Fear

snake oil salesman

I admit it … I’m not even sorry about it … I am not in the least bit concerned about “carbon pollution” (a term used 21 times in Obama’s most recent speech about his environmental concerns).  Nor am I concerned at all about things like shale oil fracturing (fracking), not enough recycling being done, emissions from automobiles or power plants, coal production/use, the shifting of rivers to create reservoirs/hydroelectricity, or the danger of plastic shopping bags overwhelming our landfills and scattering themselves across the Al-Gore-prophesied dystopian wasteland.

I find all of these fears increasingly laborious and boring – products of hucksters and hypocrites more intent on power-grabs through fear mongering than any actual concern for truth or the health and well-being of the public.

But sadly these tactics work; which is in itself a damning commentary on the human condition without Christ.  And yes, by saying that I am definitely declaring that a person without Christ is much more likely to fall for snake oil sales pitches like the latest in the series of environmental panics.  There are two very important and connected reasons for this too:  1) life with Christ centers, aligns and settles a person’s vision of the world and truth; and 2) life with Christ produces a boldness that keeps the transient, worldly fears at bay.

C.S. Lewis points out in the first book of his classic Mere Christianity, that the prerequisite to, indeed the evidence for, belief in God is the ‘law of nature.’  What Lewis makes abundantly clear in this section – and is a point which aligns itself with Psalm 19:1 and Romans 1 – is that a person can come to the conclusion that God exists and that He is a just god simply by viewing the order in creation and the moral code internally present (written on our hearts) in everyone.  This doesn’t mean that we are naturally good.  In fact, it almost means the opposite since our conscience simultaneously accuses us or defends us (Rom 2:15).

Admittedly, this is a long way to go back in the argument that a relationship with Christ aligns a person’s view of truth.  But the reason I do so is because of the inescapable conclusion that if one accepts the fact that God is the source of all truth (indeed the source of all things) then it becomes easy to see what is a lie through its juxtaposition against God.  The creation, as well as our conscience, ‘accuses’ the un-truth of the world and breaks down the barrier to understanding.

The power of this innate understanding is multiplied exponentially with a boldness in the face of present circumstances.  Reading further into Romans, Paul points out that, “if we are children [of God], then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory” (Rom 8:17, NIV).  Talk about boldness!  To even think that we could be considered adopted children of God is pure cheek, but to then claim that we are heirs, even co-heirs with Christ, is the height of audacity.  But what does this audacious claim mean in our current discussion?  It means no less than that the co-heirs with Christ have nothing to fear within the physical realm as the suffering we endure has already been suffered by Jesus.

If the physical realm is in fact fear-free for the heirs of God, it makes perfect sense that the more truth-focused (through the acknowledgement of the ‘law of nature’) person is going to be much less concerned with the bogeymen of the disingenuous power-mongers who peddle their wares on fear.  And as I’ve already categorized environmental fears as being nothing more than the product of liars and hypocrites, it seems that those who fall for them are to be pitied … but also fought against too.

I feel very bad for those who have nothing more than their irrational fears – I sympathize with them completely.  However the sympathy I feel is nothing in comparison to the anger that comes over me at the lies to which they subscribe.  I can look the other way slightly when it comes to the purely mistaken, and sometimes well-meaning, environmental dupe.  But I cannot sacrifice truth for the sake of a few hurt feelings.  Nor can I overlook promises of security and a future from the Creator God in place of concerns about and calls for what is 1) inconclusive (at best) in scientific studies, 2) used as a ploy to delegitimize the hard work and investments of honest people, 3) employs policies and regulations which impoverishes whole countries and communities, 4) preys on the worst fears of the populace, and 5) undermines the power, wisdom and foresight of the Creator God in the first place.

With all of this is mind, it’s completely understandable and even to be expected that Paul continued his thoughts in Romans 8 with, “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the One who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God” (vv. 19-21).

This is a passage which may not directly apply to environmental concerns, but it speaks eloquently about a ‘bondage to decay’ which creation is experiencing – through the power of man’s sin and by the allowance of God.  I take this to almost be a direct reference to the Second Law of Thermodynamics – which is applicable to everything natural – and illustrates that all things are breaking down, moving from order to disorder, from newness to ‘decay.’  The creation groans with the expectation of renewal, a ‘[liberation] from its bondage’, when it will be baptized in fire and regenerated into the earth God always intended … free from the effects of sin.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t believe that we humans have the ability to effect massive environmental change on the planet.  Everything which we could have done, has already been done through the sin of Adam and Eve.  But I do believe that it is because of us that entropic forces hold sway.  Our sin has interrupted God’s original plan and sent the world spiraling into chaos.  It will have to wait until the final day for the renewal of creation, and it will require the power, wisdom and foresight of God to be completed.

For very apparent reasons, the people who most often call for environmental regulation and industrial destabilization are the very people who most discount God and His control in the world.  Believing God to be unknown, unknowable and even uninteresting, the result is hubris unmatched; an arrogance which says that man can personally effect his, and the planet’s, salvation through more wise policy, regulation and draconian oversight.  Ironically, the people who least want to acknowledge even a need for religion have fashioned for themselves a legalistic system of beliefs more wanton in its reckless plunge toward spiritual destruction than the religious order they so decry.

Let it be known that only God can effect global change … first through the renewal of the heart and mind, then through the renewal of creation on that last day.

The final thought on which I will end this installment of Deus Vincit is a simple one which I have shared with a lot of friends and family over the years.  But the thought speaks to and sums up all that I have written above.  If God is alive, if He created all things and if He has had a plan from the beginning, how can we then doubt that the world will continue until His sovereign will is complete?

All praises be to the God who created and now upholds all things in His mighty hand.  Power, glory and honor are His from everlasting to everlasting.

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