Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Green Gospel

In a local, Courier-Journal article, Peter Smith writes about a new Bible being produced by HarperOne called "The Green Bible." This Bible has words and phrases concerning environmentalism or the earth highlighted in green letters. It also includes articles about environmentalism. The producers of the Bible are aiming it at a wide range of people; Christians and non-Christians alike. The author of its introduction, Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth, is a former Doctor who gave up a lucrative career to "serve God [and] save the planet."

In light of my recent article "Venus Flytraps Poised for Oblivion," which deals with similar subject matter, one might think that I would emphatically embrace this Bible. That is not necessarily the case. I welcome it as far as it brings people who do not know the Scriptures in contact with them, if even in a cursory way. As for its overtly ecological theme, however, I find it anachronistic and inappropriate. It is anachronistic in that it takes an issue from our day, that is already little informed by Scripture and not a major theme of Scripture, and places it upon the texts. It is inappropriate because the Scriptures are singularly focused on God's working out of his salvation plan for humanity, not trees.

Ultimately this Bible is not valued for its view of God, but because of its "wow-factor" of trendiness. It is printed on recycled paper and with soy-based inks. Those things are great, and I wish more books were printed that way, but by highlighting fringe ecological texts, there is a necessary shift of focus away from God's glory and onto human-centered concepts.

I agree completely with Dr. Sleeth's conclusion; "that caring for the Earth is 'not an option, it's a commandment[,]'" but how he arrives there is questionable and the priority placed upon it is wrong. What is even more dismaying is the vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) labeling Sleeth a "prophet" for his views. What is Sleeth the prophet of: God's will or a human cause? In light of the whole of Scripture, we will see it is the latter. The Old Testament had a specific "reward" for false prophets. . . What these people fail to see is that, while good, being an ecological steward is, figuratively speaking, number seventeen on the list. Rightly worshiping God as he has revealed himself to be; that's number one.


C. Mackenzie said...

I think your viewpoint on this is refreshing, so I'm leaving my mark on your blog. This trend of weaving worldly causes and ideals into the fundamental fabrics of scripture is ominous and dangerous how ever benevolent the intention. It is exponentially more so when "certified" as the Word by leadership whose primary responsibility (in my opinion) is to protect the translation of scripture from this very thing. Anyway, that's my 2 cents. And with all due respect, Mr. Cizik, if you're looking for prophets, I think it's safe to say that you're barking up the wrong tree. How's that for Green. And you can put that in your pipe and smoke it. Sorry I couldn't resist.

Steven Douglas said...

Thanks, C.

Yes, I think we are in agreement here. Also, I think you might like to know about Shai Linne's Lyrical Theology. His blog is here, Enjoy!