If God created it, if it belongs to him, if he loves it, if we are instructed to look after it. if it is all created through Jesus and for Jesus, surely caring for creation is central to our faith. Climate change is not an environmental issue, it is a moral and spiritual problem that raises questions that go to the heart of what it means to be human.
But does the earth need protecting? The skies of our planet contain just the right amount of heat-trapping gases to allow abundant life on earth
I couldn ’ t find a photo of an ostrich with its head in the sand because Ostriches don ’ t put their heads in the sand. And in 1934 the Church in Germany did not put its head in the sand, but drew a line in the sand with…
… ..The Barmen declaration. The Reformation churches formulated what they considered to be the very heart of faith in what they called confessions. Confession in the early church was about drawing a line in the sand: saying, this is what we believe and even if we have to die we cannot compromise about it. The Barmen Declaration of 1934 which rejected the influence of Nazism on German Christianity was such a confession. It was written mostly by Karl Barth, with input from others including Dietrich Bonhoeffer and signed by a large group of pastors from different denominations. It argued that the Church's allegiance to the God of Jesus Christ should give it the impetus and resources to resist the influence of other 'lords'–such as Hitler. Barth had guts. He mailed this declaration to Hitler personally. The Confessing Church believed that the subordination of the church to the Nazi state was an issue which touches the very heart of faith, not something that they could politely agree to disagree about. ON believes Climate Change to be a confessional issue of as large a magnitude. And it thinks this for these reasons…
A Confession, according to Bonhoeffer is a ‘decision of the church based upon its entire doctrine, to take up the struggle at a particular place’. And it involves repentance on the part of the church. It seems to Operation Noah that climate change is indeed a confessional issue for at least three reasons:….it threatens whole swathes of life on this earth – particularly because of the potential for runaway warming. The present economy, with its commitment to growth at any cost is what is driving it - we are living with reckless abandon, with absolute disregard for the poor, for future generations, or for other species. Thirdly, in Duchrow’s words, ‘Does the church champion the life of all human beings and of the whole earth or does it side with the global economic system which at least tolerates and even automatically causes the death of so many and the destruction of the earth by the mechanisms so structured?’ If runaway climate change threatens life on earth, and if the global economy, in which the church is entrenched, is its principal economic driver, then, it seems to us at ON that it is a confessional issue for the churches.
ON is launching The Ash Wednesday Declaration at the start of the Christian season of Lent. This urgent call to the church covers 7 areas. (It states that we cannot say that we do not know the dangers associated with continued pollution of the atmosphere but God ’ s Spirit changes hearts and can prompt in us a change of direction. In this aspect of mission, responsibility falls to every Church and every believer. The declaration also draws a strong association between justice and economic behaviour. It challenges some current assumptions around what is necessary to maintain prosperity arguing that the demands of justice require us to hold our governments and corporations to account. Engaging with theological principles of repentance and hope, the declaration offers a deeply spiritual perspective on human flourishing and sustainable living. It is likely to strike a chord not only with Christians but also with those beyond our faith traditions who have acknowledged that the challenges facing us are not merely economic and scientific but are moral and spiritual as well. )
Our initial signees include: Archbishop Rowan Williams, Cardinal O’Brien, Desmond Tutu, Rt Rev David Arnott, Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Archbishop Barry Morgan, Church of Wales, Val Morrison, Moderator, URC, Rev Jonathan Edwards, Gen Secretary of the Baptist Union, Revd Lionel Osborn, President of the Conference of the Methodist Church, Joel Edwards, International Director, Micah Challenge, Richard Chartres, Bishop of London and Revd Kallistos, Metropolitan, Orthodox Church.
The flourishing of the earth is inseparable from the mission of God and that of the church.
James E. Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies . In the early days of climate modelling, in 1988, he gave testimony to the US Senate raising broad awareness of climate change for the first time. Climate scientists have been warning for decades of the dangers of catastrophic climate change resulting from human activity. We must listen to the scientists warning us of approaching dangers, exercise discernment, and be wary of ‘ false prophets ’ representing the vested interests of the powerful.
We are failing to love not only the earth, but our neighbours and ourselves, who are made in God's image. God grieves over the destruction of creation and so should we. Repentance means finding creative, constructive and immediate ways of addressing the danger
Humanity has always had the capacity to destroy our environment, but today we have this to an unprecedented extent. Whereas previous generations did not know the damage they were causing, we do. This is the responsibility of every Church and every believer.
God is just and requires justice in response from us. This justice applies to poor communities already suffering the devastating consequences of climate change, to future generations, and to all other creatures. (Photo shows flood in Bangladesh where per capita carbon emissions are 1/50 th of ours in the UK)
Christ teaches us to love all our neighbours, not just our own family and friends. People in poor communities are mostly innocent of any role in causing climate change, whilst the nations that pollute the most, refuse to accept their responsibilities. Loving our neighbour requires us to reduce our consumption of energy for the sake of Christ, who suffers with those who suffer. We have the opportunity of loving our neighbour with every low-carbon choice we make every day.
Hope in God motivates us to take action that can lead to transformation, for by God ’ s power at work within us, God is able to accomplish more than we can ask or imagine. As Christians we can live in hope, despite the dangers that threaten us.
Isn’t one of our jobs as a church to help shape the morals of its society? A huge challenge faces our generation, not threatened with prison or concentration camps, but with comfortable apathy, denial and institutional self interest. Can we live up to the example of all those confessors in our history? Can we learn from them? Or will we now and later just keep quiet. A decision is required of us.
Introduction to AWD
Whose responsibility is it to care for the earth?
We believe that: God created the heavens and the earth. God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. The earth is the Lord ’ s, and everything in it. … all things have been created through him and for him. God so loved the world….
The Barmen Declaration “ To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world. ” Karl Barth
Is climate change a confessional issue? <ul><li>A confession is a decision of the church to take up the struggle at a particular time, and it involves repentance on the part of the church. </li></ul><ul><li>Climate change now threatens the well-being of life on earth </li></ul><ul><li>The current global economy is the principal driver of climate change </li></ul><ul><li>The Church appears far too happy to side with the global economy. </li></ul>
Wide support <ul><li>"This prophetic document from 'Operation Noah' comes at a kairos moment for the Churches, as a second Earth Summit is being prepared …. </li></ul><ul><li>For Christians, the themes of this statement - joy, repentance, hope, justice and so on - are not optional: they are at the heart of our identity as Church. Mary Grey, theologian and writer </li></ul>
Find joy in creation! ‘ How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures… Psalm 104:24
‘ The love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit , ’ (Romans 5:5) overflows in our love and care for all God ’ s creatures.
Listen! <ul><li>‘ I appointed watchmen over you and said; “ Listen to the sound of the trumpet! ”’ Jer. 6:17 </li></ul><ul><li>Prophets are those who speak </li></ul><ul><li>uncomfortable truth to their generation. </li></ul>
Repent! ‘ Jesus said; “ The time has come. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! ”’ Mark 1:15 God grieves over the destruction of creation and so should we.
Humans, made in God’s image, have unique responsibility for the wellbeing of creation. Genesis 1:26, 2:15 Take responsibility We must use our power wisely to promote the flourishing of future generations and the diversity of life on earth .
‘ The Lord loves righteousness and justice; ’ Ps. 33:5 ristian id Act Justly
Love our neighbours <ul><li>‘ So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. ’ Matt. 7:12 </li></ul>
<ul><li>‘ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ’ Romans 15:13 </li></ul>Act with hope!
Sign the pledge Find resources to help spread the word: www.operationnoah.org “ The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children. ” Dietrich Bonhoeffer Ash Wednesday Declaration