I’m a fan of seeking environmental reform and encouraging/championing the stewardship of all of God’s creation. This is why I found Anthony Bradley’s recent blog entry on “Social Justice, Environmentalism, and Your Local Church” so fascinating. In it Bradley makes some helpful suggestions for anyone (but especially Christians in particular) who want to get more involved in fulfilling man’s original intent to be a cultivator and steward of the earth, not just a consumer. Bradley makes a great and confronting statement when he writes:
How silly it is, for example, to expect the U.S. government to randomly give one percent GDP (over $25 billion) to corrupt governments and bureaucratic non-profit groups, like the One Campaign wants, when American Christians literally have a tithing potential of $143 billion? How sad is it to fight against abortion but also not be equally passionate about what happens to non-aborted kids for their entire lives–that is, truly “pro-life” and not simply “pro-birth.”
I don’t know how he is computing the “tithing potential” there, but I have heard something similar. Though I’m not sure about the exact nature of the facts, I remember reading somewhere that if everyone in the US who claimed to be a Bible believing Christian would tithe 10% of their reported income, that the total would be more than enough to pay for all the existing endeavors of various churches, as well as put an end to world poverty. That may be exaggerated, but seeing as how the average Christian in the US tithes 2%, and some of the proposed solutions to many of the worlds ills seem manageable, I wouldn’t doubt if that analysis is at least close.
While he is very critical of the effectiveness of such groups like The One Campaign (which he promises to write more on at a later time), I’m actually thankful that there can be varying approaches to tackle the social justice concerns our world faces, and that there are people and groups out there at least attempting to do something.
Proverbs 14:4 says, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” This communicates something to the effect of, “If you want to reap your crops, and eat or do anything with them, then you’re going to have to get some oxen. Now don’t expect their stable to be like a picture out of Southern Living with a Martha Stewart spring clean job. It will be messy, so hold your nose and deal with it.” I’m hopeful that we can as a church rise to the occasion of the plights of our world around us and solve them effectively and quickly, but I am also thankful for those “oxen” out there who may be making a mess, but are at the very least doing something.
Bradley’s article was very informative, and had a couple of good links to it for anyone who wants to know and find out more, so let me encourage you who care about the world we live in and the church’s role in it to go check it out (Click here for article).
For those who want to peruse some brief mis-representations of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, I pasted them from Bradley’s article:
Misrepresenting the Facts
• The movie makes much of the Arctic’s recent warming but ignores historical periods of warming that meet or exceed today’s temperatures — as recently as the 1930s.
• It assumes that rising insurance payments for natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and wildfires are evidence of global warming, ignoring the role of increased development in high-risk areas near coastlines and wilderness forests.
• It claims that the rate of global warming is accelerating rapidly, when the rate has been constant for the past 30 years—roughly 0.17°C per decade.
• It states that U.S. tornados occurred more frequently in 2004 than ever before, ignoring the role of more sensitive equipment able to detect smaller storms. (When this is controlled for, it becomes clear that tornado frequency has declined for over fifty years).
Overstating the case
• It overstates the case for linking recent warming and the frequency and severity of tropical storms.
• It blames global warming for Europe’s killer 2003 heat wave, which climatologists agree was caused by unrelated anomalous circulation in the atmosphere.
Ignoring evidence that doesn’t support its conclusions
• It cites a three-year study as support for claiming that the Antarctic is losing ice mass, while failing to mention a study of the preceding ten years that found just the reverse.
• It warns of “significant and alarming structural changes” in the submarine base of West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), but fails to explain that the melting and retreat of the WAIS “grounding line” has been going on for thousands of years. At the rate of retreat observed in the late 1990s, the WAIS would disappear in about 7,000 years.