Podcast to follow?
That’s the plan.
This subject of ecology and its importance is one in which I need to continue in developing a truly Christian perspective. On one hand, the pre-trib dispensationalists lean toward the extreme of reducing the earth to almost insignificant. What does it matter what we do with the earth when it is going to be burnt up? On the other hand the liberal folks, whether they be in the “Christian” camp or unbelievers, focus on the earth to such an extreme as to minimize man’s significance with respect to the creation. Thus, we see campaigns for saving the lobsters, or prohibiting logging to save a particular frog (or some such) on the brink of extinction.
In your opinion, what place of importance does ecology have with regard to our salvation and evangelization? Thus far in my understanding, I believe Christians should be good stewards of the earth. That would entail such minimal things as not littering, but also encompass supporting movements/campaigns that look for ways to eliminate air and water pollution and supporting politicians who are promoters of such.
However, when I look at the Scriptures I believe the focus is on holy living, being concerned with the temple that God has given each of us, that is our bodies. (“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”) So, striving to please Christ daily by prayer, by resisting sin and turning away from evil, loving those in our midst, reading the Scriptures, feeding the poor, ministering to the needy and less fortunate by means of the unrighteous mammon, and preaching the gospel/the Good News to an unregenerate world, this is laying up treasure in Heaven where moth and rust do not consume.
I know there is a balance, and yet, we should seek to build upon the foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones. I Cor. 3:10-13. How one spends their time, and into what one puts their energies does matter. Ecology, in my estimation thus far, while important, has its degree of importance within the Christian framework. I don’t see it at the top of the list as those things I previously mentioned above.
I leave with Scripture that I think sums up my POV. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
And after all of that, St. Peter’s summation is: “Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” Puts things into perspective, don’t you think?
I look forward to your comments, time permitting.
Christ be with you!
I’ll address these kinds of issues in my talk, and I’ll definitely post a link to it here when the time comes! So stay tuned.
Methinks there is a bit of an over-generalization at work here: “On one hand, the pre-trib dispensationalists lean toward the extreme of reducing the earth to almost insignificant. What does it matter what we do with the earth when it is going to be burnt up?…”
While there are certainly some in the pre-trib, pre-mil, camp who would espouse a “who cares” approach, my experience in circulating among such folk – especially in recent days – finds a much more stewardly approach when you talk to them one-on-one. It’s certainly not a subject that shows up in the pulpit much. Perhaps it should on occasion, but I wouldn’t read too much into the fact that it doesn’t. Certainly it’s not an over-riding identifying character of the group.
I think what you describe is a case of contradictory doctrines coexisting simultaneously in the same believer—if the end really is nigh and the end includes the utter destruction of the Earth, then it really doesn’t much matter how the Earth is “used.” Mind you, this assumes the sort of spirit/matter dualism which inheres in much of Protestantism, i.e., that physical matter cannot be considered holy in any critical sense.
Of course, if matter can indeed be holy, then what one does with it really does matter (pun intended), even if it will be destroyed at some point in the future. That some Protestants believe the Earth should be used according to proper “stewardship” I think says more about their sense of economy (in the broad sense) than about their theology of the created world. I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that there is a panentheistic wave moving through Protestantism such that there is a belief in the potential holiness of created things or that soteriology has a cosmic dimension.
I was interested to talk about this issue recently with your mom (my grandmother, for those playing along at home), and she quite interestingly and consistently affirmed for me that she would not regard the very tomb of Christ Himself in Jerusalem (even assuming it could be authenticated to her satisfaction) as being anything more than a hunk of rock. It is no more special a place than any other place. Such a view is consistent with the spirit/matter dualism which made its way into most Protestantism after Zwingli. This dualism has led to the virtual absence of any real cosmology in most of Protestantism. Salvation has nothing to do with the universe or the planet.
What is your connection with Bucknell? My wife and I are alums!
I have no connection with the institution of Bucknell except through Prof. Alfred Siewers, with whom I am trading lectures. (He talked at my parish, so I’m talking at his university!)
I’m the wife! I was a religion (and theater) major at Bucknell, no less…funny those little threads of connection.
I understand completely what you are saying regarding the Protestant understanding of matter and the disconnection that it has anything whatsoever to do with soteriology. My husband and I meet with Protestants on Friday evenings for Bible study and we just finished reading Revelation. Their POV was strictly from the pre-trib Rapture dispensationalist view.
Just this morning my husband (an evangelical Protestant) and I were having a discussion about “sacred space.” Actually, I used that term to emphasize the importance of worhip. I commented that many Protestants see no difference between worshipping in a sacred place that was built specifically for worship (I mentioned old churches which took special care in their building) or a dirty, airplane hanger. I could say that because the evangelical sect we used to belong to had a huge meeting in a dirty airplane hanger. This conversation stemmed from a discussion about the mercy seat and the care taken in building the temple under the old covenant. Somehow my husband believes that now under the new covenant worshipping in “spirit and truth” eradicates the importance of physicality.
The conversation led into the subject of the Eucharist and the sharp contrast between the sacramental view and the symbolic view. Alas, we were talking past each other. But, we decided to do a study together on the Eucharist, beginning with the ECF’s, early to middle ages history, then Reformation history. I hope it will be eye-opening!
One of the main reasons I was drawn to Orthodoxy is because of the teaching on the Eucharist and how it can be supported by Scripture, Tradition, and history. Anyone earnestly looking into Christian history will discover that the dissolution of the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist began after the Protestant Reformation.
Christ be with you, Father!
Hey Father Andrew!
I saw this on another blog and thought it was funny, and that you might enjoy hearing this other perspective. I do personally think this guys perception of the film is way off… and I haven’t even watched it. Perhaps I should… then again, according to him, perhaps I shouldn’t haha!
Here is the YouTube link:
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"...the spirit of wickedness in high places is now so powerful and many-headed in its incarnations that there seems nothing more to do than personally refuse to worship any of the hydras' heads." - J.R.R. Tolkien
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Press / Interviews:
- February 9: Orthodoxy & Heterodoxy at St. Joseph Orthodox Church (Houston, Texas)
- April 20: Meeting God at St. John Chrysostom Orthodox Church (York, Pennsylvania)
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