God's Politics

God's Politics


‘The Green Gospels’ and Ancient History by Ginny Vroblesky

posted by God's Politics

Like Joel Hunter, I was skeptical of the meeting on the “Green Gospels.” “Oh, no. Another group that believes all you have to do is convince Christians that the Bible says to care for creation, and they will do it.” I guess, after working in this field for the past decade, I was wary.
But the meeting was fascinating. Martin Palmer had convened a similar event earlier this year in the U.K. He invited atheists, non-believers, and others not familiar with the Bible. Apparently they were eager to explore what the gospels might reveal about our relationship with the natural world. It took them only 10 minutes to become immersed in the gospel of Mark, sifting out what it might have meant for Jesus to ride on an unbroken colt. It took us all morning to begin. Perhaps it is because we who are so steeped in the Bible, who have explored it for years, need more than inspiration. We need examples, to see that other people have put their beliefs into practice. One of the goals of the Green Gospels is to draw together these types of stories, both from 2000 years of Christian history, and modern efforts. It was amazing to seriously consider what the story of Jesus and the colt or Jesus and the fig tree say about Him, His relationship to the natural world, and how it affects us.
Martin Palmer surprised me with a comment that the U.K had experienced three environmental collapses within historical times. I usually think of these as future events we need to avoid. One collapse coincided with a huge volcanic eruption, blocking sunlight for several years. This was about the time the builders of Stonehenge stopped their work. The third event was the fall of the Roman Empire. The Benedictine Order of monks was active at this time. Benedict taught that a monk’s life had three priorities: prayer, study, and work. They were to go into the most wasted places and rebuild the ecology. They changed a devastated Europe by planting trees, digging new steams and lakes, restoring forests, composting and reviving the vitality of the soil. I looked around the table and there were modern Benedictines. Not monks, but people who were putting their beliefs into practice. Bring on the green gospels. We need these stories. We need to steep ourselves in scripture until it flows out into deeds.

Ginny Vroblesky is the former national coordinator of A Rocha USA.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(49)
post a comment
Eric

posted August 7, 2007 at 3:04 pm


What are the Green Gospels? I’ve read two commentaries here on them in that many weeks and I don’t understand what they actually are. Is they merely examples from the Bible and Christian history of people caring for Creation or are the “Green Gospels” some sort of movement or agenda to bring non-believers and atheist environmentalists to view Christians in another light? I’m confused…



report abuse
 

Doug7504

posted August 7, 2007 at 5:32 pm


Eric-thank you for getting in ahead of me. I, too, would like to know more about the “green Gospels”. The term has already provoked significant negative comment on several blogs (including this one) from people asking what these are, why they’re as important as abortion and gay marriage, and skeptical of anything connecting the environment with God and Christianity. So, please, can anyone enlighten us with sources, web pages, etc?
Pray for Peace!



report abuse
 

bren

posted August 7, 2007 at 11:42 pm


For me, the ‘green Gospels” are about taking care of God’s creation, as God requires of us. Some Old Testament sources:
Genesis 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
There are many passages that express our joy in God’s creation, including:
Isaiah 55: 12-13 . . .The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. ..
Psalm 96:10,12 The Lord Reigns. . . Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy.
Leviticus 26: 3-4,6 If you follow in my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. . . and I will grant peace in the land.
More soon.



report abuse
 

bren

posted August 8, 2007 at 12:03 am


Here are two references from the New Testament that mean a lot to me:
Jesus was always and in every way “about His Father’s business.” He preached the gospel, He healed the wounded and brokenhearted, He freed the captives and gave sight to the blind (Luke 4:18). In other words, Jesus healed creation as well as preaching the gospel.
John 3:16 “God so loved the world.” If we keep in mind that the Greek word for world is cosmos, it becomes clear that Christ’s death had eternal implications for all of creation. This gives us a biblical mandate for care of God’s creation and stewardship of the earth.



report abuse
 

Mick sheldon

posted August 8, 2007 at 12:03 am


Hey Bren ,
Different subject
Viewed the documentary you promoted a blog back . Ground Truth . The dcumentary was somewhat slanted , but never the less an eye opener . Thanks for the tip . What a negative and hurtful experience these people endured .
What bothered me also was the cadence that was said to be taught in Boot Camp .
I asked my son about it and he looked at me like I was a nut . He was in boot camp about a year ago . Not the norm , but the person I found was believable talking about it .
Mick



report abuse
 

Moderatelad

posted August 8, 2007 at 8:43 am


Little confused as to the development of the ‘Rainbow Bible’ that some seem to be putting together. Red letter Christians, Green Gospels – what’s next? I believe that we need to keep a full view of what scriptures say – not segment it and therefore elevate some passages as most significant than others. We are starting to go down a slippery slope.
Have a great day -
.



report abuse
 

Don

posted August 8, 2007 at 9:55 am


Mod wrote:
“I believe that we need to keep a full view of what scriptures say – not segment it and therefore elevate some passages as most significant than others.”
Easier to say than actually to do. We all bring our own presuppositions to our readings of Scripture, including our ideas of what is more important. Case in point: Go to Deanna Murshed’s “Evangelicals and Israel” post and note how John (Posted by: John | August 7, 2007 2:46 PM) elevates the passages regarding God’s promises to Israel to demonstrate that Christians ought to support the modern nation-state of Israel uncritically. Whether you agree with John’s obviously dispensational theology or not (and I don’t), it is obvious that he is making “some passages …more significant than others.” (If you aren’t sure, just read some of the responses to John’s post.)
Adding to that human tendency to elevate what WE think is important is the fact that creation care as discussed here and as revealed in the Scriptures has been deemphasized and neglected in many of our churches and religious discussions. Raising our consciousness by calling this the “green gospel” may be merely one effort at correcting this oversight. Is it an overcorrection? Only time will tell.
Peace,



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted August 8, 2007 at 10:17 am


The best way to care for creation is to take ownership of it. No one messes their own yard, if they are responsible. So, Christians can care for the earth by owning more of it. Or by making it easier for individuals to own it. When the land is not owned, but held in common, it is not cared for by anyone, rather taken advantage of by everyone.
I would add one other environmental revolution in England to the ones listed by the poster: The Enclosure Laws.
These laws allowed for the fencing in of land previously held in common. In the short run, many of the poorer individuals suffered, because they lost grazing opportunities for their flocks. In the long run, many of them became laborers rather than serfs, gaining greater autonomy. At the same time the size of herds and flocks grew because of better management of the land. Wool and meat became more plentiful and everyone was better off, though some more than others.
When the state hold property in common the right incentives for proper care of the land are absent. The first step is to strengthen property rights.
Nathanael Snow



report abuse
 

Eric

posted August 8, 2007 at 10:22 am


Hmmmm…still wondering what the “Green Gospels” are. Bren provided some quotes from the Bible talking about how God cares about His creation (some more applicable than others) but this doesn’t really explain the Green Gospels (capitalized) being talked about by the author of this post.
And I’m not being critical of them here. I’m seriously asking for someone to explain the purpose of the Green Gospels.



report abuse
 

Moderatelad

posted August 8, 2007 at 10:27 am


Posted by: Don | August 8, 2007 9:55 AM
Easier to say than actually to do.
But isn’t that why we study the scriptures and discuss it with each other. I believe that God was crystal clear with the inspired word and gave more time to certain topics than others because even He thought they were important. I look at the ‘whole counsel’ of Holy Scripture when seeking the wisdom of the Almighty. I am also a flawed believer – saved by Grace.
Blessings!
.



report abuse
 

squeaky

posted August 8, 2007 at 11:44 am


“But isn’t that why we study the scriptures and discuss it with each other.”
Well, true–which is why we are having a discussion about Biblical mandates for Creation Care. You kind of dismissed any discussion with your first post by saying that we are turning the Bible rainbow, etc.
Nathaniel–
“The best way to care for creation is to take ownership of it. No one messes their own yard, if they are responsible. ”
Well, not true, really. I’ve seen plenty of people mess their own yard. I’ve also seen plenty of people and big businesses mess not only their own yard, but their neighbors’ as well. Laws are, in fact, written precisely because we don’t know how to care for our own stuff, and because we recognize that our failure to do so can affect those around us.
But it isn’t about ownership at all, but stewardship. If you were hired to care for someone’s property while they were gone, and that person returned to a tremendous mess, would you keep your job? Just as the hireling doesn’t own the property, but was put in charge of its care, none of us truly own any of this earth, no matter how many deeds or laws we have. What we have lost is that sense of responsibility to care for the world that God created. God didn’t make it for our pleasure, but for His, and He put us in a stewardship role over it. If we have a clear understanding of WHO, ultimately, owns the Earth, we will care for it out of not a sense of ownership, but of love and thankfullness towards the one who created it.



report abuse
 

Don

posted August 8, 2007 at 12:13 pm


Nathaniel:
I’m not sure how you tie property ownership in with natural law, because property ownership is a more or less Euro-American practice that does not necessarily correlate to what other cultures (in particular indigenous cultures) believe about property.
In most Native American cultures, the land was not thought to be ‘owned’ by anyone. The nation, community, tribe was tied to the land, but they viewed the land more as something they were a part of than as something they held title to as owners or responsibility for as stewards. And in some Native cultures, personal property was valued to the extent that its ‘owner’ was willing to give it away, e.g., the potlatch ceremonies commonly found in Pacific Northwest cultures.
Ideas of property and ownership are not constant across all cultures.
Peace,



report abuse
 

Toinch

posted August 8, 2007 at 12:43 pm


What gives with you Christians? When are you going to admit that Jesus was insane. Even your “conservatives”; while claiming to “believe”; are quick to announce that Jesus didn’t mean what he said or that his instructions were for “another” age. Give me a break, even his hometown folk were ready to throw him off the cliff when he announced that the “goodies” weren’t to be just for them. “Don’t retaliate,” “Love your enemies,” you’ve got to be kidding. It’s obvious you don’t believe it. Why do you keep professing what you don’t believe yourselves. Best be careful, someday people may start listening to what Jesus said and you will be found out.



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted August 8, 2007 at 1:03 pm


squeaky,
I think you have struck on something that has been left out of some of my arguments, without which they fail.
First, my message is specifically to the church and how it ought to act. I’m sure I’m wrong about a lot.
Some people mess their own yards. Which people? Those with no future, or with evil intentions. I’ve said elsewhere that wealth is how far one can see into the future. If an individual has no hope, no future, they will suck the very life out of today, leaving none for the tomorrow they cannot envision. This has been the habit of every fatalistic culture. When one is working for a mere subsistence, one does not think of what one might become. All that one can be, they already are.
Once a culture has emerged from subsistence, then considerations may be made for the future. This requires a degree of wealth. This is an argument for my statement that environmentalism is a luxury good.
To be fair to myself, I did qualify ownership with responsibility. But that raises the question of responsibility to whom? In pagan cultures one is responsible to their idols, who owe their very existence to their worshipers. This is no responsibility at all. Secularists propose a responsibility to one another. But according to what standard? This merely creates the problem of the commons I mentioned before. As Christians we acknowledge an outside authority to whom we are responsible. It is this incentive to virtue which incites us to responsibility for creation. Any other source of concern for the environment is fabricated, artificial, and destined to fail under close scrutiny.
Without giving in to dominion theology – which I think is wrong, I won’t feign away from the use of the word dominion. God gave humans dominion on earth. You prefer the term stewardship. So be it. I believe dominion connotes better the magnitude of the effect we may have on the environment. But how can any of us be a steward of everything? Responsibility must be delegated. Each of us must be responsible for that which has been entrusted to us. But none of us ought to patronize anyone else on how they may handle what has been entrusted to them.
If there have been damages to one’s property due to the negligence of another to their property the laws of torts may be applied. This is incentive enough to encourage responsible behavior. To remove ownership altogether reunites us with our fatalistic, pagan, brothers, and robs us of a vision for the future.
Don,
It occurs to me that you are romanticizing the Native American way of life. New histories of the so called environmentalism and peace loving ways of these peoples have revealed both abuse and good stewardship. Interestingly, the more responsible groups tended towards monotheism, and ownership.
But as Christians this is irrelevant. Property rights extend as far back as Deuteronomy 19:14, “You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the ancestors have set.”
Nathanael Snow



report abuse
 

Don

posted August 8, 2007 at 2:16 pm


“It occurs to me that you are romanticizing the Native American way of life. New histories of the so called environmentalism and peace loving ways of these peoples have revealed both abuse and good stewardship.”
I’m not romanticizing. I’m pointing out differing attitudes toward ownership of property. Yes, Native Americans abused at times. It’s probable that the bison of the plains might have been wiped out within 500 years if Europeans had not invaded North America, for example. But I wasn’t talking about that. I was talking about the concept of “ownership” of property. To most Native communities (though perhaps not all), the idea of personal ownership of property, especially land, was foreign.



report abuse
 

Mick Sheldon

posted August 8, 2007 at 4:10 pm


“To most Native communities (though perhaps not all), the idea of personal ownership of property, especially land, was foreign.”
Don I think you are missing a very important point , Nathanael is providing a natural cultural viewpoint of our country . It is as natural to us
” blame it on the Puritans” as you are saying non ownership was to some Native Americans centuries ago . Do people in our culture take as good of care of a rental house or one they own ? Not all the times , but the majority of times ownership quals better care .
Property ownership equals a persons life work , therefore when you abuse someone’s property , you are actually stealing or abusing their time . To not takecare of your own land , it is the same as telling yourself you have no respect for your life. Because so much of the time in your life went to owning the land .



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted August 8, 2007 at 4:14 pm


Toinch, buddy, you said it twice and it wasn’t all that cogent either time.



report abuse
 

Toinch

posted August 8, 2007 at 5:06 pm


kevin s.
I suppose I could be biblical and say it three times. My point remains; if you christians consider the teachings of your leader to be rediculous, why do you bother with him?



report abuse
 

Don

posted August 8, 2007 at 5:28 pm


“Don I think you are missing a very important point, Nathanael is providing a natural cultural viewpoint of our country.”
I think you are missing a point, and perhaps so is Nathanael. Nathanael and his emphasis on what he calls “natural law” is trying to say personal ownership of property is “natural.” I’m trying to say that many cultures out there don’t view land, personal artifacts, etc. as something anyone can “own.” This fact directly contradicts Nathanel’s claim that “natural law” pertains to property ownership as Euro-Westerners have practiced it.
Further, indigenous views of property don’t belong only in the past tense. Many Native communities, who haven’t been assimilated into the dominant Euro-American culture, still maintain many of their old viewpoints.
Later,



report abuse
 

kevin s.

posted August 8, 2007 at 5:30 pm


“I suppose I could be biblical and say it three times. My point remains; if you christians consider the teachings of your leader to be rediculous, why do you bother with him?”
I assume you are referring to the question of whether it is necessary to practice pacifism if one is a practicing Christian. Without delving too much into the debate, the question centers around the tension between what we are required to do as individuals and the government’s role in implementing justice per Romans 13.
Either way, you are correct that the government ought not attack for the purpose of retaliation. However, this has not been America’s policy.



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted August 8, 2007 at 7:41 pm


Don,
I will accept your argument that many cultures don’t view land as something you can own.
I will give two possible explanations for these cultures.
1. Hunter-gatherers don’t value the land. They haven’t learned how to cultivate the land and step out of sustenance into increasing populations.
2. Superstitious cultures don’t value individuals. No individual can own property because no individual owns themselves in these groups. These groups also fail to rise above sustenance levels.
So, we observe amongst tribal groups that those aspects of their culture which stand in opposition to the natural law also serve to keep them from thriving.
And, I suppose if we were all Malthusians, we would see these cultures as the precise model we should imitate.
I, for one, have the courage to point with my long pointy finger and say, “They were pagans. They were their own undoing. We should not follow or romanticize them. We should shun the values of such cultures.”
NS
Either way,



report abuse
 

neuro_nurse

posted August 8, 2007 at 9:03 pm


kevin s.
How seriously should we take any comment that starts off addressing “you Christians” – or “you liberals,” or “you conservatives?”
I’ve been laying low on God’s Politics lately because of this sort of exchange – it’s gotten stale.
How’s your city?
Seek peace and pursue it.



report abuse
 

neuro_nurse

posted August 8, 2007 at 9:05 pm


BTW, Toinch: check your spelling.



report abuse
 

Mick Sheldon

posted August 8, 2007 at 9:16 pm


Don said
Further, indigenous views of property don’t belong only in the past tense. Many Native communities, who haven’t been assimilated into the dominant Euro-American culture, still maintain many of their old viewpoints.
That is true Don , but if we are going to solve the problem of keeping this planet clean and taken care of , should we not pay attention and try to maintain it using the dominant culture ?
I served as Vice Chair once of the local Ethnic Unity Coalition . One way we promoted different cultures in our main culture was to listen to them . Hence maybe the Pacific Inlander culture may be need of help in their poorer populations , they would not seek help . So in that culture we would promote information of how to get help and try a little harder to get it within their circles , because we knew they would not go out of their culture to receive that kind of info . Long story is you use the culture your dealing with , Nathanael was stating the view of the dominant culture , and would it not just be common sense to accept that and work within that culture to try and work at the issue of preserving our natural resources ?



report abuse
 

Don

posted August 8, 2007 at 9:31 pm


“I will give two possible explanations for these cultures.
1. Hunter-gatherers don’t value the land. They haven’t learned how to cultivate the land and step out of sustenance into increasing populations.
2. Superstitious cultures don’t value individuals. No individual can own property because no individual owns themselves in these groups. These groups also fail to rise above sustenance levels.”
Wrong on both counts. You might want to read some things from a Native American perspective. You could start with George Tinker or Vine Deloria perhaps.
The Native Americans valued the land highly. They identify with it. That, in fact, is one of the main reasons why their cultures were so devastated by their removal to reservations away from their homes. To this day, Native Americans identify with the land their community is from.
While it is true that indigenous societies were communitarian in emphasis rather than individualistic, that does not mean that individuals had no value.
“I, for one, have the courage to point with my long pointy finger and say, “They were pagans. They were their own undoing. We should not follow or romanticize them. We should shun the values of such cultures.”
And that, I would say, is bigotry and cultural superiority, except that you are excused by your ignorance. Your statement certainly ignores how God may have been working in these cultures over the years. It also ignores how God values and loves all peoples, who after all are all made in his image, whether they be “pagan” or not. Call them primitive if you think our culture is so superior. The shameful way we treated them is a pretty solid argument against that idea.
Take up Deloria and Tinker before you respond.
And once again, I assert that the fact that many cultures around the world (and I’m not just talking about Native American cultures) have little or no reference point for the notion of private property as we understand it in the Euro-American West argues against the idea that our notion of private property is a universal principle of what you would like to call natural law.



report abuse
 

Don

posted August 8, 2007 at 9:43 pm


Mick, I wasn’t trying to make a point one way or the other about how we should care for creation. I was only trying to make an argument about this idea of universal natural law that we’ve been hearing so much about. I just don’t see it, given that these notions aren’t universally held by many cultures. Maybe I’m being too stratospheric, I don’t know.
You are right: we should use the tools that are given to us to do the job. And I’m not a “Malthusian” who thinks these indigenous cultures are ideal models for the rest of us. But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t learn a thing or two from them. The fact is that there are other ideas of property ownership and land use out there besides our own. Maybe some of those ideas could help us. Framing it all from the perspective of what I think is a questionable concept of universal law is, I think, shortsighted.
Peace,



report abuse
 

Payshun

posted August 8, 2007 at 10:38 pm


Mick said:
That is true Don , but if we are going to solve the problem of keeping this planet clean and taken care of , should we not pay attention and try to maintain it using the dominant culture ?
Me:
I have to answer this and say no.
p



report abuse
 

bren

posted August 9, 2007 at 2:19 am


i’ve been reading an article by a native american Episcopalian priest, whose words may offer a different way to approach the matter of caring for God’s creation. “We experience God as we live with this earth. Some speak of the use of the earth but Christians speak of a relationship with the earth and join with the earth in praise of God. Because God took on human flesh by incarnation, we know how to see the presence of God in a physical manner.”
“Creation is an incarnation. God has given us this earth as our home for now. At some point in the future, we are to see ‘a new heaven and a new earth’. Now our survival and life is completely dependent on our mother earth and of course on God.
“The earth is not an inanimate object. Its resources are not unlimited. over the lifespan of a North American, we will use 100 times the energy of someone from India or China even though we think we are only using what is necessary for light, heat and travel.”
Among many other things, these points suggest to me that speaking of personal ownership of property (i.e., God’s creation) is a contradiction in terms. In any case, I’m disinclined to refer to the earth as property.



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted August 9, 2007 at 8:46 am


neuro
S/B rid… my bad
______________________
[the question centers around the tension between what we are required to do as individuals and the government's role in implementing justice per Romans 13.]
kevin s
Not sure I follow; tension? Paul isn’t giving instruction to government. Paul, it seems to me, is reminding believers in Rome that overthrowing earthly governments or causing unnessary problems is not their calling. Paul spent a lot of time in prisons and is believed to have been executed. He obviously saw doing God’s will as over government in some situations. It seems that Paul is speaking to “police” type duties of the government. Obviously, governments can get that wrong sometimes; Paul went to prison because of it.



report abuse
 

Don

posted August 9, 2007 at 8:46 am


Me:
I have to answer this and say no.
p
Payshun, I think I can see both sides. On the one hand, we are part of the dominant culture, so I think we have a responsibility to use our technologies, our laws, and our abilities to right the wrongs we have done to creation.
For example, I support two environmental organizations. One is called Wild Ones (http://www.for-wild.org). This group’s purpose is to encourage homeowners to use sustainable practices in landscaping their properties. Techniques focus on use of plants indigenous to the region. So in the Midwest, we emphasize prairie plants. In the eastern woodlands, we focus on woodland species, in the desert southwest, desert landscaping, etc. The purpose is to increas biodiversity in our communities and at the same time eliminate the need for watering, fertilizing, and pesticides while reducing the need for mowing (which uses fossil fuel, is noisy, pollutes, etc.). And it creates attractive landscapes as well. The other organization I support is the Nature Conservancy (www.nature.org). They are a non-profit that raises funds to purchase environmentally sensitive tracts of land. In other words, they are taking advantage of private property laws to preserve nature habitats. True, their funds are limited and the amount of land they can purchase and maintain often doesn’t meet the needs. But at least their preserves, being privately owned, don’t become pawns in the kinds of political games that are played with taxpayer-funded nature preserves (e.g., ANWR).
On the other hand, our dominant culture has been part of the problem. Our attitude of ownership has allowed us to ravage our landscapes (just look at what coal mining is doing to the mountains in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky, for example.) Indiginous communites view our emphasis on individualism as one of the major faults of Western civilization. I can recognize this in my own life. Those of us who are part of the Euro-American culture would do well to take note of these critiques. (Hasn’t individualism led to a fragmented society, where nobody seems to belong anywhere? Have we made our churches refuges from this fragmentation and turned them into true communities?) And of course, the notion of private property “rights” aids and abets our cultural commmitment to individualism.
We need to pay attention to a few other voices. We’ve dismissed the indigenous cultures in our midst. Most of us, myself included, really don’t understand these cultures; we’ve stereotyped them, we’ve dismissed them, and, yes, we’ve romanticised them. We’ve also forced them to listen to us for 400+ years. Maybe it’s time to realize that they have some things they could teach us, and we began listening back. And maybe they can help us find new ways to care for creation.
Bren, I’m inclined to agree. The Psalmist wrote, “the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.” How do we justify dividing up God’s handiwork and claiming it as “property” for ourselves?
Peace,



report abuse
 

Toinch

posted August 9, 2007 at 8:49 am


8:46 post is mine



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted August 9, 2007 at 11:07 am


“It seems that Paul is speaking to “police” type duties of the government. Obviously, governments can get that wrong sometimes; Paul went to prison because of it.”
This is not an altogether unreasonable argument. However, how does disagreement over whether government may only use force within its borders rise to the level of whether or not we are rejecting Christ’s teachings?
If turning the other cheek means never using force, then Paul was wrong to claim that any government may use the sword for any reason.



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted August 9, 2007 at 11:45 am


Don, I will persist in being very dogmatic for just a moment,
I do not adhere to the popular conservative Western Civilization is great perspective. But I do believe that monotheism is superior to paganism. That is to say, I accept the scriptures and read the Old Testament quite literally. Maybe that makes me a Fundamentalist in one sense, though it is clear that I don’t fall into that category well, either.
Valuing the land and identifying with it may be two separate ideas. If one sees the land as unchanging and static, existing for its own sake, and as something of a god which must be sacrificed to, then this is a poor identification, and it depreciates the image of God placed in man which separates him from all the rest of creation. Valuing the land may mean taking responsibility for it and having a long-term (several generations) attitude toward the way it may be used. This is forward-thinking and monotheistic. It also permits for the growth of wealth and health.
Why weren’t there more Native Americans here when the Europeans arrived? Why hadn’t the Natives developed similar technologies, both for agriculture and defense? These are legitimate questions, and fair judges of a culture.
My experience with different cultures has been rich and diverse. Especially when it comes to appreciating Native American and Latino cultures. I lived near and among both cultures a good part of the six years I resided in New Mexico.
I will not deny that God will save whom He will save, but I do reject adoption of pagan cultural traditions as valuable.
I looked up Deloria & Tinker, but couldn’t find a copy in my library (where I am now) I’ll check at the university later on. Can you summarize their position and their biblical evidence?
Finally, I will again assert that property is an Eastern idea, Judaic and monotheistic in nature, and central to the natural law which was revealed more explicitly in the Law given to Moses.
I do believe in an absolute truth, an absolute idea of what the law should be (very limited) and an absolute concept of both the regenerate and unregenerate nature of man. We may not be able to agree on these concepts, however, and if not there are no grounds for debate. I see all of these concepts as consistent with scripture and good reason. These are the only grounds I perceive for contention.
Finally, I will acknowledge the arrogance it requires to assert that the scriptural message is the one truth. It is open to all, however, and as such is in no way racist. It requires conversion and rejection of our cultural norms for all of us. It is ultimately quite exclusive and demanding in its ethic. “Lest any man take up his cross and follow me He is not my disciple.”
Be blessed.
Nathanael Snow



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted August 9, 2007 at 11:50 am


“If turning the other cheek means never using force, then Paul was wrong to claim that any government may use the sword for any reason.”
Unless Paul was specifically drawing a contrast between the way the church should act and the way the state should act. The state should punish evildoers. The church should show mercy and try to win them over.
Very separate institutions, very separate responsibilities.



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted August 9, 2007 at 3:36 pm


Umm…to ___ ,
I guess you are right. I wasn’t trying to prove God’s existence, so I failed at doing that.
How do you perceive God? On what authority? How does that work itself out in your politics? In your ethics?
I’m open to new ideas, provided they are well-founded and attributed (I don’t like arguing with ghosts), and though I am contentious, and stand by my arguments, I don’t think anyone here would call me disrespectful or unkind.
Nathanael Snow



report abuse
 

Anonymous

posted August 9, 2007 at 4:26 pm


What argument? You flippantly dismiss any justification for environmental concern other than your own as: fabricated, artificial, and destined to fail under close scrutiny.
Your own God, from which you base your perceived “correct” doctrine on creation, fails that very same criteria even more miserably



report abuse
 

Payshun

posted August 9, 2007 at 4:47 pm


Don,
I can see both sides as well and that’s the problem. I don’t fit into either paradigm. That’s not what I am about even though I share your opinion that technology should be used to heal the environment. I agree w/ that.
But I share a different perspective in regards to nature. We are nature, a part of it and stewarding creation (ourselves, the world, the universe) is part of the gospel. Many of the Native American chiefs and shamans that I have read about understand the idea that we don’t own the earth, we are part of her.
That idea seems to be antithetical to most of Western Evangelical Christianity. That’s the problem. It’s the ego, the pride that prevents us from seeing, respecting and growing our unified interests into a collective whole. In my view adopting pagan cultural values can be a very holistic thing and reflect what Jesus/God/Holy Spirit already said.
I also think that if understand that we are part of the earth we will see it as something worthy to be taken care of even though the earth will survive long after we are a memory.
p



report abuse
 

Payshun

posted August 9, 2007 at 4:50 pm


Why weren’t there more Native Americans here when the Europeans arrived? Why hadn’t the Natives developed similar technologies, both for agriculture and defense? These are legitimate questions, and fair judges of a culture.
Me:
How are they fair judges of culture?
p



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted August 9, 2007 at 4:50 pm


I’m sorry. My words are specifically and exclusively to other believing Christians. If you don’t share this first premise, I think you should do whatever the hell you want. Please don’t accept my arguments, or attempt to imitate the ethic I describe.
If you would like to have a discussion comparing our different first premises that might be interesting, but my argument certainly does take some conditions as given.
Nathanael Snow



report abuse
 

Don

posted August 9, 2007 at 5:03 pm


Payshun (4:47 PM):
The things you wrote are precisely the kinds of things I had in mind that they could teach us. Thanks for stating them.
Nathanael (11:45 AM):
Although Tinker and Deloria are theologians, their books tend to be more cultural critiques than theology. So I can’t give you their biblical evidence. And to summarize their “positions” wouldn’t begin to do justice to the depth and complexity of their thinking. Best to try and read the books. The specific titles I have in mind are: George Tinker–Spirit and Resisance; Missionary Conquest (both published by Augsburg Fortress); Vine Deloria–God is Red (published by Fulcrum Press).
Peace,



report abuse
 

jurisnaturalist

posted August 9, 2007 at 5:13 pm


Payshun and Don,
I’m on the verge on going Donny-Postal here, so I’m going to bow out. I see Paganism and Monotheism as diametrically opposed and irreconcilable, hence the cleansing of Caanan. It doesn’t help much that I’m reading Deuteronomy right now.
Later,
Nathanael Snow



report abuse
 

Mick Sheldon

posted August 9, 2007 at 6:05 pm


Me:
I have to answer this and say no.
p
P then you are saying to promote different beliefs on a different culture to handle the problem is acceptable ? Does not sound like you , maybe you mis understood ?
I give the example of the Apostle Paul , and even my denomination which excels in Missionary work . How do we do it , as the way Paul showed us . We provide the Gospel , we also clothe , feed , provide medical care for those places we promote the Gospel in . We do not impose our culture , we teach their citizens how to teach the Gospel . How to take care of themselves , they spread the word , we are just their for support .
A negative aspect of the Gospel being promoted is here in NorthAmerica by the first missionaries , they took the Native culture and saw it as satanic or whatever . Thus you robbed the very people of some of the God given Gifts they had already received .
I love going to different churches and worship with different people . God was into diversity before the PC crowd took it and made it a dirty word.



report abuse
 

Mick Sheldon

posted August 9, 2007 at 6:32 pm


Hey P sorry if I switched thoughts on my anology . Just apply the spreading of the Gospel to teaching people about the envirnoment using the samer principle . If are going to promote taking care of it , we should talk to people on their level , from their cultural , using their concept of property rights , and understanding . Make sense ?



report abuse
 

Don

posted August 9, 2007 at 7:01 pm


Mick, I think you identified one of the problems that occurred in evangelizing the Native Americans. The missionaries tried to impose Western culture on the native communities. Little attempt to translate the Bible into native languages, for example, was done. Instead, they were forced to learn English and adopt Western ways.
Often, the God-given elements of their culture were not recognized or encouraged by the missionaries, because they didn’t recognize them as such. They had their culturally-imposed blinders on. For example, the missionaries also misidentified ceremonies as pagan god-appeasement rites even though they usually weren’t. Even today, some think that Native religion involve little more than paganism, occultism, witchcraft, and demonism. There are elements of that, to be sure, but Westerners in general were so unable to understand what was really going on that they missed the many times when those elements were not present.
Peace,



report abuse
 

Payshun

posted August 9, 2007 at 8:40 pm


Mick,
Hey P sorry if I switched thoughts on my anology . Just apply the spreading of the Gospel to teaching people about the envirnoment using the samer principle . If are going to promote taking care of it , we should talk to people on their level , from their cultural , using their concept of property rights , and understanding . Make sense ?
Me:
That’s why they have you. I can’t do it and have integrity so I won’t. I think that part of the problem is that we speak to people on that level all the time and ignore the other folks. I find that problematic and wrong. If we are truly going to learn from our mistakes I think it is of utmost importance to examine our entire system and challenge the idea of property and ownership.
I can see the need for translating that message into a language and form that is acceptable. I can also see the need for taking baby steps as that is part of the culture of today. I would just hearken to the prophets and Jesus himself. he never said baby steps. It was always all or nothing. I think we are too easy on mainstream culture and that’s the real problem we really need to address.
Juris:
I am a Christian, I worship no other God besides Yeshua (Jesus Christ.) I just know that God is universal in scope and the values for how to love people can be found in all world religions and where they are found they should be celebrated and friendships forged.
Like for instance the Sioux love of the land. It mirrors the same ideas that were common in ancient Judea. The ancient Jews were always land locked (much like many of their descendants today.) They believed in a very real spiritual connection to the land and ancient Judaism supports this. The land had to purified after each war, debts had to collected, David himself killed to fulfill the blood curse that was attached to his country. There were totems and other luck symbols attached to homes and still are. each home was connected to the earth and the earth was a sacred space.
In Kabalistic studies and other mystical writings each space is sacred. That idea is that everywhere you go you meet God so show respect to the space is throughout Judaism and many American Indians share that philosphy. That’s not worship of a pagan diety. That’s truth.
p



report abuse
 

Don

posted August 9, 2007 at 10:41 pm


Payshun, you said that so well. Thanks!
Peace



report abuse
 

Payshun

posted August 10, 2007 at 8:19 pm


Thank you.
p



report abuse
 

TAMI

posted August 10, 2007 at 9:32 pm


When I think of the ‘Green Gospels,’ I think of Jesus’ words in Matthew chapter 6:25-34, where He’s talking about God meeting our daily needs. He uses the birds and the flowers to illustrate the loving care God gives to them. If God loves the birds and the flowers enough to clothe them and nourish them so well, then we have a moral imperative as stewards of creation (see Genesis) to care for them, too. If you look at Christ’s teaching in that passage, He’s asking us to live a different kind of ethic – closer to the Earth. All the anxieties of a materialistic culture vanish, if you live closer to the Earth.



report abuse
 

static on hair

posted November 23, 2012 at 2:06 am


Hi to every body, it’s my first visit of this web site; this webpage includes remarkable and truly fine data in support of readers.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting God's Politics. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:14:07am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Why I Work for Immigration Reform (by Patty Kupfer)
When I tell people that I work on immigration reform, they usually laugh or say, "way to pick an easy topic." Everyday it feels like there is more fear, more hate. Raids are picking up in Nevada, California, and New York. A number of senators who supported comprehensive reform only a few months ago

posted 12:30:52pm Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Audio: Jim Wallis on "Value Voters" on The Tavis Smiley Show
Last week Jim was on The Tavis Smiley Show and talked about how the changing political landscape will affect the upcoming '08 election. Jim and Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state, debated and discussed both the impact of "value voters" on the election and what those values entail. + Down

posted 10:11:56am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Verse of the Day: 'peace to the far and the near'
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort, creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them. But the wicked are like the tossing sea that cannot keep still; its waters toss u

posted 9:35:01am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »

Daily News Digest (by Duane Shank)
the latest news on Mideast, Iran, Romney-Religious right, Blog action day, Turkey, SCHIP, Iran, Aids-Africa, India, Budget, Brownback-slavery apology, Canada, and selected op-eds. Sign up to receive our daily news summary via e-mail » Blog action day. Thousands of bloggers unite in blitz of green

posted 9:31:25am Oct. 16, 2007 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.