Monday, August 28, 2017

Environmentalist Apocalypse

This post is not about debating different end-times scenarios, but I am only putting forth what has become popular in the church today in order to compare it to the modern environmentalist movement. Since we are seeing that environmentalism has become something of a religion among many, it is noteworthy that we are constantly being warned of a coming environmental apocalypse. Global warming is supposed to cause catastrophes of biblical proportions! Crops burning up and sea levels rising to engulf heavily populated areas are frequently sited as the reason for us to make great changes to our lifestyle and industry. We are told that unless we take drastic action, life on earth is in danger.

How much this reminds us of certain Christian preachers who are constantly preaching gloom and doom scenarios. (We are supposed to preach the Good News so that we can escape judgement.) Now I believe in things like the Rapture of the Church and the rise of an Antichrist and subsequent judgments, including environmental disasters like waters being turned to blood and the grass all being burnt up. But that is not for the church age. And I am not suggesting that we ignore the book of Revelation or the warnings therein. What hurts the church is that someone is always predicting the date of the Rapture (which is always in error) or seeing everything in nature (eclipses and hurricanes, for example) as harbingers of judgement.

Now I don't think that you would find one extreme environmentalist who would not scoff at such things. But then they turn around and do the same things themselves. They make apocalyptic predictions of environmental disasters that will make the earth virtually uninhabitable and bring untold misery. We are told to "repent" of our "sinful" polluting lifestyle and join their program in the hopes that we can be saved. If you oppose their "solutions" then you are labelled a heretic, that is, "anti-science".

They seem to deliberately forget the false predictions made in the past about global cooling (remember the "new ice age"?) or what acid rain was going to do to our forests. People are catching on, though. The latest end-of-the-world scenario is like the boy who cried "wolf". These repeated predictions of environmental doom-and-gloom are beginning to fall on deaf ears. That's a good thing.

Any well trained scientist should know that there is a great deal of difference between observational science, where we get our technological advances from, and predictive science, which is very much a guessing game. Now we can predict certain things on a small scale, but to predict what the climate will be in a hundred years is well beyond our ability and knowledge and it might never be possible. Science has it limitations. We must take that into account. Scientists, however honest they may be, are human and they can be deceived as well as anyone. I have heard scientists, experts in their field, make fundamental errors about the nature of science and what it can and cannot do. It is not infallible and it cannot answer every question we have, especially about the future. For that, let's stick to the Bible.

What is really surprising to me (should I be surprised at anything anymore?) is that Christians often buy into these apocalyptic scenarios and the so-called solutions brought forth. Of course, they speak in more "spiritual" terms like "creation care" and such like. Now I realize that not everyone who uses the term "creation care" falls for the extreme environmentalist scenarios. But I do think that we ought to be careful not to confuse the desire to help our environment with the current extreme agenda put forth by the extreme environmentalism which is becoming a religion to many.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Environmentalism - The New Animism?

Many people, Christian and non-Christian alike, care about our environment. But some who care about the environment have gotten a little carried away. They have gone beyond just caring about the health of our air and water to making the earth into an idol. I think that the apostle Paul's insights apply here. He wrote, "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever." (Romans 1:25) He is, of course, speaking about ancient paganism that worshipped idols that represented created things like the planets (Venus and Jupiter, for example).

An earlier form of earth worship that still exists today is 'animism'. That is the idea that everything is alive and has a spiritual essence. Native American culture was, and still is to some degree, animistic. That is why, traditionally, they did not believe that anyone could own a piece of land. The land was sacred to them. I often shake my head when I hear someone on television explain that some tribe opposes some project on their land. They always make that we "understand" that the land is "sacred" to Native Americans. This is seen as being deeply spiritual and something that we Christians should respect, or even hold in awe.

This is pure animism, and animism is idolatry. Now someone might complain at this point that monotheists has some places that are considered holy as well. Take the temple mount where the Jewish temple once stood. Both Jews and Muslims, with differing claims, say that it is holy, not to be used for common purposes. The Jews have the prior claim and they believe that this land belongs to God. It was a place that God chose to put Him Name and to place His temple. In other words, the land is not holy in and of itself, but because God chose it for a purpose. It is dedicated to the Creator. We should also note that King David purchased that land. It was afterward dedicated to the Lord. That is much different from the land being "sacred" simply because it is part of the earth.

You might be thinking, at this point, 'what does that all have to do with modern environmentalism?' Environmentalists are not worshipping the earth. Perhaps not directly in the old terms of the ancient animists and pagans. Not too many people perform acts of worship when it comes to the earth. But many have "served the creature rather than the Creator". They put the "environment" ahead of human good and human progress. Preserving some plant or animal becomes more important than the benefit that humans might get from not preserving them. So humans become less important than animals or even the earth itself.

I have to note here that sometimes Christians act as if we are here to serve the earth rather than the other way around. God made the earth for man. We are not here to care for this planet. He created it for us. He created a place where we could live and thrive and prosper. That is why He made us last. He had to have a good environment for us to live in. We ruined that environment through sin and I do not mean the fact that we often pollute. We live in a fallen earth which Christ died to redeem and which He will completely renew.
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)

Until He does that there will be environmental problems. This is point at which the environmentalists will say that I do not care about the environment and that this view will lead to environmental disaster. But that is not the least bit true. To say that something exists to serve us does not mean that we will abuse it. It means that we have the proper perspective. If a person owns a car, will he let it fall apart simply because it exists to serve him? Not necessarily. Some take better care of their cars and other not so much. (It also depends on how much you can afford to take care of it.)

So, understanding that the earth is here to serve us does not mean that "we do not care". It means that we can make choices about how we are going to care for it. A well-developed country like the USA may have stricter environmental regulations that less developed nations. The less developed nations want more economic development are willing to pollute more to accomplish this. We, on the other hand, already have a greater prosperity and want a better environment. There are trade-offs, and we have to make choices about where we want to come down.

Environmentalists are often absolutists who want to shut down industry and treat humans and human progress as a problem for the earth rather than the reason for the earth existing at all. God did not make the earth for His benefit but for ours. That is why He gave us dominion over it. We simply have to decide how to exercise that dominion.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Hold Fast To What You Have

The Bible tells us to "hold that fast which thou hast." (Revelation 3:11) I have quoted the King James here because of the word "thou". It is singular. So John is not telling the church as a whole to hold fast to something, but is telling individuals within the church to hold fast to what they have received from the Lord. Some people believe and teach that if God gives something to you that you cannot lose it. But if we have to hold fast to it, then it must be possible to lose it.

Let's look at divine healing. I am not talking about natural healing through doctors and medicine, but supernatural healing by the Spirit of God. Many people think that if God heals you, then that is it, you are healed forever. But that is not the case. We have to hold fast to it. Many people have lost their healing and, unfortunately, well-meaning Christians have thought that God did not really heal them after all. A person may receive their healing through a minister or in answer to prayer and experience divine healing. All the symptoms leave and even the doctors say they are healthy. Then the symptoms return and they think, "I thought God healed me, but I guess He didn't really. Otherwise, this would not have come back on me." This is erroneous thinking and it leads to folks losing their healing for good.

So let's look at some facts about divine healing and we will see what is really going on here. First, the New Testament is quite clear about where sickness and infirmity come from. They come from Satan. "How Jesus of Nazareth went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil." (Acts 10:38) Jesus healed those oppressed by the Devil, and since the gospels say over and over again that Jesus healed all who came to Him for healing, then sickness must be Satanic oppression.

In some cases, Jesus would cast out an evil spirit oppressing someone's body.

"And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God." Luke 13:11-13

Jesus then said that Satan had bound her. But even if there is not an evil spirit present, Satan is still the causal agent. That might be hard for some people to accept, but that is what the Bible teaches.

With that said, we can look at a passage in the gospels that show that whenever demons are forced to leave, they seek a way back in.

“When an unclean spirit goes out of a person it roams through arid regions searching for rest but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order. Then it goes and brings back with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they move in and dwell there; and the last condition of that person is worse than the first. Thus it will be with this evil generation.” Matthew 12:43-45

So when the Devil has been oppressing someone with sickness and then that person is healed, it only makes sense that he will try to oppress them again with the same thing. And it could even be worse. The Devil does not give up easily. I wish believers would be just as determined to be free as Satan is to oppress them.

So, what do we do when he tries to put that back on us again? We resist him, firm in our faith. "Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith." (1 Peter 5:8)

I recall a time when I had to resist the devil who tried to steal our daughter's healing. When she was little, our oldest daughter was allergic to citrus. If she even had a little bit, she would break out all over. It was very unpleasant. So I had prayed for her to be healed and, frankly, forgot about it. Then when someone else was watching her, they gave some orange juice or something. She had no reaction. For the next year or two, she had no reaction to citrus. Then one time my mother was watching her and she told me when I went to pick my daughter up that she had a reaction to citrus. I examined her and rebuked the Devil and told him to take his hands off of her - she was healed and is still healed! Now, were the symptoms real? Yes, they were, but I recognized that the Devil was trying to steal her healing and I refused to accept those symptoms. I resisted the Devil and he fled! She has not had a bad reaction to citrus and that was more than 30 years ago.

Of course, sometimes when it seems we have lost our healing, the Devil strikes us with fear. We think, "Oh, no, not again!" If we read in 1 Peter 5:7, just before the passage about resisting the Devil, it tells us, "Cast you care upon the Lord, for He cares for you." Then we can resist the Devil by rebuking him or by praying to God and receiving our healing again, knowing that we are already healed. "By His wounds, you are healed." 1 Peter 2:24

Let's do what Peter says and learn to resist the Devil and anything that is of the Devil and not let him steal from us any more.