There are a lot of truths that are inconvenient. Some of them begin by nagging you at the very fringe of your consciousness. You can ignore them for whole days at a time, but they just will not go completely away. At the most unexpected time they will suddenly jump on the front burner of your brain and fog up your thinking. Such a truth is global warning. My wife is a biologist and a botanist at a quite conservative Christian college--- Asbury College. The faculty there could not in any way be described as a hot bed of liberalism or ‘blue state’ thinking. It is interesting that even in this bastion of conservatism both religious and political, the truth about global warning has finally become undenial to even many nay sayers at such a place. Partly some of them came to this conclusion after becoming hands on in dealing with the aftermath of Katrina in places like Biloxi and New Orleans. All those Christian workers came back with a new understanding of how nature abused and ignored has an enormous capacity to respond with an overwhelming fury. The changing of the minds of many conservative Christians is perhaps a clear ensign that we are nearly to the point of recognizing we are dealing with an undeniable truth. Christians are sadly often the last to get religion about worldly things that have been obvious to others for many years. I say this to our shame.
Scientists of course pride themselves on trying to stick to the hard empirical data. They don’t tend to make grand pronouncements of any sort without a stuffed stat sheet to back it up. Well the stat sheet is now stuffed with evidence. The ten hottest years on record in our human history have all occurred in the last fourteen years. The most hurricanes ever in one season occurred last year. For the first time ever a huge shelf of Antarctica broke off and disintegrated into the cold waters that surround that continent. The perma-frost split in Greenland last year, for the first time ever, and the sound of huge underground rivers of melted ice can be heard in that land. And there is much more. Of the 946 articles written in peer-reviewed scientific journals over the last decade or so on global warming, they all had at least one point in common--- global warming is real and accelerating at an alarming rate as the green house gases increase exponentially in our atmosphere. Of course there are some popular articles out there that dispute this. None of those articles have been written by any of the scientists whose articles have been accepted in the major scholarly scientific journals. They did not pass the empirical data rigor test--- not even one. Global warming is no longer considered a theory. It is considered a proven fact—yes even in the heartland, yes even by scientists at very conservative Christian colleges. But perhaps you will offer the cynical response of ‘So what?’
If you have children or grandchildren, or are planning to have children, you can’t afford the luxury of that kind of response. Of course it is true that you can try to run away and hide from this truth, for instance by using escapist rapture theology. Who cares if the world is going to Hades in a handbasket, if you will soon be beamed up? But wait, what if the ‘rapture’ is merely a theory more dicey than Darwin’s, and as it turns out a theory without sound Biblical evidence?
What if there will be no escape from the problems of this world for the foreseeable future because Jesus told us to first evangelize all the language groups before the second coming? What if God expects us to properly tend and care for his good and beautiful garden-like creation until his Son comes back? What if when he returns instead he finds us sticking our heads in the sand, and ignoring the many ways we have bruised and abused the earth he created for our eco-system? What if our otherworldly redemption theology involves a gross distortion of the Biblical creation theology?
What if it is creation that God is setting out to redeem--- all of it? What if Paul was right when he says that all of creation is growing longing for the day when humans, and the creation itself will be liberated from disease, decay, death, pollution, poison, and putrefaction? What if there really are crises in this world as big or bigger than terrorism that affect every day lives of persons on all continents? Think for instance of the alarming rise in rates of various kinds of skin cancers, and of infectious diseases spread because the winters are not cold enough to kill off the bugs that carry these diseases in the breeding grounds in Africa and elsewhere? What if it is true that there has been a huge campaign of disinformation about global warming spread throughout the country, and especially throughout its religiously conservative sectors by big oil companies hungry for more profits?
My wife and I went to see ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ today. And I have to tell you, that whether or not you like Al Gore or agree with him on other issues is irrelevant. If even 10% of the data shared in this movie about global warming is correct, we have a moral responsibility as Christians if we love life, if we love our children, if we seek to emulate a God who loves the world he made, to do something about this now. Even if you don’t care about how this affects you personally at least you should care about how it will affect our offspring. And the interesting thing is we can do something about it. We can reduce our individual carbon footprints. We can stop buying gas guzzling vehicles. We can buy light bulbs that last ten times what the normal bulbs last. We can buy solar panels like you see all over the Middle East and harness the suns’ raise to heat our water. We could finally get our nation to be the last nation to sign the Kiyoto accords so we could all work together on this problem. Did you know that America has the lowest standards of any of the developed nations, including China, when it comes to demanding cars that are energy efficient? I could go on.
Salvation is a great gift from God. Its climax comes when by resurrection we receive new bodies and are fully conformed to the image of Christ. But can you imagine new bodies on an old worn out earth? How incredibly frustrating would that condition be? Have you really reflected on what 1 Cor. 15 means when it tells us that when Jesus comes back he will have some work to do. It will take some time. He will have to put some enemies under his feet before he turns the kingdom back over to the Father. And the very last enemy he must overcome affects all living things. It is not a particular nation. It is not a particular person, say the Anti-Christ. It is not a particular religion. It is death itself. Why is death the last and most stubborn enemy to be overcome by Jesus when he returns? Could it be that the renewal of the earth was just as important to him as the resurrection of believers, because the latter would have to live in the eco-sphere--- hopefully in a new or renewed earth? Blessed are those whom the Savior finds going on about the business he set for us when he returns—saving the world, not just the people in the world, but also the place where believers will finally live for all eternity if Rev. 21-22 is any clue. Think on these things.