Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Do Christians concerned about 'the environment' risk becoming pagans? Part 2

In part 1 I discussed more the value or otherwise of labels, missiology and so on. Now let's deal explicitly with the label itself. Changing the focus a little (given what I wrote last time), let's consider the closely related issue of idolatry. Are Christians who are involved in 'environmental' issues or more properly creation care guilty of or in danger of idolatry?

Well I know and have known plenty of middle class Christians who idolise career, the rites of passage European trip, their minister/pastor, denomination or systematic theology, even the bible itself, to say nothing of sex, money, etc. So to point the finger of idolatry (paganism) at so-called 'green' Christians is a non sequiter really.

The key issue is are we at more risk of idolising creation than anyone else is of idolising anything else? I don't think so. Creation declares God's glory (Psalm 19), points to his divine power (Rm 1) and wisdom (Ps 104). Caring for creation itself is an act of worship - so long as we see past the creation itself. More Christians I suggest fail to do this with wealth than they do with trees.

Note none of this excludes human rule - hence Gen 1:26f, but also proper use - tilling and tending (Gn 2:15). However, even the strong language of Gen 1 is moderated by being made in God's image (is God ultimately destructive or creative?) and by creation being God's temple (c.f. Is 66:1). One doesn't descrate God's temple nor reflect his character by destroying what he says is very good with humans in their proper place, yet good even without humanity.

It is also worth noting (I say this so often I am repeating myself) that divine care extends to that which is useless (pre-eco tourism) or otherwise harmful to humanity, so our priorities often shouldn't come into the picture.

So we shouldn't worship church, our ministers, the music, the cute girl we want to date at church, or even the bible itself but God,. Yet we care for all of these things. Why is creation itself any different

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