Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Allow me to play junior theologian

As I mentioned in my previous post, there's much being said about the "Green Bible" in both the news and on the blogs. I've tried to do a little internet research and have thought about this through the day, and for what it's worth I'll give you my take on it.

First though, let me establish my "junior theologian" credentials. I've got nearly 30 years of church attendance under my belt. My grandmother, a virtual walking Bible encyclopedia, was my Sunday School teacher during my early childhood and had me memorizing Scripture passages before I could even read them. I've been a member of two different Protestant denominations and was part of a non-denominational study and worship group while I was in college. I've served in my church as a trustee and lay leader, and I'm currently the teacher for the young adults' class and a member of our leadership committee. Now, I won't pretend to know all (or even most) of the finer points of doctrine, but I think it's fair to say that I have a pretty decent grasp of the Bible and the Message therein.

From what I have gathered, the "Green Bible" is a complete version of the Scripture with verses referencing creation printed in green. It is also a study Bible, with commentary (not intended to serve as or replace Scripture) on many of these highlighted passages. Those backing the edition hope to draw its readers' attention to God's love for his creation and the mandate for environmentalism.

I realize that I'm in a situation most others are not. I'm not only a lifelong church-goer and long time professing Christian, but I'm also a farmer who's out in and amongst God's Creation every day. As such, I'm deeply aware of my responsibility to serve as a steward of both the land and animals the Lord has entrusted to me.

So, back to the Green Bible. I'm afraid that those backing it (including secular advocacy groups such as Sierra Club and HSUS) and using it as a tool to inspire people towards radical environmentalism and veganism will succeed in getting people to join in their movement without considering how stewardship of God's Creation is just a piece of the Christian faith. Or even worse, it might lead to "earth worship". Despite my fears, my hope is that new people will be introduced to the Word and will be led towards a faith that goes much deeper than any one social issue.

In closing, if I was recommending a Bible to someone it certainly wouldn't be this version. But for whoever does read it, I hope that they'll prayerfully study it in context and will be open to the Holy Spirit's guidance to act in whatever way God chooses to use it anywhere from environmentalism to feeding the hungry.

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