It was widely reported last week that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presented new research that says we humans have just over decade to change the way we consume energy or the detrimental effects will be irreversible. In an era where apocalyptic-style news is commonplace, this story has not received the space that it is due.
Indeed, we must ask ourselves some questions. First, why do so many people of faith, particularly Pentecostals, continue to refute the reality of climate change? Second, do we have a moral obligation to fix the ecological problem that we created? And third, what can we, as individuals, even do?
1 Climate Change
According to surveys, disbelief in climate change rose 7% between 2013 and 2014, and for those that can at least acknowledge that temperatures and sea levels are rising, white Evangelicals are the least likely among their Christian sisters and brothers to claim that it has anything to do with human activity.
We Christians believe that God is the creator of the world. In Genesis 1:28, God gives mankind the original plan for our existence – to be fruitful and multiply – but also to have dominion and stewardship over the animals and the earth that God has given to us. God is generous in character and by nature good, and He made us free and responsible. So what? How should we humans then steward the earth?
An analogy that for me has become a symbol for the lack of stewardship is the deprivation of the blue whale population. The blue whale is the largest creature that we have seen and identified on the earth, even larger than the largestknown dinosaur. Yet they are so shy that whenever they see humans, they dive into the depths of the sea. Also, we don’t know where they give birth or really much about them.
In the beginning of the twentieth century there were 400,000 blue whales in the ocean, but today there are only 10,000 left because of whale hunting. Yes, species have always gone extinct, but today the extinction rate is a thousand times faster than before the time of man. Within the freedom that we have been given, these things are possible, but they are not responsible. Might these be examples of mankind straying away from our original purpose?Continue reading Why Are We To Choose Between Healing the Sick and Caring for the Environment?→
You thought that we had enough wars, hunger, and diseases. You thought that the current refugee crisis was big. You thought that natural disasters were too severe already.
Well, you were wrong.
The recent IPCC report cannot be taken lightly. It is based on 6,000 scientific studies and has received input from 40,000 peer-reviews. This is the scientific consensus. It’s time we stop getting distracted by climate change deniers and face the facts.
And the facts are that we are heading right into enormous environmental disasters that will kill and hurt hundreds of millions of people.
There is still time to change course, but it has to be done immediately. The modern, Western lifestyle is doomed. Either we choose to abandon it, or we will be forced to do so when the climate crisis hits. Many are confused as they are not sure how they ought to live in order to reduce their ecological impact on others.
I was raised to love nature. My mother was always gardening and foraging. My father was always taking us hiking and teaching us about wildlife and the outdoors. My mother is now a certified herbalist. One of my brothers is a horticulturist at a renowned botanical garden in the southeast. My sister volunteers with animal rescues. And my husband and I have a little homestead of our own. Creation Care is deeply embedded in my family and our values.
For me, though, the passion I have for caring for nature and the creation around me goes beyond just having an appreciation for the beauty it holds. My passion comes from how fully and wonderfully creation declares the glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How the vastness of creation is too much for our mortal minds to fully comprehend, and then to know that God is infinitely more vast than even that. To see the astonishing beauty around me and know that my Father did that is indescribable.
Rick Joyner is Executive Director of MorningStar Ministries and a prophetic minister who has cooperated with various charismatic churches. He has in a recent Facebook video stated that “serious judgment is coming upon our media”, that “Trump has a divine purpose” and that nobody will be able to put him out of office because of that, and in yet another video claimed that Black Lives Matter is a hate group of the worst order and that the rise of white supremacy in America is Barack Obama’s fault.
These comments led Rick’s daughter, Anna Jane Joyner, to post a Facebook video of her own where she in tears apologized to her African American friends and promised to stand by their side:
[People like my father have] in the last couple of weeks not stood up for what Jesus stood for, and are perpetuating some very dangerous and hurtful narratives and ideas. I wish I could change it. I’m trying my best.
I just want you to know that you aren’t alone, and that I hear you… I’m absolutely standing with you in this very serious sort of battle for the soul of our country.
A new study from Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies in Sweden has identified the four most efficient things one can do to reduce one’s greenhouse gas emissions. For us who have studied environmental issues they aren’t surprising, but for the general public they might come as a shock since most environmental organizations tend to emphasize other, less efficient actions when calling for a transition to a greener society. The four actions are:
1. Going Vegan
Eating a plant-based diet instead of a meaty one will save you approximately 0.8 tonnes of CO2-equivalents every year. That’s four times more than what you save if you always recycle, and eight times more than changing your lightbulbs to energy efficient ones. In fact, UN studies have shown that the meat and dairy industry account for 18 % of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is why the UN Environmental Program has urged the global population to eat more vegan food.
Trump didn’t kill the Paris agreement. The media did, by not talking about it since it was signed in 2015. We can’t rely on crazy politicians in order to save the lives of the millions that will be affected by climate disruptions, we have to start living simply and sustainably pronto and stop portraying wealth as a virtue.
Watch the video above. /Micael Grenholm, editor for pcpj.org.
Micael Grenholm is editor for Pax Pneuma. Having studied theology as well as peace and development studies in Uppsala, Sweden, Micael Grenholm’s passion is to combine charismatic spirituality with activism for peace and justice. Apart from editing the Pax Pneuma website he vlogs for the YouTube channel Holy Spirit Activism and is active with evangelism and apologetics both locally and online.
Let us end this series with some conclusions and concerns. Pentecostals have notably matured since they began. They have the potential to do great things in societies. If they become aware and reflect more on ecological matters, they could be a strong agent of influence and change. This is a long process that has already begun. What would happen if we mix radical morality, poverty and exploitation experience, political holiness, ecological concern, and spirit-baptized human strength focused on the problem of creation as a spirit-baptized one?
Let’s see some aspects in which this possible new Pentecostal LatinAmerican Eco theology ethics could engage. Some global ecological issues we can name are, for instance, carbon dioxide emissions, creating a renewable energy future and the social cost of energy. In the first place, Pentecostals can do a great influence calling for carbon equity policies by requesting the creation of jobs while demanding a decrease in the impact of air pollution, an improvement in economic conditions and climate resiliency for the poor. The most polluted cities in the region like Bogotá, Lima, Santiago, Montevideo and Cochabamba, are part of countries with a strong Pentecostal presence and big national churches must take part in this discussion to work on fighting against pollution.
In another way, if Pentecostals develop a larger and stronger reflection about ecology, would it be possible for them to discuss to invest 5% of their investments into climate solutions to end energy poverty with clean energy? It is one of the most important questions regarding the economic power that different Pentecostal denominations have reached. In the present, Pentecostals are near to 13% of total population (560 million people) in Latin America. In all countries it is possible to find big national churches that are economically strong. If leadership of these organizations assumes a commitment with energy ethics, they not only could mobilize thousands and thousands of believers but a lot of economic resources to work in climate solutions and clean energy. Continue reading Pentecostal Strategies for Saving the Environment→
My third and last step is the thought of Aaron Jason Swoboda, North-American Pentecostal theologian. He begins to notice the fact that Pentecostal academy, churches and publications have been “Eco-theologically quiet”. However, he finds that there are four major strands that have contributed to a social Pentecostal theology: charismatic social theology, liberation theologies, eschatological social justice and African creation spiritualties. As we have chosen liberation theologies as a source, we will continue with the concept from which Swoboda has articulated his Pentecostal Eco theology: Spirit-baptized creation.
Swoboda’s account is relevant for us in two senses. First, he maintains the idea of creation—earth—as the residence of the Spirit, as the Spirit “fills all things” (Eph. 4:10). Second, he maintains the idea that a person baptized in the Holy Spirit is empowered to “care for, protect and defend the earth” (p. 285). In his perspective, as in the beginning, the baptism in the Holy Spirit was a way for bringing peace among all races, according to the view of black leader of Azusa Street revival William Seymour: the core of the action of the Spirit is love. Being so, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and an understanding of creation as a sacred work of God, would bring out a love for creation, and consequently, an ecological ethic. Continue reading Spirit-Baptized Creation→