Colossians 1: A foundation for earth care

I received a distressing email from a friend who had encountered a group of climate-change denying Christians. These evangelical Christians, some of whom depend on the continued success of the oil sands directly or indirectly, apparently think that the whole climate change issue is somehow a ruse of anti-Christian forces bent on duping the world.

“To what end?” I wondered. I could not see how tricking people into reducing CO2 emissions would further the Evil One’s purposes. Nor could I see how opposition to a slower, careful, intentional development of resources could seriously damage Canada’s interests.

Then in The Guardian, I read this: “In recent months, the Pope has argued for a radical new financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation. In October he said… ‘An economic system centred on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.’”

And this:

“‘Francis will be opposed by the powerful U.S. evangelical movement,’ said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has declared the U.S. environmental movement to be ‘un-biblical’ and a false religion.

“The Pope should back off,” he said. “The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles but has been misled on the science. It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect. Our position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the U.S.’”

To Mr. Beisner, who suggests that the pope has “been misled by science,” I ask this question: Shouldn’t all of us be concerned about emissions and the waste products of human endeavour, the radical change in living conditions for many human beings and the massive changes we are making to the earth’s surface . . . shouldn’t we concerned even if they don’t lead directly to climate change?

If there proved to be no climate change involved in oil field development, wouldn’t Christian people who sing “This Is My Father’s World” still be saying, “Hold on there, we’re making some pretty big changes to a large part of the surface and subsurface of the earth and emitting lots of things that just weren’t natural before we began this project”?

Particularly, I wonder why Christian groups would oppose a more deliberate, intentional plan for resource development when they worship the Christ of God who is the “firstborn over all creation,” and in whom “all things were created: things in heaven and on earth.”

Creational “stuff”
I’m involved in a Bible study right now that is seeing how proto-Gnosticism affected the early church. It seems that teachers were suggesting that the creation – being “stuff,” or matter – was somehow unworthy of God’s direct concern, if not actually produced by a demi-urge (the Devil?). St. Paul writes a polemic against such false teaching by pointing to the centre of his faith: the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Polemics don’t usually come in poetic form, but I read St. Paul as breaking out in song and verse about the supremacy of Christ in the passage below. Later, the writers of the Apostles’ Creed stated that Christians affirm Jesus Christ, God’s Son, a real person with real flesh born of a real human mother and that Christ really suffered in his flesh and really died. Christians celebrate the death and redemption of Christ with “matter:” bread and wine. If any group of people should have a high regard for creational “stuff” and systems, I would think it would be Christians. I suggest that our discussions about climate change or any environmental matter begin with an affirmation of faith to guide our thinking. Our discussions and our conclusions might be different if we did so.

 

Colossians 1: 15-20
Arranged for worship with two readers and congregation.

Credo:
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.
The Son is the image of the invisible God,
     the firstborn over all creation.
For in him all things were created:
     things in heaven and on earth,
     visible and invisible,
     whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
     all things have been created through him and for him.

He is before all things,
     and in him all things hold together.
And he is the head of the body, the church;
     he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
     so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
     and through him to reconcile to himself all things,
     whether things on earth or things in heaven,
     by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord.

  • Curt Gesch and his wife lead the singing via Zoom for a combined service of small United Church congregations in central B.C. each Sunday morning. In the afternoon, they lead a Friends and Family Zoom worship from their home. If you'd like to join that service, please write Curt at moc.liamg@36hcsegc

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