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Climate change: The only way forward is in partnership, says Welby

Climate change: The only way forward is in partnership, says Welby
The ABC ignores the Fall, the universality of sin 'far as the curse is found'

By David W. Virtue, DD
November 11, 2021

"We are rightly fearful of climate change. It is the biggest threat we face; ignored, it will become our fate," says Justin Welby at a COP26 conference of global leaders discussing climate change.

But climate change is not the biggest threat we face. The biggest threat we face is ignoring Christ crucified and fearing climate change. When we stand before God at the Last Judgment, we won't be asked why we sold our gas guzzling Chrysler for an electric Fiat. We will be asked what we did with his Son our Savior.

The only way forward is in partnership, says Welby. "Earlier this year, Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and I issued a joint statement for the first time ever between those holding these three offices, urging people to come together and 'choose life' (Deuteronomy 30:19) in obedience to God's command -- for the planet and for future generations."

To "choose life" is to choose Jesus, who gives us new life and who is the light of the world. The climate is always changing. Furthermore, the effects of climate change are not the same in all parts of the world. The planet's average temperature has risen a little more than 1°C since the start of the industrial era, one report I read indicated.

As Christian columnist Dominey Jenner noted; "For, even if the worst-case scenario of the climate change prophets is realised, and we all die from extreme heat or under an extra two inches of water, we will still ultimately face the judgment seat of Christ."

Since the Fall of our original parents in the Garden of Eden and sin entered into the world, we have had climate change. When God beheld the corruption of the earth, He determined to destroy it. God wiped out the world, saving only Noah and his family (Genesis 5:29). I can't imagine this did not have a profound effect on the earth and climate change.

A capricious God? Nope. A God who no longer tolerated corruption and sin and the failure of the peoples at that time to repent, brought down His judgment and wrath. Many Christians think He is doing exactly that today in an increasingly woke, decadent West.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is a convert to the climate change cult. He has been enticed by Greta more than he has been listening to Jesus. We are told that in this world we would have tribulation, we would suffer and so would the planet, "far as the curse is found".

We find the curse in Genesis, chapter 3. After Eve has eaten of the forbidden tree, and then Adam also ate, and after they found themselves facing God in the reality of their sin, God first cursed the serpent and then nature. Climate change was a given.

The Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."

The reversal of the curse is promised in the coming of the Messiah and the fulfillment of his atoning work. Implicit in the third verse of Isaac Watts famous hymn is the promise of the new creation. But it won't come signing ecumenical statements, which are soon forgotten.

Welby thinks that mere mortals can change things; that we are the solution. He imagines that "we can make it happen. It is within our grasp". But is it? The Christian gospel says otherwise. We are burdened by our sinful natures; our capacity to sin and destruction is written into the warp and woof of our very beings. Look at the wars we start and where millions die. We drop atomic bombs and Chernobyl haunts a nation.

Steeped as he is in good Christian theology, Justin Welby rightly understands that the world needs to be remade. He knows that, "nature was subject to frustration" upon the first act of disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Welby is not wrong to note the need "to build a new world that leads to the flourishing of all beings and Creation," writes Jenner.

But his solution is sub-biblical and he is not consistent. He has invited nearly 1,000 bishops and their wives and partners to Canterbury next year, most of whom will arrive in planes that are one of the major sources of global pollution. Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of the greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change. In fact, if the entire aviation sector were a country, it would be one of the top 10 carbon-polluting nations on the planet! Why not Zoom the whole thing!

The Bible is very clear that only Christ can make it happen. He's the only one qualified to reverse the effects of sin on our world, for He's the only one to have defeated sin and death. Christ crucified is absolutely key to any vision of a world remade. Frankly, to imagine ourselves as alternative saviours is risible, writes Jenner.

Does this mean that Christians should not care for the environment? Are we nihilists about the environment? Indeed not. I belong to the Evangelical Environmental Network which argues that, biblically understood, "the environment" is actually part of God's creation, of which human beings are also a part. So why should we care for all of God's creation?

Because Christ died to reconcile all of creation to God (Col. 1:20).
All of creation belongs to Jesus (Col. 1:16; Ps. 24:1).
It fulfills the Great Commandments to love God and love what God loves. (It's hard to love a child with asthma when you're filling her lungs with pollution.)
Pollution hurts the poor the most, and Christians are called to care for the poor and the less powerful (Mt. 25:37-40).
Thus, caring for all of creation provides a Christian with the deepest sense of joy and contentment since it is part of loving God. We call this "creation-care."

We have been commanded to "fill the Earth and subdue it". We have been given the role of stewards and, since Creation is the theatre of God's glory, we would wish to see it thrive.

But we are subject to human limitations. We certainly can't usher in a "new heaven and a new Earth". It is only Christ who proclaims: "Behold, I make all things new."

The reality is, we can no more save our planet than we can save ourselves. The gospel of Greta is a false gospel. The message of Christ crucified is, indeed, our only hope. It is why the apostle Paul "resolved to know nothing ... except Jesus Christ and him crucified". Christ's victory over sin is declared to extend "far as the curse is found."

We are not permitted to dilute the message of the gospel that saves sinners. The church has been entrusted with the message of God's saving grace. The deeper truth is for the world to hear from Christian pulpits Christ crucified, not climate change.


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