Tuesday, September 29, 2009
How Green is God? Pub Theology Discussion
Tonight was a bit o' Pub Theology lite, but that doesn't mean that discussion points weren't thoughtful, and observant.
Some points from the evening:
Elizabeth made note that texts from the Old Testament such as the sabbath rest for the land, and God's call to man as caretaker over the earth seemed to mark a distinct call from God for humanity to care about this planet, and therefore it was evident that God cares. Yet, she noted that it is not as easy to find a Green theology in the New Testament. Jesus, and the apostles who write the epistles appear to aim the primary concern at our behavior toward one another almost at the exclusion of the previous OT commands which might have been somewhat more focused on caring over the earth.
Carlos had just returned from lengthy walking trip through Spain. In his discussions with Spanish farmers (mostly Catholic) he found that they considered earth safe farming techniques (organic farming, and the avoidance of over poisoning the land) to be part of what it means to live a life of Christian faith.
Adam noted that he had grown up with some particular biases which now followed into a consideration of the current trends toward a Green lifestyle. he does not own a car now, and uses public transportation. He is careful about using energy at home, and consequently has a low carbon footprint. Nonetheless, as a good evangelical he does have the opinion that there is a chronic and irredeemable problem with the world. If it is gonna burn, he wonders how much effort saving it is worth.
Now this led to a short description of different eschatalogical views by me. I quickly and simply outlined pre-millennial, post-millennial, and a-millennial views of millennium and how these worked either toward, or in opposition to developing a green theology. Without going into the discussion here, and assuming many of you readers will understand the distinctions it was observed that a pre-millennial position naturally leans away from a green theology, and since most evangelicals are of a pre-millennial disposition it is problematic for the evangelical church to develop a concerted effort toward limiting our carbon footprint.
Mary noted some of the scarier elements of the science behind global warming. We discussed the idea of "saving the earth," and playing devil's advocate, I posed the question "who or what are we saving it for?" - especially if we have a pre-millennial theological position. If its all gonna burn how can we really do anything anyway?
Carlos suggested that we are saving it for our children. Adam mentioned that if the rapture was to occur they would miss that future anyway. I ended by noting that at the very least our society believes that true spirituality cares about saving the earth for our children and grandchildren, and a church that does not care does not appear to be serving humanity. Mary had noted earlier in the evening that some of the things evangelicals believe make a green theology nearly impossible to develop.
Although the evening highlighted this fact, we were a greener thinking group than might have been discussing theological issues when I first joined this Christian tribe 30 years ago.