Save the Planet, Save Your Soul
Evangelicals and Catholics find common cause in protecting the planet.

In the early 1970s, conservative Protestants hit the streets to protest the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion. When they arrived with signs in hand, they discovered that Catholics had beaten them to the picket line. Since then, Catholics and evangelicals have found common cause in protecting the unborn.

Last week, Catholics and evangelicals found another issue on which they may someday join forces: saving the planet.

Representatives of the Southern Baptist Convention, North America's largest Protestant denomination, recently changed their stance on global warming.

In the same week, the Vatican made a significantly bolder move when it added seven new transgressions to its list of deadly sins. The list includes, among other iniquities, polluting the environment.

The church, both Protestant and Catholic, appears a bit late in adopting its concern for the environment. After all, the crusade to save the planet was taken up first by secular scientists, hippies, and liberals (according to the good country people I grew up around). So, is the church's newfound environmental interest another example of our capitulation to culture, or have we genuinely rediscovered an important aspect of our Christian mandate to fill the earth and subdue it? If the interest is legitimate, what does it mean for your church?

March 19, 2008

Displaying 1–10 of 26 comments

Mary Ann

April 03, 2008  3:30pm

Sara, of course everything is about marketing and companies want us to spend our $$ on their stuff. So they are going to offer "eco-friendly" products. Almost every store I go into offers the "Paper or plastic? Neither!" cloth bag for a price. (How about reusing something you already have, even if it is a plastic bag??) Companies want you to buy and they will do whatever it takes for you to buy at their place. I am sure there are people out there throwing away stuff just to buy eco friendly. Honestly, I would say - use up what you have and when it comes time to buy again, buy wisely even if it means spending some extra $$. Better yet - reuse or share! It is all about demand and if we can change the demand from sick cows to healtier ones, non-biodegradable products to biodegradable ones, and trash into recycle, then Amen and Hallelujah! The key is education and offering alternatives. Buy less and live more~ that is what I would like to see the Protestants and Catholics saying. "I don't think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday." ~Abraham Lincoln

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March 31, 2008  4:15pm

Wow again. I'm surprised you all haven't heard of "metrospirituality." It's all the rage in mega-churches. The big thing is to "go green" by buying hyper-expensive organics, hormone-free milk and dairy, free trade products, recycle and compost all your garbage and waste, and of course make sure you're seen doing this while driving your hybrid or 'lower mileage' SUV. Now, the catch is that you threw out all your polyester or rayon clothing for earth-friendly cotton or organic silks, trashed your perfectly usable older appliances for the trendier energy-efficient, but sexier appliances, tossed the old lightbulbs and bought new ones that used less electricity, bought matching his-and-hers plastic composters instead of just getting yucky looking chicken wire and building one like they did in the 70's, and only buy coffee at Starbucks that pays farmers in Columbia fair trade prices instead of making it at home. Sure it costs you more, but its all 'for the environment'! I am completely for being a good steward of the environment. Adam and Eve were charged with tending the Garden of Eden. They weren't allowed to buy carbon credits if they screwed up, like some modern day form of indulgences (the biggest scam , preying on those with a guilty conscience). The Earth is a thing of beauty and we need to take care of it. Throw out these silly arguments about global warming – that's not the point anyway and you all know it – and start taking care of it because we should, people! Genesis 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—-the sixth day.

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March 25, 2008  7:23pm

wow, do we christians have a knack for pointless debate or what? whether global warming is a myth or not (i tend to believe not), if we believe – as paul writes in colossians 1:15-20 – that jesus' death was about reconciling all things and setting the whole world right (as opposed to just giving us a home in heaven), then caring for our planet is most assuredly a kingdom issue. we miss so much fullness if we follow christ without realizing the amazing invitation we have to be part of his redemptive work – and part of the way we can participate in that is by being good stewards of the planet he placed us on. if we fail to realize the importance of that, we're not only hurting future generations who will have to live with the consequences of the blazing hot trash heap we've created – we're hurting ourselves by failing to realize the fullness of the life God offers us in the here and now.

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Tom Fillinger

March 25, 2008  2:55pm

Question? Is Natural Revelation (Creation) the equivalent of Special Revelation (The Scriptures)? Orthodox Theology answer this question with an emphatic NO! If we accept this premise of equivalence, we have taken the first step on a Slippery Slope descent into Pantheism. Be good Stewards of the environment yes. But, we need to think with critical and prudent 'every thought captive' perspicuity on this topic. The exegesis I accomplish of the text is not equivalent to my enjoyment of the gorgeous Dogwoods that are bursting into bloom in my yard as I write. Think on these things!

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Phil Woodward

March 23, 2008  10:17pm

Mary Ann's point seems to me extremely sensible. It's a kind of Pascal's wager: let's say we pollute less. If it turns out that global warming IS a threat, then we've just averted global catastrophe. If it turns out not to be, then we've just made the world cleaner. Don't we win either way? Put another way: I'm not yet sure I know what to make of N.T. Wright's (for example) claim that environmentalism is an eschatological matter–I just don't understand the specifics of the eschaton sufficiently well. But I do know that I like nature and that it seems right not to kill it off. And it seems even more obvious that acting in ways that just might poison ourselves, is not wise. (Maybe we need to turn to Proverbs, rather than Revelation, to anchor our duty to the environment as Christians.) Melody, help me understand your view. Humans can't affect climate because God regulates it, you say. Now, humans can affect climates *in their houses*. Is the point that the global climate is just too vast to be affected? Or is it that God's providential relation to the whole atmosphere is of an altogether different sort from God's providential relation to a small sample of it? At any rate, it seems to me an odd application of Scripture. One could take the Bible to read that God ordains every political regime; but there have been some nasty ones, indeed many nasty ones worth attacking. The fact of the matter seems to be that God grants humans the capacity to do a lot of harm–to themselves, to each other, indeed, to the planet God gave them as home.

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Richard Dennis Miller

March 22, 2008  4:46pm

By the way, guys. Milwaukee just got 12 inches of snow on the first day of Spring. Thats 96 inches for the winter, just short of the all time record. What they wouldn't give for a little Global Warming right now.

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Darren King

March 22, 2008  1:10pm

Melody, I appreciate your conciliatory tone in response. Clearly you take more of a Calvinist stance, thinking that our actions have little to no consequences- that God will go on keeping things going as they always have. I take more of a co-creation view. In my view God calls us to be stewards of Creation- with real consequences (both good or bad) depending on how responsible we are. At this point, I honestly think the issue of whether global warming is happening, and whether we're the chief agent of it, is a resolved debate. The vast majority of the experts in the field believe its happening- and we're the primary cause. So at this point, not only is further debate academic, but its also irresponsible- because the clock is ticking. Try and think of this like a parable. The way I see it, one day the landowner (God) will return to see how well we have done with what he put into our care. Now is the time for us to step up to the plate and be found to be "good and faithful servants".

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March 20, 2008  5:18pm

Darren, there are two issues here. One is that whether the global temperature is warming or cooling, the overarching theme that I read in the Bible clearly indicates that weather patterns are controlled by God himself and he is pretty trustworthy on that count. The idea that man can control the climate makes as much sense to me (even without reading the Bible) as the notion that the Tower of Babel was actually capable of reaching to heaven. The second issue is that many 'Christian' people really do believe that they will somehow be saved by their 'good works' and what easier 'good work' could one engage in than helping to solve global warming? Change your lightbulbs, and drive a hybrid and all your friends and neighbors will know how spiritual you are. I am not saying that creation care is unbiblical because no single verse calls for it. I am saying that it is not an issue FOR THE CHURCH because there is no overarching theme about the physical earth and what we are to do with it. We all know the standard verses which I referenced, tongue-in-cheek, above. Those verses have been taken out of context and stretched beyond recognition by those with a liberal agenda and I'm simply pointing that out. Darren, I truly am sorry that my disagreement with you on this subject makes you so crazy. I have always believed that these kind of issues deserve study and debate. We skeptics are so outnumbered and ridiculed by the media anyway that you shouldn't be too concerned. By the way, I did smell the roses in my California yard today. They are particularly sweet this year.

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Mary Ann

March 20, 2008  3:13pm

"Or are we too afraid to look too deeply into our souls for fear of finding more greed, apathy and selfishness than we might want to acknowledge is there?" You hit on it, J.W. My question to all those who are calling global warming and environmental care foolishness, a phobia, and a panic attack is WHY NOT? Why not conserve energy, why not recycle, why not buy less, and why not be concerned about pollutants? WHY NOT? What is the worse that could happen by caring? That we might actually clean up our acts, get healthier, help others get healthier, save species, and save habitat? Heaven forbid! I just don't understand why we think we can just sit back, do nothing and still preach the beauty of God's creation. Don't you think that makes us seem hypocritical to the non-believers who care more for the environment than we do?

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Richard Dennis Miller

March 20, 2008  2:01pm

JW There is nothing scientific about your "evidence." All you have is a few people saying, "Gee, sure was hot last week." They said that 50 and 100 and 500 years ago. For every place in a drought there is a place that is too wet and a place that is just average. The wet place this year may be the average place next year and so on. The conditions of parts of the world to which you refer have been in that condition for centuries. And what milder winters are you talking about? Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, etc. got hammered this past winter. And by the way, if the cost of heating is cutting into your budget, doesn't that make warmer weather a good thing? Still waiting for real evidence.

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