peripheral.

We want to care for creation, and that might mean that you feel compelled to purchase a hybrid car, and recycle, and simply mow your grass. These are all good things, most of which I look to participate in. But we have to be careful of getting so caught up in movements and reactionary establishments for the sake of being involved. We have a much bigger task and goal - keeping our eyes fixed on the King and His message.

Thanks Michael.
Comment by Holly on September 24, 2008 at 12:26pm
I can see I'm alone in this, here at Theologica at least. That's OK. I'm not alone, however!

A few final points:

1. The church should have been setting the example all along but has allowed the world to politicize this issue and set the standard for leadership.

2. It is possible to preach the gospel and follow Christ and steward creation thoughtfully and compassionately; these are not mutually exclusive goals.

And a couple of questions:

Christians are not to become involved in "movements?" What about the pro-life movement? Do we not oppose evil the evil of pornography or trafficking in human beings as groups of people called to do so, or are we to only do so as individuals so as not to give the appearance of being a part of a movement?" What are we when we band together as part of a missionary group? What was the early church? C'mon!

Men like William Wilberforce, a Christian, who stood virtually alone (because his peers were afraid to speak up) in Parliament against the slave trade & slavery in the British Empire still found time to pass laws and found entire organizations dedicated to improving the welfare of animals and reforming society in general - and he did so as part of a movement.

Those of you who may be too young (I sound like I'm 90 and I'm not) to remember the pollution horror stories of the 60's and 70's - Love Canal, for instance - owe more to the environmental movement than you might think.

I just think this sort of dismissive way we have of looking at certain contemporary issues is why the world is in turn dismissive of Christianity as out of touch. No, we don't re-make Christ or his message into a palatable or easy to swallow mush and if you had spent time on the Seeker-Friendly Church thread, you would know that I argued consistently against removing the scandal of the cross from the message of the Gospel...however, "green" CAN be a way of thinking - it is to me, and it is to a great many Christians I know, whose lives are increasingly impacted by their desire to identify with Christ and live out his words in obedience on a daily basis. It is possible to look at this from more than one perspective!

Peace.
Comment by Michael Patton on September 24, 2008 at 12:36pm
I don't think that I am promoting a dismissive view of the environment. I am just saying that the Green Movement spends most of its time speaking to controversial issues and making them the line of demarcation between righteous and wickedness all the while, for the most part, fighting for the right to kill innocent babies. It makes no sense. It makes it hard to hear. They don't gain much of an audience with me and I think evangelicals should steer clear of any association.

It is not unlike the ACLU. Good cause (in principle), but inbalanced agendas cause them to lose their voice. I would not encourage any Evangelical to be associated with the ACLU, but I would say that we should be leading the way as examples of human rights and dignity.
Comment by Rey Reynoso on September 24, 2008 at 12:49pm
Holly, you're not alone. I agree with you that the Church should be leading the way on this and its a shame many of the louder members sometimes wave their hands as if to pooh pooh creation and all. I don't think Michael was doing that in this post but more focusing on the politicized group versus the issues. If the name carries overtones in the wrong direction, its better to drop the name Green (party) and adopt something else. Like I'm Pro-Stewardship. :)
Comment by Holly on September 24, 2008 at 2:23pm
Michael: I guess I haven't heard that killing the unborn is a moral imperative of the Green Movement or the platform upon which they build the structure of their argument. I have met people who range widely in their opinion on this issue. I don't belong to the Green Movement (with a capital G and M) but I am all for a gentler, kinder approach to certain issues such as farming, waste disposal - I mean, these things just make sense. We are starting to see the results of mass production in the poisoning of our food supply, and yet the industry resists change because it is CHEAPER to do things as they have done them for years. Do they care about you? No. Yet Christians who suggest we might look for a better way are dismissed as enviro-wackos. There is a tendency to divide along these lines within the church as well.

For my part, Rey & Michael, I am concerned and compassionate toward all living things. It is simply my nature and has been since I was a young child. I guess you could argue that God has made this way. Perhaps it is the gift of mercy. We have rescued people who have needed a place to live (one young man lived with us for 14 months until he got on his feet) and I have personally helped pregnant women who were about to abort their babies (one was actually in the clinic when she changed her mind). We share what we have with others.

I also rescue animals and advocate for their welfare because I believe they are important to God and I believe his justice extends to all of creation. I don't accept what C.S. Lewis termed "the easy speeches that comfort cruel men" any more than he did. Cruelty is the antithesis of Christ and the mark of the evil one and I sometimes think we as a Body do not take it as seriously as we ought to when we encounter it visited upon the weak by the powerful - whomever they may be.

So...

I don't feel as though I am slighting human beings when I work on behalf of animals, nor do I feel that I am slighting animals when I work on behalf of human beings, because if the Gospel permeates everything I do, and prayer undergirds my efforts, God can use whatever I am engaged in to his glory. I don't need to compartmentalize life and restrict myself to an "either-or" approach.

Remember - I speak only for myself here. I am not criticizing anyone else.

Thanks for letting me post my views.

Peace.
Comment by JL Vaughn on September 24, 2008 at 2:37pm
Holly,

I am out in creation every chance I get. No one cares about proper, balanced, thoughtful care of the environment than I do. But most of what we are told to do to protect the environment is actually damaging and wasteful.

Many of the things we are called to do for the sake of "sustainable living" are truly wasteful and bad stewardship. Take Scott's suggestion of recycling for example. I'm told to wash out my glass (we import our water from 400+ miles away, this requires time and effort on my part) and place them in a recycling bin. The glass is then taken to a facility where it is sorted by hand (which I pay for with my trash fees), then loaded on trucks to be shipped to glass manufacturers. Reality is, most of it is shipped to landfills because it is not worth recycling. There is a lot of waste in human effort and resources being put in the trash with that glass.

Before mandatory recyling programs, a lady came by on trash day to pick up the recyclables that were actually worth recycling. She took our newspapers, our aluminum, and certain plastics. It didn't cost me a cent. She was neat, tolerably clean, and courteous. Once I understood what she wanted, I even left it on the side for her. If it was too big, or once her cart was full, a man in a truck came by to help.

They earned a living off the trash worth recycling. They saved me money, time, and effort. They were arrested for trash theft shortly after the mandatory recyling laws were passed.

Our lifestyle is sustainable. Our lifestyle is generally improving. The richer we get, the more we can afford cleaning things up and making them beautiful. Poor people in squalid slums in socialist third world countries don't have the time, money, and resources to afford a clean environment. Poor is only sustainable in filth and environmental destruction.

Blessings.

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