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Economics

I started my business for the wrong reasons

Why did you start your business? When people ask me that question, I often respond with, “So I could spend more time with my family while providing for them.” Or, “So I could work part-time while recovering for chemo.” Or, “So I can build up a bank account and get back to my plans for seminary.” They all sounds like noble answers, right? Well, this morning during my devotions, I read a verse that struck a chord. It was Ephesians 4:28:

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.  

Ok, so what does that verse have to do with my running a business?  Well sure, I am not to steal, or be engaged in dishonest things in business, and yes, it says that we are to give to those in need. But what is the thing that struck a chord and made me realize that that “to provide for my family” is the wrong reason? I mean, the Bible does tell us that we are to provide. In 1 Timothy 5:8 we read:

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Jesus has told us to provide for our families. So we must.  But that is not the ultimate reason we work.  As a Christian, saying, “I work to provide for my family” is incomplete and is an unscriptural view of work. We should work, whether it’s at my business, or at your job at the office, or at your job digging a ditch, because working is the Lord’s will concerning us. The thief is to perform honest work and share with those in need, not because he was a thief, not because it is some sort of punishment, but because it is the Lord’s will for all of us! Working is the Lord’s will concerning us. Boom. It’s that simple. As this revelation (one that I am sure I already knew) resounded in my head and my coffee got cold….I remembered 1 Corinthians 10:31:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

We are to live our entire lives to the glory of God. Work…to the glory of God. Rest… to the glory of God. Eat…to the glory of God. Ride that mountain bike…to the glory of God. Drink that beer…to the glory of God. Dig that ditch…to the glory of God! Post that selfie on Instagram…to the glory of…uh. Well, you get my point. Everything we do is to be done for God’s glory. What do most of us actually work for? When I worked at a regular job, most of my colleagues spoke about working towards retirement, saving for a trip, working for the weekend to go on that mountain biking trip, buying beer, working OT to get that renovation on the house, or buying the Big House to keep up with the Jonses. Unfortunately, many Christians view work in exactly the same way.  Many of us are in it for what we get out of it.  Unfortunately, I fell in the trap of viewing work as merely a means to an end. Sure, some of you may argue that we use our work to do things that glorify God. It is true that God may be honored in the results of our work, through tithing, helping the needy...saving so I can go to seminary and become a pastor… even as He may not be supreme in our view of work itself. Is He supreme in your view of work? If I am honest with myself, He has not been my ultimate focus in this business. Starting this business may not have been for his glory; but that changes today. Why do you work?

Ryan Smith blogs at OneChristianDad.com where this first appeared. It is reprinted here with permission.

Assorted

How important is "nothing"?

My Grandmother found me in the pantry of her house and demanded, “What are you doing?” My quick response was nothing. “Oh, you must have been doing something," she said. "No, I wasn’t. I was doing nothing,” I declared. And so goes the process of getting caught with my hand in the cookie jar.

“Nothing” is so easy to say and usually doesn’t mean “Nothing.” I’ve met with multiple Christian leaders heading into retirement. When I ask them what they are going to do next, I get a quizzical look and often the erudite answer, “nothing.” Now sometime it comes out as I don’t know, or I don’t know yet, or I haven’t figured it out, or I’m going to take some time off. Seldom is the answer definitive or part of a new life’s direction. It’s mostly a response suggesting what is being left behind, and not what is ahead. The allure of nothing? Kind of strange, isn’t it, that a large majority claim nothing as their goal in retirement. Instead of a move from success, or even meaningful existence to significance, it's a move from something to nothing. A quick look in Webster’s suggests the following about nothing: not any being or any particular thing, a state of non-existence, worthlessness, or unconsciousness. This eruption of nothing has exploded to the point where January 16 is identified as our National Day of Nothing. If more people were aware of it, less would get done. A lot of nothing for sure. The more or less official description of the goal of the day is to provide Americans with one national day when they can just sit without celebrating, observing or honoring anything. Raise the flag for nothing? No, that would be doing something. I thought I’d see what else I could learn about nothing. In the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon takes about all of man’s desires as meaningless, or nothing compared to the majesty of God. The word is used to describe the lack of value as in Proverbs 13:7 where Solomon again opines, one person pretends to her rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth. Nothing and “naught” are often used to portray the nothing of man compared to the wealth of God. Interestingly, in John 1 Jesus says that without a relationship with him, you can do nothing. Following the logic, if you are doing nothing, you will not have a relationship with him. Not only no relationship but no meaningful action either. So why in our culture, our faith-based culture, have so many bought into the cultural priority of doing nothing in retirement? The allure of making every day a Saturday is certainly there when you have worked at a job for 30 years. But 30 years of Saturdays leaves much to be desired. Made for more than golf Part of the cultural allure, even deception, comes from the desire to escape from work and then tie leisure to value. Thirty years of playing golf won’t bring meaning or purpose to the Christian who realizes that we are called to be faithful for a lifetime. Another subtle meaningless thought is that church, bible study, etc. alone reflects God’s plan for your life. God does have one, you know. And it does not stop when you retire from your job, sell your company, or even leave the pulpit. There is more to be done, perhaps interspersed with a bit of nothing thrown in. But nothing as a goal, as a reflection of God’s plan for the rest of your life? Absolutely not. Here is some encouragement to move beyond nothing. It’s from a 1981 United Technologies Corp. ad that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, likely written by their CEO Harry Gray, who was close to retirement at the time:

Retirement doesn’t have to be a red light. It can be a green light. Othmar Ammann would agree. After he “retired” at age 60, he designed, among other things, the Connecticut and New Jersey Turnpikes; the Pittsburgh Civic Arena; Dulles Airport; the Throgs Neck Bridge; and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

Paul Gauguin “retired” as a successful stockbroker and became a world-famous artist.

Heinrich Schliemann “retired” from business to look for Homer’s legendary city of Troy. He found it.

After Churchill made his mark as a world statesman, he picked up his pen and won the Nobel Prize for Literature at age seventy-nine.

Don’t just go fishing when you retire. Go hunting. Hunt for the chance to do what you’ve always wanted to do. Then go do it!

Shifting gears is different than stopping I had a conversation with a man on the plane. He’d sold his companies 6 years prior. When asked what he’d been doing, he answered, nothing! How is that working out for you? I asked. Not so good. As a matter of fact, I think I’m about at the end of nothing. God did not prepare him for nothing. That’s true for you and me too. Too often we make nothing into all-or-nothing. Either I’m working, or I’m doing nothing. We don’t leave any room for shades of gray. I’m convinced we need to change how we think about the nothing we call retirement. Need to find meaning and purpose. The meaning and purpose God intends for us during these last three stages of life. A comedian used this phrase to define the word “nothing”; “Nothing” is an air-filled balloon with the skin peeled off. A graphic description don’t you agree. Nothing is not anything until we think or reflect on it, then it becomes something. Starting to think about our next life stage of nothing, is important, valuable, encouraging, and yes, exciting. Every little kid has asked, “what are we going to do next?” Their voice is full of anticipation; ours should be to whether we are in our 50s, 70s, or 90s. Here is some accumulated wisdom from those who should know: Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Robert Schuller, “I'd rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.” Helen Keller, “Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” “There is a definite cost to doing nothing.” Edward Livingston And here is the thought that challenges me the most: The hardest work of all is to do nothing. I’d rather be excited about the day, week, and months ahead. How about you? So how important is nothing? Victor Hugo said, “Doing nothing is happiness for children and misery for old men." Stay with us as we journey together. Don’t disturb me either, as I am very busy doing nothing.

Bruce Bruinsma champions the emerging Retirement Reformation Movement along with other key members of the Retirement Reformation Roundtable. The Retirement Reformation Manifesto is an initial step to encourage Christians to radically change the way they think about retirement. For the last 30 years he has given leadership to a financial services firm providing retirement plans to ministers, missionaries, churches, and faith-based organizations. He lives in Colorado Springs with his wife of 56 years, Judy. This is reprinted, with permission, from his blog at www.BruceBruinsma.com.

Science - Creation/Evolution

What you need to know to survive and thrive in your secular science class

If you're heading into a secular university or high school science course, and you're a little intimidated, here's something to remember. It is not just the Bible-believing Christians who base their interpretations of nature on their worldview. So do secular scientists. However, these two groups' worldviews, and their assumptions used in interpreting nature, couldn't be more different. Two different starting assumptions The Christian scientist's most obvious assumption is that God’s work and character are evident in nature. Meanwhile, mainstream scientists assume that God will never be revealed in nature, but only matter and processes. One thing that cannot be overemphasized is how important it is to identify the assumptions used to draw conclusions from a given set of observations. The thing about assumptions is that they are based on the worldview of the expert. On this topic, philosopher of science, David Berlinski remarks in his book, The Devil's Delusion:

“Arguments follow from assumptions, and assumptions follow from beliefs…”

The whole point is that there are no objective scientists. Everyone has starting assumptions. The Christian starting point The Christian naturally confesses that God exists, that He is omnipotent and omniscient and has communicated with us. Nature is God’s handiwork. Thus the Christian confesses that we see testimony to God’s work and character when we look at nature. For example, we read in Psalms 19:1-3:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.”

The apostle Paul points out the importance of this revelation from nature when he quotes the above passage. Thus he writes in Romans 10:17-18:

“So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”

We see God’s works revealed in nature. The secular foundation The secular position contrasts sharply with the Christian view. Mainstream scientists maintain that natural explanations can be found for everything. It isn't just that they don't see evidence of the supernatural, but rather that, from the start, they presume no supernatural input will ever be evident. Different questions lead to different answers With different expectations on the part of secular individuals and some Christians, there is a big difference in the questions asked of natural systems and the answers obtained. For example, suppose that somebody showed you a photograph of an unfamiliar object (for example an alga). If you were to ask that person “How did you make that?” the only possible response would be some sort of process. However, if you were instead to ask “Did you make that?” then the person has the opportunity to reply that he did not make the object, that it is in fact an alga floating in lakes in the summer. Similarly, in our study of nature, it matters what questions we ask. If a scientist asks “How did life come about spontaneously?” Then the only possible answer is a process. They have assumed it must have happened spontaneously, and aren't open to any other explanation. However, if the same scientists were to ask “Could life come about spontaneously?” he now has opened up an opportunity to examine what cells are like and what biochemical processes in cells are like. And then the evidence will show him that life could not have come about spontaneously. He will be able to reach a conclusion he could not have seen if he didn't ask the right sort of question. The answers obtained from the study of nature depend upon what questions are asked. Mainstream science has blinded itself The mainstream scientist approaches the study of nature with a specific agenda. Nature is to be interpreted only in terms of matter, energy, and natural processes, even if the results look ridiculous. A prominent geneticist, Richard Lewontin actually stated this very clearly. In a famous review of a book by Carl Sagan, Dr. Lewontin wrote:

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science…. because we have an a priori commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door” (New York Review of Books January 9, 1997).

What Dr. Lewontin said, was that scientists bias their studies so that only natural explanations will ever be obtained. Secular scientists may restrict what explanations about nature qualify for the term "science" but they cannot at the same time claim that what they are dealing with is truth. For example philosopher of science Del Ratzsch from Calvin College pointed out in 1996 that:

“If nature is not a closed, naturalistic system – that is, if reality does not respect the naturalists’ edict – then the science built around that edict cannot be credited a priori with getting at truth, being self-corrective or anything of the sort.” (The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate. InterVarsity Press. p. 167).

Thus secular scientists, with their expectations of never seeing God in nature, have confined themselves to mechanistic explanations and interpretations. As Dr. Ratzsch remarks: “… materialists have no viable choice but to view the world through evolutionary spectacles of some sort” (p. 197). And concerning the creationists, Dr. Ratzsch remarks:

“… creationists who accept the authority of Scripture and take it to be relevant to issues also will have unique input into their view of the cosmos, its origin and its workings. And there is nothing inherently irrational merely in the holding of such views — at least not on any definition of rational that can plausibly claim to be normative. Some critics will, of course, refuse to grant the honorific title science to the results of such views, but that is at best a mere semantic nicety. If the aim is genuine truth, the mere fact that a system purporting to display that truth does not meet the conditions of some stipulative worldview-laden definition of the term science can hardly carry serious weight” (p. 197).

What better statement could there be to the effect that no one should be intimidated by the pronouncements of mainstream science? Any scientist who claims that science proves that man has descended from chimps has based his conclusion on a biased study of the issues in that it presumes a materialistic worldview. Conservative Christians do not need to be intimidated by such conclusions. Conclusion The nature of the materialistic assumptions and objectives of mainstream science must not discourage Christians from studying science. It is very important to understand how the information content and irreducible complexity of the living cell (among other issues), can really only be understood in terms of creation by a supernatural mind. There are many who want their children to appreciate this and to be able to resist the appeal of mainstream science.

Dr. Margaret Helder is the author of “No Christian Silence on Science.” This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the June 2015 issue of "Creation Science Dialogue," (Create.ab.ca) where it appeared under the title "Surviving advanced courses in Science." It is reprinted here with permission.

Science - Environmental Stewardship, Theology

Global warming crisis? A brief biblical case for skepticism

The media tells us that the question is settled, there is a 97% consensus, and that anyone who has questions is a “denier,” likened to those who are either so foolish, or malicious, as to deny the reality of the Holocaust. But there are reasons to question. And while climate science might be beyond most of us, God has given us another means – a far more reliable means – of discerning truth, via His Word. Gender: the Bible shows the way Sometimes it doesn’t take much Bible study to be able to discern truth from error, and that’s certainly true in today’s gender debate. Young children are being surgically mutilated and hormonally sterilized and yet the government, doctors, psychologists, and media are applauding. While it might not be at 97% yet, the consensus is growing such that fines are being issued, teachers fired, students expelled, and Twitter mobs set loose on any who disagree. Despite the pressure, few Christians are being fooled, though that might be due as much to the newness of the debate as it is that Evangelicals are turning to their Bibles for guidance. But if they do open His Word it won’t take a believer long to figure out God’s position. In Genesis 1:27 we learn it is God, not Man, who determines our gender:

“So God created Man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Population: following the Bible would have saved tens of millions The overpopulation crisis has a longer history to it and, consequently, many more Christians have bought into it. Since the 1950s we’ve been hearing that sometime soon the world’s population will outstrip the planet’s resources. In his 1969 book The Population Bomb Paul Ehrlich warned:

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

You would think that by now it would be easy to see that these overpopulation fears were mistaken. As economist Arthur Brooks has noted, what’s happened is the very opposite of Ehrlich’s dire prediction:

“From the 1970s until today the percentage of people living at starvation’s door has decreased by 80%. Two billion people have been pulled out of starvation-level poverty.”

Yet the overpopulation hysteria has never gone away. And the damage it has done has been on par with that of a Hitler or Stalin – tens of millions have been killed. Under threat of this crisis China implemented their infamous one-child policy, with its fines and forced abortions for couples who tried for two. And the deaths weren’t limited to China; overpopulation fears were used to justify the push for legalized abortion in countries around the world. Murdering your own children wasn’t cold and selfish anymore; now it was a woman doing her part to save the planet. Christians opposed abortion, of course, but some believers started questioning whether overpopulation concerns might be correct. Maybe God’s call to “be fruitful and multiply” and fill the earth (Gen. 1:28) was just a temporary directive that we’ve fulfilled and should now treat as being over and done with. But it takes only a little more digging to find out that’s not what God thinks. Overpopulation proponents saw children as more mouths to find – they saw them as a problem – but God speaks repeatedly of children as a blessing (Ps. 113:9, 127:3-5, Prov. 17:6, Matt. 18:10, John 16:21). And opportunities present themselves when we see children as God sees them. When we understand they are a blessing, then we realize that not only do children come with a mouth that needs filling, but they also have hands that can produce even more than their mouth consumes. And they have a brain to invent and problem solve. When we see children this way – as a blessing and not a curse – then we'll realize there’s a real practical benefit in having lots of them: as we’ve been told, many hands make light work, and two heads are also better than one! That’s why it shouldn’t have surprised Christians when in the 1950s and 60s a group of inventive sorts, led by American Norman Borlaug, helped develop much higher-yielding strains of cereal crops. This “Green Revolution” turned wheat-importing countries into wheat exporting countries by more than doubling yields. And while there are no prophecies in the Bible specifically mentioning Norman Borlaug, Christians could have seen him coming, and in a sense some did. Those who continued having large families, despite the dire predictions, could do so confident that any problems caused by the innumerable nature of their progeny would be solved by something like the Green Revolution happening. Today, decades later, we can look back and see that a country like China, that ignored what God says about children, is facing a different sort of demographic crisis. A young Chinese couple will have two sets of parents and four sets of grandparents to look after and support, but have no siblings or cousins to help them. As soon as 2030 China will see their population start to decline, with not nearly enough working age citizens to provide for their aging population. It’s not all that different in the Western world where, even without government coercion, our families have been shrinking and women are averaging far less than two children each. We aren’t as near the crisis point as China, but by aborting a quarter of the next generation, we’ve created our own coming demographic crisis. Global warming: a biblical case for skepticism The population and gender debates remind us that the Bible is more reliable than any-sized consensus no matter how big. They also teach us that the world can get things not just completely wrong, but monstrously so, leading to the deaths of tens of millions. That’s why when it comes to global warming, where we’re being told once again that the fate of the planet is at stake, we want any and all guidance we can get from God’s Word. Cornelius Van Til once noted:

“The Bible is thought of as authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything. We do not mean that it speaks of football games, of atoms, etc., directly, but we do mean that it speaks of everything either directly or by implication.”

The Bible does speak to global warming, but not directly. This isn’t like the gender debate, which runs smack up against Genesis 1:27 (“male and female He created them”) or the overpopulation crisis, which directly opposes the very next verse (“be fruitful and multiply”). When it comes to global warming the Bible isn’t as direct. But there are lots of implications. Time and space only allow me to present a half dozen texts. I’m not pretending that any one of them makes the definitive case for skepticism. But I do think that together they start pointing us decidedly in that direction. "You will know them by their fruits" – Matt. 7:15-20 In Matthew 7 Jesus tells us that we can tell a good tree from a bad one by the fruit on it. His concern wasn’t with trees though, but with telling false prophets from good ones. When it comes to global warming the science is beyond most of us, but we can evaluate the people. So let’s return to this 97% consensus we’ve heard so much about. This statistic is used to argue that there is no question but that the planet is headed to catastrophic climate change. But is this a reliable number, or is it like the greatly exaggerated 10% figure commonly given for the homosexual population? The figure has a few different origins, but one of the more commonly cited is a paper by John Cook and his colleagues reviewing 11,944 published peer-reviewed papers from climate scientists. Did 97% of those papers’ authors agree with the statement “humans are causing global warming”? That’s what we would expect. But instead of 10,000+ papers with that position, there were 3,894, or approximately 33%. So how did the 97% figure come out of that then? Well, it turns out only approximately 34% of the papers took a position one way or the other, with just 1% disagreeing or uncertain, and 33% agreeing. Thus, of the 34% who took a position, 97% agreed that humans are causing global warming. Is it honest to ignore the two thirds who didn’t state a position, and say there is a 97% consensus and no room for a debate? How this statistic has been used reminds me of a trick from another debate – equivocation about the definition of “evolution.” In his book, The Greatest Show on Earth, Richard Dawkins notes that when poachers shoot elephants with long tusks, the next generation is liable to have shorter tusks. Okay, but creationists also believe species can undergo changes over time. We’re the folks arguing that the array of cats we see today are all modified versions of a single cat kind brought on the ark. Dawkins has presented “minor changes over time” – a definition of evolution so broad that it enfolds even creationists into the evolution camp – as if it were proof of the from-goo-to-you sort of evolution that is actually under dispute. Similarly, the 97% consensus is being presented as if all those counted hold that the warming is catastrophic, humans are the primary cause, and there is a need for immediate, drastic, global action. But the agreement was only that “humans are causing global warming.” And that’s a statement so broad as to enfold even many of the so-called “deniers.” So on a statement we can verify – whether there really is a 97% consensus on catastrophic global warming – we find “bad fruit.” There are many other facts and claims we can’t evaluate, but doesn’t this tell us something about the “tree”? “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” – Proverbs 18:17 God says that to find the truth good questions are helpful. That’s not going on here, where questioners are likened to Holocaust deniers. But here’s a few questions worth considering: Aren’t there bigger priorities than global warming, like the millions who will starve to death this year, or the billions who lack basic access to clean water and sanitation? If fossil fuels are harmful, and solar and wind problematic, why aren’t we turning to nuclear? How will the world’s poor be impacted by a move away from fossil fuels toward more expensive alternatives? Are we again (as we did in response to overpopulation fears) seeking to save the planet by harming those who live on it? Samuel’s warning against kings – 1 Samuel 8:10-22 President Obama’s chief of staff famously said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste” and if you want to understand what he meant, looking no further than Justin Trudeau’s proposed ban on single-use plastics. This past year a video of a sea turtle with a plastic straw stuck up deep inside his nose went viral, alerting the tens of millions of viewers to the growing problem of plastics in our oceans. The movement to ban plastic straws has taken off since then. But will Trudeau’s single-use plastics ban save turtles? No, because our straws don’t end up in the ocean. Of the mass of plastic in the ocean it’s been estimated the US is responsible for one percent, and it’d be reasonable to conclude that Canada is responsible for far less. So how, then, does all the plastic end up in the ocean? It turns out that the vast majority of it comes from poorer countries that don’t have proper trash disposal. They simply dump their waste into the ocean and into their rivers. Trudeau’s ban will do nothing to help the turtles…but it will expand the government’s reach. The proposed solutions for climate change all involve expanding the government too, giving it a larger role in directing all things energy-related. So, how is 1 Samuel 8 relevant? Here we find Samuel warning against an expansion of government – get a king and he’ll start intruding into all areas of your lives. If there is a biblical case to be made for limited, small government (and there is) then Christians have a reason to question crises that seem to necessitate an ever-expanding role for the State. “…and it was very good.” – Gen. 1:31 While we no longer live in the perfect world Adam and Eve started with, we have only to wriggle our toes, or watch a ladybug crawl across the back of our hand to recognize that God’s brilliant design is still evident and at work all around us. We are on a blue and white marble, spinning at just the right angle, and orbiting at just the right distance from the sun, for it to rain and snow in season. We have a moon just the right size, and circling at just the right distance for us to study our own sun, and to bring the tides that sweep our beaches each day. And our planet is graced with a molten iron core that generates the very magnetic field we need to protect us from the solar winds, which would otherwise strip away the ozone layer that protects us from ultraviolet radiation. It is wheels within wheels within wheels, and while we can do damage to it, when we appreciate how brilliantly our world is designed we aren’t surprised there is a robustness to it. Meanwhile, the unbeliever thinks our world is the result of one lucky circumstance after another – a tower of teacups, all balanced perfectly, but accidentally. If the world did come about by mere happenstance, then what an unbelievable run of happenstance we’ve had, and isn’t there every reason to fear change? Sure, the teacup tower is balanced now, but if we mess with it, how long can we count on our luck to hold? “He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker” – Prov. 14:31 At first glance, this text might not seem to provide much direction in this debate. After all, couldn’t a Christian who holds to catastrophic man-caused global warming cite it in support of their position too? Yes they could. If climate change is real, then the oppression it would bring on the poor would be a reason to fight it. Yet this text does provide a very specific sort of direction. It lays out limits on what sort of global warming plans Christians should view as acceptable: any plan to save the planet that does so by hurting the poor is not biblical. That means increasing energy costs has to be out. Millions are starving already and raising energy prices will only increase those numbers. “Be fruitful and multiply” – Gen. 1:28 Children come with an inevitable “carbon footprint” which is why some global warming proponents echo the same sentiments as the overpopulationists before them. “Save the earth; don’t give birth” is catchy, but if that was the only possible way we could lower carbon emissions then Christians could, on that basis, conclude there was no need to worry about CO2. Because God tells us children are a blessing, not a curse. Of course there may be other ways to lower carbon emissions. But the more we hear people portraying children as a problem, the more we should recognize there is an element in the global warming movement intent on attacking God’s Truth, rather than taking on any real problem. Conclusion Other passages could be mentioned like Genesis 8:22, Romans 1:25 and Psalm 102:25-26 but this is good for a start. And that’s what this is: a start. My hope here is to encourage an exploration of what Scripture says that’s relevant to the issue of global warming.  The Bible isn’t silent on this topic; we need to look at global warming biblically.

Satire

Based on a true story

“Um, excuse me?”

I am kneeling next to a newly planted row of tomato starts and pulling weeds when I hear a woman’s voice from over my bent shoulders. Several small businesses share the busy alley next to our back yard garden, and I assume the voice is speaking to someone else. I do not look up. With the back of my gardening glove I brush some loose hairs away from my eyes, and I continue weeding, tossing a few more invasive cheeseweed seedlings onto my growing pile. But then I hear the voice again, louder this time, “Hello? Miss? Excuse me.”

Because of the steady stream of foot, bicycle, and car traffic that passes by the garden each day it’s not uncommon for passers-by to stop and say a kind word or two about the new raised beds or about how nicely our plants are coming along.

“Oh, hi,” I say, rising stiffly from my knees and turning to face the voice, “Sorry. I thought you were talking to someone else just now.” I smile and wait for her to speak.

She has stopped her vintage bicycle next to our bent chicken wire fence and rests her hands on her narrow hips. Her eyes are a blue so pale that I seem to be looking not at the eyes themselves but at two vacant holes in her head through which I can see the cloudless sky behind her. I reach over and grip the splintery handle of my shovel and lean my weight into it so that I can stretch my legs. I look at her expectantly. She does not smile back.

After running her eyes over the whole garden plot, she finally says, “Well,” with a voice as crisp and sour and cool as the stalks of rhubarb growing behind me, “I just was riding by here and couldn’t help noticing what you’re doing, and I have to say that I am genuinely shocked. What, is with this heap of dead plants?”

“Oh those?” I chuckle a little. “I’m not keeping those, actually. I’m just going to toss them in the compost when I’m done.”

“I figured you weren’t planning on keeping those. And I’m appalled. That’s why I stopped – it looks like you’re killing them.”

“Yesss? Um, I guess I am,” I respond with a nervous laugh-cough. “Take that!” I say, leaning sideways and yanking a young dandelion out of the carrot bed. I intend it to be a lighthearted joke, but it flops somewhere in the dust near the bicycle tires and dissolves into the gravel.

The cyclist widens the pale blue holes in her head and tightens her lips. Clearly I am not making a new friend. After a long and uncomfortable pause, the words, “What in the world?” shoot toward me, and I resist the urge to duck. “How can you even call yourself a gardener? How can you treat plants this way?”

I blink.

I blink again, speechless, and tighten my grip on the shovel.

“Well? Do you call yourself a gardener?” she demands.

This is a relief, a question I can answer. “Oh, well, yes. An amateur, but yeah, I guess I’m a gardener.”

“Ha!” she says. I can taste something bitter on the back of my tongue as she opens her mouth to continue. “Correct me if I’m wrong here, gardener, but last time I checked, gardeners are people who love plants. Gardeners are people who nurture plants. So explain this!” She flings her hand toward my little pile of wilting dandelions and pigweed seedlings and then turns with raised eyebrows to scan the alleyway – as if she is trying to find somebody willing to join her in her triumphant outrage.

“Well, this is actually an important part of caring for the vegetables I planted here.” My voice has a bit of a nervous shake in it. I can’t believe I’m having to defend my weed pile. “This is what nurturing a garden looks like.”

“Oh right. Then why are you brutalizing perfectly innocent seedlings? Seriously. Why do you hate plants so much?”

“They’re weeds, not good plants.” I resist the urge to roll my eyes.

“Says you. The difference between a so-called ‘weed,’” she says, making scare quotes in the air with her fingers, “and a ‘good’ plant [more scare quotes] is just your opinion. You have no right to determine which plants should live and which should die. What do you have against them, anyway? What right can you possibly have to inflict your opinion on every other plant?”

I stare at her for a moment, trying to weigh whether this is some kind of satire, some kind of practical joke. But her cold eyes are glaring so widely that I can see the whites completely encircling the blue. ”Well,” I begin, “I have gardener’s handbook that I can check whenever I’m not quite sure which kind of plant I’m looking at. But after a few years of seeing these things grow up, you get pretty good at identifying…”

“What! You have this book, so now you’re some kind of expert? Seriously? These things look just like all the other plants around here. They’re really not that different. See that one? It’s not even touching the ones next to it. Not hurting a thing! And anyway, they’re tiny. Look at them! Totally. Harmless. And if you just gave them a chance, you might actually learn to see the unique beauty in them!”

“Actually, I…”

“I am dead serious,” she continues, “I cannot understand how any gardener could do…this.” She broadly sweeps her arm toward the weed pile again. “If you really loved plants – if you were a real gardener – you would treat them with care and help them grow and appreciate them for what they are.” She crosses her arms, satisfied in the irrefutability of her argument.

Suppressing the chuckle that is trying to escape, I cough into my shoulder and glance around the alleyway, looking for a hidden camera. Maybe this is some kind of skit for reality television. But no, I see nothing. “That’s the thing,” I say. “You’re missing the point. I love the plants that are supposed to be in the garden. I love these snap peas. I love the carrots. And if I love these plants, then I have to root out the invaders.” I point to a dandelion.

“Look. This is total discrimination. Either you love plants or you don’t. You are obviously a plant hater. You’re hurting plants. There’s the proof!”

“But if I don’t get rid of the bindweed, then it will get rid of my snap peas. I am not raising a garden in order to eat bindweed for dinner. You’re welcome to try some, however, if it would soothe your conscience.” Sarcasm is getting the better of me, and I can feel my suppressed smirk has surfaced. I can’t straighten it out quickly enough, so I look down at my dusty shoes and pretend to scratch an itch on the bridge of my nose.

“I’m sorry,” she says, not sounding sorry in the least, “but I don’t know why people like you take these things so simplistically. Not everything is so black and white. The concept of a ‘weed’ is just a social construct, and nobody needs to take sides here. There should be harmony among all plants—no! exceptions!” She pounds her handlebar to punctuate those last two words and then sighs. “Bindweed and snap peas can peacefully coexist.”

I look up at her pained expression and exhale slowly so as not to outright guffaw in her face. “Uhh, not really. Not without doing serious damage to the snap peas. Not without choking out the plants that are the whole point of this garden.”

“You have got to be kidding. You are a total weedaphobe! I knew it! You’re afraid of bindweed! This is so unbelievable. You’re acting out of irrational fear. I mean, look at these things. Look at how tiny and harmless those little bindweeds are.” She leans her bicycle toward my tomato bed and points them out to me for my edification. “They have these beautiful white flowers. Beautiful! What are you afraid of?”

“I’m not afraid of them. I just know what they will do if I let them grow unchecked. If I call myself a gardener at all, I will call a weed a weed and then I’ll cast it into the outer darkness, so to speak.”

“Ahhh, so then what about the ones over there?” She points to the opposite side of the alley where a small forest of thistles and dandelions have sprung up next to the neighbors’ dumpster. “You think you’re going to get rid of all the so-called ‘weeds’ in the world? Think again. They are stronger and more resilient than you think.”

The laugh finally escapes, despite my best efforts. “Believe me. I am fully aware of how resilient they are. That’s why I’m out here doing this again for the umpteenth time this summer. But I am certainly not trying to single-handedly take down every weed in the world. I’m not even trying to get rid of the ones next door. It’s my garden I’m concerned about. I am focusing on the weeds right here because they are the ones I’m responsible for. I am focusing on the ones that are trying to take over my good plants.”

“Are you kidding me? ‘Good plants’? These plants that you’re killing had just as much right to be here as those peas do. In fact, I bet a lot of them were here first. But obviously you’re too closed-minded to appreciate what they have to offer. Do you realize how useful and beautiful some of these plants can be? Look at this dandelion you’ve ruined. If you had just let it grow, it could produce lovely yellow flowers and friendly little fairy puffs! But ooooh. It’s scaaary, isn’t it? Can’t let it grow freely, can you?” She snorts. “I guess you’re afraid of flowers, too. Flowerphobe.”

I roll my eyes toward the sky. A redtail hawk is riding an updraft directly overhead, scoping out his lunch options. Then I turn my gaze back to the lady’s face and look hard through her sky-colored eyes. “This has nothing to do with fear. It has everything to do with wanting to take care of my peas. It has everything to do with loving my garden.”

“So pulling plants up by the roots. You call that love?”

“Yes. I do.” My nose is starting to itch for real now, so I rub at it with the back of my wrist.

“Well. If that’s what you call love, then I would not even want to imagine how you’d treat the things you hate. Look at how damaged those poor little plants are.”

I look. And I smile a broad, genuine smile. “Yes. Totally damaged. Isn’t it great? And once they’re all dead and rotted and decomposed in my compost heap? Then they will be given the opportunity to return to my garden. At that point they will be welcome. But not before.”

“Garden hater.” She climbs back onto her bike. “Plantphobe.”

“Come back in a month or two, and I’ll let you have a bite.”

She snorts again. “Oh really. Of what?”

“Bindweed, if you like.”

She narrows her pale eyes and opens her mouth as if to respond, then closes it again and pushes off without a word. I listen to the crunch of gravel under her tires as I lean my shovel back against a T-post and return to my knees to take care of my tomato starts. The soil is warm between my fingers. Come July, there will be fruit.

Hannah K. Grieser is the author “The Clouds Ye So Much Dread: Hard Times and the Kindness of God.” She lives in Idaho where she designs graphics, photographs landscapes, dabbles in the garden, and (with her husband, Jayson) is raising five pig-farming, music-loving, baseball-playing sons—including one cancer survivor. She has also written for Relief Journal, Books & Culture, and Desiring God.


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