Sunday, November 23, 2014

Consuming Creation

Christians must see climate change as a spiritual and not just a scientific problem. It's not just a material problem. It goes into the heart of the human spirit - what it means to be a human being.

It seems to me that what we have to do is face a fact that at the heart our refusal to engage with the issue of climate change is our consumption economy.

Our refusal to listen to the signs of change in the atmosphere in the oceans and the weather and in the earth's system more generally is a reflection of a spiritual problem of what the prophets would call an idolatry, not just of materialism.
These are the words of Scottish theologian Michael Northcott, in a talk entitled 'consuming creation', given to a conference of evangelical Christians. In Encounter's podcast, Steve Bradbury, had this to add:

Why is it so many people in the church don't catch this - and don't understand why we should be so concerned about climate change. Part of the answer lies in the cultural captivity of the church.

In the 18th century, the Anglican Missionary Society inherited two slave plantations. They did two things - gave the slave a little bit more time off each week - and rebranded the slaves with the initials of the mission society.

We react in a shocked manner. How could they do that? But they were captives of the culture of their time....

I think we're looking at a situation where we are captive to a particular worldview. It's tied to this idea that we have to have economic growth, we must keep trying to get more and more in order to satisfy our needs and aspirations.

The strong teaching in the new testament that we have a choice between serving God or mammon (money) is a choice we don't give enough thought to.

Michael Northcott also mentioned Jesus' parable about a rich man, who dreamt of building more barns to store his enormous surplus of corn. In this parable the man dies before ever eating or selling the corn.

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