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Creation Care Checkup

• Greg Boyd
Guest Panelists: George Johnson

This sermon provides a brief report card on how well humans are doing at caring for God’s creation, specifically as it relates to Earth’s climate.

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In this sermon, Greg provides an introductory overview of how humans are doing in our commission to love the earth and the animal kingdom. He does this in two ways. First, he speaks to five climate realities that have been experienced over the last year. These are drought, fires, flood, the heating up of the Arctic, and refugees that are being displaced because of climate change. Over the last year, we have been faced with historical events in all five.

In the second part of this sermon, Greg invited Dr. George Johnson, a scientist who specializes in the study of climate change, to explain various aspects of the science of climate change. A large part of this conversation focused on how the melting of the Arctic ice is impacting the global temperatures and why this is such a huge issue.

After the conversation with George, Greg concluded with a brief word of challenge and encouragement. He spoke about the pride of man and how the pursuit of power has caused damage to the earth and how scientists like George are now encouraging us to be good stewards of the earth, just as the Bible commanded us to do in the first place. In addition, Greg established the fact that our hope does not lie in the absence of struggle, but in the fact that the glory of God will reign in the end and will outweigh any and all struggles that we face in this life. Our hope lies in God establishment of his Kingdom of love.

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Topics: Creation Care, Judgment

Sermon Series: Sermon on the Mount, Cross Examination


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The MuseCast: September 20

Focus Scripture:

  • Romans 8:18-21

    I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

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18 thoughts on “Creation Care Checkup

  1. Mike says:

    Hi. Does Woodland Hills currently have small groups? When during the week are the addiction/recovery groups ?

  2. Vigya says:

    It’s probably been coming brewing for a while but I think this is the point where I step away from Greg and Woodland Hills after well over a decade of feeling like I had steadfast refuge here. I was so invigorated by the boldness of the counter-cultural take against the war-state when so few would call it out ~15 years ago but have become increasingly unable to understand the messaging that seems to fall in line with whatever the state regime proclaims the last half decade in particular.

    I’ll refrain from a diatribe, but sermons like this seem religious but not in a Godly sense of striving for the best while being self-forgiving of missteps but rather simultaneous self-worship of human authority in the form of scientists and self-flagellation to be broadcast across all of humankind.

    Climate mastery, particularly in the last few centuries has enabled the greatest human flourishing in history. In the last century alone, deaths from climate (exposure) are down 98%! Almost exclusively in the poorest regions of the world. And the majority of this decrease is from deaths from extreme cold – via expanded access to heating.

    What even is the optimal temperature for the planet? Why is there a presupposition that the optimal climate was that of a few hundred years ago? I wouldn’t suggest the inferable hubris of attempted exhaustive climate engineering, but the obvious take away from my research seems that an increased temperature of at least several degrees Celsius would optimize useable land and climates suitable to animal life.

    In addition to animal life, what is the ideal for plant life? Research shows around 1,500ppm carbon is around optimal for vegetation (exploited currently in high-tech greenhouses) – so even an anti-human take would, itself, prefer much higher than the 300-400ppm spectrum we’ve seen over the most recent era.

    Lastly, who are we in western countries to deny the same growth in prosperity via low cost power that created the entire modern western world to the bulk of the world living on the cusp of graduating beyond subsistence living? We’ve even learned from our centuries past, fossil fuels don’t have to mean pollution with modern processing facilities.

    I’ll admit my bias as a former resident of a communist state, but this recent trend of latching on to every proclamation by the next iteration of the all-encompassing state regime is bewildering to me – even, as I alluded to initially, it’s from the mouthpieces of the same leaders who pushed the same wars places like WH revolted again years ago but who remain in seats of power with little vocalized, or at least legitimized, opposition.

  3. Jerry says:

    Yigya

    I really appreiciated your thoughts!

    I wrote numerous comments on Dan Kent’s sermon A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIRE with one [#comment-248075], which I believe, aligns well with your thinking.

    Please don’t step away but engage in the creation care conversation.

    Serenity

    “the One who need not be appeased yet requires our conscious contact (with the friendship Jesus modeled) if we’re to receive and give true love and spiritual comfort during earthly life. When we’ve experienced this love and comfort, faith becomes part of the air we breathe. Existential fear then drops away in the space we occupy, our Creator’s heart”

    Such succinct simple eloquence in statement.

    “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    Thanks so much+++!!

    Adding to your “Really appreciated that, and hope so.” consider Revelation 22 as echoed from Ezekiel 47 8-12 .

    The lake of fire is a loaded historical reference to the Dead Sea, the scene of Sodom and Gomorrah’s fire and brimstone destruction.

    Also: Ezekiel 16:53-55 – Consider the reference to fishers in Ezekiel 47 might be a backdrop to Jesus’ “fishers of men” (Matt 4:19; Mark 1:17). Imagine symbolically fishers of people on the banks of what had been the lake of fire.

  4. Andy says:

    I’m curious to know if Greg’s opinion on the one-sidedness of the climate change debate has changed? He wrote a bit in this 2009 blog post:

    https://reknew.org/2009/12/the-scandle-over-global-warming/

    1. Woodland Hills says:

      Hi Andy,
      Thanks for your question. I’d forgotten that I had written that.

      Well, ever since my friend Dwayne Polk drew my attention to the latest IPCC report five months ago, I’ve been immersed in the study of climate change and it has convinced me that humans activity is significantly contributing to climate change. The main proof, I believe, is the remarkable speed with which the globe is warming. In the past, temperature swerves that led to mass extinctions took place over several centuries – which is fast by cosmic standards. But what took place over centuries in the past is happening over decades right now. And I can’t believe it’s a coincidence that the temperature spike we’re experiencing is corresponds to a spike in our CO2 output over the last 30 years.

      In any event, what has not changed is my conviction that kingdom people’s motivation for caring for the earth and the animal kingdom should not just be to save our own skin by trying to save the planet. Our motivation should be faithfulness in carrying out our first mandate. Had we been doing this all along as a species, I don’t think we’d be facing the dire situation we are now facing.

      Thanks again for raising the question.
      Bless you,
      Greg

      1. Jerry says:

        This touched me — thought I’d shared!!

        From eternity, God has brought spiritual creatures into existence in the only way such creatures could be formed: by calling them to ascend out of the darkness. Brian Zahnd

        Apart from God, the world would be, according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics (entropy), in a repetition of survival thinking lapsing from ordered behavior to more random.

        However, out of the collapsing entropy of all the galaxies God created one rock and fine-tuned it so it could support life, everybody could live on it and stand in stark contrast to all the other floating rocks in the universe. – Andy Stanley

        God, the divine Eros, confronts this world with new heights of unrealized opportunities opening up space for self-creativity; establishing what-is-not as relevant to what-is, and luring the world toward new forms of realization. -What Roger Penrose and others like him have come to discover.

        I am a spiritual being who currently has a physical body. I occupy my body and its environs by my consciousness of it and by my capacity to will and to act with and through it. I occupy my body and its proximate space, but I am not localizable in it or around it. You cannot find me or any of my thoughts, feelings, or character traits in any part of my body. Even I cannot. If you wish to find me the last thing you should do is open my body to take a look, and examine it closely with a microscope or other physical instruments. – Dallas Willard Divine Conspiracy

        Consider our physical cells as avatars that we, spiritual creatures, use to navigate, via Romans 12:2 the contrasting kingdoms of hell, self, and heaven in an ongoing restoration journey.

        There are two parts to every kingdom which are in contrast to each other. The [reign] of the Kingdom is the authority by which the king rules. The [realm] of the kingdom is the concrete or physical place where the ruling occurs.

        Using the already not yet harmonic, inaugurated view of the Kingdom, the realm of the Kingdom will be put on the earth by Jesus at His Second Coming. It is then, and only then, that Jesus will rule with realm power over the earth.

        Greg gets it right we need to, as a temporary means, be motivated to care for the earth however I believe Vigya also gets it right – to deny the same growth in prosperity, via low-cost power that created the entire modern western world, to the bulk of the world living on the cusp of graduating beyond subsistence living would be denying justice and mercy for all – Jesus primary mission.

        There needs to be a balance.

        As Greg says it’s not just about our own western skin.

        I found this book Greg recommended fascinating: “Unstoppable Global Warming – Every 1,500 Years”

        You can find a copy here: pdfdrive.com/unstoppable-global-warming-every-1500-years-e175506227.html

        1. Jerry says:

          Cercatore thanks so much for introducing us to Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell, it’s a cool site.

          Kurzgesagt has a video “Can You Upload Your Mind & Live Forever?”

          It takes, in contrast to Dallas Willard’s thinking, a Physicalism approach – the doctrine that the real world consists simply of the physical world. This implies that all information, thoughts, feelings, and character traits, are stored inside you and will someday be able to be uploaded to a computer.

          How much data is that? – 2 million Petabytes – How much is that? Our current Global Cloud Storage Volume capacity is 1024 Petabytes of data. So that’s about 2000 times the servers just for the consciousness of one mind.

          Actually, I believe they are missing quite a bit here in their thinking. One is the fact that the physical part of us, actually everything, is made of stardust and that leads to a quite complex anomaly.

          Kurzgesagt has a video “Let’s Travel to The Most Extreme Place in The Universe” that captures that complexity. Considering there are over 200 billion galaxies, I believe, God has already built that storage facility separately for each one of us.

          However Isaiah 34:4 “all the stars in the sky will be dissolved and the heavens rolled up like a scroll” leads me to believe this is just temporary storage, a fallen universe in the process of restoration, and when Jesus returns there will be a perfect permanent solution.

          I like to also listen to Andy Stanley. The current series is “Invisible God” given by Joel Thomas who likes to draw as he speaks. I’m more of a picture guy.

          His theme is RUACH – invisible animating energy. He does a wonderful job of combining the Bible, science, and psychology. I’ve been stumbling, the last few months, with a lot of words to try and communicate what Joel does an awesome job of with his drawings. This connects well with Greg’s sermons.

          1. Cercatore says:

            All most excellent my friend!

          2. Jerry says:

            Cercatore

            Almost excellent could relate to Kurzgesagt or Greg’s, and Joel Thomas’s sermons.

            Brian Zahnd’s quote “From eternity, God has brought spiritual creatures into existence in the only way such creatures could be formed: by calling them to ascend out of the darkness” comes from the end of Chapter one of David Bentley Hart’s book “You Are Gods: On Nature and Supernature.

            From the intro:

            “It seems clearly to be the case that what we think of as the gnostic denigration of the created order as an exaggeration of a real qualified or provisional dualism in the New Testament and as such in many ways a more authentic continuation of a fallen creation then is to say the two-tier Thomistic theology of pure nature. According to scripture we live in the aftermath of an intrinsically divine reality’s alienation from its source, NOT in an order of nature that is the direct work of God’s created will, perfectly innocent in itself, into which we were precipitated from unnatural super elevation accorded us by extraordinary grace at the inception of humanity’s spiritual history.”

            Taking the Genesis creation story away from a young earth creation view: the when, where, and who we were in relation to the fall become interesting questions.

            Timothy Mackie and Jonathan Collins’s “The Bible Project’ offer an interesting perspective in that the entire universe might well be a fallen garden temple in the process of restoration.

            Greg and Andy certainly consider the age of the universe in contrast to Adam and Eve as the first folk however Greg’s sermon “As in Adam so in Christ” as well as Joel Thomas’s “Invisible God” I would hope to think, as God in the OT, are using two-tier Thomistic theology as a western accommodation.

            Hart would say: The natural desire of spiritual creatures is nothing less, in its fullness than an infinite intention corresponding to an infinite gift.

            Grace and nature would never be conceived of as two opposed categories, as Joel Thomas in series 3 – a new guide. However, The alligator and laughing hyena caught did make a point. Human nature in its very essence is meant to become an ever more radiant mirror of the divine beauty and ever fuller intimacy of the divine presence. This leads back to Brian’s beginning quote above. The darkness, I think, as the fall.

  5. Matthew says:

    I sincerely believe that we are living with serious environmental problems because, in short, we have not been good stewards of the earth and its resources. That said, should the church be using its resources to usher in a new environmentally friendly morality? Jesus Christ established the church for the primary and main purpose of professing and proclaiming Him as the crucified and resurrected Lord of all. As someone who leans Eastern Orthodox, I would also add that the church was created to sacramentally offer Christ´s grace — especially in the eucharistic Real Presence. Apparently the church for centuries thought that sacramental spiritual transformation in Jesus Christ was the heatbeat of church life and that it´s Sunday liturgy was to be used for that purpose. Part of me thinks that the apostles would be scratching their head if they went to a local church on Sunday and the centerpiece of the liturgy was a scientist talking about climate change.

    1. Cercatore says:

      Very astute observations Matthew. Remember though, that the world’s population around the time of Jesus’s earthly ministry was around 170 million or possibly up to 300 million (being a generous estimate by some). By mid-November of this year however, we will reach over 8 Billion and counting – Craziness! That’s nearly 27 times as many people to feed and clothe. There potentially just isn’t enough arable land available on the planet to continue to support that kind of population trend. So possibly making it more of an essential part of the overall Gospel message is necessary in this day and age (?) I believe that the ‘Metousiosis’ can and should occur through the ‘Transignification’ of the elements where “The reality of the bread and wine is changed during the mass not in any physical way, but in a way which is nonetheless real, for as soon as they signify the body and blood of Christ, they become sacramental, embodying and revealing Christ’s presence in a way which is experientially real. In other words, when the meaning of the elements changes, their reality changes for those who have faith in Christ and accept the new meaning that he gave them, whereas for those without faith and who are unaware of their divinely given meaning, they appear to remain bread and wine.” – Joseph Martos

  6. Matthew says:

    Hello Cercatore. One can consider any social problem, danger, or cause that might have been centerpiece during the first century, but I still contend the church would not have brought a speaker in to discuss these things during its most holy liturgical time. The early church was certainly socially aware and that same church through its social outreach brought many a man and woman to faith, but it didn´t discuss these things during its Acts 2:42 fellowship time I don´t think.

    I find the Eastern Orthodox understanding of the Eucharistic mystery to be very helpful. It´s really Jesus in body and blood, but we don´t have to argue about the details about how all that comes to pass.

  7. Matthew says:

    Also Cercatore, I am not intimately familiar with Joseph Martos´ work, but it seems he wants to argue that the Fathers of the Church were often wrong in how they dealt with and interpreted Scripture. He opts for a deconstruction and a reconstruction of sorts, especially in the area of sacramental understanding. Sounds very Protestant to me 🙂 🙂

    1. Cercatore says:

      Matteo,
      I think I quoted Martos because I found the way in which he described ‘Transignification’ to be very intriguing in that, in essence, it is the ‘phenomenology of faith’ that we bring to the Eucharist, that determines its ‘Transubstantiation’(a present sentient flesh & blood reality), rather than any single biomorphic physical process debated between Eucharistic theories, i.e.- Consubstantiation, Impanation, etc… “Impanation” always gets me sidetracked and my mouth watering because it’s too close to the word ‘impanato’- which means ‘breaded’ in Italian. I think one way to possibly reforge the Stewardship of the Earth link, is to embrace and to potentially expand upon the ‘Recapitalization view of Atonement’ where not only does Christ undo the wrong that Adam did, but that he reverses the polarity of Creation itself in the Resurrection and beyond. Natural disasters and human evils continue, but His Family constantly grows with each successive generation whether we want to believe it or not.
      Ciao Fratello Mio

  8. Matthew says:

    Cercatore,
    Do you think this “phenomenology of faith” can occur in spaces outside of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy? I ask because I currently find myself in a Protestant tradition that only offers the Lord´s Supper once monthly. When I receive it, I believe in faith that I am receiving something much more than simply bread and grape juice.

    I am unaware of the atonement theory you mention, though if it indeed does what it claims, then Christ has already in some sense healed the environment?

  9. Cercatore says:

    Most certainly outside, but there are some within those traditions that would disagree and feel that the exclusivity of the environment and those sanctified within it, must remain intact, otherwise it becomes a kind of profane sacrilege. But I think that’s pretty uptight actually. As you know, God weighs and measures the heart above all else and when taking ‘Communion’ (whatever nomenclature one might use) it’s essential that we are is a right state of gratitude and thankfulness for all that he has done and continues to do in our lives. With the Eucharist, not everyone is on the same longitude & latitude in their spiritual journey, so for me, diving into the beauty of that theology has been so helpful spiritually, in comparison to my Evangelical past, where unfortunately it was often marginalized. Since The Reformation and before that time, there has always been this aversion to centralizing it in worship because of the fear of it becoming too arcane and ritualized. The criticism being that; “Well, if you just show up for Mass, participate and do your thing, you’re good for the week, right?”. For certain that attitude has been prevalent, but it could equally be said that excessive emotional and theatrical homilies every Sunday, without Eucharistic contemplation & celebration, are equally as vacuous. I think finding a solid balance in one’s corporate worship is the key. This topic is hashed out fairly well in this discussion by Dr. James Arcadi –

    A Spectrum of Views on the Eucharist// Dr. James Arcadi
    https://youtu.be/LIh24WXlvIs

    I think potentially there has been a ‘metaphysical healing’ of the environment, but that will not reach its ultimate culmination until The Resurrection.

  10. Matthew says:

    Thanks so much Cercatore. After having been raised with the Eucharist in Roman Catholicism, then missing it when I moved into Evangelical circles (both charismatic and non-charismatic), then finding it again in Eastern Orthodox theology (I am not officially Orthodox yet, so I cannot physically partake), it seems to me at least that the Church prior to the Reformation (and even during the early Reformation) got this one right. The Protestant tradition I currently find myself in is way too rational. Every Sunday is a three point sermon. It´s like theological information download on steroids. I really wonder if rich, deep spiritual transformation is taking place in anyone I share the sanctuary with on Sunday mornings? Look …. I appreciate a good sermon or talk that inspires me to think in new and different ways theologically speaking, but if that is the extant of it all I think I (or better said “we”) are truly missing out on something. Even the charismatics, with all their Holy Spirit power, seem to be lacking in sustained spiritual transformation beyond any one isolated experience (though I firmly admit I cannot know anyone´s inner man or woman … that´s God´s business). My point is … I think the Euchatist is the missing nutrient in a spiritual diet that is really not very balanced in many Protestant traditions.

    But here´s something even crazier … as an ex-Roman Catholic who got saved in 1996, I´ll be the first to admit that there are a lot of Roman Catholics who even with the Eucharist are not very far along the spiritual transformation highway! Not sure what to think now …

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