Category Archives: Creation Care

Israel and the Rest of the Middle East Might be Uninhabitable by the End of the Century

The last seven years have been the hottest on the record. The situation is the worst for the Middle East, which is heating up twice as fast as the world average.

mid east uninhabitable

More and more researchers now believe that the Middle East will become largely uninhabitable by the end of the century if powerful political measures do not put an end to climate change.

And that includes Israel.

The Israeli parliament The Knesset recently declared climate change a national security threat. Galit Cohen, Director-General of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said: “We are in a Hot Spot that will be hit hard, and parts of the country can become uninhabitable areas.”

heat mid est

Civilization originally arose in the Middle East, but now it might disappear from the region. The waves of refugees we see today are tiny  compared to the hundreds of millions of climate refugees that the coming decades risk bringing with them.

Isn’t it ironic that many evangelicals claim to care deeply about the nation and people of Israel, yet ignore how climate change might destroy the nation and people of Israel? A survey from 2014 showed that white evangelicals in the US are the least likely to be concerned over climate change.

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There is no biblical reason for this. The Bible never says that climate change isn’t real or should not be prevented. The only reason white evangelicals think like this is that they view allegiance to the Republican party as important, which in turn has been highly influenced by science denial promoted by the fossil fuel industry with millions of dollars.

And so in a disturbing twist of fate, many evangelicals support extremist politicians like Donald Trump or Jair Bolsonaro claiming that they are “pro-Israel”, when in fact their policies might be what ultimately destroys Israel as a nation. Once again. these words written by Jeremiah 2,600 years ago, might be sung in Jerusalem:

“The old men are no longer gathered in the city gate, and the young men’s music has ceased. Joy is gone from our hearts, our dance has turned to sorrow … Mount Zion lies desolate, jackals roam about there. But you, Lord, reign forever “Your throne is from generation to generation.” (Lamentations 5)

But not on our watch. The good news is that the catastrophic scenario of an empty Middle East is still preventable, given that we manage to adjust our lifestyle and our communities to sustainability and a fossil-free reality during the coming eight years. We need help to do this – from each other and from God.

There is still time to act, so let’s act!

Micael Grenholm is a Swedish pastor, author, and editor for PCPJ.

ska%cc%88rmavbild-2017-01-06-kl-21-17-02Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!

The Best Thing You Can Do for the Climate is Probably the Opposite of What You Think

What is the most effective thing you can do as an individual to counteract climate change? According to a new opinion poll from Kantar Public, most westerners don’t know the true answer. Not only that – they believe the exact opposite of what is true.

According to residents of ten western countries, including the United States, Germany, and Sweden, recycling is the most common answer to what is “very important” for improving the climate, while reduced consumption and reduced meat consumption are the least common answers. Even reduced car use and flying were rarely described as very important by the respondents.

This is almost as if most people would walk around thinking that the most effective thing they can do to cross the Atlantic Ocean is to travel with a bamboo raft.

Four years ago, a study was published at Lund University that showed which individual life choices lead to the greatest reduction in one’s greenhouse gas emissions. It states that a year’s plant-free diet free of animal products is four times more efficient than recycling, refraining from a single transatlantic flight is eight times more efficient and living car-free for a year is eleven times more efficient.

Recycling may be useful, but it can certainly not be classified as the most important climate measure. Why then do most westerners claim that this is the case? Lobbying from the meat, car and aerospace industries is, of course, a culprit in the drama, as is the political rhetoric that, for fear of losing votes, often unscientifically insists that we maintain our food and transport habits.

But the study from Kantar also showed that an important factor is convenience. 74 percent of those surveyed said they were “proud” of what they are already doing for the climate—which I guess includes a lot of recycling. Instead of finding out what actually saves lives, you tell yourself and others that what you are already doing is the best possible.

We often assume that people first become convinced of things on an intellectual level, and then adapt their lifestyle accordingly. Sometimes it is so – I myself became an environmental activist after I had read about the state of the world in books – but it is at least as common that our opinions are adapted to how we live and what social contexts we belong to.

No wonder Jesus insisted that his disciples follow him, rather than just believing on a theoretical level.

Of course, opinion formation still has an important role to play, especially when it is now so clear that even many who are not climate threat deniers believe in ill-founded myths. But people need to be doers of the word, not just hearers, to quote the letter of James.

What is needed are communities where plant-based diets and car-free lives are as common and natural as recycling cardboard packaging. Research shows that people find it much easier to change their lifestyle when they do it in groups.

Here, the churches have a fantastic opportunity to step forward as such norm-changing communities. Just imagine what would happen if the world’s two billion Christians decided to live sustainably tomorrow.

Climate change would literally be over in just a day. So what are we waiting for?

Micael Grenholm is editor and contributor for PCPJ.

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Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!

Humanity’s Sin Against the Animals

By Greg Boyd, originally published on his blog ReKnew.

While the mustard seed of the Kingdom has been planted, it obviously hasn’t yet taken over the entire garden (Matt 13:31-42). We continue to live in an oppressed, corrupted world. We live in the tension between the “already” and the “not yet.”

Not only this, but we who are the appointed landlords of God’s earth continue to live in rebellion against God and abuse our God-given authority over the earth. Our first mandate included taking care of the earth and animals, and I’m convinced this continues to be a foundational benchmark for how we’re doing as a human race. Unfortunately, this benchmark suggests we aren’t doing well at all.

For example, it’s well known that the welfare of the earth’s ecosystem significantly depends on tropical rain forests. Yet we are currently cutting down an area of tropical forest the size of Greece each year. Some estimate that up to 80% of the earth’s rain forests have already been lost, the majority in the last 100 years.

So too our apathy toward the environment as well as toward the suffering of the poor is largely to blame for the current clean-water crisis humanity faces. All told, approximately 10 million people die each year because their water is unclean.

Our care for animals is even more dismal than our care for the land, in my estimation. Largely due to our poor stewardship, thousands of species of animals have already become extinct or are being pushed to the brink of extinction. According to most experts, the population of over half of all animal species are in decline. Some estimate that in the next 30 years as many as one-fifth of all species living today will become extinct.

But in my opinion, the single most telling piece of evidence that shows how poorly we’re manifesting our call to care for animals is the creation of factory farms. More than 26 billion animals each year are forced to live in miserable, over-crowded warehouses, where there is absolutely nothing natural about their existence and where they are subjected to barbaric, painful, industrial procedures.

We are falling far short of the benchmark, and we, the earth, and animals are suffering as a result.

Being a follower of Jesus gives us no special wisdom to resolve the complex issues that we face regarding how we care for the earth and animals. The answers of the Kingdom are not found in voting one way or another, in boycotting certain industries, or various other activist approaches.

While I’m not opposed to these activities, followers of Jesus are called to live in a way that reflects God’s original design for human dominion while revolting against everything that is incongruous with this design. Regardless of what scientific or political opinions may be in vogue, our call remains the same. We’re to manifest God’s care for the earth and demonstrate God’s merciful love toward animals.

This means that we must think critically about things like the energy we consume, the water we use and the waste we throw away. It means we must be informed about the effects our lifestyle choices—and eating choices—have on the earth and on animals.

Insofar as it is possible, we’re to manifest—in the present—the harmonious relation between God, humans, animals, and the earth that will characterize the cosmos when the Kingdom is fully come. This is a fundamental aspect of what it means to be part of a Kingdom that manifests the beauty of God’s original design for creation while revolting against everything that corrupts it.

—Adapted from The Myth of a Christian Religion, pages 148-151.

Greg Boyd is an internationally recognized theologian, preacher, teacher, apologist, and author. He has been featured in the New York Times, The Charlie Rose Show, CNN, National Public Radio, the BBC, and numerous other television and radio venues.

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Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!

A Call to Post-Trump America: Make the Environment Great Again

by Elias Kruger, originally published at the AI Theology blog.

As electors have cast their vote, we can breathe a sigh of relief: Donald J Trump is no longer president of the United States. Let that sink in! I honestly believe that even those who supported the president will not miss his conduct in the office, his tantrums, and undignified tweets. They may miss his policies but most will gladly dispense with his destructive personality.

The last four years have been a long whirlwind of chaos that I hope our nation never returns to. Just not having to deal with his tweets and the consequent media outrage surrounding it has been refreshing. Moreover, we can celebrate that civility is returning to the White House.

My main hope is that a Biden presidency can make politics boring again unlike the intrusive disruption it was in our lives for the last four years. With that said, this cannot be an invitation for disengagement as the work is far from complete. Let us not repeat the mistakes of 2009-2010 when an Obama presidency was quickly undermined by losses in the mid-term elections. While the electorate sat back, radical factions of the right woke up and mobilized. Their efforts would eventually bear fruit in the election of 45. A vacuum of a common cause that unites that country will invite a resurgence of irrational populism.

Continue reading A Call to Post-Trump America: Make the Environment Great Again

These Stats Show Why White Evangelicals Support Trump – While Black Evangelicals Don’t

People often ask me: “Why do so many evangelical Christians support Trump?” . It’s a good question. What is with having a high view of Scripture that leads people to celebrate someone who in so many ways doesn’t sound and act like Jesus?

What many people tend to forget is that while 70-80 percent of white evangelicals support Trump, only 20 percent of black evangelicals – that is, African Americans with evangelical beliefs – do the same.

The difference between these groups is not their view of Scripture: they all see it as the authoritative Word of God. Something else is going on here. Let’s look at some statistics to find out!

Continue reading These Stats Show Why White Evangelicals Support Trump – While Black Evangelicals Don’t

Viruses, Creation Care and the Problem of Evil

We are at the moment living through a Covid-19 pandemic and many are asking the question why would God allow such a harmful virus and why would he allow so many people to die?  Some Christian preachers are attributing this viral outbreak to our nation’s sin–two in particular but such preachers conveniently ignore other types of sins such as disregard for creation.  Regardless, the preachers seem to be saying that we have this horrible virus because God is punishing us.  But is that what the Bible really teaches and is that really who God is?

I begin with how the Bible speaks of God as LOVE.  In 1 John 4:7-8, we are taught that God is love.  Not that God loves or that God does loving things, but that God is himself love.  I don’t believe God is sending lethal viruses.

God has chosen to partner with human beings

In the beginning of Genesis, God created human beings in God’s image.  As image bearers God gave human beings the task of ruling in the garden.  They were to produce families, food, tend the animals and cultivate the garden and co-work with God in creative ways.  The first humans were to do this in relationship with God, accepting God’s wisdom, guidance and influence. But as the story goes, human beings were led astray by a deceptive being and found themselves following the wisdom of the serpent.  (The serpent is an image for wisdom in the Ancient Near East).  (Genesis 1-3) Continue reading Viruses, Creation Care and the Problem of Evil

Is Salvation More Important than the Environment?

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

This post was originally published at Just Theology.

When many Pentecostal and charismatic Christians use the word “salvation,” the first image that comes to mind is the gift of personal healing and “coming home” to God that he has made possible through Christ, made known to the believer through the power of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, when the apostle Peter is filled with the Holy Spirit he is able to proclaim, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12 NRSV). The change of life that comes through knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior is the core of our faith. But God’s plan of reconciliation expands beyond individuals, and even beyond human beings. So when we look to the biblical witness, we realize the question, “Is salvation more important than the environment?” actually represents a limited view. A better question is, “Why must salvation include the environment?”

A theology that views the environment as somehow separate from salvation stems from the modern Western temptation toward individualism. Many of us inherited a theology in which “being saved” seems like an entirely private affair. But we must remember that, while salvation through Christ is absolutely personally transformative, that transformation is always intended to be lived outward, in community, for the benefit of all creation. Continue reading Is Salvation More Important than the Environment?

Hillsong Shouldn’t Put Their Trust in Powerful Men

by Jacob Schönning.

This summer it was reported that the Australian liberal prime minister Scott Morrison was welcomend on  stage at a gigantic Hillsong meeting during their annual conference in Sydney.  He led the congregation of 30-35000 people in prayer and confessed his faith in a miracle working God. Andreas Nielsen, lead pastor of Hillsong Sweden, affirmed that the prime minister ”is a devout Christian”. He also said that that ”his participation in the conference is a recognition of the important role that the church in general plays in Australia and that it makes a difference.”

Fantastic, isn’t it?

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I am not so sure about that. On the contrary, I think that it is very dangerous for the soul of the Church in Australia. Last winter Magnus Malm wrote in Swedish Christian newspaper Dagen that God is not on the side of the powerful. In fact God says in Psalms 146,3: ”Never put your trust in powerful men.”  For centuries, Catholic and Orthodox churches have often been close to political power. That was the case when Spanish and Portuguese conquerors went ashore in South America, and it is the same today in countries like Russia and Poland. Continue reading Hillsong Shouldn’t Put Their Trust in Powerful Men

Four Reasons Why Pentecostals Should Join #FridaysForFuture

I don’t know if you noticed, but last Friday the biggest climate protest in history occurred, with millions of people in 185 countries marching for climate action and global justice. This is all part of the #FridaysForFuture movement which started not more than a year ago when Swedish student Greta Thunberg went on a “school strike” every Friday to tell her politicians that they don’t do enough to stop climate change.

And that was just a warm-up. This Friday, September 27th, there will be an even bigger global strike.

Spirit-filled Christians might wonder if this is something for them. Should they care? Is FFF really in line with God’s will, or could it be the opposite – a preparation for the Antichrist?!

I assure you that there’s no need to worry, and I deeply recommend that you as a Pentecostal or Charismatic do join the FFF efforts of protesting against climate inaction. Here’s why: Continue reading Four Reasons Why Pentecostals Should Join #FridaysForFuture

Climate Change, the Extinction of Humanity and the Second Coming of Christ

For many years my primary motivation for engaging in creation care and climate activism has been the fact that environmental destruction in general kills millions of people already and that climate change in particular will most likely kill off hundreds of millions of people in the near future.

Since killing people is bad, according to Jesus’ ethics, we should care for creation and stop heating up the climate. In fact, some scientists have suggested that all of humanity will be extinct because of climate change. That is, not only will people die in Bangladesh or New York, but every single one of us might die because of this inconvenient market failure caused by industrialism and greed.

Of course, not all scientists are saying that we will become extinct because of this. While it is universally acknowledged that many other species will be terminated just as we have already killed off half of the world’s animals since 1970, and that humans are already dying because of climate change, whether we will commit communal suicide through our carbon emissions is not as clear.

But they can’t rule it out. One of the scariest phenomena in climate research is called feedback loops, which basically means that a warmer planet will start to heat up even faster compared to what it does in the climate we have today. For example, a smaller arctic will lead to less reflection of sunlight back into space, and a melting tundra will release giant pockets of methane in the atmosphere, which is a greenhouse gas.

These feedbacks may come to a point where global warming is unstoppable, to the extent that even if we stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, Earth will eventually become like Venus.

Nothing can live on Venus. Hence, the existence of groups like the Extinction Rebellion. Continue reading Climate Change, the Extinction of Humanity and the Second Coming of Christ