It’s almost too bad that Jesus Christ has been historically depicted as a long-haired, bearded, and sandal-clad — because the enviro-hippies behind something called the “Evangelical Climate Initiative” have now claimed Him for their own alarmist agenda.
While those physical representations of Christ may be accurate, the Biblical claims that these Birkenstocked believers make for global warming reductions are hermeneutically deficient. Most of their flawed interpretations emphasize the social gospel (surprise!) rather than genuine Divine intent — a common liberal tendency.
They include the utterances of Sir John Houghton, a climate scientist, former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and an “evangelical Christian,” according to the ECI. In a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals almost a year ago, he made a scientific case for the existence of global warming, and its benefits and drawbacks (with the second far outweighing the first). I will leave technical refutation and doubt to others, and address the Biblical support he attempted to use to buttress his position:
“[God] demonstrated this most eloquently by sending his son Jesus to be part of creation and by giving to us the responsibility of being good stewards of creation. What is more I believe that we do not do this on our own but in partnership with Him — a partnership that is presented so beautifully in the early chapters of Genesis where we read that God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden in the cool of the day.”
There you have it! God intended for man to live in temperate climes. But then again, He also intended for man to live naked: so much for that. And not surprisingly, Houghton butchered Genesis 3:8, which actually says that Adam and Eve (after the Fall) “heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day,” after which they tried to hide from Him — hardly a harmonious stroll.
But seriously, Sir John’s pining for the early days of the Bible is admirable. Who doesn’t wish we were in the days of sinless perfection, in absolute accord with God? Alas, that is not the condition of the present globe on which we live. Rather than actually making us “good stewards of creation” as Houghton claims, God instead cursed the world and essentially said, “Here — deal with this!” We’ve been toiling over the corrupted soil ever since, and the unspoiled creation that Jesus was allegedly sent “to be part of” disappeared long ago.
Still the 86 ministry leaders behind the ECI bought into it, maintaining that they “are articulating a biblical, Christ-centered, business-friendly evangelical approach to climate change and providing a different way of understanding the problem”:
Once we understand the profound impacts climate change will have on people, especially the most vulnerable, then we find plenty in the Bible calling us to take prompt action. Jesus’ commands to love our neighbors (Mk. 12:30-31), do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Lk. 6:31), care for “the least of these” (Mt. 25:40, 45), and be proper stewards of His creation (Lk. 12:42-48; Col. 1:16) all require immediate and sustained action to solve global warming.
These “social Gospel” passages can hardly be construed as a legitimate case for the fight to reduce global warming. The first misinterpretation is the proper role of man in relation to the creation. Calls to “stewardship” in the Bible never have to do with caring for some pristine earth — for its own sake or for God’s. Instead God gave man “dominion” over the world and its creatures, for human consumption and use.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you pollute willy-nilly. Dumping oil or chemicals where they can seep in someone’s water supply certainly is unneighborly. But that has nothing to do with Biblical “earth” stewardship, and linking disputed negative global warming effects to proper social practices is misleading at best. If environmentally conscious Christians want to do something that will clearly and measurably help their poor neighbors, why don’t they invest in waste removal in places like Port-au-Prince and Bangladesh instead?
The answer is, because ECI signees have been duped by environmentalist liberals and have failed to discern their Biblical illiteracy:
This is God’s world, and any damage that we do to God’s world is an offense against God Himself (Gen. 1; Ps. 24; Col. 1:16).
I hope the ECI endorsers didn’t overstrain their eyes searching those Scripture references for evidence of God’s anger at human abuse of the earth. Instead, they would do well to recall some other Biblical citations that emphasize what the real goals of Christian ministry should be in relation to the planet. They should remember that the Apostle Paul disdained those “who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:19-20).
As for Jesus, contrary to Sir Houghton’s assertions, He does not dwell on the earth but instead will return to the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:22-23), after God also establishes a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21:1).
And don’t forget, God has some serious global warming of His own planned (2 Peter 3:10). Christian leaders ought to be warning people about that rather than looking for ways to mitigate the questionable effects of the current heat wave.