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Climate Change and Christianity

I read a recent comment on the Spectrum website from a frequent commenter that I found puzzling:

"I wonder how many Adventists are at a point where they can vote for unlimited abortion, the complete destruction of the family as we know it, or a permanent ban on harvesting natural resources in order to save a rare owl or frog.”

I have no intention of touching on abortion of family destruction at this time, but the thought that Adventists would take a pro-position on denying climate change disturbs me.

There are more texts in the Bible about God being the creator of this world than there are about God being our redeemer. As Adventists, we set aside one day every week in recognition that God created this earth, yet we seem complacent on how we take care of it. Does this even make sense? Shouldn’t Adventists be the staunchest defenders of God’s creation?

I’d like to briefly touch on how the climate change deniers even came into being. It was about twenty years ago that the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil, working inside the American Petroleum Institute along with a number of others groups concerned with their own financial well-being, became alarmed that the research was showing how devastating man-made pollution had become. They were also concerned that scientists as a whole had taken up the cause conclusively show that man was responsible. They hired a prominent public relations firm to study how to counter the effects of the oil industry’s negative press.

After considerable research, this public relations firm concluded that it would not be helpful nor necessary to disprove the conclusion that climate change was caused by humans, but, rather, what was needed was to “buy” a few climate scientists to say that there was “doubt” about the conclusions that scientists had claimed were man-made. To create a degree of uncertainty about the conclusions. “Doubt” was the single word that describes why we are where we are today.

This quarter’s Sabbath School lesson study is about Stewardship, part of which is our care and keeping of the earth. We were given the responsibility to care for the earth, not to rape and pillage its resources to the detriment of all life on the planet.

Yes, we do have a responsibility to all lifeforms which, as stewards, were entrusted to our care.

I could have presented a number of texts in support of our responsibilities to care for the earth, but I don’t think that creating a list of supportive Bible verses is a way to resolve anything. I will, instead, stick to a portion of just a single verse found in Revelation 11:18.

“…and shoudest destroy them which destroy the earth.” (KJV)

Some argue that God was talking about people when he spoke of the earth, but the Greek clearly translates the word earth as the “ground.” In some translations, it says “I will hurt those who hurt the earth” but in all cases, the direct consequence is the same.

Here is what you need to know to understand the importance of this very short, prophetic, sentence:

  • This entire chapter is speaking about the end time. Most of us would not argue that we are in the end times. Therefore, this is about us, here and now.
  • This was written approximately two thousand years ago. Why is that significant? Simple. Two thousand years ago, they had no idea how to destroy the earth. There were no factories or automobiles belching out millions of tons of pollutants into the air every day. The only way they could have conceived of hurting the earth was, maybe, taking a club and beating it. Obviously, the whole book of Revelation was not written for them but for us.
  • Since this was written when man had no notion of how it could be accomplished, you must next conclude that it had to be a direct inspiration from God. How else would John have put this one sentence into this dialogue of end times?
  • It makes it very clear that the consequence of man’s actions in damaging the world will be punished by destructionvery severe outcome.
  • Unlike so many other admonitions from God, this one is concise, distinctly for our age and the outcome of the perpetrators are distinct and conclusive.

I don’t want to prejudge how God deals with any transgression, but “destruction” does not sound like a good outcome.

We are losing hundreds of species from this planet ever year because of our man-made disregard for God’s creation. I cannot imagine any sincere Christian, let alone any Adventist, who would be willing to wipe out a species of owl or frog just so that they can continue to drive their pollution belching car or power their homes with electricity that is derived by the continued burning of coal. Even the very extraction of the latter has become a severe blight on the health of its miners.

In a world where even the mostly atheistically Chinese are willing to make dramatic changes in their lifestyle in order to combat the man-created blight on our environment, how can we as Christians continue to buy into the conspiracy of climate change denial in light of the fact that we have been warned almost two thousand years ago?

 

Lynden Williams is a 71-year-old retired broadcast engineer who lives in Tehachapi, California. He has been a Sabbath School teacher for more than 25 years—currently as one of the adult Sabbath School leaders at the Lancaster California Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Photo by Andy Chilton on Unsplash

 

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