Responding to "Green Politics," Part One
- Wednesday, June 06, 2007
One of the core commitments of this ministry has always been to demonstrate the truth and relevance of Christianity to all of life and culture. Toward that end I feel compelled to wade into the debate currently raging over the environment and environmentalism. On the one side we have those who would subordinate mankind to nature and on the other - well, let me be honest - Christians haven't had a lot to say in the environmental debate. What we tend to do is withdraw from the issue altogether because we don't like those who seem to be dominating the topic, or we act indifferent to the issue as if we don't care about the environment. And a few evangelical organizations have opted for a third alternative: capitulation to green politics.
For those of us who believe the extension of the kingdom is God's purpose in the world, and that this kingdom is the reign of Christ, or his supremacy over all things, this lack of engagement in particular sends a powerful but negative message. To paraphrase Dorothy Sayers, "Why would anyone remain interested in a religion that seems to have little or no interest in real life or the world in which we live?" My principal concern with developing a consciously Christ-centered approach to the environment is directly related to being missional. In other words: being able to offer a biblically intelligent response to the environmental debate offers a relevant point of connection to the Truth.
Therefore, what is needed is a thorough examination of the issues from a theologically grounded and well-reasoned approach that seeks to transcend politics. A biblical approach to the environment should balance humanity's primacy in the created order with our responsibility to steward God's good creation (cf. Genesis 1:26). Furthermore, this is a profoundly moral issue in which Christians, given the fact that this creation belongs to our Lord, should have an interest.
In order to understand the present debate, we have to begin with an examination of the underlying premise, which is that of humanity's place in the created order. Either man is created by God and thus holds a superior position in the created order with particular responsibilities, or he is merely another chance biological organism with no special distinction. These two opposing views of reality will necessarily produce two very different responses to environmental stewardship. The former will regard man as the "keeper" of the environment while the latter tends to think of humanity as the enemy of nature and the environment.
One such figure who views humans as the enemy is Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace and one of Time magazine's 20th century "environmental heroes." Watson views human beings as the "AIDS of the earth." Jeff Jacoby writing for the Boston Globe points out that Watson regards human beings as "invaders who are spoiling the planet for animals, insects, and plants that are its rightful inhabitants."
Watson "has called for the global population to be slashed from 6.5 billion to 1 billion, as well as for the elimination of cars, planes, and all ships not powered by sail." Of course, I find it interesting that those who call for such radical measures never seem to volunteer to leave the planet or stop driving cars and flying in planes, use electricity, eat food and wear clothing that utilizes energy to process and transport, etc. This is typical of those who hold to a false worldview. One either has to adjust his worldview to live in accordance with reality (as in the case of most radical environmentalists) or one has to adjust her reality to live consistent with their worldview. In the case of radical environmentalism, the latter is slightly more difficult, requiring the individual to live in a cave, grow her own food, and avoid procreation!
Jacoby adds, "While these views may seem extreme they are in fact common among the 'green elite.'" If you listen closely to the highly controversial debate over climate change, you can discern that "over-population" of environmentally hostile humans is the primary culprit in the ecological theories being put forth and popularized by the media and Hollywood celebrities.
Al Gore, speaking to an audience of environmentalists recently, said, "The world's population explosion, which by 2050 will reach 9.1 billion, has increased the demand for energy, water and food and has contributed to the problem of global warming." This is a centuries-old argument with dubious origins that culminated in the largely accepted myth of "population explosion" made popular in the 1960s.
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