Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Green" Sermons

I was in Riverside, CA back in December and happened to be reading the local paper when I came across this article by Associated Press writer Greg Bluestein, "Green sermons taking root throughout the Southeast". The story is about a new environmental focus by pastors to connect faith and the environmental movement. As the story starts out, an Atlanta-based preacher started a two month series of sermons on our stewardship of the Earth.

The preacher, Robert Walker, Jr., said, "We can embrace God and Scripture and science together. And it's enough to say when they agree-and sometimes they do-we should embrace it. And they agree that our Earth cannot last forever. And that we are charged with the responsibility of taking care of it."

An organization known as Interfaith Power and Light is attempting to "engage the faithful into environmental activism, overcoming the distrust that has grown up between science and religion." The group hands out kits on how to go green, encourages congregations to switch to energy-efficient lights bulbs, and in some cases offer workshops and screenings of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth".

There are several things that disturb me about this article specifically and the Environmental movement in general.

First, the Regeneration Project exists to provide sermon-like materials to pastors for the sole purpose of convincing congregations of the man-made global warming threat. I feel very strongly that this is not an issue to be preached from the pulpit, especially since it is a political topic and not a proven fact. Having community meetings outside of church hours or informative seminars is a different thing and all churches have a responsibility to seek and save the lost. To clarify, the mission should be to save the lost from sin, not from being energy inefficient. The two are not necessarily connected.

Second, this movement denies God's role in the earth's development. He is the Creator, and He is in charge of it still. We are stewards, not owners. God is specific in the Bible about our roles and His. We are assured that He will never again flood the Earth. Do we trust Him, or not? Al Gore and the like fill our heads and televisions with messages of impending floods. What does God say? He says in Genesis 8:22, "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." I agree with Joseph Farrah when he said in his article "The Bible and 'Global Warming'".

"It is so presumptuous and haughty of believers and non-believers alike to think man is in control of the destiny of the planet God created for us.

If it were so, would he not have warned us? With all of the prophecies in the Bible, should we not expect to be told that such matters are actually in our hands? Why would we be told exactly the opposite throughout scripture?"

Thirdly, it is possible that God uses prophecy to convince the lost of his existence. For example, the book of Isaiah is filled with prophecies about Jesus so that the Jews would recognize the Messiah. Those of us who read the Bible are anxiously awaiting signs of Jesus' second coming, for the signs are there. For example, the possible peace in the Middle East. When Israel is at peace with her neighbors we know that the Lord can't be far behind.

I think the same type of case could be made for the warming of the Earth. 2 Peter 3:10 states, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare."

And then it continues in chapter 11-13, "Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness."

God will use any means possible to have his people return to him and know him. And I believe all these things, calamities, yes, work together to convince people of their own humanness and the sovereignty of God. Is it possible that environmentalists are afraid to face their Creator so they attempt to put off the judgment of the Lord?

And why are Christians falling for it? We should have the full-confidence of God at work in our lives. We should be at work telling others about his unfailing love, not trying to preserve something that was never supposed to last forever.


RooseFam said...

Thought provoking, as always, J Dubb. I see the pastor's point in preaching about the fact that we are charged with taking care of the Earth. It's the same concept as hearing a sermon about taking care of our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Wanting to have a healthy, fit, attractive body can lead to vanity, but a positive approach to eating right, exercising, not smoking and drinking (and other habits that deteriorate us from the inside out)...those are all great and very appropriate. Same with the Earth. I'm not going to sell my car and start riding a bike everywhere, but certain things make sense in regards to caring for the planet God created for us. Thinking that we can "save" the planet is playing God and is a whole different story.

I like these thought provoking blogs.

Jessie said...

Actually, I disagree with the concept of a man-made global warming. It is not a proven fact that our actions have contributed to the change in global climate.

The earth goes through heating and cooling cycles, always has and most likely will continue. Would you suggest that the Ice Age was brought about by too much coal burning? Or cutting down trees? The most recent Ice Age was about 10,000 years ago! That's when it ended!

Did you know that in the 1970's scientists predicted a massive cooling within 30 years? So, it's almost 40 years later, the Earth has not gone into another Ice Age, and now they're trying to tell me that because I drive a gasoline-powered car the Earth is going to burn up within 30 years. Hmmm, I doubt it. They're track record isn't that good.

I am not suggesting that we go dump a bunch of oil into the North Pacific Ocean ala Exxon Valdez. I am talking specifically about rejecting the premise that human activity is the cause of whatever climate changes the Earth is going through.

Jessie said...

Furthermore, are you sure you have no qualms about a pastor preaching on global warming? I find this extremely disturbing. What's is next? Sermons about repealing the 2nd Amendment? Political discussions are best left off the pulpit. (And I'm a political junkie!) This is a political and policy discussion and it has been made into a moral one. Being 'environmentally conscious' does not equal moral responsibility.

Your example about the body being a temple is not the same as preaching about global warming. Jesus said the body is the temple for the Holy Spirit to live in. He did not go on to say that the Earth is the inhabiting place of God therefore its condition should be pristine.

chandy said...

"We should be at work telling others about his unfailing love, not trying to preserve something that was never supposed to last forever."

Or course I agree with the first point, but I guess I don't see how evangelism and conservation are mutually exclusive. And whether global warming is a fact or not, one needs only to look over the Phoenix skyline to see that what we are doing now isn't working. I think that Christians are charged primarily with sharing God's love, but we must also "Do what is right and good" (According to one of Elliot's bible verses). And even though endorsing Earth-friendly policies is of far lesser importance than pointing the way to our Savior, it still falls in the "right and good" category.

Jessie said...

Although I agree that there is no evil in conservation and we are responsible for the things entrusted to us.

The problem is when "doing good" comes at price of liberty. Thermostat controls and mandating CAFE standards for cars are essentially taking the choice out of our hands and giving it to our already huge federal government.

I only see how this can end, with the power companies setting our air conditioning, in the summer, at 89 degrees all for the sake of preserving the environment. While it may have been temporarily stopped in CA this week, it's not that far off if we continue to sit back and let the government make decisions so that the Earth won't burn up. (Which it will anyways.)