Life Group Notes 16th May 2012

The Christian Response to Green Issues

For an explanation of Global Warming watch this Youtube video (please note it is childish)è http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBQ8-zEcE9w&feature=related

When we think about green issues we tend to think about the negative things Global warming and the impact of CO2, pollution (Air, Land & Sea), waste, recycling, deforestation, ecology, farming methods, organic, food production, animal management, use of natural resources, extraction and use of fossil fuels.

Global warming is just a part of the “environmental” debate and it is a hotly contested issue with multiple scientific arguments for and against.

All this translates into a wider debate on how we manage the earth and it’s resources.

  • So What does the Bible say about that?

The first verse we should take note of is from Revelation 11:18: The nations were angry, and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your people who revere your name, both great and small – and for destroying those who destroy the earth.’

Genesis ch1 – The Earth and all that is in it was created by God

Gen 1 v 26: Then God said, “Let usmake mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may ruleover the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”  27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of lifein it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Genesis 8 v 21b-22: And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. 22 “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Psalm 8 v 6-8: Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet. All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

Psalm 147 v 7 – 9 ‘Sing out your thanks to the LORD; sing praises to our God, accompanied by harps. He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the green grass grow in mountain pastures. He feeds the wild animals, and the young ravens cry to him for food.’

Psalm 24:1  The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

  • What should our response be?

Humanistic environmentalists view man as being less important than the earth and its creatures.  Hence, issues like population control (e.g. abortion, small families, euthanasia), relocation to urban centers (e.g. “sustainable communities”, multi-family dwellings), and government over-restriction on energy exploration and use and building development are their tenets of faith.  The extent and deleterious ramifications of humanistic environmentalism are endless.

Romans 1 v 25: They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.

The Christian worldview, on the other hand, based on Genesis 1:26-31 and other passages, puts man at the top of creation and commands him to be a wise steward of the earth and its resources.  Man in his fallen state will rape and abuse the earth yet the Christian should be for conservation, wise use, development, and replenishment for the betterment of humans and creation.

Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury – “For the Church of the 21st century, good ecology is not an optional extra but a matter of justice. It is therefore central to what it means to be a Christian”

The following is from http://www.request.org.uk/issues/topics/environment/environment01.htm

When we hear the word ‘environment’, our first response is often to visualise the scenes of pollution from disasters – usually man-made; to think of animal cruelty, such as fox-hunting and experimentation, and to miss out on the wonder of God’s creation … the beauty, the order, and the marvellous provision for our physical and emotional needs.

Christians recognise and grapple with environmental issues, but start with appreciating God’s gift. They seek to ask, ‘How does the God of creation want us to look after his planet Earth?’

Christians believe that God created the earth and gave responsibility for using it wisely to human beings, who he also created, to be like himself, creative, caring and in control.

Psalm 8 verse 6 of the Bible says, ‘You put us in charge of everything you made,
giving us authority over all things.’

Psalm 147 verses 7 – 9 of the Bible says:

‘Sing out your thanks to the LORD;
sing praises to our God, accompanied by harps.
He covers the heavens with clouds,
provides rain for the earth,
and makes the green grass grow in mountain pastures.
He feeds the wild animals,
and the young ravens cry to him for food.’

The Bible teaches Christians to respond responsibly as well as thankfuly. It calls human beings stewards or representatives. Genesis chapter 1 verse 28 of the Bible says,

‘God blessed them and told them, “Multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Be masters over the fish and birds and all the animals.” And God said, “Look! I have given you the seed-bearing plants throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given all the grasses and other green plants to the animals and birds for their food.” ‘

God’s intentions were:

  • to provide for all his creation, people and animals
  • for human beings to populate and use the earth fully
  • to give human beings control – responsibility.

All life has a God-given purpose, and to fulfil this, Christians believe, we need to have God’s attitude – creative, caring and controlling the way resources are used to benefit all his creation.

However, the Bible shows that selfishness – called sin – brought, and still brings, abuse, pollution and problems. It puts greed and pride before love and obedience. This is shown in Genesis, where man’s disobedience to God’s instructions resulted in pollution. Genesis chapter 3 verses 18 – 19 of the Bible says:

‘(The ground) will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. All your life you will sweat to produce food.’

Resting for one day in seven was part of God’s plan for human beings to be healthy. He also gave instructions to the Jews about rest for the environment, especially for the land for growing crops on. In Exodus chapter 23 verses 10 – 11 the Bible says:

‘Plant and harvest your crops for six years, but let the land rest and lie fallow during the seventh year. Then let the poor among you harvest any volunteer crop that may come up. Leave the rest for the animals to eat. The same applies to your vineyards and olive groves.’

In times of warfare, instructions were given to conserve fruit trees. In Deuteronomy chapter 20 verse 19 the Bible says:

‘When you are besieging a town and the war drags on, do not destroy the trees. Eat the fruit, but do not cut down the trees. They are not enemies that need to be attacked!’

And it was especially emphasised that animals should be cared for. In Proverbs chapter 12 verse 10 the Bible says:

‘The Godly are concerned for the welfare of their animals.’

and in Deuteronomy chapter 25 verse 4 it says:

‘Do not keep an ox from eating as it treads out the grain.’

When the Jews disobeyed or were disloyal to God, his prophets (messengers inspired to make clear God’s thoughts in situations) often pointed out that disasters had come or would come. Joel was one; in Joel chapter 1 verses 11 – 12 of the Bible he said:

‘Despair, all you farmers! Wail, all you vine growers! Weep, because the wheat and barley – yes, all the field crops – are ruined. The grapevines and the fig trees have all withered. The pomegranate trees, palm trees, and apple trees – yes, all the fruit trees – have dried up. All joy has dried up with them.’

Warning: The Greening Of The Church: When Ecology Replaces Theology –  is Christ the Savior fast becoming Christ the environmental activist?

Some websites to look at:

http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk/

http://www.operationnoah.org/

http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/environment.html

http://www.creationcare.org/

http://www.cornwallalliance.org/

http://www.shrinkingthefootprint.org/

http://creation.com/global-warming-facts-and-myths

http://countercultureconservative.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/the-greening-of-the-church-when-ecology-replaces-theology/

Salt of the Earth

Life Group Introduction – 9th May 2012

This group is Titled “Salt of the Earth”

There are certain circumstances for which there are very definite guidelines in the Bible.

  • Abortion – No – Thou Shalt not kill
  • Euthanasia – No – Thou shalt not kill
  • Living together – No – marriage is ordained of God and sex outside of that context is called fornication
But there are many more social, political and economic situations for which there are not clear and definite guidelines in Scripture. 

Jesus calls us Salt and Light

Matthew 5:13-14

13 “You are the salt of the earth.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Colossians 4 v 5-6

 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

 Traditionally we confine these verses to our Christian walk, the way we behave and spreading the good news of Christ

But – our Christian lives are “all encompassing” – everything we do, everything we say, everywhere we go – should be affected by the Gospel of Christ and by the instruction in the word of God.

We should have a Christian (or Biblical) view on how we do our job, how we interact with society and on how we should influence society.

Many of the great social reformers were Godly men and women, Wilberforce who played a key role in abolishing the slave trade is a prime example of this. Without people like this being the salt of the earth who knows what state this world would be in now. As we spread our Christian influence we hold in check the powers of darkness who would only seek to destroy and devour.

We are called to love all men, to have compassion on them, and to act according to our faith.

Therefore, by extension, we need to know what our Christian response is to the many issues which present themselves to us today, financial crisis, global warming, Trade Unions and industrial action, should a Christian join the forces, what about pop music, am I sinning if I break the speed limit –  are some of the immediate ones which come to mind.

How many times did the Pharisees come to Jesus with questions – trying to trip him up, – the widow who married her late husband’s brother, should we pay taxes to Ceaser etc – Jesus always have an answer – not just any answer, but a wise answer

The next 8 weeks (intro, 8 weeks, party) will be a mixture of debate, bible study, discussion and head scratching,

Why – because we may not be able to find direct and clear answers to every question that we ask.

Many questions are not directly addressed in scripture – for example – Trade Unions and Industrial Action BUT I believe that scripture gives us a set of principles to live by and that we should search the scriptures and pray for guidance & direction to know the will of God in any given situation.

WARNING

2 Tim 2 v 23 – Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.

 2 verses – which will guide us over the next few weeks:

Romans 12

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is(F)—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Micah 6 v 8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justlyand to love mercy
and to walk humblywith your God.