When I was in 3rd grade, our class received a little sticker of the earth from my teacher. Printed in yellow words under the earth were the words “ecology.” I put that sticker on the cover of my red notebook next to the peace sign that I had drawn there. It was 1968. The hippie revolution was in full stride. Forty years later the notebook is gone, the earth is still around, and we could all use a little peace. But revolution? The hippies are all gray-haired now and the only thing organic about them is their Buckeye cards and the mold growing on their beaded buckskin jackets.
Most of them are not growing natural gardens in Woodstock, NY, nor sitting around in circles discussing Socialism and saying, “That’s heavy…man” (although “That’s heavy” does describe America in 2011— that is another story for another time). No, most of the old hippies went on to become accountants, store owners, Amway salesmen, professors and teachers, car dealers, and worse yet, politicians. But their desire for revolution lives on, and there are several new ones to choose from. Social Justice and Green Religion is the soup du jour of our times.
Wait a minute. Religion? Most activists today are way beyond religion, marinating in their post-Christian, Darwin-enlightened modern sensibilities. To modern man God is a nuisance, if not outright bad. We won’t be needing any of that religion stuff, thank you very much.
Thus it is with tremendous irony that the Green Revolution has become a religious movement to end all of them. Let’s examine some of the doctrines of this hazardous new religion, and you can decide for yourself.
First, there is salvation. We must save the world, and in the process we save ourselves. We don’t have to build a tower (see Babel); all we have to do is build a case for environmental supremacy and maybe plant a garden. Don’t need a Savior on a cross? You can be your own savior, and what can be more revolutionary than that?
Sin. Mowing your lawn is a sin. “But the grass grows back...!!” you exclaim. No, I’m talking about the mower! It has an engine. That engine has something worse than a gun – an exhaust system. Its bullets are carbon and each cycle of combustion fires into the atmosphere a deadly pestilence. But you live in an apartment and don’t even have a lawnmower, you say! Not so fast. All have sinned. Do you own a car? I thought so. “Well I don’t have one anymore says Grandma ‘Peterson’ from Denmark, and I ride the bus everywhere I go.” That’s better, but there’s still one unrepentant sin clinging to your life like a green sea vine wrapped around your left ankle. You are breathing. Breathing releases C02 into the fragile atmosphere and C02 is a sin! Like all sin, it must be repented of to avoid destruction and that brings us to the next doctrine.
Forgiveness. You can be forgiven for causing carbon to the earth if you use spiral light bulbs, ride your bicycle, drive a Prius, plant a tree, turn off your AC and use one square of toilet paper per sitting. But if you do all that and like the rich young ruler, green guilt drives you to your master, there is one overmastering trip to Mecca to cleanse your soul. The pinnacle of indulgences, and the envy of Johann Tetzel himself, is the mighty Carbon Credit. With it, you can purchase “peace that is of this world” and cover a multitude of carbon.
Saints. Al Gore, John Muir, Rachel Carson, Paul Ehrlich, James Lovelock, Arnie Næss, Robert Bullard, Fritjof Capra and other faces are carved into the Green Revolution wall, representing a chosen line of prophets sent to warn us. We might not be worthy, but we are guilty of environmental sin and we must turn from our ways or perish. Speaking of prophets.
Prophecy. “The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind” (Nigel Calder, 1969). “By 1999 the U.S. population will have declined to 22.6 million” (Paul Ehrich, 1968).
April 2008, Ted Turner (on not taking drastic action to correct global warming), “Not doing it will be catastrophic. We’ll be eight degrees hotter in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow! Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals.” [Strictly speaking, this is not a failed prediction. It won't be until at least 2041 that our church-going and pie-baking neighbors come after us for their noonday meal. But the prophecy is so bizarre that I include it here]. However, the grand prize for Green prophecy in the 21st century has already been claimed by Al Gore. His insistence that the earth will fry, that the seas will rise and that life as we know it must undergo a "wrenching transformation" will be studied by our grandchildren with the same appreciation that Ehrlich's ridiculous prophecies deserve. They will ask, “What on earth were these people thinking..?” (pardon the pun).
Outreach. Activism is the new evangelism as “church leaders” seek to hitch environmentalism to Christianity. At his Nobel Prize acceptance speech Al Gore said, “We have everything we need to get started, except for political will. But political will is a renewable resource. So let us renew it, say together: We have a purpose. We are many. For this purpose we will rise and we will act.” Quite a sermon, isn’t it? 2002 Campaigns like “What would Jesus drive” are designed to bring conviction to the masses and make them feel guilty about driving cars. And from the top seminary in the world pours a steady stream of documentaries, outreach movies, and indoctrinating innuendo. No we’re not talking about Moody, Andrews, or Wycliffe Hall. We’re talking about Hollywood. Let the sins of the tired, poor and huddled masses be greenwashed away. “There is wonder-working power in the planet..”
Temperance. “Do not drink.” Gasoline that is. In fact, wean yourself off of petroleum of all kinds before it’s eternally too late. Petroleum will break up your family, give you a hangover, and lead to all kinds of diseases. So control yourself Sir, and drop the addiction to incandescent light bulbs, Sport Utility Vehicles, and plastic Walmart bags. However…while cutting back on toilet paper to demonstrate your love for the Green Revolution may sound like earthly righteousness, it could lead to a brown uprising. Please be careful.
Conclusion. If you are one of the many folks who have become disillusioned with Christianity in this sweeping era of modern doubt, you have an option, a green one. It offers its own answers to life’s existential questions, origins, morality, meaning and salvation. But here is a much-needed warning.
A Christian is one who wants to find out and do what pleases the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 5:10). One can therefore distinguish a Christian movement by the willing hearted resolve to submit to the demands of Scripture. Since so much of the church has exalted feeling or action over the Word of God, it should come as no surprise that significant parts of the Christian church are caught up in the environmentalist movement. Rather than being fools for Christ, they are useful idiots of the Green Revolution, well-meaning but infatuated sycophants. Thus it is common to see advertisements of Jesus as the Marxist, organic-vegetable-eating hemp-wearing, pro-choice, Prius-driving, flag-hating hippie.
Now, false religion is a double edged sword: it is equally dangerous to claim Jesus as a Neo-con, flesh-eating, flag-waving, gun-toting, truck driving, gay-hating redneck. The religion of the Bible, the Christian religion is edgy and demanding. It is a religion of power yet not a power religion. In fact, it is much more than a religion. It is a generous display of the transformational power of God through the preaching of the gospel of Jesus the Christ. It is love amidst hatred, it is life from death, it is peace apart from this world. Thus a major problem with the Green Revolution is not so much that it is a revolutionary movement, but that environmentalism is insufficiently revolutionary. It cannot purify the heart. Church leaders who seek to hitch environmentalism to Christianity are but dirty fleas riding God’s dog.
To quote George Mardsen, “The lines between Christian and non-Christian morality are becoming increasingly blurred, but not because unbelievers are embracing truth." The Green Revolution is only too happy to plow with God’s heifer, especially if she is willing. But whether motivated by power lust or the hungry soul’s cry for salvation, or both—whatever the case may be—the Green Revolution is the bastard child of spiritual polygamy."
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever.”
Come let us reason together, though your sins be red, and your deceptions green, you can be as white as snow. There is hope for you and me in Christ alone.