Green Bible, Greener Faith?
By Mitiku Adisu
The environment is now the rage. The way things are going, a Christian in Butajira, Ethiopia, would think it must be the dawn of Creation in America. Of the Green Bible (GB), where references to land, sky, rivers, etc. are in green letters, it is commented,
This is the book we've been waiting for.
Essential for anyone interested in a biblical basis for humane and sustainable living (how about a quick translation for poor Africans?)
The GB is a unique treasure—the Sierra Club (a secular, political-environmental group) is another.
This is quite a contrast to thirty years ago. Thirty years ago, Ron Sider's Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (1977, IVP) provoked such a strong reaction that some called him a "closet socialist"(which even in a post-Cold War world is a serious indictment). Earlier (1970), the late Francis Schaeffer wrote Pollution and the Death of Man, and few cared to even listen to him. Schaeffer was like a prophet of old, "crying in the desert." Listen to him.
"If God treats the tree like a tree, the machine like a machine, and the man like a man, shouldn't I, as a fellow-creature, do the same - treating each thing in integrity in its own order? And for the highest reason: because I love God - I love the One who has made it! Loving the Lover who has made it, I have respect for the thing He has made ...The man who believes things are there only by chance cannot give things a real intrinsic value. But for the Christian, there is an intrinsic value. The value of a thing is not in itself autonomously, but because God made it. It deserves this respect as something which was created by God, as man himself has been created by God." [Chapter 4]
How have evangelicals fared in terms of race relations? in terms of personal ethics? How have evangelical churches conducted themselves before the watching world? We doubt if green letters could achieve what the practice of discipleship has not. Somehow, one senses this desire for instant sanctification: change the form, content will follow or "Red letter" Christians turn Christ-centered, and so on.
Books extolling the virtues of environmentalism are flooding the market as fast as one can glimpse the titles. Our Father's World; Holy Ground; Serve God, Save the Planet; A Green Faith and so on. Publishers and green pastors are busy promoting it. Foreign language translations, audio, and DVD versions generally follow. Nothing wrong here. The problem is that such activities often end up diverting our attention from listening to the Bible to listening to "sought-after speakers and authors'. That is to say, before new issues come up. This could not be what "walking by faith' is about.
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