9.26.2008

New Bible for a New Gospel?

Time Magazine announces the Green Bible.

Now there is a Bible trying to make gardeners of us all. On Oct. 7, HarperCollins is releasing The Green Bible, a Scripture for the Prius age that calls attention to more than 1,000 verses related to nature by printing them in a pleasant shade of forest green, much as red-letter editions of the Bible encrimson the words of Jesus. The new version's message, states an introduction by Evangelical eco-activist J. Matthew Sleeth, is that "creation care"--the Christian catchphrase for nature conservancy--"is at the very core of our Christian walk."

Using recycled paper with soy-based ink, The Green Bible includes supplementary writings by, among others, St. Francis of Assisi, Pope John Paul II, Desmond Tutu and Anglican bishop N.T. Wright. Several of these essays cite the Genesis verse in which God gives humanity "dominion" over the earth, a charge most religious greens read to mean "stewardship." Others assert that eco-neglect violates Jesus' call to care for the least among us: it is the poor who inhabit the floodplains.
I like the environment.  I really do.  But I love the gospel, and that is what the Bible is about.

3 comments:

Dustin said...

Hi, my name is Dustin and I work with a Christian environmental organization called Christians in Conservation: A Rocha USA. I noticed that you mentioned Dr. Matthew Sleeth in your post, and I thought that you might like to know that our organization sponsors him as a "creation care evangelist." We would love for you to check us out at our website, en.arocha.org/usa. You might also be interested in reading Dr. Sleeth's book on creation care, "Serve God, Save the Planet." He was a website for it at www.servegodsavetheplanet.org

Rachel said...

I saw a woman writing into a columnist asking if it was ok to ask the guests of her wedding to wear green to celebrate the environment. It's a little much.

Ed said...

Dustin, I checked the website suggested by you as well as Dr Sleeth's website. I haven't read his book but I have heard him speak.

In my admittedly short investigation I had trouble finding evidence that your organization or Dr. Sleeth are indeed Christian, aside from your claim to be. Exaltation of God the Father, or His Son Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit, is not readily apparent. Nor can I find any mention of the death and ressurection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I can find no grace, only works.

I heard the speech that Dr Sleeth gave at Mars Hill Church in Michigan on July 8, 2007. There was no mention of the sinful state we find ourselves in nor was there mention of the death and ressurection of Jesus Christ or our need for repentance unto salvation. In it he said that God loves the trees and that trees are mentioned 600 times in the Bible, as though that is important. Assuming the software I used to count words is accurate, using the ESV, I could only find 132 times in 120 verses the word trees. 171 times in 149 verses the word tree can be found. That comes out to 303 times, half of what was claimed. Admittedly I did not read all the passages but what I did read I could find no scriptural evidence that God loves trees, at least not in the same way He loves humans, whom He made in His image.

He also said that Jesus works with trees. Aside from cursing the fig tree and causing it to die in MAT 21:19-20 (and MAR 11:13, 20-21), which He used to illustrate a point, I'm not sure what he means by Jesus works with trees. Dr. Sleeth did say the Jesus died on a tree. I guess you could say He used a tree in that instance.

Which brings me to a serious issue and that is a lack of scriptural support. Dr Sleeth mentions the "judge not" passage of MAT 7 in his speech, I think to try to deflect criticism of his efforts. His website has less scripture, zero. The only scripture I can find on the A Rocha website was COL 1:15-17 and ROM 8:19-23. Hardly enough Scriptural text to build a "we have to do something about global warming" doctrine.

You and Dr Sleeth seem to fall into the trap of confusing the Gospel with the implications of the Gospel. A desire to do something to stop global warming or shrink your carbon footprint may be the result of your response to God's regeneration of your heart that was dead to Him, but it is not the Gospel. Furthermore, it in not the job of the Church to make sure everyone recycles.

While COL 1:15-17 is certainly talking about Jesus Christ, the Gospel can be found a few verses before in COL 1:13. "He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

The Gospel is God humbling Himself before man in the body of Jesus Christ, living a life without sin, being hung on a cross in our place, dying for our sins, taking God's punishment reserved for us upon Himself, raising Himself back to life, and sitting on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

Your effort to reduce your materialism and your concern for the poor is admirable. But what are you doing for the poor? It is not trees that are sent to Hell, but people. Will their eternity in Hell be better for them if we can shrink their carbon footprint? People need to be saved from the wrath of a loving GOD before they need to breathe clean air.