We were put in charge of the earth, to be sure. God did it, back there in Genesis with His “have dominion” instructions. Man is to steward God’s creation on this planet.
Things, as often they do from our depraved, fallen natures, took a bad turn. Being as we are creatures designed to worship, man soon began worshipping anything and everything in creation instead of the Creator Himself.
From birds, to animals, to planets, and the sun, the logical, natural zenith of worship for fallen man was none other than “mother earth.” The earth worshipping cultists yet remain to this day. And today is their high holy day.
Baptist News today features an article that highlights the trailblazing work of the Southern Baptist Convention’s first true “eco-theologian,” Henlee Barnette. A former professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Barnette is viewed as “one of the first (and few) leaders in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination to be an advocate for environmental concern and action.”
Barnette, author of a 1972 tome, The Church And The Ecological Crisis, said, “To mistreat the land is to break covenant with God and may cause him to withdraw his presence and providence.” (Umm, well, yeah. See, I thought it was “sin” that kept us from God’s presence, not because we didn’t properly mulch or something.)
The article’s author, Aaron Weaver, says “Environmental action was central to Barnette’s eco-theology.” From insisting on “personal ecotactics,” such as recycling, to encouraging churches to “participate in environmental organizations and take part in community clean-up projects,” Barnette presented a theology that “sees a responsibility to the whole earth.”
The SBC hasn’t been as vocal about such earth embracing endeavors of late. Through its Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, far too much time has been consumed in higher profile issues of wide ecumenical appeal, perhaps. Still, the ERLC has spoken out.
ERLC “Fellow” Karen Swallow Prior has been actively engaged in aligning the SBC agency with animal rights activists throughout the country. Far beyond the mere tree-hugging, “don’t pollute” crowd, the ERLC and Prior have supported the Humane Society’s agenda against “factory farming.” She went so far as to state, “the economy of the country be damned, this has to stop.” (Eat more … mulch, apparently. Sorry Chic-Fil-A!)
So, on this earth day, just remember, there are kooks in the SBC’s ERLC (supported by your tithes and offerings) who’ll stand side by side with our bovine, planetary co-inhabitants and demand they not be stewarded to feed a starving world.
As a Bible-believing Southern Baptist (I’m beginning to think we’re getting to be a rare sort, friends!) I’m not so much concerned about ‘eco-theology.” Frankly, it’s not gonna be a very thriving study if you’re considering a Biblical view of the earth’s long-term viability. I cite to you 2 Peter 3:10-12.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
Yeah, it’s not looking real good for the earth. But then, near the same time we were given dominion back there in Genesis? Yeah. God cursed the earth. (See Genesis 3) So, if you’re celebrating earth day with some sort of eco-theologic extravaganza, you might just keep that in mind.
Instead of protesting the dairy section of your local supermarket, or loving on Elsie the cow, or even tree-hugging, why don’t you go share the Gospel with your neighbor? If God saves them, they’ll get to enjoy a new heaven and a new earth. And that will be cause for an eternally epic celebration!
Contributed by Bud Ahlheim