Editor’s note: The following is another in an occasional series of Bible studies on topical issues by Joseph Farah in response to what he sees as a growing apostasy within the church.
Red Letter Christians are equating the modern environmental movement, which portrays man as an intruder on planet Earth, with common-sense conservationism – what biblically literate Christians called “stewardship” of Creation.
They are not synonymous. In fact, they are opposites.
In Genesis 1:26-28, we are told: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Today’s environmental movement tells us we are overpopulating the planet. It tells us we are no different, fundamentally, from the animal kingdom. It tells us we should not accept God’s commandment to take dominion over the Earth. It tells us we should not subdue it and replenish it. It tells us instead we should, in fact, worship the Creation.
We are specifically warned against this misplaced devotion to the Creation in Romans 1:21-25: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
“And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
“Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
The Bible is concerned with one kind of pollution – the pollution that sin brings into the world.
It is not concerned with carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring gas necessary to life itself. It is not concerned with global warming and tells us clearly “cold and heat” will not cease. It is not concerned with threats of mankind actually destroying the planet – with anything other than what God defines as sinful behavior.
Nevertheless, these Red Letter Christians, as Tony Campolo has dubbed himself and his political movement, insist on redefining sin as not turning over care of the planet to their favored politicians.
Their key scriptural passage on which they hang their collective hats is Romans 8:19-22: “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
“For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
“Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
“For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”
They need to paraphrase this passage even to twist it into a self-fulfilling prophecy they can use to suit their political agenda. The “corruption” spoken of here is sin – not CO2, not enterprise, not private property, not industrial activity.
Campolo writes about this passage: “To me, this is a clear injunction that we who are imbued with the Holy Spirit should be drawn into a commitment to save the Earth from degradation. All of creation, according to these verses, is waiting for us to rescue it from its fallen condition.”
True enough. But what, Christians need to ask, caused the fallen condition? The fall took place in the Garden of Eden – before man discovered how to produce carbon dioxide, before he invented the internal combustion engine, before he built any oil refineries.
There is only one way to clean up the planet: It is the path of repentance, obedience and faith.
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