Thinking Out Loud

May 22, 2017

Creation Care and the Gospel

I grew up in an Evangelical world that tended to look down their noses at Christian groups which stressed environmentalism. The thinking was that these once-focused denominations had been somewhat hijacked by their move toward an environmental emphasis and that doing so meant that the proclamation of the gospel of the Kingdom taught by Jesus was pushed to the background or sacrificed altogether.

While I still believe that the teaching on the atonement provided by the cross, and the resurrection of Jesus must be our central themes, I am now more open to a Christianity that leaves room for some environmental concern. Three things contributed to this.

The first was a reexamination of Genesis and a greater awareness of it giving us a mandate to be stewards of the earth. Creation care is scriptural.

The second was a reexamination of the prophetic passages in scripture that made me realize that we’re not necessarily told about a heaven that’s up there somewhere, as we are told about new earth. Randy Alcorn’s Heaven is an excellent primer on this theme, but if you find a 530 book intimidating, consider the bite-sized portions he offers in 50 Days of Heaven. I don’t know if was him or someone else who said, “God has too much invested in this real estate to simply walk away from it.” Whether the renewal of the earth will take place as a simple reversal of what happened at the fall or whether human-initiated nuclear destruction will bring about the reset, I don’t know. But God seems to have more in mind for this particular planet, and while not throwing your litter out the window while you’re on the freeway may not help matters much in the grand scheme of things, we could at least show some respect.

The third thing was a quote I read in a copy of The Plain Truth. I think I was a student on a bus heading home from university classes — I was a commuter student who therefore never had the residence experience — and furthermore I can’t tell you if this was before or after Armstrong’s group’s crossing the line from cult to something more orthodox. I just know that I was a periodical junkie, so anything in a free rack got picked up by me.

The author — I don’t know if it was Armstrong himself or a staff writer — quoted Deuteronomy 23:12-13

You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be that when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement. (NAS)

Interestingly enough, when I Googled the verse just now to find it, one of the first pages to show was titled “The Old Testamentary Latrine.” I checked some more modern translations, but nothing more is gained; the text above is rather plain on this.

I realize we don’t follow a lot of the guidance given in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, but I felt the wisdom of the Bible on this particular, practical topic has been lost. At least it has where I live.

Here’s the thing: I live in the Great Lakes region. Furthermore, I live on the Canadian side which is teeming with fresh water lakes of various sizes besides great. Where do you think our sewage goes? Not in the ground, as prescribed in the above passage. Into the lakes. Sure it’s treated beforehand, except on days where there are major rainstorms and then the raw sewage has to be released into the lakes. Yes, it’s treated before it returns to our kitchen tap.

But think about that for a moment.

Thomas Lynch praised the thing. “The flush toilet,” he wrote, “more than any single invention, has ‘civilized’ us in a way that religion and law could never accomplish.”

But not everyone agrees. I have two quotations here that I need readers to help me source. By helping me you’ll not only get your name at the bottom of this article, but a wing in our university will be named after you.

  • The flush toilet is the worst invention ever foisted on civilization.
  • It is inconceivable that any society would think to flush its waste into lakes and rivers and then attempt to render that same water drinkable.

Searching did not produce a name to attach to either quote, but I think the truth of the first statement comes through in the second…

…Together, these various factors combined to make me more inclined to think it’s okay to be a Christian and be an environmentalist. I’m sure Thomas Lynch was a wise man, but I think he got this one wrong.

I think Deuteronomy 23 has the right idea.

I’d spend more time on this, but right now I have to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 17, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Time for another episode of Link-O-Rama…

  • Our opening graphic is a t-shirt from Café Press which can be yours for only $27.00 U.S.  It’s called “The lamest sin.”
  • In a single-shot sermon from a guy who always preaches in series, Andy Stanley delivers the strongest-ever apologetic for small group ministry in a message titled Stumbling Along.
  • Bill Hybels addresses delegates to this year’s Leadership Summit as to why Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, was pressured by the gay community into cancelling his signed contract to be a speaker at the event.
  • In this week’s chapter of Schullergate, the big glass church gets told they can’t decide not to sell, but need  to accept one of the bid offers.  Details at Orange County Register, but follow the Register for updates on this as the story changes regularly.    This just in: The Roman Catholic diocese has raised its bid.
  • CBN News reports an affiliate of a well-known terror organization is using four animated cartoons to recruit children.
  • Kanon Tipton - Pint Sized Preacher

    A kids story of another kind: Kanon Tipton, the 4-year old “pint-sized preacher” gets interviewed on NBC’s Today Show.

  • Here’s another one of those online prayer request sites.  I’m not sure about all this.  I still think your best bet is to be involved with a group of brothers and sisters who will come alongside to pray with you when you need them.  Fall is a good time to join a small group.  If your church doesn’t have them, find one that does which allows outsiders to join.
  • Fall kickoff got you bewildered?  Here are ten reason to under program your church from Jared Wilson.  Sample: “If a church looks like it’s doing lots of things, we tend to think it’s doing great things for God. When really it may just be providing lots of religious goods and services. “
  • The boomers aren’t going to accept being called “seniors” which raises other questions about how we do “seniors’ ministry.”  Start at Trey Morgan’s blog and then link through for more from Thom Rainer.
  • It’s not just hell and heaven.  Some Evangelical scholars are questioning the whole “Adam and Eve” thing.  Start at Tony Jones’ blog and the click through for the full NPR story.
  • The current Miss Canada, Tara Teng, kicked of the Ignite the Road to Justice Tour on Monday, traveling from Vancouver to Ottawa thru September 4th to raise awareness of human trafficking.  More in this story at B.C. Province.
  • Speaking of which, Dr. Robert Peterson of Covenant Theological Seminary offers a video response to Rob Bell’s Love Wins.
  • Pete Wilson gets embedded deep behind the lines at Saddleback Church and does some serious Megachurch myth-busting.
  • Indie music link of the week: Toronto-based Every Spare Second — click the titles in the left margin to play full songs.  Similar to Owl City and To Tell.
  • Greg Laurie says that casual, consensual sex is hurting America.
  • Christianity Today talks to the cast and director of the movie, The Help.
  • Pastor Michael Minor decided the best way to fight the obesity epidemic was to begin in the church fellowship hall.  Might not be a lot finger-lickin’ going on at his Tampa church.
  • On Thursday, Regent Radio, the internet broadcast arm of Regent College, begins an 11-lecture series by historian and missiologist Andrew Walls.  The lecture series “From Tertullian to Tutu: 2,000 Years of christian History in Africa…” was delivered live at Regent. One free lecture per day at Regent Radio; click the play arrow in the middle of the page.
  • “People can’t worship while bats rain droppings and urine over them. Services have had to be cancelled.”  That’s the complaint over at St. Hilda’s Church in Ellerburn, somewhere in the UK; but an environmental group is preventing the church from evicting the bats.
  • A gay website — no I’m not a regular reader, thanks for asking — is reporting a Princeton Review study saying that Wheaton College is the least LGBT-friendly school in the U.S.  Gee, ya think?
  • Here’s a break from all the seriousness with Beaker from Sesame Street performing Ode to Joy. Join the fifteen million viewers to date.
  • Our Christian-flavored cartoon discovery of the week was Cake or Death by Alex Baker, and I hope to soon go through the archives and read every single one of them.  Here are some recent entries:

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