An interesting critique of a CCCU pamphlet on the environment (entitled Green Awakenings) by Kathleen Nielson at the Gospel Coalition Blog. In a few places I wonder if the critique was perhaps overly strong. For example, arguing that the fact a booklet about the environment does not talk about abortion suggests human life is being devalued may not be justified by this evidence. It may be true in some places – but this doesn’t seem to be the place for a discussion of balancing abortion with the environment as public policy issues. Moreover, I think that balancing is complicated by issues like what can be accomplished and other factors far too complex to deal with in such a short post.
The critique of the forward’s confusing (at best) theology seems more warranted, and of course there is a need for cautionary notes as to where the emphasis is. How much should we focus on the environment and what should that focus look like as we deal with the full range of Christian responsibilities? Is there danger of being swallowed up in a de facto worship of the earth. At the very least, careless language is properly noted.
Moreover, in looking at all of the initiatives and the overall booklet I do feel like this could be an NPR or Greenpeace marketing peace to an uncomfortable degree. In other words, what is distinctively Christian about these efforts? Which gets to the final critique – we need to set this in context of the overall biblical story and the lack of clarity about this in the pamphlet could produce a few moments of anxiety for some of us. Here’s a key part of the argument:
Ultimately, what is missing in a vision of renewal such as we find in Green Awakenings is a clear, openly stated understanding of the centrality of Jesus Christ. Such a vision can never clearly articulate the beginning of the story without the starting point of the second person of the Trinity as the one through whom and for whom all things were created. Such a vision can never clearly articulate the story’s climax of redemption without celebrating the Redeemer promised from the beginning, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. Such a vision cannot conceive of the true crisis looming ahead, which is the coming of Jesus Christ to judge the world. That coming will indeed bring an environmental crisis, as “the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Peter 3:10).
I have no doubt that many of the individuals, programs and institutions which are highlighted in the pamphlet do precisely this. It’s unfortunate that it’s a lot less clear than it ought to be in this document.