Thursday, October 16, 2008

Christian Hug a Tree Week

Never in the history of Christianity has it been so chic as it is today for Christians to leave the pews and join a cause; check out,click on the partners tab, and take note of how many Christian organizations have partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and others to fight social injustices. Our Generation is perhaps rivaled only by the Social Gospel movement of the late 19th and early 20th century. But there is a stark difference between the movements of this generation and that one: (1) today, the call to social action is mostly preached and propagated by evangelicals, not liberal theologians, and (2) that call has seeped into the consciousness of the elite intellectual as well as the average guy in the pew. Whether it be AIDS, world hunger, poverty, genocide in Darfur, teen depression, child advocacy, or the environment, Christians are engaging society and striving to transform it in the name of Christ by forming their own agencies or joining secular ones. I see all this as a good thing. But sometimes I worry that, as was the case for the Social Gospel movement, we may let the cause overshadow the reason we joined the cause in the first place--to show and share Christ.

In keeping up with these trends, HarperOne publishing released its latest spiritual blockbuster this week, The Green Bible (TGB). TGB is simply the New Revised Standard Version, bound in a linen cover and printed on 10% recycled paper. Those passages that relate to an environmental consciousness have been highlighted in a soy-based green ink. TGB has been well publicized and cleverly marketed. I don't think it does any good to question motivations when they pruport to be honorable on the surface, but I can't help but think that a good deal of money stands to be made with the publishing of TGB. There are many issues that regarding the publishing of this Bible that I would like to comment on, but an able-minded seminary president has already made most of them. Check out Albert Mohler's discussion of TGB from his daily radio program by clicking the following link: Albert Mohler on the Green Bible
Feel free to skip the first 11 minutes and 30 seconds, and please keep in mind that The commentator is solely responsible for the content in his program. Access to this link on is not an indication of
my endorsement of the statemets made, either expressed or implied, and does not imply culpability on the part of the author of Further.... Ah, forget it... : )

In my view, unless you want TGB for a collectors item and you already own a bible, save yourself 30 bucks by picking up a concordance and consulting the entries for "earth," "land," "creation," "cedars," "sheep," etc. Then, grab a nature themed devotional and a trail guide and you're on your way. The great thing will be that Georgia Pacific saved another tree, because you decided not to buy TGB--made of %90 new paper. Although, HarperOne, if you're reading and you're thinking about the publication of a yellow letter bible that promotes the awareness of any number of social ills, I'd like to get in on the action.

All sarcasm aside, it was about 10 years ago at Florida Christian College, as I sat in an applied ethics class, taught by Dr. Michael Chambers, when I heard the following statement (or something like it) for the first time: "As Christians, we ought to be environmentalists." Obviously, Dr. Chambers was not suggesting that we join Greenpeace or even start our own radical environmental activist group. He was simply reminding us that concern, care, and appreciation for the earth--and everything in it--is a God-given responsibility (Gen 1:28; Ps 24:1-2). Having grown up in the church, the fact that I was 20 years old (20+10= sigh) before I ever heard such a statement is a testament to the fact that TGB meets a need in our congregations. I'm not saying that you need to purchase TGB, but I am saying that we need to change people's perception that all Christians drive SUVs and want to build strip malls on open spaces. The world should see that Christians are responsible stewards of God's creation.

So, if you haven't done so already, go hug a tree before you do your devotions tonight :)


-g said...

well said friend. I mentioned this social gospel movement in my sermon 2 weeks ago- the week b4 black friday. yeah i think these are exciting times as the pendulum seems to be swinging back from a half gospel- and we need to hold it in the middle- not letting swing back to the social gospel, and not focusing only on evangelizing the soul- but a full gospel. We are participating in the advent conspiracy- if you haven't yet- check it out

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