Christian leaders habitually adopt the concerns of the prevailing culture in order to connect with society. At various times the Church has fought and then adopted scientific reasoning, at one time we consigned therapy to the province of a secular priesthood only to later enthusiastically embrace some of the more outlandish aspects of psychoanalysis.
Today the process is being reversed. We could shrug and remark that what’s sauce for the goose etc. This is about more than the decision a couple of years ago that the environmentalist view of Tim Nicholson was entitled to the same protections in law as religious convictions.
When atheist environmentalists call on Christians to play their part in the anti global warming crusade they are doing what the Church has done for centuries, downplaying one aspect of their core beliefs in order to promote another and in the process calling upon unlikely allies.
There are, however, dangers for the Church in the re-habilitation of Christianity for the purposes of the moral justification of environmentalist beliefs. When Christianity is consciously employed by cultural forces to manipulate the attitudes and behaviour of people we witness the corruption of the Church. The history of last century we should warn us of the embrace of secular philosophies.
In order to try to prevent a flood of condemnation I have to assert that I am not against concern for the environment. Environmental concern is a core facet of the Cultural Commission of Genesis 1:26-30. My concern is the distortion of the Christian faith in order to pursue the core beliefs of a differing faith.
The co-opting environmentalist has a simplistic understanding of how Christianity functions. For the environmentalist it does not matter what people actually believe as long as they can be manipulated into acting in a manner acceptable to green faith. This is what enables the often atheist Greenies to attempt to harness the Name and power of God in the pursuit of secular beliefs.
Environmentalism has some of the outward aspects of Christianity, only in a debased form. As Michael Crichton remarked “Environmentalism has become the religion of choice for the urban atheist.”
Christianity grows from two dynamics; from direct revelation from God in His Word and the moving of the Holy Spirit, and from the developing understanding of His people, the Church. The pragmatic religion of environmentalism grows from only one direction, the direct revelation of the words of the scientific priesthood whose words are to be accepted unhesitatingly.
Christianity is organically internalised in the lives of believers. It is a faith which shapes our understanding of every aspect of life, our view of creation, our relationships with others and our view of ourselves as individuals. It gives meaning to our lives. Merely to treat Christianity as a public relations device
to lend moral authority to a secular crusade distorts the faith.
Believing that science helps us to understand how the world works does not entail that science should be treated as a belief system. Science is based on scepticism, the only authority in scientific activity should be the evidence. Britain’s oldest and most respected scientific institution is the Royal Society which was founded with the motto “On the word of no one.” A motto which also refers to the devotees of Gaia.
It is more than Greens continually employing Christian language such as ‘green sins’ and the ‘evil’ of pollution. Much environmentalist activity is conducted on the same lines as the mediaeval Catholic Church. Pronouncements and fearful prophecies come down from the scientific curia on high. Heretics who deny the faith are pursued with an Inquisitorial zeal, and when run to ground they are excommunicated from the community. As Lord May President of the British Science Association pointed out experiments using game theory show that groups of people can achieve their goals if ‘cheats’ and those who ‘fail to pull their weight’ are punished.
Like the mediaeval Church today’s activist environmentalists influence the public by making fearful threats and using moral blackmail. A typical product is Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth which is an emotional appeal using both threats and blackmail rather than appealing to reason and sober judgement based upon facts. What better to promote the environmental message in emotional terms than to cloak it in the garb of divine commandment? That will scare them into going Green if nothing else will. Perhaps to be fair it was more fundamentalist tent meeting than mediaeval Catholicism.
Environmentalists have what is basically a simplistic view of God, a caricature of an Old Testament deity threatening divine retribution whom they wish to employ for their own ends. If we unthinkingly accept the stance of environmentalists and uncritically do their work for them we demean the Church and its core purpose.