Friday, November 12, 2010

Bad theology kills

"U.S. Representative John Shimkus, possible future chairman of the Congressional committee that deals with energy and its attendant environmental concerns, believes that climate change should not concern us since God has already promised not to destroy the Earth."

Cathal Kelly, "God will save us from climate change: US Representative".

You can watch his relevant comments here, where he claims: "The earth will end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood."

God may have promised to Noah that "never again would there be a flood to destroy the earth", but he made no such promise to thwart our ongoing (and increasingly successful) attempt to undermine the conditions for stable human civilisation through our hubris and greed. The Noah account in Genesis doesn't promise no more floods, not even no future floods that wipe out cities or bring down societies, far less that God will prevent us from causing floods through our own shortsightedness, just that "all flesh" will not be cut off by a flood again. Representative Shimkus has misread the passage, perhaps through failing to distinguish different kinds of threats. A flood (or other threat) doesn't need to cut off all flesh or to be "the end of the world" for it to be worth serious policy consideration.

Sloppy exegesis and an escapist eschatology are here linked directly to deadly politics. Bad theology kills.


Evan said...

Even setting aside the fact that different threats are presented... let's grant for a moment that the promise to Noah is relevant... that's still no justification for apathy! God promises many things concerning the future of the Church, but we don't just sit and wait for them to happen- the whole point is that we work in hope within the promises of God towards the faithful fulfillment of them. Surely all of these born-again evangelical politicians don't fail to advocated for political issues they find important or to offer a witness of the Gospel simply because God promises that his word will not return void. The same principle is in place here, even if we were to grant that the promise to Noah is completely relevant.

byron smith said...

Yes indeed! This is another excellent point - he assumes that God and human agency are in direct competition.