November 20 2009 by Norman Jameson, BR Editor

    Christians set the table for creation care — centuries early — but their submerging that call beneath other concerns allowed the stewardship of God’s creation to be claimed by political interests and let it force division in the family.

    All for no good purpose, according to four internationally recognized speakers at a Creation Care conference Oct. 30-31 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

    Christians should be involved in creation care because we live in the world God created and cares about, said philosopher David Cook, who teaches at Wheaton College, Oxford, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a fellow for the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture at Southeastern.

    Acts 17 shows that the environmental debate should begin with the churches, said Cook. In that passage the Apostle Paul tells the Athenians that “God who made the world and everything in it — He is Lord of heaven and earth and … gives life and breath and all things.”

    God did not separate creation into “humans” and the “rest of creation” pulled together for human consumption, speakers explained. Humans are a part of creation, the part given responsibility to serve and to keep the garden.

    Calvin DeWitt, a passionate professor at the University of Wisconsin whose boundless delight in every part of creation, from bugs to weeds to the marshes of his hometown, said humans disregard the cries of nature.

    SEBTS photo

    Calvin DeWitt, left, addresses a group at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Creation Care conference.

    With 12 of the world’s 13 major fisheries in “collapse” we still keep catching and eating spawning fish. “We can’t help ourselves,” he said.

    Speakers made frequent references to the Jesus of 1 Col. 1:15-17 which says in part “all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.” 

    “The history of environmentalism is to save and reconcile all things,” DeWitt said. In his decades of creation care action he’s found “most top environmentalists are passionate for creation care and are active churchmen.”

    Christians were active creation care advocates without even using the terminology until the Industrial Revolution shifted values to economic benefit at the expense of land, water and air quality, DeWitt said.

    “We have come to presume that our industrial economy can and must drive creation’s economy,” DeWitt said. “Meaning if the solution will cost money, the science must be wrong … science isn’t about polls, but truth.”

     We are on “dangerous theological ground” to act as if we support “industrial Christianity” which says, “this is the way we operate and creation better take heed to operate within our economy,” said DeWitt, who paced the main floor while speaking.

    Lest anyone question the importance of commitment to creation care, DeWitt said, “Human activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.”

    In other words, human activity that disregards its own effect on creation is threatening the ability of humanity’s continued survival on earth. Ultimately, the earth will be fine, the speakers agreed. It is humans whose survival is threatened.

    As biologist Paul Erlich said, “Nature bats last.”

    DeWitt said global warming is “unequivocal…people will say it’s not, but it is, and you’d better believe it.”

    While even some who concede the earth is warming doubt human influence on the rise of global temperatures, DeWitt the historical graphs rise sharply when human influence is introduced. He asked, “What if humans are not responsible or only partly responsible? Does that mean we should just call it an act of God and take out an insurance policy and sing together ‘This is not my home?’”

    Human influence on warming 

    Steven Bouma-Prediger addressed that theme by looking at the complaints that environmentalists typically bear against Christians who disregard creation.

    Bouma-Prediger, an active outdoorsman who led hiking, canoeing and climbing adventures in the Nantahala National Park, is chair of the religion department of theology and ethics at Hope College in Holland, Mich.

    He said some actually blame “the earth is not my home” attitude of Christians for the ecological calamity lurking in the near future.

    “This dualism keeps us from relating not only to the natural world but to ourselves,” he said, calling for confession for the “various ways Christians encourage exploitation of the earth.”

    “We are indifferent to the rape and plunder of the world and most of its cultures,” he said. “We’re as indifferent as most industrial organizations.”

    He outlined the ecological complaint against Christians saying that the Gen. 1:26-28 verses that sanction “rule” and subjugation of earth provide “sanction for ecological destruction” when misinterpreted.

    Christian dualism that separates soul and body, spirit and matter, culture and nature, male and female devalues one over the other, he said.

    “Escapist eschatology (view of end times)” justifies “exploitation” of earth’s resources, because if “the world will be destroyed, why care for it?” said Bouma-Prediger, explaining environmentalists’ frustration with Christianity.

    Then he asked if such theology is even accurate. “In God’s good future will the earth be destroyed?” he asked.

    He said historical interpretation of 2 Peter 3:10, which says on the final day “…the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up (KJV) is “an egregious misinterpretation, maybe the worst in the New Testament.”

    Other interpretations, including the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible, say on that day the earth and its works “will be disclosed.” The NIV says, “laid bare.” German interpretation of the passage says the earth “will find its judgment” and the Dutch says “will be found.”

    “After the refiner’s fire of purification, the earth will be found, discovered, not burned up,” Bouma-Prediger said. “This text is not about rapture or destruction, but about refinement and renewal of creation.”

    He caused a bit of stir in the room when he said the idea of “rapture” or being caught up into the air on the day of Christ’s return is a misinterpretation, as well. He said creation is not “ephemeral and unimportant” and that Christians will join Christ’s procession as He returns to earth.

    “We are not raptured off the earth,” he said. “God loves the world. He returns to the world and will not leave the world behind.”

    The panelists encouraged Christians not to be “just takers, but care takers.”

    11/20/2009 8:42:00 AM by Norman Jameson, BR Editor | with 4 comments




Comments
Yachika Verma
Thanks for great post. I have a blog on Global Warming. If you want you can check it out.
12/15/2009 3:36:02 AM

Artist28174
Bryan, keep the fundamentalist inanity coming. It's amusing, and always good for a laugh.
11/25/2009 9:00:17 AM

Norman
Well, if this panel had been held in Manhattan, I guess the Times would have covered it. Since it was held at Southeastern Seminary, it was up to me! I'm convinced the main reason people disregard calls to creation care is that a widespread response would threaten the comfortable way we live. It's the same reason we are so unresponsive to calls to witness to our neighbor or to give sacrificially.
11/23/2009 2:37:31 PM

Bryan Ezell
more liberal propaganda Norm! you are getting as bad as the New York Times
11/23/2009 12:34:23 PM

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