Saturday, April 11, 2009
One Representative's Theological Take on Climate Change
I think there are a few things to clear up here. First, yes God decides when/if the world will end, but that is different from when our existence with the world could possibly end. The world could go on long after our existence presumably. As I understand it, and please correct me if I am wrong here, but the issue isn't that we are ending the earth per se, but that human-made carbon emissions are radically increasing greenhouse gases trapping the sun's heat, melting our polar ice-caps, warming our oceans, changing our oceanic currents, changing our meteorological patterns, killing off species of life (i.e., polar bears), and increasing the likelihood of natural disasters (i.e., more tornadoes, stronger hurricanes, and ironically, fiercer snow storms). So, it's not that the world will necessarily come to an end, but that the world is drastically changing, at unnatural rates, making the environment potentially inhospitable to (human) life as we know it. We are coming to a tipping point in which severe damage to the earth, seriously affecting life, is irreversable. The world is resilient, however, and could bounce back, long after we are gone.
I'm interested in the Congressman's choices of verses supporting his dominion theology - the theology that states that humanity has the God-given right of dominion over the earth; we can do what we want to the earth as we can't possibly work cross-purposes with God's plans. Rep. Shimkus uses Genesis 8, God's promise to Noah, and Matthew 24, one of the mini-apocalypses of the Gospels. The first deals with God promising not to destroy humanity again, the aftermath of God's attempt to rid the world of human wickedness, and the second, specifically the triumphal return of the Christ to save the elect. These passages deal with God's involvement in the destruction of (evil and wicked) humanity, but not the human-caused destruction of the earth.
Importantly, others who find the Bible equally infallible don't subscribe to this theology and believe that we are stewards to God's creation. Therefore, as we should take care of the earth, these, generally younger, evangelicals believe in a pro-active environmentalism.
(h/t Homebrewed Christianity)