Is God Green?

lewrockwell.comby Laurence M. Vance

I suppose it had to happen eventually so I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised. Yet, the sight of it raised my eyebrows to new heights.

It is made of environmentally friendly materials: a cotton/linen cover, recycled paper, soy-based ink, and a water-based coating. It was manufactured in a green friendly environment where all air is purified and all water is purified and recycled. It is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. It is endorsed by an ecumenical group of Christians and individuals in prominent environmental organizations.

In case you haven't seen it, let me tell you about The Green Bible so you won't have to bother. As a member of the International Society of Bible Collectors, and the author of several books on the Bible, I think I know a little bit about Bibles.

Although The Green Bible (HarperOne, 2008) is based on the New Revised Standard Version, it adds some features to make this Bible an environmentalist one.

First, there is the foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in which he chastises us for being "wantonly wasteful through our reckless consumerism" and devouring of "irreplaceable natural resources" instead of being "responsible stewards preserving our vulnerable, fragile planet home."

The question "Is God green?" is asked at the beginning of the preface, as is "Are we killing our planet?" The author of the preface is not stated, but he (or she) claims that The Green Bible will encourage us "to see God's vision for creation" and help us to "engage in the work of healing and sustaining it."

In the introduction (subtitled "The Power of a Green God") by J. Matthew Sleeth, author of Serve God, Save the Planet, he tells us how, after measuring his family's ecologic footprint, he resigned from his job to "serve God and save the planet," moved into a smaller home, jettisoned his clothes dryer and incandescent bulbs, and began "to preach and teach about creation care all across America." According to Sleeth, the priest in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:31) "represents those of us who refuse to take any responsibility for environmental problems." He believes that "creation care is at the very core of our Christian walk." He further says we can take shorter showers, car pool, and plant trees "as an act to serve the Lord."

The foreword, preface, and introduction are followed by "Reading the Bible through a Green Lens," by Calvin B. DeWitt, a professor of environmental studies and author of Caring for Creation. DeWitt is an advocate of the science of climatology and its findings on global climate change. He maintains that we honor God as creator when "Christian environmental stewardship is part and parcel of everything we do." DeWitt believes that "as God keeps people, so God's people should keep his creation."

This is followed by a message from Pope John Paul II. Obviously, since this pope died in 2005, he couldn't have written something especially for The Green Bible. The editors have printed his message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace from 1990. Clearly, the inclusion of something from a pope is to sucker Catholics into purchasing this Bible.

Brian McLaren, who serves on the board of Sojourners, then explains "Why I Am Green." He seeks a middle ground between socialism and capitalism while condemning a theology that "focuses on eternity in heaven but abandons history on earth." McLaren believes that "the more we remember that we are part of the planet, the more we acknowledge where God has situated us."

The inclusion of Ellen Bernstein, the founder of the first Jewish environmental organization, gives The Green Bible the widest possible ecumenical appeal. She contributes "Creation Theology: A Jewish Perspective." She maintains that "creation theology isn't creationism, the belief that the world was created by God in seven days." Yet, creation theology "can be profoundly helpful to us today, particularly in light of the environmental crisis."

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