Environmentalism? Where do you stand? Are you green, dark green, light green, or something else? If your tendency is to move to another blog because this post is about something you are not interested in, well maybe you should hang out a while and read this. In R. Balmer’s Thy Kingdom Come, chp 5, he draws this major conclusion:
“Care for the earth, God’s creation, should be an instinctive response on the part of those who number themselves among the followers of Jesus — and even more so for those who insist that an intelligent designer fahsioned the natural world. The Religious Right, however, conjuring the goblins of neopaganism, have cast their lot with corporate and business interests, distorting the faith with a narrow, pinched reading of Genesis. This theology of dominion, coupled with the wise use ideology of corporate interests, places humanity in the role of exploiter and justifies the plundering of natural resources” (163-164).
Here are Balmer’s salient points. I can’t say I agree with him at each turn, but I say that because some of this stuff I haven’t studied enough to have a studied opinion. But, I will say this: Bravo! Let the debate fire up.
First, evangelicals hold back on environmental concerns for a few reasons: an eschatology that believes this world is destined to get worse and worse, a preoccupation with heaven that impedes any interest in this world, the insidious theory that anyone too concerned with the environment must be neo-pagan or New Age, and the simple matter of pride or refusal to change one’s lifestyle in order to be better stewards of creation.
Second, many evangelicals have become persuaded of “dominion theology,” the idea that we are called by God to exercise “dominion” in this world as its apex, but have used that idea in such a way that it justifies exploitation of creation and wasting of resources.
Third, an entire power block has recently (Feb 2006) worked in such a way to stall evangelical concerns with environment, including Chuck Colson, James Dobson, and Richard Land. They are significant leaders in the Religious Right who simply denouncing “green” folks as fostering inappropriate concerns.
Fourth, there is (according to Balmer) a burgeoning number of evangelicals who have had enough with evangelical apathy and downright disregard for the significance of environment in Christian discipleship.
Fifth, Balmer mentions the Au Sable Institute in Michigan as a good place to start or look for information and guidance.
I’m on my own soapbox now. In Embracing Grace, I conted that the work of redemption, the design of the gospel, is to restore “cracked Eikons” in four directions: with God, with self, with others, and with the world. I do not believe environmentalism is something of interest to egg-heads and tree-huggers and greenies, but for each and every Christian — and it can begin with the kind of cars we drive, how fast we drive, where we give our money, how we treat our grass, etc..
Friday we look at the sixth and last chp in this incredibly stimulating book. He ties it all together with a look at the Religious Right’s plea to take the country back. Count on it, he’ll have something to say.