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Is the Church now the Green Party at Prayer? – CT

This weeks Christian Today column –  Its interesting that they also have one from the Bishop of Truro – which neatly illustrates my point!

Is the Church now the Green Party at Prayer?

It was an inspiring, feel good video: a group of young people sending a message to world leaders gathering at the G7 asking them to act on climate change. The video, produced by Tearfund, in partnership with CreationFest and the Anglican Diocese of Truro, is a good and heartening example of young people having a say and I am encouraged by seeing young people getting so involved.

But what does this have to do with the Church and the Christian message? To many, that seems an absurd question to ask. After all, hasn’t the Pope consistently endorsed the UN environmental policy almost as a form of worship? If you watched the latest Church of Scotland General Assembly it was clear that a ‘cleaner, greener’ planet is at the heart of the Gospel message. And many worthy Christian organisations such as Tearfund are willing to lend their voices to those demanding climate action.

It’s true that most haven’t quite gone the route of the Swedish Church which suggested that Greta Thunberg should be made a saint, but it does appear as though the angels really are on side with the Greens.

Having written before about the possibility of climate change becoming a cult, I am deeply concerned at the danger that could be unleashed if the more extreme apocalyptic of the green movement is mixed in with the purity of the Gospel.

Of course, even to write such a thing immediately results in the labelling and angry denouncements of those who think that questioning any aspect of the new religion is unquestionably blasphemy. And there is the now all too familiar polarisation which occurs whenever you question someone’s sacred beliefs.

How ironic that a supposedly postmodern era in which there are no ‘metanarratives’ is turning into one of the most ideological times, where every favoured identity becomes a metanarrative which can be used to label, demonise your enemies and demonstrate one’s own righteousness!

My concern about our young people is that they are being indoctrinated. They speak with such apocalyptic certainty and there is no doubt or questioning in any aspect of their faith – and it is faith because none of them are climate scientists or experts. They are repeating what they have been taught as absolute fact. More than that, they have been taught an apocalyptic view which is harmful – in many ways.

The end is nigh – ‘today we are at a tipping point’. They think that our leaders can control the climate – ‘world leaders you have the power to get us on course for a better future’. The leaders need to take ‘real action’ – that is, the action the young people have been told will certainly work.

We even have a roadmap for utopia set out for us – ending funding for fossil fuels, zero emissions and providing funding for people living in poverty as they adapt to climate change.

They stand in solidarity with global neighbours whose lives literally depend on the leaders acting with them. The mantra is that if the leaders don’t do what the young people say then they are putting people and the planet over profits.

But none of this should be accepted without questioning. Nor should the Church be treating the Extinction Rebellion doctrines as Holy Writ.

I would suggest that these fine young people read things like Bjorn Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World – published by Cambridge University Press in case your immediate response is to put it in the ‘redneck anti-science QAnon box’! Or perhaps watching Michael Moore’s film Planet of the Humans would help to give a broader perspective? It was so controversial that his fellow leftwingers called for it to be banned and removed from YouTube. It wasn’t and has now been viewed over 11 million times.

But the book I have found most fascinating and convincing in all of this is one that comes from an Australian environmental activist, Michael Shellenberger, who has been fighting for a greener planet for decades and who in 2020, published Apocalypse Never – Why Environmental Alarmism Harms Us All.

Whether these books are right or wrong – and I am not prepared to regard any of them as Holy Writ any more than I do Greta Thunberg’s doom-laden pronouncements – they certainly raise considerable doubts about the fundamentalist and somewhat simplistic beliefs expressed in the video.

I find it fascinating, for example, that it is often middle class people who think that in campaigning to have stronger measures to combat climate change they are doing it ‘to help the poor’. But what if such measures actually harm the poor, and enrich the rich? What if the measures taken to combat climate change widen the gap between rich and poor? Bjorn Lomborg has another intriguing book, False Alarm: How climate change panic costs us trillions, hurts the poor and fails to fix the planet.

What if our well-meaning young people, acting upon the information they have been fed, are actually advocating for policies on behalf of the poor which will actually hurt the poor?

In my native Scotland, landowners receive enormous grants from the government to allow wind turbines on their land. This is at least partially paid for by putting a carbon levy or green tax on utilities. I wonder how many people will die because they can’t afford to heat themselves in winter? Here in Australia one environmental report suggested that Australians will have to switch off their air conditioning.

I understand that it’s not helpful to answer one simplistic formula with another one on the other side, but that’s the point. This is not as simple as the cliches and doctrines of the new reformation tell us, or indeed those of the new counter reformation.

My concern is that our young people are especially prone to being exploited by this kind of group think. Peer acceptance, social media endorsement, and a sense of doing something worthwhile mean that they are open to such indoctrination.

Social media, teachers, the entertainment industry and apparently now the Church are more than happy to preach this new Gospel. For some churches who have lost sight of the Good News of Jesus Christ (which does involve creation and the promise of a renewed one), I suspect that the new Green religion offers them something to be religious about.

There are also other contenders for a new Gospel. Most of them are ideologies connected with what is termed cultural Marxism or ‘identity politics’. Each has their own prophets, texts, salvation, and enemies. For ‘progressive’ churches to adopt ‘progressive’ doctrines is not a surprise. It’s more disappointing when evangelical churches get confused in this way. We must not adopt the philosophies and politics of the world – whether red, blue, or green.

Paul warned his young protégé Timothy of a time when “people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

It’s a warning for our times. Preach the Gospel, in season and out of season. Don’t exchange it for another.

Planet of the Humans – The Problem with the Green Movement.

Be warned: the slippery slope of euthanasia is real – CT

 

19 comments

  1. Paul writing to the Thessalonian church (2 Thes 2 v11) reminds us that one day there will be a ‘powerful delusion so that they will believe a lie’ – and like other prophesies where there is both a near and far fulfilment, it appears we are seeing this now.

  2. Thank you for your still small voice of calm. Last Sunday I was aghast that the Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church will also be meeting to promote these “Carbon Neutral” so called Green policies. I remember a time when Green in the Church represented the Season of Trinity, and symbolises the breaking of shackles, freedom from bondage. It is the colour of fertility. In the Christian context, it represents bountifulness, hope and the victory of life over death. It seems that the church is currently being dragged astray.

    1. I could not agree more Matt. David’s warning as regards ‘progressive’ churches embracing ‘progressive’ doctrines rings painfully true for me personally. I am the minister of a Scottish Episcopal congregation in which we have a small faction of progressive and liberal members demanding ‘significant change’. The group dislike my Scripture based and focused preaching – one contending that I should be speaking of joy, love and harmony and promoting racial equality, environmentalism, sexual and gender identities as these are the issues that matter most to people today. I was asked to axe readings from the Old Testament as they bear no relevance to people today and speak of a ‘violent God’ (!). I said ‘no’ and together with my refusal to be licensed to conduct same-sex marriages, to countersign a public letter in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign, they are now challenging my suitability to exercise parochial ministry. Thankfully, there are many others in the congregation who are supportive of my ministry and for that I am grateful both to them and God. Time and again, inspired by prayer, my thoughts return to Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4 – as highlighted in David’s blog and whilst they disturb me at one level, they also offer peace at another, knowing that we are now living in the time of which Paul spoke. In my heart, I sense we are now in the ‘end times’ and that one day (soon, we pray…) our Saviour shall return and the perfect Kingdom will be ushered in. In the meantime though, it is stressful being overshadowed by those within a congregation who seek to embrace worldly visions. But then again, there is little doubt that the Devil can be most active within churches….. Please remember me in prayer. Thank you.

  3. I agree with you about the “middle class” thing. I think most working people are more concerned about feeding their children tomorrow than about what state the world will be in fifty years down the line.

    I am fairly cynical when it comes to green activists as all of them seem to envisage a solution which involves *other people* spending money or being inconvenienced or making sacrifices. For example it’s easy for them to say “we should stop driving petrol vehicles” when they can comfortably afford an electric vehicle and have ready access to charging points. I would take them a lot more seriously if they could demonstrate a willingness to make personal sacrifices that genuinely cost them something.

  4. It’s a very good article, albeit a bit reedy in some ways.
    But the Cult of Green being a ” religion”, one you can act religiously around is a good point you make.
    This is a Christless Christian morality tableau. And because the church no longer knows or cares about that Bible they inherited?
    Well, recycling , crawling over refugees and slipping vaccines into the Eucharist will be the new churches job.
    Jesus has left them to it. As Jeremiah stated…God gave us the clearest of covenants, we simply had to do the right thing. Using His users manual
    That we chose to trash that, be embarrassed by Jesus Himself means hell.
    We had the option of being improved. Now sadly that is gone in conventional terms. So now it’s being removed and having the franchise withdrawn instead.
    Our fault.
    Prophets doing their job are emptying the churches of anything, anybody worth saving. Look at China or Iran. Real Christians making a difference, not polishing the pixie boots of Thunbergs Thugs.
    As we do.

    1. Aisla – you say “as we do”. Who are the “we” and why do Satan’s work for him? Don’t you know there is no condemnation in Christ? Yes “real Christians” are making a difference in China and Iran as everywhere else. And in the west are you telling me that there are no “real Christians”.

      Given that you identify yourself as “polishing the pixie boots of… Thugs” then what you have indicated is your own unrepentance. Stop assuming that is true for the rest of us – it’s offensive and inaccurate. The kingdom suffers violence and violent men take hold of it.

      There are plenty people going through suffering, being hated and wounded by people closest to them (including the church at times) that are not as you claim “we” to be. And the last thing they need is this kind of discouragement.

      If you are in Christ, you are a new creation. Gone is the old – you are created in the image of God (though not without sin and in need of a saviour) for good works he has prepared in Christ in advance for you to do.

      Take the courage to step into this calling and stop believing the lies of the enemy.

  5. The cynic in me wonders whether TEAR Fund et al have had a conversion experience to the Green Gospel because it’s the only way to get government funding for overseas aid work…..

    1. Yes. Christian Aid also, and I refuse to have anything to do with fundraising for them now. If you are paying your CEO over £100,000 pa, what is left for the poor? NGO’s are a blight on our civilisation.

  6. Quite so. Paul tells us that creation is groaning awaiting the adoption of sons (context Rom.8:18-24). Do something ‘Green’? Share Jesus’ good new. On a different note, having lived in Indonesia and the Philippines there is irreparable damage done to forests and swamp lands. Try recommending a total boycott of palm oil products and see how folk haw and hum on that one. A vast segment of Irian Jaya has been leveled for palm oil products.

    Of course we should be good stewards of that which has been entrusted to us (viz Gen.2) but it there is a bigger issue as presented here.

    If anyone wants to see a travesty of (supposedly) Christian teaching on such things try the Bishop of Reading’s video series on the Oxford Diocese web site . . . unless it’s been taken down out sheer embarrassment.

  7. I’ve been following both Shellenberger & Lomborg on their Facebook pages for a while now, & I’ve read a number of Shellenberger’s excellent articles published on the “Quillette” page over the past year, & so I agree wholeheartedly with your estimation of their arguments. They seem to be two of the very few sane voices in the room.

    Just a small correction, though. Shellenberger is an American, living in California.

  8. A simple thought experiment for the “Green believers”.

    In India less than 30% of households have fridges. The most recent census shows 250 million households in India. I googled “best selling fridges India” and the models use about 1 to 2 kw per day, roughly 40 to 80W constant load.

    A fridge uses between 40 to 80w to run, between 1 and 2kw per day.

    If the fridge ownership went to 50% then India would require between 2 to 4GW capacity running constantly. If 90% it would require an extra 6-12 GW.

    Coal is 850kg per GW, gas is about 500kg/GW, solar 80kg/GW, nuclear 10kg/GW, wind 10kg/GW. [1]

    The UK CO2 emissions for 2020 were 414.1 million tonnes. [2]

    If India used state of the art renewable energy sources of the lowest possible CO2 emissions and 50% of families got the most energy efficient fridges, the emissions increase by India would be 0.2 million tonnes. A rounding error.

    If the most efficient fridges were in 50% of households using the current energy production [3] it would be an additional 127 million tonnes. A problem.

    If 90% of Indian households got very efficient fridges it would be 381 million tonnes. If some were not the most energy efficient then it could easily be over 600 million tonnes.

    Most people in the UK forget the size of the third world and they are developing fast. The UK could revert back to the stone age and it would be a blip relative to the third world. Chinas INCREASE in carbon emissions for some years has been more than double the total emissions by the UK. [4]

    1: https://www.parliament.uk/globalassets/documents/post/postpn_383-carbon-footprint-electricity-generation.pdf

    2: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/972583/2020_Provisional_emissions_statistics_report.pdf

    3: https://ourworldindata.org/co2/country/india#carbon-intensity-how-much-carbon-does-it-emit-per-unit-of-energy

    4: https://ourworldindata.org/co2/country/china?country=~CHN

  9. I take it folk think we shouldn’t bother listening to the science. And could have kept lead in our petrol. Pumping out CFCs into the Ozone layer. Plumbing drinking water with lead pipes. Giving pregnant mums Thalidomide.
    What is clear and measurable is that there is a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere than ever in recorded human history and beyond. And that has an impact. If you think doing nothing while storms and droughts increase, wildfires spread and coastal flooding among some of the poorest people on the earth is a Christian response, then God help you (literally).

    1. Thats a bit of a simplistic argument. The question is not whether we listen to ‘the science’ (interesting use of terminology’, but what the science actually is and what can be done about it. The same argument that is used for Covid. I would suggest reading people like Shellenberger and Lomborg as well as others to get a more balanced approach – and not assume that God is on your side when it comes to interpreting what is actually going on.

    2. “What is clear and measurable is that there is a higher concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere than ever in recorded human history and beyond. ”
      The problem with that statement is that it is only relatively recently in human history that we have been recording the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. For any other time it all depends on reconstructions. And some reconstructions (eg. Michael Mann’s) have been shown to be totally false. Many reconstructions are engineered precisely to prove the statement you have made.

      “that has an impact.”
      True but how big? What is the range of variability most commonly provided in recent years for the level of climate sensitivity?
      It is interesting that the level of CO2 continued to rise during the Great Pause. That was a period of about twenty years when there was no statistically significant increase in the global temperature.

      “storms and droughts increase, wildfires spread”
      Increase compared to when? The starting points of comparison are usually carefully selected so that they show an increase. Perhaps you could provide some data going back hundreds of years and all having the same starting point.

      Much of so-called climate science is based on computer models rather than on observation. All of the temperature projections provided by the IPCC have been much greater than what has actually happened.

      I suppose we should be grateful that you did not mention the non-existent danger of polar bear extinction.

      Anybody wanting to have a look at some failed climate predictions can go here:
      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/10/30/some-failed-climate-predictions/
      Or here:
      https://www.aei.org/carpe-diem/50-years-of-failed-doomsday-eco-pocalyptic-predictions-the-so-called-experts-are-0-50/

      Finally, if a continued rise in CO2 emissions is a ‘climate catastrophe’ then we are all doomed. China fully intends to continue using fossil fuels on a massive scale for many years to come. (The Paris Accords give it to 2035.) So there is no prospect whatsoever of a decline in CO2 emissions in the foreseeable future.

      And as President Biden has said, “The United States accounts, as all of you know, for less than 15 percent of carbon emissions. The rest of the world accounts for 85 percent. That’s why I kept my commitment to rejoin the Paris Accord, because if we do everything perfectly, it’s not going to matter.”

    3. The islands of the Maldives and the Seychelles are supposed to be in imminent danger of disappearing into the sea. I suppose that is why the government of the Maldives has been giving the go-head to lots more airports.
      Maldives‘ Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Aishath Nahula said new airports will open in 2020, with Funadhoo Airport scheduled to open in Jan-2020, Maruvaalu Airport in Mar-2020, Madivaru Airport in Apr-2020 and Hoarafushi Airport in Aug-2020 (Avas Maldives, 02-Jan-2020). Further development work will be conducted at Kulhudhuffushi Airport and Hanimaadhoo Airport.
      https://corporatetravelcommunity.com/maldives-to-open-new-airports-in-2020/

      And Barack Obama is so worried about rising sea levels that he purchased a low-lying seaside proprerty in Martha’s Vineyeard. These people tell us one thing and then do another. Like all the celebrities that tell us to stop flying places but continue to use their private jets.

    4. Sea ice is now a larger mass, not shrinking as predicted. The Maldives was supposed to be under water by the year 2000. In the early 2000’s the area of the UK I live in was predicted to become a dust bowl in 20 years – we are still green and pleasant!
      I have a sheet with 50 failed predictions dating back to 1970.

  10. There is nothing whatsoever in the doctrine of papal infallibility that has anything remotely to do with science. Therefore I treat Pope Francis’ utterances on the issue of “climate change” in the same way I would treat the utterances of any other non-scientist – such as Al Gore or John Kerry. In particular, I have no time for anything the Pope says on the subject in documents such as Laudato Si. And I am quite at ease with any derogatory comments on the Pope’s utterances on the subject of climate change. But in answer to the question,
    “hasn’t the Pope consistently endorsed the UN environmental policy almost as a form of worship?” the answer is an unequivocal ‘No!”
    A form of worship? Admittedly I tend not to read whatever Pope Francis says on the subject of the environment but I’m not aware of anything that he has said that could qualify as a ‘Yes’ to that question.
    However, if you know differently, please do provide chapter and verse.

  11. “Rising sea levels, desertification and shrinking freshwater supplies will create up to 50 million environmental refugees by the end of the decade, experts warn today. Janos Bogardi, director of the Institute for Environment and Human Security at the United Nations University in Bonn, said creeping environmental deterioration already displaced up to 10 million people a year, and the situation would get worse.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2005/oct/12/naturaldisasters.climatechange1
    And when was ‘the end of the decade’? 2010. And here we are, 11 years later and are we anywhere near that 50 million figure?
    So next time you hear another one of these scary predictions just ask how many of all the previous scary predictions have come true.

  12. “One impulse from a vernal wood
    May teach you more of man,
    Of moral evil and of good,
    Than all the sages can”.

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