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How can I be sure of climate heaven?

Imagine you're in a conversation with someone of another religion.  At some point you might ask them: "Are you sure of heaven/Valhalla/getting beamed to the mother ship?"  (delete as appropriate).

This is a good question because no other god actually saves.  They might talk a big game but they can't be counted on to do the business.  And so the follower of this other religion will be forced back on themselves.  They'll either openly confess 'No' or they'll be full of bravado and demonstrable good works but the most they can say is, "I hope so." And when they confess their lack of assurance it's enough to bring you to tears.  What wicked demon has ensnared you that you may even kill yourself in its service yet have no hope of its favour!?

Well don't we see the same thing with the carbon-cutting gospel?  I receive emails from an old university friend (I'll bet many of you get the same ones - his global advocacy group has become massive).  But for all the candlelit vigils, the millions strong petitions, the vast sums raised and ambitious goals - the lack of assurance is palpable.  Every email ends "with hope."  But you just wonder don't you.

It seems to me that even the most committed activist working to tax carbon into oblivion doesn't really think their gospel will deliver.  The most optimistic talk of the climate campaigner sounds so much like the devout Mormon who 'hopes' they'll make it.  Maybe I'm reading things in here, but I get the distinct impression that deep down their whole fear-driven carbon-cutting works both hide the fact and spring from the fact that they don't think it's going to happen.  Not deep down.

Oh they hope so!  And they hope it enough to wear themselves out in anxious labour.  But there's no assurance.

So how do we preach to the climate campaigner?  Let me suggest not by agreeing with their apocalyptic, pseudo-messianic gospel and then adding in a few Jesus extras to get the job done.  (You're correct in your assessment of the planet's destiny and true rulers, but let me add in Jesus who helps us to be the saviours!)

No, that's not the way.  But not because we have no compassion.  We do.  It is desperate to see them so harassed and helpless like sheep without a Shepherd.  And so the way forwards is to teach them (Mark 6:34).  And perhaps especially we might paint for them a cosmic picture of the new heavens and the new earth, the home of righteousness.  Not just a reduction in the number of hurricanes, but a crystal sea like glass!  Not just preventing the displacement of people groups but their planting in the land!  Not just the protection of the trees but their joyful worship!  Not the maintenance of adequate food supplies but the richest of meats and wine dripping from the hills!  Not alleviation of drought but the Lamb shepherding us to streams of Living Water!  Not simply the preservation of lions and lambs but their reconciliation!   And a little Child will lead them.  We introduce them to this Child and He will calm all fears.  Because He is able to deliver on this future.  He guarantees it.

Maybe we need to be saying to our climate believer friends "After all this effort, are you sure the planet's going to be ok?  Cos I am."

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By the way, Paul Huxley speaks much sense on the reasons for scepticism here.

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0 thoughts on “How can I be sure of climate heaven?

  1. Will

    I've just read these three posts, as well as Paul's post.

    I am not a scientist but my view is that:

    - The globe is probably warming due to human emissions.
    - Such emissions are a consequence of human greed and materialism.
    - If so, God is giving us over to the consequences of our sins, much like the way described in Romans 1.
    - There is no real hope for a turn around, save perhaps for an unprecedented revival in the materialistic west.
    - Christians shouldn't be too worried about it, because we are looking forward to a new creation.
    - However as an act of love towards our neighbours, particularly those in more vulnerable climates, we should do our bit to cut our own personal emissions.
    - If this saves us some money, which it probably will, then we can give it to local and global mission.
    - We should lend our support to any realistic attempts to cut emissions in industry etc, on the same love thy neighbour principle.

    Will

  2. Josh

    What a glorious gospel to proclaim to the world! Christ is always seen most glorious whenever we preach him at that place where we are most fearful.

    Will - I think your reflection on Romans 1 is helpful. If we have been guilty of greed (which we have) then we can expect consequences in a world ordered by God.

    However we need to be very careful that in our efforts to love our neighbour, we don't have unintended consequences. For example, when the government subsidises bio-fuels in order to reduce oil use, farmers then use less land to grow crops on, which reduces food yields, making food more expensive - hurting the poor.

    It seems to me that part of what it means to love our neighbour will involve thinking very hard about how to do that, since sometimes such action can be counter-intuitive. (E.g. 1 Timothy 5:11)

  3. One Salient Oversight

    The dangers of global warming are not an "end of the world" danger, but a "millions are going to die" danger.

    Think back to the dark ages when Europe lost 50% of its population to the Black Plague. Did God prevent the destruction of mankind? Surely he did. Was the plague a horrible event? Absolutely. If people at the time had some knowledge of what was to come, would they have been stupid to warn people? Of course not.

  4. Gav

    I'm with Will..........no, wait, I'm with Josh........no......buggered if I know!!!

    I'm with Jesus!

    Yeah, thanks for clearing this up for me guys. I feel much better. ;-)

  5. Chris Oldfield

    that's fine. the question is what do we do now?

    to give another example, during the 2nd world war, when victory was far from certain, there will still have been utopian politics saying "we will fight them on the beaches, british spirit will keep us going, and we will never give up, in fact,

    "we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."

    now, that's as maybe, and there are eschatological overtones, and we could very well, nay we should very well critique it. The question is what you actually do. Do you just sit back and say "no, no, no, that's all wrong reasoning...you're far too confident in yourself", or do you preach heartily, pray humbly, and in the mean time muddle on and fight?

    It seems to me that we're in danger of making the same mistake of thinking copenhagen etc is some utopian, humanistic salvation - the only difference is we reject it where humanists buy it. But surely we should say, no it's not a surrogate at all, but it is worthwhile, and while the future's uncertain, we should do all we can to be responsible now.

  6. Heather

    LOL Gav! Admission of the fact that we don't know is exactly what prompts us to say "I'm with Jesus!".

    One Salient Oversight: If the warning causes people to focus only on "saving the earth" or "saving lives", it might be wrong.
    The point of God allowing such horrible things is to get our attention, make us realize that we aren't as all-powerful as we think, and turn to Him in repentance for our stubborn rebellion. As man becomes more hardened, I expect we can see an increase in both frequency and severity of God's handling of humanity. We aren't going to stop God from doing what He's doing, but we can certainly choose where we stand as He's doing it.

    Chris Oldfield: "the question is what do we do now?"

    "When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land,
    take heed that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods?--that I also may do likewise.' Deuteronomey 12:29-30

    "Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and in want of all things; and he will put a yoke of iron upon your neck, until he has destroyed you.
    The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you do not understand,
    a nation of stern countenance, who shall not regard the person of the old or show favor to the young..." Deuteronomy 28:47-50

    "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people,
    if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. " 2 Chronicles 7:13-14

    Sorry for the copy-pasting. I don't know how you all view God's revelatory interaction with His people. Unfortunately, my perspective had been clouded for years by dispensationalism and I always thought the above verses only applied to the Israelites and their physical promised land.

    The passages are highly relevant, to our era, though.

    The God who said this to the Israelites is the same God we serve today and He doesn't change or forget, even if we do. And He's jealously guarding the hearts of those who belong to Him alone.

    While Christians don't look to grab for ourselves any plot of land on this currently dying planet, I believe we can trust that the instructions God has given to His people are good at all times.

    We are all to ignore the myriad distractions that Satan tosses at us and humble ourselves before the Lord. We are to ask Him for forgiveness for being, as James put it, "doubleminded" and mixing worldly concerns with our worship of Him.

    The Israelites suffered terribly as a result of their interaction with pagan worship practice (which bears an odd resemblance to modern earth worship). According to the prophetic books, they continued "worshiping" God all the while and He was really, really angry about it.

    Are we willing to learn from their rebellious mistakes?

    I'm thinking the first question to ask is not "What shall we do?" But "Who do we really trust?"

    If the OT accounts of the taking of the promised land are a trustworthy indication ( I think they are) , God has ensured that His people cannot be stopped *if* we are single-mindedly serving Him.

    I don't know any of you and, hopefully, this doesn't come away as a "sermon". For a long time, I thought my "concern" for the way our country (the US) has been going was motivated by a love for God. And it is true that our overall values and way of running things are hardly God-honoring. Sickening, in fact.

    But really, I had confused wanting His kingdom to come with my own human desire for worldly peace, comfort and freedom. And sadly, when I think things are going well, I compromise my devotion to God. Just like the Israelites did.

    This is spiritual warfare. Go ahead and engage the "green" agenda, if you are sure that is what God wants. But do it on God's terms and remember that the real enemy is one we cannot see. Satan's bigger, older, smarter, meaner and more powerful than any of us, and we need to be on the Lord's side at all times or risk getting sliced to ribbons during the battle.

    "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the world's rulers, of the darkness of this age, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
    Therefore take to yourselves the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. " Ephesians 6:12-13

  7. Tim Cairns

    Isn’t it great that this climate change stuff is all happening at advent! What an opportunity we have to preach the gospel.

    I like your introduction. The problem with all world religions is that we are going to save ourselves. The climate religion is humanity banding together in one huge push of mutual love to save our existence and save the planet.

    How fitting to have this debate at the time when we focus our attention back on the Saviour. The truth of Christmas runs completely in opposition to the climate religion. At Christmas we see the creator of the world stepping into, becoming part of, his creation. The creator of the world becoming a defenceless foetus in the womb of a woman, a woman he created. What gospel and what an opportunity to preach it!

    He came to take the weight of climate change on his shoulders. He saved us. The future of humanity, our future can be saved, because the creator stepped into his creation. The future of humanity is now dependent on the future of God, because God became human.

    Enough preaching! Back to work – thanks Glen again for another thought provoking post.

  8. Glen

    A couple of thoughts:

    1) Given the staggering levels of action being spoken of, carbon cutting is definitely being sold on an 'apocalyptic times call for apocalyptic measures' basis. (see the Guardian's editorial yesterday for instance).

    2) This is unfortunate not just because of its messianic delusions, it's also unhelpful for those wanting to make more cautious moves as good stewards etc etc.

    Combine this with...

    3) We have a political environment in which even those who agree with AGW are labelled 'deniers' because they don't think carbon reduction (or reduction by such levels) is the solution.

    Which, it seems to me, leaves very little room at the Copenhagen table for the kind of sensible suggestions that Will or Chris are suggesting.

    Instead it seems much more all or nothing to me. Which carries the added risk of:

    4) Unintended consequences (as Josh points out) abound and they surely increase exponentially the more drastic the solutions put forwards.

    5) Great to have 'One Salient Oversight' commenting. Hello. Research into vaccines for pandemics seems a good model for how to cope with some aspects of climate change. We will need the technology to adapt to change. But we will always have natural disasters. I don't think it's the uncaring approach to say adapting is the most flexible and direct response

    As a silver lining to all this-

    6) Heather's comment is wonderful.

    WAY TOO LONG :D

    But wonderful.

  9. Heather

    Sorry about the length.

    I'm really trying to keep my comments brief.

    Will henceforth keep post-length comments confined to my own space.

  10. Pingback: Pollutants or Prayer? What changes the climate? « Christ the Truth

  11. One Salient Oversight

    I suppose my point is about urgency and common sense. If a man is tied to rail tracks and a train is approaching, do you a) untie him or b) preach the gospel to him? Obviously you would do the first, then hopefully the second.

    Global Warming has come about because of sin. Mankind has not looked after the earth that God let him to be steward over. Ultimately the answer to this sin is the preaching of the gospel, but there does need to be some "untying from the railway tracks" as well.

    Sadly, many evangelical Christians have been convinced of the sceptic argument - a far greater proportion than the rest of society (probably due to their links with conservative politics). They have essentially "backed the wrong horse" to use a racing metaphor. They are tightening the ropes of the man on the railway tracks while preaching the gospel to him. Not a good situation to be in.

    When environmental disaster strikes, and millions do die, will unbelievers see evangelical Christians as rescuers from the disaster or enablers to the disaster?

  12. Glen

    Urgency and common sense are some of the factors. There's also probability and effectiveness.

    I certainly hope evangelicals will be the most generous of all when disasters strike. As they do. And will. Continually. Until Christ returns.

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