The Seductive Dangers of “-ism’s”
Christianity is hard. Not too hard or overwhelmingly hard by God’s grace but difficult nonetheless. It’s hard because we have a fallen flesh that fights us, it’s hard because satan is working to destroy faith, it’s hard because of relationships, and it’s hard because we live in a confusing world. The biblical standard of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over every area of life is also hard. We know what it means to have a biblical worldview in the spiritual parts of our lives but what about the others? How do we live under his Lordship in the ‘everyday’ things of life? This is an essentially important question because it is the ‘everyday’ things like marriage, family, money, government, entertainment, art, law, etc… where we will have the most opportunities to connect people to the gospel. These are also the areas that we find being consistently attacked in our culture. Another area that we hear about in the media all the time yet often don’t connect with our Christian faith is the environment.
While we may not realize it, the environment is an issue that surrounds us every day. From massive recycling efforts, to ‘green’ energy products and policies, and the ever alarming prognostications about climate change and global warming we cannot keep this issue from being a part of our lives. The problem is that most Christians don’t consider the worldview that is behind this movement and these policies. With all due respect to Al Gore, ‘the inconvenient truth’ of environmentalism is based on a worldview that is inherently non-christian and most Christians don’t even realize it. Globalism, population control, and the devaluing of human life are only some of the concepts that drive the radical environmental agenda.
Demonstrating concern for the environment, caring for God’s creation, and striving to be good stewards of all that God has provided is not only a good thing but a biblical expectation. This is very different, however, than embracing environmentalism. When the ‘-ism’ is added, care for creation has gone beyond stewardship to a movement that exalts the created over the creator just as described in the book of Romans. This is the essence of the modern environmental movement and it is what Christians must recognize as the worldview that drives it.
This is a very difficult and nuanced subject that requires careful attention and detailed application of God’s word to God’s world. For this very reason, I am incredibly grateful for the Cornwall Alliance and its founder Cal Beisner. We need Christians who are faithful to God and His Word and who can winsomely speak with expertise in every area of culture including environmentalism. The Cornwall Alliance does exactly this. The Cornwall Alliance tries to “Our network of theologians, scientists, economists, and other scholars and leaders work together to promote, primarily through education, three things simultaneously:
- Biblical earth stewardship, or “godly dominion”—men and women working together to enhance the fruitfulness, beauty, and safety of the earth to the glory of God and the benefit of our neighbors;
- economic development for the world’s poor; and
- the proclamation and defense of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,
all in a world permeated by an environmental movement whose worldview, theology, and ethics are overwhelmingly anti-Christian, whose science and economics are often poorly done, whose policies therefore often do little good for natural ecosystems but much harm to the world’s poor, and whose religious teachings undermine the fundamental Christian doctrines of God, creation, humanity, sin, and salvation.
I am grateful that the Cornwall Alliance not only helps us understand the critical economic and scientific issues of environmentalism but also helps us to do so from a biblical perspective. This is something that evangelical Christians have not always done well. From Christian manifestos on the environment to books like “Green Like God” many evangelicals have bought in to the ‘greening of the church and the Gospel’ to the point that the their positions on the environment look very much like those who actually oppose biblical Christianity. This is often done without realizing the effects this will have on economics, government policies, the pro-life movement, etc…
Our church recently brought Dr. Beisner in for a Sunday where he taught on important but often neglected topics such as the myth of over-population and its implications, a biblical framework for environmental stewardship, the next generation science standards, and the realities of climate change. Our people truly enjoyed this and were biblically equipped to think rightly about this issue. One of the most impactful things Dr. Beisner said was that the radical environmental movement poses a significant threat to the church, the Gospel, and religious liberty. While other ideologies are dangerous to the faith, they are mostly external and recognized as a threat from the outset (think islam, atheism, secularism) but environmentalism creeps in slowly under seemingly good pretenses and often under supposed Christian teaching. This is why we must put creation care under the Lordship of Jesus and not let a good thing become the idol of an –ism.