bad theology

How to lead the singing/interpreting at a Pentecostal Church

There are instructional videos for all sorts of things on YouTube. This one’s a doozy.

If you can stick it out until about 5 minutes – through two gibberish sessions and two vague interpretations that would make Johnathan Edwards (the psychic, not the theologian) proud… you’ll hear that there’s a movement and things are breaking free. And there are vibrations. Things that don’t belong. He says “the right things will remain” – I can only hope that this movement dies a rapid death.

It’s easy to be one of these training facilitators. You don’t have to write your own stuff. You just let the people on the floor do your job for you.

Urgh.

That’s my one-word tongues response to this video.

Jandles for Jesus

I thought about calling this post “thongs for Jesus” or “flip flops for Jesus” but both of those were open to misinterpretation and lacked the alliterative quality of using the kiwi term for this particular item of footwear. But I digress. Nothing helps you walk a mile in the shoes of Jesus like walking a mile in Jesus themed shoes. Right? So I give you: Walk the Walk Flip Flops.

They even have a poorly sourced scriptural proof text.

*If we live in the Spirit,
let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25

My Judgment Day service for Atheists – prices starting at $5

Hemant “The Friendly Atheist” Mehta questioned the ethics of atheists offering post-rapture pet care (featured here previously, there’s also a post-rapture greeting card service). I didn’t think anybody would pay money for that service – but I misunderestimated the psyche of the American survivalist.

Most atheists in the thread (and I agree) believe the practice is ethical – it is not based on trickery, but rather the application of probability based on one’s presuppositions about the existence of God.

I don’t want to let the atheists languish in this position of being the only people offering post-rapture services. So I am launching the “Lazarus Scheme” based on Luke 16 (see below for some key bits).

The Offer

For a paltry sum of $5 I will try my darndest to put in a good word for any willing atheists at judgment day. For just $10 I will even memorise a list of your five best good deeds and I will, if the opportunity arises, put them forward in your defence.

Payment Methods

I will accept direct debit payments, and potentially PayPal – but at this stage, payment should be arranged by making email contact (using the email link in the header of this page). I will email you a receipt that will double as a certificate of participation.

Disclaimer:

Let me say, right from the bat, that I have some theological misgivings about this offer – because I don’t think that when the time comes I’ll be able to perform my offered duty, nor do I think it will actually effect the outcome of proceedings on judgment day. I am a protestant (Presbyterian) theological student, I hope to have been a minister of religion for some time by the time judgment day comes around – and if we apply Pascal’s wager and assume that perhaps the Catholics, Muslims, or any other “good works” based belief is correct (just for a moment) then it is likely that I will have chalked up some merit points (in my own tradition these good works count for nothing – in fact, the apostle calls them what could be appropriately translated as used menstrual rags).

I offer no guarantees on this service whatsoever – in fact, I encourage you not to take up the offer. Actively. If, however, you choose to proceed, my conscience is clean because I believe I have abrogated any notion that my efforts will be successful. You may wish to proceed on the basis of balancing probabilities and covering as many bases as possible. Who am I to say no at that point?

Getting a pass from God at judgment day depends on choosing Jesus now.

Bible:

Here’s the key part of Luke 16, a parable Jesus told about two men and their post-death futures. Lazarus had been a God-honouring beggar, while the other man, a rich man, had sat inside his property ignoring the poor man on his doorstep. It’s a parable, which means it’s not a literal picture of stuff that happens, but a story with a theological moral:

22“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell,[a] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.

30” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “

Bling for Jesus

Technically I should be writing this mammoth essay – but my friend Mika sent me this – and I can’t resist a rant.

Once upon a time I preached a sermon on Jesus sending the disciples out in pairs after his “harvest is plentiful, workers are few” sermon. He basically gave them authority to cast out demons and heal the sick in his name. I said that the instruction to evangelise was normative for Christians but that this gifting was specific to the apostles.

A dear sister from the congregation came up afterwards to correct me. On the basis of a bit of the Bible that pretty clearly is dubious. Mark 16:9ff. It’s a bit that comes with a note – in every version – that the earliest manuscripts don’t contain it, which should ring alarm bells. I’m ok with these passages being there – what I’m not ok with is people using them to create a point of difference with all other churches. Seriously, if you hold a minority position, at some point you’ve got to ask questions about the basis of that distinction. This well meaning lady pointed out that right there, in Mark 16:17, there’s what appears to be a promise that all who believe will have the ability to drive out demons, and in verse 18b there’s a promise that we’ll be able to heal the sick:

“17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;”

What she didn’t mention, and what I was incredibly tempted to point out, was that in between driving out demons and healing people there’s the idea that we should also be playing with snakes and drinking poison:

“18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

If these verses are authentic then it’s much more likely they describe Paul at the end of Acts (he gets bitten by a snake, and he heals people). They’re not the sort of verses I’d be turning into theme verses for my life. There are actually snake handling churches out there (mostly, I think, in the US). The way I’d want to use them, if I was inclined, would be to argue with the anti-alcohol lobby that this is in fact an exhortation to drink poison, and that such drinking is a sign of faith…

Here’s a video (that I haven’t watched)…

Which, tangentially, very tangentially, leads to my actual point about this jewelery service “Bling for Jesus“…

Bling for Jesus have taken Deuteronomy 6:5-6 and 6:8 and turned them into some sort of business model.

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with
all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts…
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads”

This clearly means turn bible verses into bracelets and tiaras. Right? Leaving the theological problems aside, these things are just ugly:



What? The Devil is wrong with country – part 2 – FAQ

Jacob Aranza is a man who believes in offering solutions to real world problems. He’s a man of the people (unless you’re a rock star or country muso). His second book features a chapter of his questions and answers from readers of the first book. Lest you wander into rock and roll temptation here they are… though sometimes I think Mr Aranza pulls his punches, so I’ve given my own answer to the questions below.

WARNING: May contain traces of bad theology for the sake of satire. Bad theology is easy, I can see why the new atheists take the Bible out of context so often, they can pretty much twist it to say whatever they want.

Several people have asked me if Mr Aranza has anything to say about their favourite 80s band. If yours missed out (from a pretty comprehensive list) then don’t un-despair just yet.

Question: I know what you say about the groups in your book is true, but you didn’t mention my favourite group. What about them?
Aranza’s Answer: I may not have spoken about your favourite rock or country group, but if their goal isn’t to glorify God and help build his kingdom, then their music will hinder and distract you from serving God, and can easily provoke you to rebel against God.

My Answer: You know what, if they’re your “favourite” they’re an idol. Sing the Psalms. They’re the only inspired songs (except for a few in the New Testament, you can sing those too). 

Question: The groups I listen to don’t sing about Satan, sex, or drugs. What’s wrong with listening to them?
Aranza’s Answer: Just because a group doesn’t openly sing about immorality doesn’t mean their music is approved by God. If the music you’re listening to doesn’t come from the heart of a spiritual Christian artist you are opening the door to carnality, humanism, and demonic forces. It will distract you from serving him, feed self-centeredness, and eventually breed rebellion in your heart. Just because something appears to be good doesn’t mean it is good.

My Answer: Well, ask yourself “could I dance to this song” if the answer is yes then the music is a stumbling block – and no true Christian would create a stumbling block for their brother (or sister).

Question: I don’t really like what a lot of rock groups sing about, but I don’t listen to the words. I just like the music. Isn’t that OK?
Aranza’s Answer: It might be OK if you didn’t have a spirit or a brain. You may not realise it, but you are more than a physical body. You also have a mind and a spirit which both respond to music. Your mind is like a computer and absorbs what it hears including words to music. It can’t be avoided since your brain takes and stores the information you hear and receive through your senses. Your spirit also responds to music because God created music as a spiritual force. If you are a Christian, the Spirit of Christ dwells in your spirit, making you sensitive to God’s voice and will. When you listen to music that isn’t inspired by God it dulls your sensitivity to God. Eventually it will breed rebellion in you. It’s a lot like smoking cigarettes. They will make you an addict and give you cancer, killing the life in you. This is Satan’s ultimate plan for music, no matter how innocent it might sound.

My Answer: Does it have drums? Drums are a sure sign that this music is the Devil’s music. Drums lead to tapping your feet, tapping your feet leads to dancing, and dancing leads to premarital sex and babies born out of wedlock. Is that what you really want?

Question: What about instrumental music?
Answer: Concerning this subject I would like to quote someone known to have specialised in instrumental music. While I was speaking in Louisville, Kentucky, the pastor shared with me that Phil Driscoll had been there the previous week. Phil Driscoll was in secular music for many years as a writer and instrumentalist making up to $450,000 a year previous to his conversion to Christ. Phil shared that he felt the spirit of whoever was playing the music was the spirit that would influence those who listened to it. I agree with this.

I might add that there are plenty of instrumental albums produced by Christian artists, from jazz to classical, and from pop to easy listening. There’s no excuse for listening to secular music anymore. Whether [or not] the music has words, the spiritual force behind it will affect you.

My Answer: Instrumental music is the most dangerous part. The Bible clearly shows us that playing instruments leads to death. Especially the tambourine. In Judges 11, Jepthath’s daughter plays the tambourine and dances, and her father puts her to death. In 2 Samuel 6 the Israelites dance around playing tambourines and other instruments – and God strikes Uzzah dead. Tambourines and dancing are bad. Despite what the Salvation Army and Timbrel Praise will try to tell you.

Question: I don’t like non-Christian music but I work in a place where it is played al day long. What should I do?
Answer: You can start by expressing your views to your boss. Let him know that the major themes of the music are sex, drinking, drugs and satanism. Try to get them to play instrumental music and offer to bring in your own instrumental music. They’d probably like the Christian instrumental music and wouldn’t be offended because there aren’t any words. If you can’t get rid of the secular music, then be sure to keep a song in your heart that you sing to the Lord. Ask God each day to protect you from the negative forces behind this music. No matter what happens, have confidence that God will give you the power to be victorious in this situation.

My Answer: Ask yourself “what would Jesus do”… not gentle Jesus meek and mild, but Revelation Jesus. Quit your job, and purify the office with fire.

Backwards Masking Unmasked: A book review (in multiple parts)

I’m a sucker for cheap books. Especially cheap Christian books. Especially dodgy cheap Christian books at a library fire sale because nobody has ever borrowed them… I’m building quite a collection. With the intention of inflicting them on you dear reader blogging my way through all of them.

First cab off the rank is Jacob Aranza’s “Backward Masking Unmasked” published in 1984. The book features an opening letter from a Senator of Louisiana. Senator Bill Keith describes the sinister nature of Rock’n’Roll as one of the “burning issues of our time” – in hindsight I think it’s fair to say that Keith was not a modern day prophet.

Jacob Aranza is described in his cover blurb as being one of the outstanding young ministers of America. And someone who was involved deeply in the drug/rock culture of Houston, Texas at the age of nine. He was obviously uniquely placed to provide insight into the evils of such bands as AC/DC, the Beatles, the Bee Gees, Blondie, John Denver, Bette Midler, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, and Eric Clapton.

The book only briefly covers the cover issue. Backwards Masking. It features spurious quotes from lobby groups, a weird blend of quotes from disparate psychologists seemingly cherry picked to build a case, and a bunch of conspiracy theory like links between various bands and a particular Satanist. If anybody has seen John Safran’s Music Jamboree it’s a bit like watching him build a case against something – only Aranza is serious. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Safran had read this book – it also accuses the Beatles of adopting backmasking techniques in order to further their own conspiracy theory that Paul McCartney is dead (which featured on the show).

In future posts in this series I’ll be sharing some insights into the bands you shouldn’t be listening to. But let me close with a passage from the introduction.

“If you don’t think this music is affecting the values of young people then listen to a few letters that were written in response to the subject of backwards masking being used satanically by rock groups. These letters were taken out of Hit Parader magazine. Hit Parader is a very popular rock magazine read by young people between the ages of 8 to 18:

“In a recent Hit Parader, a coupe of your readers wrote about rock bands and Satanism. Big fricken deal! The listened to Stairway to Heaven backwards, I’ve heard it too. But I still listen faithfully to Led Zeppelin.” – Gary Walker, Washington.

“All these Satan/Rock comparisons are driving me up a wall. I’m a good Catholic, but I also love rock.” Stan Lapinski, Florida.

“The people who say that rock and roll music and the various groups are devil worshippers are ignorant, and don’t know what rock music is all about. It’s just music! It relieves people from all the everyday problems. If anything it helps people.” – Steve Crocker, Florida

You can plainly see that backward masking and the forward messages of rock have taken tremendous toll already by the responses of these young people. The statement they are making is clear, “Don’t confuse me with the facts.””

This introductory chapter concludes: “So hold on to your earphones, here we go!”

If you have a favourite 80s band you think might be satanic let me know in the comments and I’ll include them in subsequent posts.

Religiofying video games

While Cracked is encouraging readers to “rationalise” games, the “Opposable Thumbs” blog is exploring the question of religious video games. There aren’t many – and none of them are good.

It’s odd really. There are Christian subsets of just about every other form of culture or entertainment. But the “Christian” video game landscape is a barren wasteland with the odd “Left Behind” game or a couple of terrible ports of popular games. I remember standing in Koorong one day as a kid playing the Noah’s Ark 3D game – a nasty rework of Wolfenstein where Noah ran around armed with a slingshot putting animals to sleep so he could bundle them onto the ark. Badness.

The Christian market is untapped – and we’ve seen (from the music industry) that we pay over the odds for bad quality just so that we can avoid engaging with the world around us.

Part of the problem, so far at least, is that the poor theology of Christians wanting to make games leads to bad games. Here’s a description of one from that article:

John E. Nelson’s Tribulation Knights seeks to put gamers in a stealth/adventure-based post-Apocalypse setting. Following a series of natural and economic disasters, a corrupt politician’s administration takes control of the globe and manages to convert most of the remaining population into a mindlessly-loyal legion. Some citizens, however, do not convert and find themselves without any rights in the new world society; accordingly, a group called the Knights rises up to protect these rebel citizens from the Gestapo-like Enforcers and gather enemy intel, all while staying hidden and avoiding armed conflict. “I wanted to create a game that had both an entertaining adventure but also hold true to the commandment of ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill.'” Nelson explained to Ars. “It was important to do so, and it is not easy. You can defend yourself by stunning Enforcers, or thugs for a very brief time. The goal is the mission, and to avoid direct contact with the enemy as much as possible.”

Thou shalt not kill? What about a game based on Judges. That would be awesome. Assassins Creed: The Ehud Edition. Here’s a potential blurb.

Ehud the left handed rallies support from his fledgling Israelite nation to pay a visit to the fat and oppressive king – Eglon. Ehud fights off animals and marauders on the way to deliver his tribute to the king. He straps his short sword to his leg in order to deliver a message from God to all those who oppose Israel – and he must find a way to hide the body of an obese monarch before evading the clutches of his pursuers.

Yeah. I’d play that. Or what about Mega Church Tycoon – decide what staging and lighting to install in your multipurpose auditorium in order to lure the heathens from your chosen demographic.

Or “The Sins” your chance to sanctify a neighbourhood of sinful sims through the power of hospitality.

There is a Christian version of Guitar Hero out there somewhere – but what about HymnStar – the chance to belt out your favourite hymns, songs of praise, and Christian power ballads – you could have a special “Christmas Carols” edition slated for a December release.

Join me in producing these and we’ll be rich.

The slippery slope of liberalism

In the grand scheme of “who annoys Nathan most” there’s a battle between the rabid anti-theists and the waffling liberals.

They seem unlikely bedfellows. But liberals like Spong and his ilk, and atheists like Dawkins, work off each other in a symbiotic way – both pulling people away from Christianity like a fat frog pulls moths away from a lamp.

Today I read a post where an atheist asked what religious believer fellow atheists would mourn in death – and many admitted an admiration for Spong – some even claimed that it was reading Spong that lead to their atheism.

I’ll be sad when John Shelby Spong passes away. It was by reading his writings that I started to shed my fundamentalist views, and if it were not for him, I would not be the happy atheist I am today.

Then I read this article on the Sydney Morning Herald about how significant Jesus is to history. The author, a politician, couldn’t quite decide what his response to this historical Jesus should be…

From whatever perspective we come, thinking people ought to be able to agree, the birth of Jesus was a good day for mankind. I suspect I may never quite shake the childlike hunch that there is some uniquely divine imprint on the central individual of the human story. Happy Birthday, Jesus.

But the rabid commenters on the article were quick to point out what his response should be.

I don’t believe the arguement that without religion we would not have morals, if we followed the morals of the Church we would be burning alternative medecine practitioners (aka witches) and would say goodbye multicultural Australia. Sorry Christmas day is a sad day for humanity it made hatred justifiable.

The anti-slavery movement was founded in Enlightenment principles — all men are equal, and all that — principles that the Christian churches fought every step of the way, until at the very last the unquestionably correct fight was joined by some fringe (at the time) Protestants.

It’s funny how we all read history differently and often with the prejudice that comes with our philosophical views.

Once you get to the point of liberalism – of distrusting and second guessing the only account we have of God communicating to the world, or of reinterpreting history through a postmodern lens, you may as well pack the whole thing in. Which is why this “shocking” billboard campaign from a Liberal Anglican church in New Zealand doesn’t actually shock me at all… it saddens me.

It creates a dichotomy between “progressive” Christianity and “fundamentalist” Christianity. What it actually means is people who reject the Bible and read it through the lens of culture and people who believe the Bible and interpret culture through it. When did they think the Bible was culturally relevant? Was the culture of Corinth – where a man was permissibly sleeping with his step mum – really that much different to our sex charged culture today? Did people really only discover sexual freedom in the 1960s?

Here are some quotes.

Fundamentalism believes that Christianity is essentially about individual salvation and admission to an after-life off the planet. What one believes rather than how one behaves is paramount. This planet is merely a testing ground.

Progressive Christianity however emphasizes behaviour above belief. How one treats ones neighbours, enemies, and planet is the essence of faith. The celebration of the birth of Jesus is a celebration of God in every birth and every person.

For fundamentalist Christians the incarnation is about the miraculous arrival of a baby soon to die and by his blood save us. For progressive Christians the incarnation is about the miracle of this planet earth and all life that exists here.

It came with a pretty bizarre string of comments where people clearly struggle to articulate a cohesive logical view on the incarnation from a “progressive” standpoint.

This one is from a commenter named Matthew who shared a series of statements he no doubt believes are quite profound.

“If Jesus is the product of divine insemination (in whatever format) and not the seed of Joseph, then he is not human, his crucifixion means nothing because he has no connections to humanity, it’s just God killing himself to prove he can.

If however (as must be true) Jesus is an enlightened being birthed from the union of a man and a woman, then his life and his death can be seen as a statement of the possibilities of humanity, not some freak show that simply excites Mel Gibson fans.”

I’d counter this claim with the notion that if Jesus isn’t part divine then all aspects of his divinity are lost and the whole thing falls down. If he’s just human then there’s nothing that “connects” him to God. And why does Jesus require a human father in order to be human? Why isn’t a human mother sufficient? There are so many problems with the logic of the supernatural when people try to translate it into a rational framework.

If it “must be true” that God can’t intervene in the womb of a person then what’s the point of having a God to begin with? What’s the point in believing in a God who didn’t become flesh?

At that point it’s far more honest to be an atheist and join some sort of community group like Rotary where you actually do good things and don’t cause trouble for the true believers – though one suspects Spong isn’t actually too disappointed by the fact that his teachings lead to atheism.

Against my better judgment

Long post – in summary some “pastor” thinks I’m ignorant because I think we should be preaching the gospel rather than caring about the environment. 

So, Amy was so annoyed by my theological viewpoint on the environment in this post that she called in an “expert”. He responded with a particularly long critique of my position, my post, and at times in a way I would consider an affront and pretty insulting – like where he compares being a climate change agnostic to being Pontius Pilate. Which I guess kind of backs up my point that climate change is essentially being considered as a salvation issue by some people.

I also like the part where he compares climate change to slavery and suggests that I’ll never amount to anything like Wilberforce or Newton.

Oh, and the bit where he suggested that God is not in control of the weather. So I guess he doesn’t pray for rain, and he probably ignores that awkward bit in the Bible where God brings a flood, and the bit where he brings a seven year famine, and the bit where he makes it dark when Jesus is being crucified… 

And who can forget the bit where he suggests that Jesus saw feeding the 5000 some lunch was as important as the teaching he was doing that lead them to being hungry – you know, the teaching about the kingdom of God being near. The teaching about how they should turn to him or face death and judgment. Oh yeah, that’s right. Jesus was all about temporal needs. That’s why when he told the paralysed man to get up and walk he did it AFTER forgiving his sins. That is the first and only time I will use block caps here to voice my displeasure. 

But he went to the time and effort of responding so here is his unabridged essay (it’s very long) below. 

I feel like I need to mount defences on some of these points but have not figured out the best way to do that. While I figure that out feel free to read this and jump in with your own critique – I’m sure Amy will either direct him here to respond or pass on our responses – because that seems only fair. 

________________________________________________________

This will be a long post – responses to all of this topic by a Pastor friend of mine (also studies economics before Nathan starts critiquing credentials to argue about economics). This is transcribed as is from a word doc so I have copied out what para was referenced in italics, and his response normally. Hopefully all will be clear (and that the Hebrew actually comes through).

*****

Firstly, he would like to point out to Nathan that disparaging companies that have a triple bottom line is a bit rich when you buy coffee from http://store.ministrygrounds.net.au/ (who support “Rainforest Alliance”).

Also, that isn’t labelling yourself as a climate change agnostic the same as ‘washing your hands of responsibility’ a la a certain other individual 2000 years ago?

And, finally, that you are quite happy to travel NZ and admire the beauty of nature and post photos of such on your site – but not visit industrial sites and other sites of human achievements.

*****

Okay, in response to comments:

1.Amy:
1. I am of the mind to think that when God gave us this planet to look after, it was sort of a house-sitting arrangement. He isn’t going to be too happy to come back and find we’ve trashed the joint, is He?

Hmmm – not a house sitting arrangement as such but still His creation that we have been entrusted with to be good stewards of. Gen 2:15 tells us that man(kind) was given the task of working the garden to provide food but to also take care of it.

According to the Strong’s Bible Dictionary:
The word Work (NIV) in Hebrew means: עָבַד
‛âbad
aw-bad’
A primitive root; to work (in any sense); by implication to serve, till, (causatively) enslave, etc.:— X be, keep in bondage, be bondmen, bond-service, compel, do, dress, ear, execute, + husbandman, keep, labour (-ing man), bring to pass, (cause to, make to) serve (-ing, self), (be, become) servant (-s), do (use) service, till (-er), transgress [from margin], (set a) work, be wrought, worshipper.

Then the word Take Care (NIV) in Hebrew means:
שָׁמַר
shâmar
shaw-mar’
A primitive root; properly to hedge about (as with thorns), that is, guard; generally to protect, attend to, etc.:—beware, be circumspect, take heed (to self), keep (-er, self), mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save (self), sure, (that lay) wait (for), watch (-man).

So there is both a sense of tilling the soil and labouring in the garden (yep even in a perfect world there was work!!) but also to be protective and preserve it.

See also Gen 6:19, 30:31,
The first 5 books (the Pentateuch) give this latter word a meaning of ‘preservation’ for the future. Along with the commandments and laws where the same word is used in Leviticus (18:4-5) gives the clear indication that this act of preservation is not passive but active.

The other side of this is Revelation 21:1 tells us that at the end of this age this current earth will pass away – be concluded with.

Subsequent to the Genesis 2 account, I am not aware of any revoking of our responsibilities that were given to us by God. The only addition is that the ground is now cursed because of our sin (Gen 3:17-19a) and the work and care we engage in will be more difficult.

So the upshot in a snap shot is that while we do not know when God will wrap things up in the future, He has given us a clear responsibility to take care of things until He (destroys/renews) it and makes us a new earth.

2. Nathan
The worst kind of green evangelist is the prosperity preacher – the ones spruiking environmentalism as an opportunity to grow your business through “triple bottom line sustainability” – seriously that’s such a corporate sell out.

See initial comments above

3. Nathan re Romans 8:20-22
We should expect creation and vis a vis nature to be frustrated, to be broken, to be falling apart. This is pretty much why I’m not overly concerned that the ice caps are melting.

Interesting point. But what was the point of Paul raising this – it was as evidence to the fall of mankind. So are we carry a similar level of concern about mankind? I realise they are not the same. Humans are the only aspect of creation which were created in the image of God. But also like us, creation longs to be liberated from the consequences of sin.

We do not sit on our hands and do nothing about the liberating of humans – we seek to introduce them to Jesus, disciple others and also work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

So yes there is to be a higher level of responsibility towards seeing people come to faith, but that does not mean we can abdicate responsibility for the ‘ice caps’.

4. Nathan re Genesis 3:17
“Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;…

The same word ‘curse’ is used against people 1 Sam 14:24 & 28.

5. Nathan:
Not only are our lives insignificant in terms of the lifespan of creation – we can, and should, expect life to be hard work. We should be expecting the climate to change in a frustrating way. That’s what I reckon anyway. So I’m ambivalent about carbon trading, carbon offsets, carbon sequestration, and taxing businesses on the basis of their carbon emissions.

Perhaps Nathan takes more of His theology from Billy Joel’s ‘We didn’t start the fire’ than from verses such as James 4:17

6. Nathan:
Trying to tackle climate change is like urinating into a pedestal fan – pretty pointless. That is a crude analogy. But sums up my thoughts on anyone who’d rather pursue “pie in the sky” carbon taxes that will cost people jobs. It seems the Federal Government is going to backpedal away from that policy faster than an off balance unicyclist, which in my mind can only be a good thing.

Such a fatalist and sad position to take. It is too hard so I won’t try. I would not expect Nathan to be a John Newton or a Wilberforce:

“Among his (Newton’s) greatest contributions to history was encouraging William Wilberforce, a Member of Parliament for Hull, to stay in Parliament and “serve God where he was”, rather than enter the ministry. Wilberforce heeded the ex-slaveship captain’s advice, and spent the next twenty years successfully working for the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Newton

Or a Nathan – his namesake who was prepared to confront the King 2 Samuel 12:1-12

Or a Jonathan 1 Samuel 14:6-15

Or the list could go on of God honouring people who were prepared to take a stand against impossible odds!

7. Nathan:
Really, from Australia’s perspective, we’re a microbe in a sea of whales when it comes to pollution. Any stance we take will only be on principle – and it will be a phyrric victory that comes at the cost of Australian jobs and we’ll all end up drowning when sea levels rise anyway. Thanks to our propensity for coastal living. Now, onto proposition number two.

Yep – Kinda like a David against a Goliath hey!!

But also don’t we have a responsibility as a nation to do something about the effects of our exports? That would be like us flushing the toilet and saying it is the beach goer’s responsibility to clean up our mess.

Actually economists suggest that it is well within our GDP ability to nationally absorb the increase due to the environmental recommendations.

8. Nathan re Genesis 1:28
We are called on to “subdue” the earth and to excercise dominion over the animal kingdom. I would argue theologically that the idea of subdugation here is referring to bringing order to disorder – to ploughing fields in order to grow crops, to production, to using natural resources in order to cater for the prescribed “multiplication” in numbers. I would argue that the proverbial “paving paradise to put up a parking lot” fits into the category of “bringing order”. Particularly if the development is designed with obsessive compulsive people in mind.

Great point. It is interesting then that we have people starving to death because of our inability to subdue the earth appropriately!

Paving paradise is like paving the veggie patch – when it really comes down to it, it doesn’t make much sense. We take some of the most productive food producing and grazing land and build houses on it. Where is the logic in that?

9. Leah:
Problem #1 exists but no matter what we as humans do (especially we as Australians), we’re not going to change it. Not significantly. Like you said, the bible predicts it and it’s always happened and is going to continue to happen.

See my comments above DT6-8
(Amy’s note: Not sure on the reference here – hoping someone else can work it out – Deut perhaps?)

10. Amy:
Theologically yes we should expect life to be hard. But the point is we are not making it so hard for ourselves, but the most vulnerable in the world. The poorest people are those who can least afford to suffer

Jesus in Matt 26:7; Mark 14:7 and John 12:7 talks about the poor. It was a comm. On saying that all the hearers would be able to finish the rest of the Deut 15:10-11 passage that Jesus was quoting.

11. Amy
A far better strategy is to invest in green technologies that will create jobs – solar plants, geo-thermal power, biodegradable plastics, hydrogen fuels, vertical farming etc. The ideas are all there, just dying from lack of funding.

Absolutely. Australians have invented amazing things like black box flight recorders. We could become an international innovator by creating Green Collar workers who build green technology when everyone else are saying it is too hard. The attitude that says we won’t move until everyone else does is nonsensical.

12. Nathan:
. Believing in God’s total sovereignty, as I do, means that I think God ultimately controls the weather. And thus that any change in the climate is ultimately his responsibility.

Sovereignty and control are too different things and are not synonymous. To say God controls the weather would also suggest that God causes the weather to do what it does. Yep God can intervene and so can we at times. But that sort of logic suggest that God is also in control of the gunman that shoots up the kids at school etc.

Sorry that sort of argument is rubbish!

Yes ultimately nothing happens without God allowing it, but that also does not mean we can abdicate our responsibility either.

Free will??? Where have I heard of that before? We choose – and God holds us accountable and responsible for our choices. Otherwise, on the basis of Nathan’s argument we can blame God for allowing sin to enter into the world and He is a mongrel for punishing us for something that we have no responsibility for – after all isn’t God in control???

13. Amy:
But was the fall the whole planet or humanity? You could argue that it was specifically referring to humans. There are also theological standpoints that say Jesus superceded/overruled the fall as the fulfillment of the law. But I don’t have the training to argue that at this point.

The fall affected all of creation – the planet and mankind.

Hmmm not really. Yep we were the ones that stuffed up – but the results affected the planet and animals etc.

14. Amy
I do think businesses should be looking at changing the way they operate to become more sustainable, and I guess the Government figures the best way to cause this is to hit them where it hurts.

It is seen that taxing is the best/fairest way to bring about change in business. A user pay system rather than levies and one off payments. If an industry pays money to reduce their carbon emissions, then they pay less tax. If they choose not to for economic reasons, that is OK as long as the tax goes towards other mitigation measures. So yep it should be put back into sustainability issues – not to prop up the budget bottom line. But that is a government policy decision. Once again, when governments do not take responsibility for the decisions and the past decisions, we end up perpetuating the problem rather than working towards better management.

15. Nathan:
. Preventing building of new houses because a finch might have to pack its bags and move elsewhere.

But would Nathan be a prepared to say – grandma, you have to move because they are resuming your house for a highway – take one for the progress team! Yep a bit of a jump, but when do we say the cost is too much?

16. Nathan
And if my coffee machine consumes onerous amounts of energy and emits tonnes of toxic carbon – I’ll pay for it to do so. I’m not going to stop so that a hippy somewhere can unchain themselves from the gates of a coal mine.

But the problem is that we don’t pay for it. The true cost of the impact on the environment is not worked through. It is an external cost that is not recognised and therefore not passed on to the consumer. As a result the purchase price for so many things are artificially lower because the cost on the environment is not recognised or factored in to the costs of production.

17. Nathan:
I’d much rather put my time and energy into meeting people’s spiritual needs than their temporal.

Wooow – That flies in the face of what Jesus and James stood against. James 2:14-26. Jesus would never had feed the 4,000/5,000 healed the sick etc. When we became Christians we would be zapped off the earth. Nup sorry that does not wash at all. We have a responsibility to care for the whole person, not just their spiritual needs. Whatever you did to the least of these…. (Matt 25:31-46).

18. Nathan:
I agree that we’ve probably played some part in changing the climate – you’d be an idiot to think that changing the finely balanced conditions in the world would have no effect. And I agree we have to face the consequences and adapt. I just don’t think adaptation necessarily looks like the Greens suggest it does.

But what if rather than throwing up our hands in the air we actually tried to reverse some of what we have done. Our bodies have the ability to reverse some of the damage of smoking if we stop soon enough. The planet has the ability to rebound if we act. It will not get back to Eden, but to say it is all too late is a cop out as well.

19. Queenstuss:
If climate change actually mattered, the various governments would be putting money and effort into sustainable developments: renewable energies rather than coal power, public transport rather than expressways etc.

Call me a cynic, but climate change will only matter if the people say it does. The democratic governments are elected by the people and we ultimately are responsible for what the governments do. If we shout enough, the governments will act.

20. Leah:
Living so that we make less emissions so that the earth stops warming up so that the icecaps don’t melt: not good. Because we *can’t*. Nothing we do will stop the earth warming up.

On what basis is this argument made? My understanding is the jury is still out on that. So we can either say until we have conclusive proof we will do nothing – or we can say, let us do the best we can, even if it costs us financially and in changing our behaviours to have a better way of life. And if it helps great. If not – have we really lost anything?

21. Alison:
. Christians always jump straight to comparing the environment to the gospel in a way that they don’t with other ideas. Why is that? Isn’t it also more important to share the gospel than fix pot holes, fiddle about with coffee ;), design clothing etc…

I guess the thing is that Jesus wants us to live life to the full (John 10:10) and a part of that is how we worship God. That is more than going to church but in our vocations – is the gospel more important that building safe houses? In a lot of ways yes. What good is it to gain the whole world and lose your soul (Mark 8:36). But what is the gospel – it is good news. If someone is homeless and hungry – to see them become a Christian but then starve to death or die of exposure does not fulfil the James 2:14-17. It was never meant to be an either/or but a both/and.

22. Alison:
Also, our bodies are also subject to decay. If we help someone live a little longer, they will still die one day. I think the bible also makes it clear that the poor will always be with us, and that “make poverty history” will not ultimately be successful

This is such an inaccurate interpretation of the text. Jesus expected his audience to finish off the Deut passage themselves. Not use it as an excuse to say it is all too hard Deut 15:10-11. Part of the reason for us being in the situation we are is because people misquote either out of convenience or ignorance. Once ignorance is corrected – it is a question of obedience or disobedience!

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Okay, that’s it. Phew!

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