The Danger of Being Unequally Yoked
At the close of our last installment, I mentioned that we would examine God’s covenant with Noah in order to ascertain if there are any scriptural lessons Christians can take away from the Bible and bring to the ongoing climate change debate. We have been interacting with the Evangelical Climate Initiative’s article “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.” We have noted that a number of “name brand” folks, who call themselves Christians, have signed on to this document, including Brian McLaren and Jim Wallis. The question I raised last time had to do with just how far we ought to follow non-Christians in accepting as “gospel truth” a particular position on an issue.
Our issue here is global warming/climate change. Actually, the debate does not focus on whether climate changes or has changed in the past. We agree that it does and it has. In addition, no one is questioning the use of secular sources when debating certain points. Common grace extends far and wide. Simultaneously, we need to be aware that when we quote non-Christian sources, we are dealing with a person with an entirely different life and worldview from the Christian one. Many—most—secular scientists, for example, accept Darwinism as one of their axioms in their investigations. Others are convinced that the earth is millions if not billions of years old. Thus, the argument about using sources outside of the Christian faith is not an issue here, although as a necessary caveat, we should do so with care.
I say all this because the signatories to the ECI document have accepted the claims of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Their opening salvo under Claim 1 (Human-Induced Climate Change is Real), reads, “Since 1995 there has been general agreement among those in the scientific community most seriously engaged with this issue that climate change is happening and is being caused mainly by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels. Evidence gathered since 1995 has only strengthened this conclusion.” (p. 2.)
In the course of these articles, we intended to investigate this assertion, but for today we want to discuss some matters that separate—or should separate—the Christians from the non-Christians, even though some who call themselves Christians will disagree with some of what I’m about to say. What I’m going to do is to lay down a framework about why God sent the Flood in the first place and then what he promised to Noah and his family after the Flood.
After man’s fall into sin and God’s promise of deliverance (Gen. 3:15), we enter into a new phase of biblical revelation called the covenant of grace. Now man is a sinner and is at enmity with God. As a run up to God’s covenant with Noah we read this in the Bible: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5.) This text speaks of the radical depravity of man and of the sinful nature of sin. Therefore, God sends the Flood and destroys the inhabitants on the earth except Noah and his family. Chapter 9 of Genesis speaks to us about God’s covenant with Noah after the Flood and we are informed of certain “particulars” regarding it. There are many facets to this covenant administration, but allow me to give the following:
First, this covenant is universal in scope, including every living creature (Gen. 9:9-10).
Second, it is unconditional. That is to say, it cannot be annulled by human unfaithfulness.
Third, the (rain)bow in the heavens is a constant reminder that God will be faithful to his promise.
Fourth, it is an everlasting covenant. (Gen. 9:11.)
Finally, it is totally unilateral in nature. God imposes this covenant administration sovereignly and makes it with animate and inanimate objects, with organic and inorganic matter.
After Noah built an altar and sacrificed to the Lord, God gave him this promise: “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creation as I have done. While earth remains. Seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Gen. 9:21-22.)
This is a sure promise, but it seems that many have forgotten this truth. When I was a kid growing up, the threat that hung like a pall over life was the Cold War. People built bomb shelters, stocked them with pork and beans and beer and believed the doomsday scenarios. In the sixth grade, we practiced getting under our wooden desks in the event of a nuclear holocaust. There’s nothing like a wooden desk to protect you from being vaporized. As if that were not enough, Teri Johnson cried in class the day we saw the movie about the earth turning into a meat locker.
As the Cold War progressed, even some of the evangelical churches made hay out of man’s fears. Everything the Soviet Union did was tantamount to Armageddon; Gog and Magog. Some theologians received hefty royalties, scaring God’s people about impending doom. Too bad The Prayer of Jabez hadn’t been written yet. In these predictive, worst-case scenarios, man would destroy the earth and not God—or, God’s version of the Last Day didn’t bother to mention nuclear weapons.
In the 1960s and 1970s, a number of evangelical churches jumped on Paul Ehrlich’s population explosion fad and Christians across the country went on birth control, being convinced that two children were quite enough for them to do their Christian duty to save the planet from overcrowding and famine, not stopping to think that in their glee to limit overpopulation they were taking birth control pills that did not prevent conception, but actually performed a mini-abortion.
Along with Dr. Ehrlich—you know, that expert from Princeton—along came Rachel Carson and her blockbuster book Silent Spring. She convinced the world that DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) was harmful, deadly, even a carcinogenic. We knew better because we used to chase the jeeps around that were spraying to kill mosquitoes. I admit that I am also guilty of being sprayed directly several times, but I did not inhale. At any rate, Carson’s book was widely accepted, and even to this day, a number of evangelicals still believe that DDT is harmful. In point of fact, not spraying with DDT has literally caused the deaths of millions of people, especially those in developing countries. Can you say, “law of unintended consequences”? What did we get from ridding the world of DDT? To quote Paul Driessen, we got sustainable mosquitoes and expendable people. Just how bad is it? “In 2000, say World Health Organization and other studies, malaria infected over 300 million people. It killed nearly 2,000,000—most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Over half the victims are children, who die at the rate of two per minute or 3,000 per day…. Since 1972, over 50 million people have died from this dreaded disease.” The disease costs Africa “$12 billion annually, depleting budgets for other health, environmental, economic and social programs. It particularly afflicts poor families, who must use up to 25 percent or more of their income on prevention and treatment.”
It was during Carson’s reign of misinformation that a phenomenon began that has now come to be called “the precautionary principle.” It is a more technical approach to mom’s advice: “better safe than sorry.” Because of a number of factors, far too many Americans would rather be safe than anything else and that is one factor that leads us down the road to socialism, to serfdom. The way the precautionary principle works is that it eschews “genetically modified foods despite their promise to reduce agriculture’s use of land, water, pesticides, and fertilizers, which could result in net benefits to the world’s environment and biodiversity even as it increases the quantity and nutritional quality of food supplies for a rapidly growing world population that has yet to be free from hunger and malnutrition.”
This same precautionary principle has been used to refuse the use of nuclear or hydroelectric power. It was used in the DDT debate which “was only possible because, in some minds, the principle gives license to cherry pick which public health or environmental risk one wants to focus on. Thus, a global ban makes eminent sense only if one ignores the public health costs of not having access to DDT to reduce malaria (and other insect-borne diseases) in poverty stricken areas.”
I will finally add that in the 1970s, then-President Jimmy Carter predicted that the earth would be out of food by 1980. Apparently, that type of prediction was above his pay grade—at least to make it accurately.
These examples could be multiplied and, Lord willing, in the course of this series will be. For the present I want to point out that none of these ideas were presented from a Christian perspective and yet the plausibility and feasibility quotient seemed reasonable enough for Christians and Christian churches and other organizations to buy into them. It is safe to say that while agreeing that the climate has changed, the jury is still out on whether that change is caused by human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels. For our purposes, it is essential to note that “all the IPCC’s predictions are based on…climate computer model simulations.”
Those using these computer models, who are more concerned about science and not getting the next government grant or telling Al Gore and company what they want to hear, admit a couple of things. First, “Essentially, answering the question about temperature increase from CO2 means predicting the global temperature over the coming centuries.” Most weathermen and –women cannot accurately predict next week’s weather, let alone what’s coming a century down the road.
Second, “The interaction between these five basic elements (the atmosphere, the oceans, the land surface, the ice sheets, and the earth’s biosphere—RG) is enormously complicated, and crucial mechanisms are still unknown or extremely sparsely documented in the scientific literature.” This forces science to rely on simulating the climate on intricate computers, but “computers are number-crunchers and not crystal balls.”The Christian will rely on God’s providence, of which no man can explain the intricacies. No one wants to be a bad steward of limited resources, but neither do we desire to be credulous about important matters. Looking to the signatories of ECI does not help us, because many of the signers are theologically liberal and embrace social programs, while abusing the scriptures to make them support and defend the indefensible. In the end, what matters most is that God is faithful and trustworthy to all his promises. We’ll continue down this road next time.
 See Paul Driessen, Eco-Imperialism. Green Power, Black Death, (Bellevue, WA: Free Enterprise Press, 2003), p. 65.
 Ibid., 66.
 Indur Goklany, The Improving State of the World. Why We’re Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner Planet, (Washington, D.C.: The Cato Institute, 2007), p. 9.
 Bjørn Limborg, The Skeptical Environmentalist, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), p. 266.
Labels: Global Warming/Climate Change