Here Come the Greens
Written by Cornelius Pronk
|Reformed Worldviews - Environment|
Of all the colors God created, one dominates the social landscape today. It is the color green. Green is in. We have green technology, green homes, green cars, green lifestyle, green government. America has its first green president: Barack Obama. To be politically correct these days, one has to adopt the green vision and agenda. Here are some items on that agenda:
Lifestyle Changes Required
To “save” the planet, the Greens suggest we start with some easy lifestyle changes. Take colder showers. Turn the heat down. Use less air conditioning. Drive small, fuel-efficient vehicles or stop driving altogether. Bring your own bags to the supermarket. Buy energy-efficient lightbulbs. Quit drinking bottled water. Use cloth diapers. Cut down on family size: two children is max; better yet, have just one as in China.
You may wonder what’s wrong with these “recommendations,” except the last one, of course. If they help to keep the earth clean, should we not be willing to make some sacrifices? Besides, do we not have a God-given responsibility to be stewards of the earth? We do indeed. So before we criticize the Green Movement, let’s remind ourselves of our duty in this regard.
The Bible clearly states that the earth and everything in it was given to man to rule over and subdue (Gen. 1:26–28; Ps. 8:6–8). Stewardship means managing the resources God has given us, using great care to preserve and protect them. An example of this caretaking is given in the Old Testament, where God commanded that fields and vineyards could be sown and harvested for six years but had to be left fallow the seventh year to replenish the soil’s nutrients and to give the land rest (Ex. 23:10–11; Lev. 25:1–7).
God also wants us to appreciate the purpose and beauty of His creation. He placed on this planet everything needed to feed, clothe, and house the billions of people who have lived on it since the Garden of Eden. In addition, He has decked out the planet in glorious colors and scenic beauty not only for His own glory but also for man’s enjoyment.
It is wrong, therefore, to allow this beautiful earth to be polluted by poisonous gases and other contaminants. Surely we must not find fault with environmentalists for being alarmed about the way this planet is being mistreated. Their zeal in this regard puts many of us to shame.
The Greens are Pantheists
We need to understand that there is a fundamental difference between Christian stewardship and environmentalism. This difference lies in the motive behind concern for the planet. As stewards of the earth, Christians are more concerned with the glory of the Creator than with His creation, whereas most environmentalists are concerned solely with the wellbeing of the earth itself. The earth is their God. They are pantheists. Pantheism comes from the Greek word pan (“all”) and theos (“god”). Pantheists believe that God and nature are one and the same; every blade of grass is part of God. Lakes, rivers, and mountains likewise are incarnations of God. But, most importantly, man is also part of nature, and hence of God. So when environmentalists see pollution harming or destroying the earth, they believe God’s existence and their own are at stake. This explains their repeated and urgent warnings that unless we take drastic action to reduce gas emissions, our planet will go up in f lames and all life will be extinguished.
The existence of the God of the Bible, however, does not depend on the survival of the earth. God is from everlasting to everlasting and, when He created the earth, He did so with a plan in mind—a plan that called for the salvation of His elect to be redeemed by Christ and to live forever with Him on a gloriously renewed earth (2 Pet. 3:13). Christians therefore have a totally different outlook on life and the world. Yes, we are to be concerned about the earth and the damage done to it by polluting the air. But our concern is not born of fear. A Christian has no need for panic. God has created the earth and upholds it by His almighty and all-present power (Lord’s Day 10).
As surprising as it may sound to some, environmentalism is a religion with deep spiritual aspects. Man is a spiritual being who needs to worship someone or something greater than himself. Having abandoned Christianity and the true God, modern man is now filling the vacuum in his soul with substitute gods. For most Greens, that god, or rather goddess, is Mother Earth. Many people in Europe and North America have become worshippers of Gaia, the Greek word for Earth, and they look to her for comfort and direction. This ecospirituality is increasingly taking on aspects borrowed from Christianity and other world religions. Earth worshippers everywhere are meeting in nature’s cathedrals: mountain valleys and old-growth forests. They celebrate annual Earth Days and chant their praise songs to Nature. In Vancouver alone, hundreds of eco-spiritualists gather once a week in community circles for fellowship and encouragement.
Here’s what one spokesperson for this movement said recently: “Eco-spirituality has become very much part of my spiritual practice. If I don’t get out and walk by the trees and by the ocean, I start to suffer.” Another Gaia worshipper states, “We need to think of the Earth as a sentient being and to realize that the Earth we are walking on is also conscious of us.... Unlike faiths that promise heaven in the afterlife, we treat the biosphere as our paradise on earth” (Article in Globe and Mail, Jan. 26, 2010).
Impact on Culture
This idea that the Earth is a living, breathing, and conscious being is popularized in our culture, most recently by the film Avatar. According to reviews I’ve read, the main characters in this movie are extra-terrestrial, kind-hearted, blue-skinned Na’vi people who worship a biological force that unifies their planet Pandora and all its life forms. This force is so tangible that the Na’vi can literally plug into it by connecting the tips of their long tails to the fronds of sacred trees. The producer of this blockbuster film, James Cameron, is promoting the eco-spiritual message in a very subtle way. Most people watching that movie are intrigued by its spellbinding storyline told with amazing special effects. But they leave the theater with the Satanic impression registered on their subconscious minds that the Na’vi people were better off being “plugged” into pantheistic natural forces than those who have grown up in a culture rooted in the supernaturaland theistic religion of the Bible.
We have seen that today’s environmentalism is permeated with pantheistic and New Age ideas. It is largely an anti-Christian movement. For this reason, we must reject its panic-driven agenda and resist its attempts to force radical changes upon us through legislation and intimidation. As Steve Milloy warns, “A great green tsunami is heading your way, threatening to wash away your standard of living and many of your liberties...it promotes countless new restrictions and regulations designed to reorder society from top to bottom” (Green Hell, 2). The biblical principle applies: “Try [or test] the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1).
Rev. Cornelis (Neil) Pronk is an emeritus pastor of the Free Reformed Churches and the editor of the FRC Messenger. This article was printed in the FRC Youth Messenger and is republished here with permission.