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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Environmentalism and Its Worldview (III)

Many of us “more mature” theologians (read: older), cut our teeth on Henry Van Til’s seminal work The Calvinistic Concept of Culture.[1] Among other important truths, Van Til reminded us that “culture is simply the service of God in our lives; it is religion externalized.”[2] Culture and cultural norms were never meant to be neutral or adiaphorous. John Frame puts it quite well when he states, “It is interesting that that Latin term colere, from which we get the word culture, also refers to religious service, and comes into English as cult, cultic, and so on. Culture and cult go together.”[3]

Therefore, if Christians are to enter the arena of ideas and ideologies they should possess an accurate and biblical view of God, man, society, truth, knowledge, and ethics—at the very least. Not to do so could easily entail getting run over, mutilated, and eventually thrown under the bus of secular totalitarianism. I’m suggesting, in fact, that that is precisely what has occurred with those Christian celebs who found it necessary to sign on to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and now refuse to remove their names from that document, even in light of much of the discredit that the environmentalists have experienced.

Far too many Christians have been followers of secular ideology when it comes to environmentalism, global warming, or climate change—whatever the going descriptions are. In other words, there has been no concerted effort on the part of the signatories to explain what their own worldview is, although I guess we are to suppose that it is Christian. There are no elucidations of where they disagree with the IPCC or with the worldview and presuppositions driving it. Are we to suppose, then, that each culture and worldview is neutral when it comes to God? I certainly hope we are not that naïve! Frame’s comments are quite helpful at this point. “Every worldview, every philosophy, even if it professes to be nonreligious, has [a] totalitarian influence on human life, and, followed consistently, will dictate a certain kind of culture. Culture, therefore, is never religiously neutral. Everything in culture expresses and communicates a religious conviction: either faith in the true God or denial of him.”[4]

Each worldview, Christian or otherwise, encompasses every aspect and facet of life. In that sense, each worldview is “totalitarian” in that it is meant to govern everything we say, do, and think. Certainly, most Christians are familiar with the scriptural texts that address this point I’m making here, but just to be on the safe side, let me give you a few to help us understand better. Probably the first text that comes to your mind is the same one that comes to mine: 1 Corinthians 10:31. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This is, indeed, an all-encompassing verse of Scripture isn’t it? It is not so much what we eat or drink, although that is most certainly addressed. Rather, whatever we do is to be done consciously to the glory of God. How can you and I, sinners that we are, glorify God? The short answer is that we glorify him by thinking his thoughts after him. How can we think his thoughts after him? By going to the Bible, reading it, studying it, meditating upon it, praying for wisdom and power to apply it, and, as the psalmist says, hiding or storing it in our heart (Ps. 119:11).

A very similar text is found in Colossians 3:17, where Paul instructs the Church this way: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” We observe here a repetition of the same general categories that Paul referred to in 1 Corinthians 10:31. The intent is to draw the Christian’s attention to the truth that God is Lord of the entirety of life and not merely of a few segments or compartments. “So everything we do in culture will reflect our faith in some way.”[5]

Since this is truth, it begs the question: Why, then, did a number of Christian celebrities sign a document where many, if not all, of those involved with creating this document are non-believers? Much of the so-called “science” contained in the IPCC resolution has been debunked as bogus, including many of the specious arguments about CO2. It seems like a number of the Christian signatories were too eager to get their names on the (distinguished) list, but now that so much of what they asserted to be true has been shown to be false and based on ideology and not science, these same people are inexplicably slow about removing their names as supporters.

On a very simple level, it would seem that the Great Commission would have some important bearing on these signatories. How, one might legitimately ask, is keeping one’s name on a bogus document fulfilling the mandate to disciple God’s people? Doesn’t it seem plausible, feasible that if I’m truly concerned about making disciples for the Lord Jesus that I would not shirk my responsibility to recant if necessary? Jesus’ words to his disciples in the Great Commission include comprehensive teaching regarding what Jesus has commanded us. This teaching is to include everything God has commanded. That being the case, why are we not presented with a biblical view of the environment by the signatories instead of their signing a secular document? Can Christians not do better—a lot better—than the IPCC resolution? I believe we can.

[1] Henry Van Til, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture, (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1959).

[2] Ibid., 200.

[3] John Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 2008), p. 858.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.



Blogger Presbyterian_keith said...

I'm not sure who these Christian celebrities are that you are referring to Dr. Gleason. But I must ask, what makes them qualified to sign such a statement? The fact that they are Christians? Or the fact that they are qualified scientists who happen to be Christians? I fear I already know the answer to my question, which makes their signature all the more bogus.

1:20 PM  
Blogger donsands said...

Seems to me, as I catch the theological drift from celebrities like Rick Warren, is a theology that says, "God is really in love with every person so much so, that to rub elbows with the "unchurched" is something God loes us to do. And we don't need to talk about Jesus a whole lot, because Jesus may just rub off on these nice people, if we give them a chance. Not to mention God loves his earth, and we need to love it to."

Thanks for the excellent post, and thoughts.

6:42 AM  

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