Imparting a classical education at home. Check out the Edwards Academy.

Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Creation Care: A Worthy Cause?

Kansas History Students, go directly to the Kansas History post by clicking "Kansas History: Native Americans in Kansas" in the Blog Archive at right.

Fifteen years ago I was a student at Wheaton College and our nation was in the midst of a Presidential election. But for students at Wheaton, it was a bit of a snooze. Sure, some were energized by politics but it was a quiet fall semester on campus by my recollection. Today the situation is very different. My recent Wheaton alumni magazine chronicles the rise of student activism with tales of anti-war “die-ins,” panel discussions on pacifism, Solidarity Week (“raising awareness of white privilege and challenging the ways people think about race”), and the rise of the creation care movement.

Pledging to care for God’s creation is not a new concept among believers, but today’s creation care movement looks like environmentalism repackaged to be palatable to evangelicals. As climate change becomes undeniable (although the cause is bitterly debated, see link to article by S. Fred Singer) the idea of "creation care" is gaining traction, and not just with students in search of a cause.

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal ran a front-page article reporting that “creation care” and views on a Christian response to global warming are splitting evangelicals, even in Texas. “America’s Christians are divided on basic questions: How serious is [global warming], what causes it, and what should mankind do about it?” Texas Baptists are arguing the issue as coal-fired power plants are debated in local politics. One the one hand, some feel that Christians have a responsibility that dates back to Genesis 2 to care for God’s creation. This responsibility requires a Christian in good conscience to do all he can to conserve energy, reduce his carbon footprint, and carry this conviction to the political arena. In the other hand, others are convinced that this sort of political environmentalism is off message, a dangerous distraction from the central evangelical call: spreading the Gospel.

Something deeper is going on. Consider this quote from the Journal article:

“The split is also a struggle between generations, says the Rev. Benjamin Cole, a 31-year-old Baptist preacher from Texas. A blogger on Southern Baptist affairs, Mr. Cole says some younger evangelicals are tiring of lock-step loyalty to the Republican Party. ‘We wake up each morning and see an elephant on the pillow next to us,’ he says.”

After evangelicals were credited with tipping the 2004 election in the favor of George W. Bush, most evangelicals were in high spirits. But the situation appears to be changing. Confusion on the war, the economy, and the environment are rising just as a new pragmatism informs evangelical thinking on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. More evangelicals, especially young people, seem to have concluded that the political process is the wrong place to carry out moral arguments. The Bible, these might argue, teaches that we cannot achieve morality (righteousness) apart from the blood of Jesus, so why bother trying to enforce morality on an unbelieving generation?

If this conclusion motivates evangelicals to redouble their commitment to spreading the Gospel and the hope that Jesus gives us, then I say “amen!” But if Christians see creation care as the new moral cause, then I worry they are letting people like Al Gore set their agenda. (Mr. Gore famously declares the environment the chief moral issue of our time.)

What does this mean for home schoolers like me committed to integrating our Christian faith into a classical education? First of all, I’m saddened to see Bible-believing Christians energized into activism by creation care but bored with more basic issues such as parental rights. As the Home School Legal Defense Association has documented, Democrats such as Hilary Clinton are committed to increasing the rights of the state over children, boldly encroaching on the right of parents to influence their children’s thinking. Increasingly the elite of America is concluding that parents do not know best and that raising a child to believe in the God of the Bible is a form of abuse.

Secondly, careful thinkers approach the issue of the environment soberly and unemotionally. In a recent issue of Imprimis (from Hillsdale College, not a Christian institution) S. Fred Singer carefully explains the climate change debate (see link at right) and argues for a rational response to global warming—a response that properly prioritizes the needs of people. Conservation is wise and prudent; draconian carbon reduction measures that harm global economies simply have disregard for humanity. (Mr. Singer does not speak from a Biblical worldview, but Christians should also let their thinking be informed by the knowledge that humans alone are the image-bearers of God. No creation care movement that elevates the needs of nature—even animals—over people worldwide can be reconciled with a Biblical worldview.)

My children, at ages 7, 5 and 1, are not ready to think abstractly about these issues. But I am praying that by studying history in the classical way they will be equipped to think deeply and wisely about these issues when they do wrestle with them. It is very trendy to talk of “thinking critically” but the classical education acknowledges that critical thinking is not possible unless it is well informed. So now, in the grammar stage years, I am doing what I can to pack their minds with the stories of history so that they are equipped to take a very long view of the world around them. With a worldview anchored in the Bible and placed in the context of global history, I hope they can identify the futile thinking that arises from the very short-term thinking that is so prevalent in our nation.

As an aside, we are all for conservation! But we are motivated more economically than politically, or even theologically. We drive a big SUV not because of an in-your-face attitude to greenies but because our family of six needs the room. I hope that Christians not convinced by the political creation care movement (which describes me) will not cut off our noses to spite our faces! Conservation is prudent and disagreement with Al Gore and the like shouldn't compel us to waste energy simply in rebellion.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that the Bible teaches that we are stewards of what God has entrusted to us. This is not a conservative/liberal issue. It is an issue of obedience.

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