Thursday, March 09, 2006

Environmentalism and the Church.

Rick Warren and 85 other evangelical leaders are now part of a movement in evangelicalism to raise awareness of environmental concerns, particularly with global warming. Warren along with the other 85 leaders have released a statement entitled "Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action". However, 22 leaders in the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) urged Ted Haggard, the president of that organization not to take an official position on global warming. Some of these leaders include Richard Land, Chuck Colson and David Barton. This is due to the skepticism as to the actual cause, extent and remedy for the problem. This skepticism is far reaching and includes scientists who recognize that average global temperatures have risen over the years, but are not unanimous in their conclusions that human generated CO2 emissions are the culprit. Scientists also do not agree on the extent of the effects and whether they will actually end up being catastrophic. Furthermore, there is doubt that cutting these CO2 emissions will be successful in reversing the warming trend. In fact, drastic measures may actually create economic harm and end up creating hardship for the poor.

What is amazing is the voracity with which people are willing to acknowledge that global warming is caused by human means. In fact, an MIT meteorologist compared it to a ‘religious belief’. Since people seem to automatically assume the consensus of all scientists on the issue, they simply believe it without actually trying to understand all of the facts.

He was not far off in his assessment. In fact, what is probably the most troubling is the actual religious implications attached to radical environmentalism. And now evangelicals are being enticed to jump on the bandwagon.

This push for the church to get involved with environmental concerns began some time ago. The idea was beginning to be promoted in the mid to late 1990s by men like Bill Easum. Easum is a church consultant who co-founded Easum, Bandy and Associates. In an article published in July 1996, Easum discusses the importance of ecology and how this will be “one of the major ministries for the first half of the twenty-first century.” He went on to say that “One of the key issues facing Christianity at the upcoming turn of the century is how to reach a generation turned off by Protestantism's dualistic approach to spirit and matter.” He also claims that it is this neglect of the environment that is causing the current generation to reject Christianity.

But what is most problematic is the tendency to promote a sort of pantheism. According to Easum, “Christianity must rediscover the interconnectedness and sacredness of all life if it is to reach them… Perhaps it's time for Protestants to think of the Earth as the "Third Sacrament."” Easum advocates raising the “care and feeding of the Earth…to the same stature as Baptism and Holy Communion.”

Easum goes on to say that “We would all be more respectful of the environment if we thought of it as a living organism instead of as just a planet on which life exists. I think the day will come when quantum physics will give us more than hints that everything, including the planet, is connected to the same life source.”

Easum further comments that “We could begin to put an end to the heresy that views some things as sacred and some things secular. Failure to understand the importance of this connection will be fatal to churches in the twenty-first century.”

While Bill Easum is not really officially classified as part of the “emerging” movement; some of the elements of postmodernism are permeating his philosophy. Environmentalism is high on the list of priorities in the emerging “church” movement. This is how postmodernism is making inroads into mainstream evangelicalism. This is why postmodernism really is not just an issue isolated to the emerging crowd, but has become very much a part of the culture today and is quickly seeping into evangelicalism.

This pantheistic tendency to make environmentalism synonymous with worship is rooted in paganism. Observe the following quote from a website promoting what is called scientific pantheism:

"When you look at the night sky or at the images of the Hubble Space Telescope, are you filled with feelings of awe and wonder at the overwhelming beauty and power of the universe?
When you are in the midst of nature, in a forest, by the sea, on a mountain peak - do you ever feel a sense of the sacred, like the feeling of being in a vast cathedral?
Do you believe that humans should be a part of Nature, rather than set above it?
If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then you have pantheistic leanings…
At the heart of pantheism is reverence of the universe as the ultimate focus of reverence, and for the natural earth as sacred.”

“Scientific Pantheism: Reverence of Nature and Cosmos”
by Paul Harrison

“A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.”
Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot (1994)

It appears that we are well on our way towards the final false religious system described in Revelation 17 as “Mystery Babylon”.

The latest move by prominent Evangelicals is further evidence that we are moving further and further from biblical wisdom and understanding in the church. We are losing sight of the mission that the Lord has commanded us to carry out, becoming sidetracked by issues that the church is not really called to be directly involved in.

I am all for Christians being involved in civic duty and to be involved in their communities where they have the opportunity to be salt and light to the world. But I cannot see from Scripture where the church itself is called to become a global crusader to stomp out environmental problems and social ills. I further shudder at all the religious connotations associated with radical environmentalism and how this will influence the church.


Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Some good thoughts there.

Matt Stone said...

Actually, I think there are some rather muddled thoughts here. As someone who is involved in the Emerging Church conversation I am rather puzzled that you think we think environmentalism synonymous with worship and I consider pantheism anathema. How much do you really understand about what you are talking about?

the Pilgrim said...

Richard Land and his subordinate at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Al Mohler, are both enemies of Christ.