The letter from Mr. Pierce regarding the article “Is God Green?” in the August 2007 Lutheran Witness asked an important question: “Just how green can we be and still remain Christians?” Christians who are concerned about the condition of creation need to exercise some caution, lest they succumb to ideas which, even if they seem to have theological foundations, distort the relationship between Creator and creation.
I am not persuaded, however, that “to believe in global warming, we must assume that man alone is responsible for this…problem.”
Global warming should be a measurable phenomenon. I understand that the data are susceptible, it appears, to explanations which both confirm and deny that global warming is occurring. But I don’t think that Christians should found their environmental concern on any one symptom, such as global warming.
More important for us who believe in Christ is the matter of human responsibility. I’d like to invite readers of the Witness to consider two proposals:
1. We read the descriptions of Genesis 1 and 2 from a point of view after the Fall (Genesis 3), and with capabilities impaired by it. What we picture about what the world was like, is refracted (bent) because of our sin. We can make conjectures about what the original goodness of creation entailed, but we cannot perceive it exactly. Whatever we think it was like, it was, I believe, better. The same is true as we look to the new heavens and new earth which Scripture promises. Streets of gold and pearly gates stimulate our imaginations, and yet what we can imagine, even with such biblical depictions, is at best, I believe, an approximation of what is to come when we will experience the presence of God in its fullness. Whatever we think it will be like, it will be better.
2. We tend to account fairly well for the destructive effects of sin on our relationship with God and our relationships with each other, but I do not think we recognize adequately the impact of sin on the rest of creation. Pandora’s box is mythological, but it’s also pretty apt. Sin is “sand in the gears” of God’s good creation. We cannot fathom, fully, what we have unleashed on the rest of the world. I think it’s worse than we think. St. Paul says that creation groans (Rom. 8), and I wonder whether that groaning appears not just in polluted air and water, but also in extremes of weather and climate.
The doctrine of creation is not only about God did it versus it just happened. We need to recover a fully formed doctrine of creation, one which explores, as thoroughly as our fallen reason allows, our creatureliness—how we are related to all other creatures, but also how we are uniquely related to the Creator, God. We need an enlarged First Article theology by which, together with strong theologies of the Second and Third Articles, we can answer Mr. Pierce’s question.
William W. Carr, Jr.
Assistant Professor of Exegetical Theology
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
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