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Monday, July 20, 2009

Does Christianity Contribute to the Destruction of the Earth?

Although I keep telling myself that blogging is just something I do when I am bored I do find myself frequently checking my stats to see if I’ve had any visitors. A normal person would do this once a day but I’m not exactly normal and find that not checking my email for more than 2 hours at a time is tantamount to not using the bathroom, I start hopping about on one foot with crossed legs until I get the fix of having read an email or a comment from someone...

Well, I finally got my wish...

This one chap wrote to me several days ago and asked the following question:

I'm interested in your view on Christianity's role within the Western capitalist system. As the major religion in the most wasteful society the world has ever known, surely Christianity is playing a role in the destruction of the earth, God's wondrous creation, through its endorsement of this way of life?


I wrote back saying I would chew on it a while and as I chewed I realized quickly that I was biting down on something very unfamiliar, tasty and interesting but even so, I had no idea what I was eating! After all, I’m just a guy who watches movies for a living, who has failed University twice and only barely scraped through my last year of High School with a passing grade because I was trying to impress a girl!


Nevertheless, I will try to offer a few thoughts even though I’m concerned I might be a bit stretched to reach the right answer. It is my hope that some of my Christian counterparts reading this may be able to throw in a few comments of their own after reading? Hint hint!

I don’t really understand Capitalism beyond the fact that I live in a Western Culture where they say we are capitalists! In the Capitalist system, according to Wikipedia, “...most trade, industry and the means of production (capital) is privately controlled and operated for a profit[1][2][3] The means of production (also known as capital), are owned, operated, and traded for the purpose of generating profits for private owners”... I won’t swim deeper than that for fear of drowning! In any case I already see a problem as far as Christianity is concerned – there is too much room in this particular system for those individuals who control these enterprises for greed and corruption! However the system emerged, I imagine, in the Christian west, particularly in America in its early days when Sunday School was still the “in” thing, your average Joe knew the Ten Commandments and Amazing Grace was still charting in the top ten. I’m wondering if in a true Christian Society Capitalism would work because if the individuals running the show were true Christ Centered individuals then they would also remember Christ’s words – “Whatever you have done for one of the least of these, my brethren, you did for me...” (Matt 25 v 40) so the sense of social responsibility would overcome a tendency towards corruption... however this has not been the case because no matter how “Christian” someone is they are still human beings with crooked hearts.

I’m interested that my reader has suggested that Christianity has endorsed this way of life. I feel that I need to make a distinction here. Christians may have endorsed this system throughout its history but as far as Christianity itself is concerned it ain’t necessarily so!

First of all Christianity is NOT a religion and in case you thought I said it wasn’t a religion you were right – it isn’t. A faith? Yes. A system? Yes. A religion? No. Absolutely not. It is so fundamentally not a religion that it goes with the old saying of the Devil – the greatest thing he ever did was convince the world that he does not exist... the second greatest was fool the world into mistaking God’s plan of redemption as a “Major World Religion”.

There are books on this subject but in a nut shell Christianity is not a religion because it is the only belief system that says emphatically that Humans can not reach God, Utopia, Heaven or Paradise by themselves, that it took God himself coming down to Earth as a man to suffer on the cross and pay for our sins. Secondly it is the only so called “path” where its founder came back from the dead and said – “I told you so!” Religion is man attempting to reach God by being good and obeying man made rules. Christianity is actually reaching God by accepting we can not do so without Christ’s Sacrifice on the cross.

However through some church traditions and nominal believers we have many Christians who are very religious! I’m wary of those guys. At any point, if a person in the church or if an entire denomination starts proclaiming you have to wear a suit, or that jeans are bad, you must tithe ten percent, cut your hair, wash your face, clean behind your ears, have ten kids or whatever to be a Christian they are gravely mistaken and they have blocked the main artery to the heart of Christianity and that is the person of Jesus Christ.

Understanding that Real Biblical Christianity is wrapped up and intertwined with the Savior of the World, let’s have a look at what he did in his life time and see if he personally contributed to the destruction of God’s wonderful creation....

1. The Virgin birth – not being a direct descendant of Adam he did not come with the sinful or destructive nature which is common to the human race, ergo he was perfect. This would later be necessary for his being the perfect replacement for the human race when he became sin on the cross. Jesus added – he did not destroy.

2. His first real followers were tradies. He used normal people to do great things. He turned Peter, a simple smelly and passionate fisherman into a compassionate pillar of the Christian faith which has changed the lives of millions since those days. Jesus added – he did not destroy...

3. He had the power to turn five loaves and two fishes into enough food to feed more than five thousand people on two separate occasions. He did not use this power to make money for himself or his followers but gave it willingly and instructed his disciples to pass the remainder on to the poor. Jesus added – he did not destroy.

4. Christ’s sermon on the mount painted an incredible picture of the truth that it was not man’s actions that made him good or bad but it was his motives and the intents of his evil heart that made us inherently evil but concluded that if we obeyed his words it would be like standing on a rock, so no matter what life threw at you, one could still stand up. He points out that not listening to his words led to a foundationless life in quick sand – again Jesus added, he did not destroy.

5. Interestingly he exhorts his followers not to worry about their lives as God feeds his children the same way that he feeds his birds! He instructs his followers not to worry about tomorrow but to “seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be given to you...” (Matt 6v33)... this does not sound like an endorsement for capitalism to me... interesting. Once more he added...

6. Jesus Christ controlled the elements when he calmed the storm on the lake causing his disciples to ask “What kind of man is this?” I will venture to say he is the sort of man who can and will control climate change! Jesus added!

7. Jesus heals the sick. He did not ask for their health insurance details. He did not force them into quarantine. He did not vaccinate, euthanize or amputate. He did not care if it was paralysis or leprosy or a shriveled hand or whatever, He did not ask them to full out forms – he healed them. An interesting point here is that in so doing he enabled potentially thousands of people to go on and live normal healthy lives. Think of the implication – those people went on to have children that otherwise might not have existed were they left to die from their ailments! Those children went on to have families of their own, those families built whole communities which throughout the centuries equated to millions of people who would not exist today had Christ not shown compassion to their ancestors. Jesus added.

8. He raised the dead.

9. He revealed much about the afterlife that was never previously understood.

10. He drove out demons, reveling much about the supernatural that was not previously understood!

11. He taught his disciples that to be great, to truly be the best, you must be a servant (doesn’t sound very capitalist to me...)

12. He condemned divorce and child abuse!

13. He prophesied the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, with the greatest detail, while simultaneously saying there would be a temple in the last days (go to youtube and type in third temple, its trippy.) In fact he revealed much about the “end of the age” which is becoming more apparent today, especially that in the last days many would turn away from the faith. (Matt 24)

14. Here’s a man with the power and Heavenly authority to call down twelve legions of angels and yet he let the mob arrest him and take him to a kangaroo court which led to his crucifixion. He gave himself up willingly – for us!

15. He came back from the dead.

And as the apostle John wrote, he did so many things that were they written down there would be no room for all the books that were written. (Paraphrased from John 21v25)

I write the above points to illustrate that although Christians make mistakes or find themselves supporting a corrupt economic system or government or whatever – the point is Jesus was none of these things. He was not a politician or a revolutionary. He was not an economist. He was not a capitalist or a communist – He was concerned only with the redemption of the Human race and eventually of God’s wonderful creation itself.

This is a key point. The Bible promises a time when The Messiah will return to this earth and rain for a thousand years. Then and only then will we have a perfect society because “He will send out his angels and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil”. So before you judge Christianity for the destruction of the earth please go back and reflect on Isaiah 11 vs 6 when:

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling [a] together;
and a little child will lead them.

In other words, things are going to be pretty sweet. The way they were always meant to be.

The West is no longer Christian. Prayer has been removed from Schools. The Bible is no longer sworn on exclusively in courts. People laugh at the notion of God creating the earth in six days or deny the historical fact of Christ’s life death and resurrection. I don’t think we can really say that Christianity is to blame for today’s current state of affairs, politically or economically, individual Christians perhaps, but not Christ’s Christianity.

... but if you must then let me remind you of a bumper sticker I once saw and found myself chuckling at – it read “Jesus, save us from your followers”. I laughed because it was kind of true. The church is full of many many crazy nut cases, but for every one of them I could show you a person in a salvation army suit feeding homeless people, or a nurse in some African country who has given up her life and friends to serve others, or a Doctor who treats cataracts in Fiji – for free, or a Christian who gives money to his church each week so that that church can feed a poor family for another week, or a guy who used to be a member of the Klu Klux Klan but is now a preacher in a mostly black church, or a guy like me who suffered from clinical depression for six years before making a decision to serve Christ and has never sunk so low since...

...my point is that many of us are born into societies that support an economic or political system that may or may not be the right one, but all of us are called not to be revolutionaries but rather to serve Christ as best as we can within that system – because at the end of my 2,356 word essay it all comes down to Christ. He is the rock that will “crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever” (Daniel 2 v 44,45)

Jesus is the one who can answer this question far better than I ever could – just by looking at his life and understanding that true Christ Centered Christianity has nothing to do with the religious attitudes or ideas of a bunch of people who call themselves Christians.

I have a great sense of concern regarding my lack of adequacy in answering this question, but I hope I was able to cast some light on even the smallest part of the question mark! I fear that I am much too stupidly oriented to discuss things like economics, politics and other advanced social concerns but I can promise you this, and a man smart enough to write such a question in the first place can find for himself, that the Bible is a complex book which details God’s plan for the redemption and restoration of all things, it is the Capital letter at the start of the answer and the full stop when all is said and done.




Finally for no reason other than its 4:30 in the morning and I happen to like this artist very much here is yet another Christian who I believe contributes a great deal to the renewal of this Earth through his music - thanks Shane!



6 comments:

  1. like your work on this one kerin, honest, full of passion and humour.

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  2. Thanks Amanda, really appreciate the feed back!

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  3. Moved me to tears...
    I once heard an amazing woman of God say "I did not go to Bible college to learn to preach and teach the word I graduated from the school of the holy spirit" Joyce Meyer...
    You don't need to have a high school or college degree to write what you wrote, you do need passion and a relationship with Jesus which you have both.. You are and inspiration K don't ever stop writing or I'll have to kill you lol... : ) Mwah...

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  4. Well thought out and eloquent answer to a difficult question (trap?). My favorite two sentences which succinctly communicate what the church needs to continually hear: "Religion is man attempting to reach God by being good and obeying man made rules. Christianity is actually reaching God by accepting we can not do so without Christ’s Sacrifice on the cross." Keep up the great work

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  5. Thanks mate, At first I too had thought the guy who wrote the question might have been trying to lure me into a corner but as it turned out he was actually quite genuine and really seemed to appreciate my efforts... thanks again for readig!

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