Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The greatest moral issue of our time?

A post from a few weeks ago continues to generate some discussion after Gordon asked me a question, which he has recently rephrased like this (my answer follows):

But are you then saying that if it turns out that if anthropogenically induced climate change turns out not to be as serious as first thought, or even turns out to be a furphy, the basic shape of your Christianity would remain unchanged?
Yes.

By the way, I don't think climate change is the #1 moral issue of our time; that issue remains whether we will follow Christ or anti-Christ, seek life or death, serve neighbour or self, worship God or the devil. I don't even think it is the greatest environmental problem faced by humanity, which is idolatry. Not so much idolatry of the created environment in Gaia-worship (though there are a small minority for whom this is an issue), but plain old Mammon. The Christian response to environmental degradation is not to buy a hybrid, but to repent of consumerism, the desire for comfort at the expense of others, the belief that the world is there as my supermarket and garbage bin. And then to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (and possibly to eat fruit in keeping with repentance too, but that is for another post).

8 comments:

Gordon Cheng said...

Thanks Byron. I'll think some more.

The Christian response to environmental degradation is not to buy a hybrid, but to repent of consumerism, the desire for comfort at the expense of others, the belief that the world is there as my supermarket and garbage bin.

It could be to buy a hybrid. But it's hard to argue with the rest of what you say here. In fact, it's hard to think of anyone who would! Though practice may differ from theory.

Drew said...

Your post with the Williams quote on the materiality of the gospel complements this thought out nicely.

byron smith said...

Gordon - Yes, buying a hybrid could be a small part of a Christian response. I guess I meant that it is not simply that. It is not merely a matter of making a few lifestyle adjustments to the periphery of our existence, but like all the deep problems in the world, it requires a deep solution. Repentance is not itself the solution, but it is a sign of faith and hope in the God who will make all things new.

Drew - ah, always comple/imentary!

Sam Norton said...

Hi Byron - totally with you on this, just wondered if you'd had a chance to read my stuff making the same sort of point (here).

byron smith said...

Sam - I must admit, I hadn't (I'd seen your Let Us Be Human series and loved the title, but the long posts (and long series) meant I have kept putting off reading them). But I now have (at least the one to which you linked) - thanks! You make some good points. I have now renewed my intention to read the rest of the series. :-)

Sam Norton said...

Hi Byron - I'm in the process of turning it into a book, which may well be out by Easter (self-published) but most of the interesting stuff is already there.

Sam Norton said...

he he, good to be reminded of this post - and the fact that 2.5 years later I still haven't _quite_ finished turning my material into a book!!

byron smith said...

These things nearly always take longer than expected. :-)