This essay seeks to examine traditional ideas about salvation/redemption, in particular examining the contribution to theology of Gerhard von Rad, whose ideas centred around the salvific event of the Red sea. It will then examine what happens when green philosophy and conservationism enters the domain of theology, in particular the Earth Bible movement and the work of Thomas Berry. It will then address some of the concerns around the new ‘Eco-theology’, and the ongoing response of some mainstream New Zealand churches in this area. Continue reading
These are the words a deacon says to dismiss the congregation at the end of the service. They are followed with ‘Go in peace’, (then ‘Amen, we go in the name of Christ.’) But in some church circles, it seems that they are followed with ‘Go in Panic.’ I’m talking about those who worry incessantly about the state of the CO2 levels in the atmosphere, and the ice caps melting, and just seem to need to live on adrenaline. The science is coming in all the time, that there is no need to panic. Maybe it should be written in large friendly letters all over the newpsapers! I get concerned when so much of the church’s attention seems to be about saving the planet, rather than the first part of the dismissal – ‘go now to Love and serve the Lord’. The words ‘social justice’ keep getting car-jacked away from helping people live just and fulfilling lives, to planting trees for the sake of the planet.
Well, if my garden is anything to go by, when we leave things alone, trees plant themselves, and I am always pulling out little seedlings of native trees, which aren’t where I want them. Do I feel guilty? Nope. My main concern about the over-emphasis on green theology is that it’s the easy way out of the hard stuff – it’s much easier to plant a few trees or pick up litter than to visit the elderly neighbour who will probably grumble that you didn’t buy the right brand of tea, but really needs some human contact. It’s much easier to get het-up about battery hens than to look at why that family down the road is always at the food bank, and doing something about it. Loving and serving the Lord must mean challenging the stuctures of our society that aren’t working. Things like self-centred pursuits which say it’s ok for me to spend all the family’s benefit on booze, or smokes, or gambling.
Panic about the environment just distracts us.
The other option, at the other end of the scale, is the ‘it’s all good’ brand of Christian thinking. This is more common in the Pentecostal churches, where everything seems to have a Pollyanna-ish gloss on it. Even when there’s great suffering, the phrase ‘God is good’, answered by ‘all the time’ comes through loud and clear. But what about those times when life isn’t good? ‘It’s all good’ is another phrase you might hear. But sometimes it isn’t.
Let’s be honest as Christians, accepting that life has it’s bad bits, and for goodness’ sake, let’s ‘Go now to Love and serve the Lord!’