Climate Change And Scripture
I thank the Nashville News for allowing us the space to continue the dialogue which began a few weeks ago when Mr Don Burr proposed a few thoughts about suffering, healing, and Scripture. The topic has now turned to climate change.
In his letter to the editor Mr Burr asks essentially two questions: Should pastors inform themselves about climate change, and should they add their voices to that of Pope Francis in asking governments to address climate change?
Mr Burr mentions earlier that pastors have a captive audience at least once each week and do carry quite a bit of influence with those who come to worship the Lord Jesus. This is true. And it is precisely this reason that should lead pastors to be extra cautious about what they preach and teach.
Christian pastors are called to preach Christ crucified (I Corinthians 2:2) and the whole counsel of God (Matthew 28:20). We are not at liberty to pick up the banner of each new scientific or political doctrine that crosses our path. Where the Bible speaks, I speak. Where it is silent, I am silent.
If we do not preach Christ, then who will? If I take time to promote saving the world from climate change will scientists start reading and teaching the Bible? Of course not. I propose we allow scientists and pastors to do their own unique work.
That being said, there are certainly times when these two vocations cross paths. Concerns for the environment are evident in Scripture. God created this world. He owns it. We are merely His stewards. All Christians should be concerned to be good stewards, not abusive or wasteful gluttons.
The Word of God does not, however, advocate for one certain view on global warming specifically or climate change in general. That will be left up to the conscience of the individual believer. These issues are massively complicated and although there is a general consensus now, there are, as Mr Burr admits, numerous “contrary opinions”.
One thing is certain: this world will end when God says it is ready to end. He created it. He shall renew it when His time has come in full. Until then we are grappling with scientific and political agendas that are complicated, far more complicated than can be addressed by clergy who are not scientists or politicians.
So, should pastors be informed? Certainly. They should know about the issues and encourage other Christians to also do their best in understanding these. Most importantly, however, they need to be immersed in God’s Word, for that is what they are called to preach.
And should pastors join the Pope in urging governments to take decisive action to stop global warming? As clergy, no, for the Scriptures do not push us to advocate such a position. As individual citizens, however, each is free to make up his own mind and vote accordingly.
Joshua W Theilen
Trinity Lutheran Church and School