<![CDATA[I had a brief conversation online the other day with a lady who was responding to an article about a new local recycling business and then was decrying how many Christians these days make caring for the environment into an alternative religion or an idol. The conversation went something like this:
Lady: Yes, I am glad we are taking care of our world but to so many Christians it has become a religion and almost an idol. So sad. Me: Shouldn’t responsibly ‘tending and keeping’ this world GOD has given us be part of our religion? Where do you draw the line between faithful stewardship and idolatry? Lady: When it becomes a total focus of ones purpose. I have seen this in family and friend. It is the utmost goal of their life. I don’t mean to offend….I agree we need to be responsible… It’s when it colors everything else in ones life. Me: Thanks for the reply. Honestly, what disturbs me more is how many Christians fill their life with the idolatry of mindless consumerism and a kind of un-Biblical fatalism that says: “who cares what happens to the planet – GOD’s going to destroy it anyway”. I think faithfulness to the LORD is found in understanding we will have to give account for how we have received the gift of this world – most Christians right now are seeing it as theologically and spiritually irrelevant instead of wrestling through what an embodied Christian faith looks like. He who is faithful with little will be faithful with much. In our case I think the Church is largely guilty of being faithless in GOD’s covenant with the earth.This conversation plus other comments from fellow Christians along these lines makes me realize how difficult it is to discuss these issues sometimes – especially when the terms are not defined. Some of this casting aside of environmental concerns is theological, some of it political and some of it cultural. There is also a pushback from many Christians who do not discern the difference between radical environmentalism (or even shallow pop-environmentalism) and the Scriptural mandate from GOD our Creator to tend and keep the garden of this world. I honestly agree with the argument that environmentalism has become somewhat of a religious movement. It espouses it’s own form of righteousness, guilt, redemption – and even a state of utopian salvation. And radical environmentalism doesn’t mince words in it’s message that humans are the enemy of the planet. But is this more radical view an undercurrent in popular views on the environment? What is your perspective? Why do some Christians associate care for GOD’s Creation with radical environmentalism? Is radical environmentalism influencing governments and even churches today? Take a look at the documentary The War on Humans that ‘documents the decline of the environmental movement toward a Utopian and explicit anti-human ideology’. + ]]>
Good questions, Jason. The video, however, seems like extremism on the side of humans. I wonder if those who fear animals getting rights as people, also support the rights of corporations as people? But that’s another discussion.
We need a radical approach to a radical problem, one which has primarily been caused by human lack of concern for God’s creation. Our current level of consumption and waste IS a cancer on the earth, a cancer which, untreated, will lead to the death of us all. Does that mean humans are a cancer and should be eliminated? I don’t think that’s what the vast majority of environmental “extremists” are arguing. Rather that we are living like a cancer and we must change our behavior for a sustainable future. We must “cut out” of our collective human body, that which is destroying the environment and our intimate connection with it (created out of the earth).
The video made me wonder what it would look like to have a video made about Christians referencing primarily folks like Westboro Baptist and other extremists as normative for the whole “movement.” The “non-partisan” organization behind this video does not lend much credence to their arguments.
Am I a radical environmentalists? Nope. But my theology about creation care and sustainability would most likely be seen by many (especially in the US) as radical. I agree, there is certainly a religious-like element to much of the environmental movement, and as Christians it’s important that we don’t confuse theology with environmental ideology. But too many Christians, in their attempt to find a “war on Christianity”, are radicalizing theology to the point that it ends up denying the very scriptural basis it claims to hold dear.
As followers of Jesus, one of the biggest mistakes we can make is to define our theology and design our praxis as a reaction to the world rather than in response to Christ.
Thanks for the post, Jason. This needs much more discussion – not in the radical style of the video, but from a deep understanding of what it means to “till and to keep”, to be stewards of all that God created.
Thanks for the comments Andy!
My point in posting this is to show that conversation about
environmental crisis is difficult – if not sometimes impossible between
Left and Right cultural contexts (it’s really not but it seems that way
at times). It’s a cross cultural conversation and we need to be aware of
this. Also it’s not a black and white conversation. I think the
producer of this video brings up some critical points about extremist
environmentalism – especially because some of these views are being
increasingly considered as normative – even in Christian theology – namely how humans are just another evolutionary animal without any rights to leadership within Creation (because we’re such screw ups) or uniqueness before GOD. But I don’t take this film producers view as a
fully holistic response to what is happening today -especially as many Christians still refuse to see the relevance or spiritual significance of the earth or their own bodies. Still – much of
what I hear coming out of the Christian Creation Care movement is
focused on changing legislation -but I believe if we want radical
solutions – we need to start by personally unhinging from the global
industrial economy -by crafting a new culture of local living. Culture
leads politics, not the other way around. Until we do – I think much of
our talk about radical solutions is too dependent on legislative and technological magic bullets. We’re
trying to create a post-carbon world while still depending on the global
economy as it is – it’s not going to work that way in my opinion. Like you said – the
conversation needs to go deeper within the Christian community – and I
think we need to go beyond yelling over the fence to understanding why
each side views the issues so differently. Let’s dream up ways to get
more conversations rolling. -shalom bro!