The Sins of Scripture II: Ecotheology
John Shelby Spong’s first sin of Scripture is the environmental havoc that we have wrecked on this planet. I agree with him here that it is a tragedy how we have treated our fragile environment, and share with him a desire to see humans correct this awful behavior. What I don’t share with Spong is a conviction that the Bible as it stands encourages this sort of behavior, nor do I believe that an entirely new concept of God is necessary to effect this change.
Spong believes that the Bible’s command to be fruitful and multiply is at the heart of the overpopulation. I think not. I think that the heart of the problem is irresponsible sexual behavior, a thing which Spong shows no desire to curb in human beings. Instead, he’d rather throw birth control at the problem.
Now don’t get me wrong. Birth control is a part of the solution in my point of view. But only when combined with solid morality. That means that sex is reserved for marriage. Spong seems to join critics of Christianity in believing that the only solution to this problem is to surrender to our urges because of better available birth control technology.
Spong wrongly believes that a solution to the pollution problem lies in reinventing God. As commenter Bradford pointed out:
To him [Spong] the bible is sexist and homophobic, and we should not judge sin or reprove the sinner; no, we shouldn’t judge at all just love and tolerate and never say sin is wrong especially if it disagrees with anything a woman wants to do with her body or any alternative lifestyle one wants to live.
Spong has already created an idol for himself; a deity who doesn’t judge anyone and for whom sin is not a problem. Reinventing God is Spong’s solution for every problem. So what sort of deity does Spong conceive of? The answer is a nature deity, or rather, Nature Itself. Spong would worship Nature Itself as a deity rather than a deity outside of nature. In Spong’s mind, a deity outside of nature–in whose image we are made–creates the impression that we are somehow above or around nature. That we owe the environment no allegiance since we are above it.
This is a wholly false picture of Christianity. True, we are created in teh image of God, and therefore outside of nature. But God owns everything; ultimately we are just stewards. Therefore, in that frame of mind, we should be responsible stewards and turn the planet over to him in the same condition that he gave it to us.
It isn’t necessary to invent an entirely new concept of God that denigrates him to become part of his own creation. He transcends creation according to his Word, and we should revere him that way. It is only necessary to properly frame our understanding of God’s relationship to man–that we are stewards over his creation, and that he is coming back and expects to find it in the same condition it was left in.
With Spong’s weak and judgment-impaired deity, it is no wonder that he needs to create a new concept of God to give us incentive to control the environment. They say that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom (Ps 111:10; Prv 1:7). Since no one can fear Spong’s “god,” it is no wonder that Spong has neither knowledge nor wisdom.