THE FINAL REFORMATION

OCTOBER 28 2017

THE FINAL REFORMATION.

On October 31 2017 it is exactly 500 years ago that Martin Luther started a true revolution: challenging the all-powerful ecclesiastical empire, with Rome as its capital. The final outcome: thousands of new denominations, a cacophony of different opinions, the birth of Colonialism and Capitalism. Now, 500 years later do we experience the end of organized religion?
Fact is that from 100 percent participation in matters divine then, today, in our Western World, only a few go to church, mainly the old.

The traditional churches, Anglican, United, Presbyterian, are dying, at least in the village where I live. In Quebec the same is true for the R. C. Church. Our local Anglican Church expired a few years ago, as they could no longer pay the overhead. I was at its last service where many lapsed members came for their final farewell. What were they thinking?
I liked their minister, a very-open-minded, sincere Christian. When, in our Presbyterian Church we had a series of terrible preachers, we often would go there. At the time there also was an excellent Roman Catholic priest in town, who had been a missionary in Mexico. He was truly ecumenical and had no respect for the RC hierarchy.
Not so much the Pentecostal Church. I once went to a concert there, but walked out, couldn’t hack the music, the lyrics and the male-chauvinistic atmosphere.
Then there is our Salvation Army station. It sponsors the food bank, and has a second-hand clothing store. When I needed a black blazer I went there and found a brand-new virgin wool coat for $4.00 and a leather belt for $1.00: can’t beat that. Our village has a limited commercial section, no stores that sell such items, but it does have a large segment of unemployable and disabled people, people that somehow may not feel at home in our church which is thoroughly middleclass, almost half of them retired teachers. Sally Ann fills a definite need in our municipality. The commercial options maybe limited but for the 6500 people that live here there’s lots of religious choice.
Oh yes, I almost forgot the most important part: half of the arae confess to be of the Roman faith. We have two large R. C. churches no more than 4 km apart. Together they seat more than twice the other churches combined. It certainly is not lack of capacity that plagues the churches: the United Church seats some 300 people, the Presbyterian about 250, and the two R.C. churches more than one thousand. Yet on any given Sunday no more than 250 people attend church representing less than 4 percent of the total population. I’m pretty sure that’s an optimistic figure.

Tweed had a large influx of unilingual French people some 150 years ago. When they were registered by the English officers their names were phonetically recorded, so Thibeault turned into Tebo, Robichaud resulted in Rabbishaw, Faubert formed Fobear or Fobert and Villeneuve was transcribed as Villneff, just to cite a few name distortions. Of course, then they all were staunch Catholic.

The church we go to, St Andrew’s Presbyterian, was built in 1890 and inaugurated in 1892. This past Sunday we celebrated our 125th anniversary.
We joined it in 1980 when there was a thriving Sunday School and a regular attendance of some 70 people. The choir then had close to 20 members and competed in music festivals. On our 100th Anniversary we even performed the Messiah.

Since then people have died and moved away. Of the current members only 5 were born into the church. Thanks to an influx of new people we still have a core of some 40 people. The choir, now reduced to 9 people (I am the only tenor), has only one original member: the rest, including the choir leader, are new. Gone is the Sunday school.

Does that indicate that the days for organized religion are numbered and the need for God has disappeared?

Religion will never disappear.

When people stop believing in God they will start believing anything, such as Infinite Economic Growth. “Anyone who thinks that exponential growth can go on forever on a Finite Planet is either a madman, an economist or a politician,” remarked one astute observer.
There must be a lot of mad people in the world, because Exponential Growth is still the reigning mantra in the land. It is pure RELIGION, replacing the Creator God with the god Mammon.

Basically I am an Collapsitarian, a state of mind that finds ample reinforcement today, witness the frightening disappearance of 75 percent of insects, imperilling crops and fruits: another definite sign that we are approaching THE DAY OF THE LORD.

I am a firm believer in the laws of Ecology, one of which is: “everything is connected to everything else”. Our entire societal system consisting of economic, environmental, ecclesiastical segments is one gigantic whole with all parts so intimately intertwined that when one part fails the entire structure collapses: no insects, no humanity. Just last week the WHO – World Health Organization – reported that today one in six deaths world-wide are the result of pollution, the direct result of today’s pseudo religion which allows us to live as kings, with One Hundred Energy slaves at our disposal 24/7 for a very brief time.

One example.

There is a nihilistic strain coursing through the veins of a significant number of people on the American right, composed mostly of Rapture believing, cosmos despising, church people. They delight in Mr. Trump’s effort to annihilate truth and draw energy and purpose from the unsettling effect he has on the nation as a whole. For them, Mr. Trump is a “fighter,” and politics needs to be weaponized in order to be enjoyed. They see politics as World Wrestling entertainment and Mr. Trump as the best wrestler in the ring.

Nihilism and fatalism go together.

Take the farmers across six US states in the wheat belt. They all live – and die – by the OGALLALA aquifer system.
They know what the problems are, and they can clearly see that it has a multi-hundred-year recharge rate, and that they’re drawing it down far too fast. The farmers full well know that if they continue to do this then the very farms that they consider their chief assets are going to be ruined. Now they basically grow corn in a desert. It simply doesn’t make sense. Everybody knows it doesn’t make sense, and yet they persist and continue to do this.

World-wide we do the same thing everywhere: we saturate the soil, water and air with plastic particles and pesticides, which have murderous effects on all life, including insects and humans.

We need an APP for thinking.

When I was running last week, outside, in shorts, at the end of October!, I thought up a perfect APP for making people think. It’s a program that, when activated will suddenly destroy access to the Internet in all of North America forever. That will restore people to think for themselves again. It would also bring people back to church, for fellowship, a necessary ingredient for sanity, wellbeing and longer life, because people who go to church live longer and healthier, for the simple reasons that we are created to be part of a community. In the Apostles’ Creed, the only line that gets an elaboration is: I believe in One Holy Catholic Church, THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS.

What is the role of the church in these FINAL REFORMATION DAYS?

By and large the church no longer can bring the truth, because it will only alienate the people in the pew, most of them being Heaven Adherents.

The truth is found in 2 Peter 3: 13, where it says that
“In keeping with Christ’s promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

It is now all too clear that there is no righteousness in our state of affairs – and I don’t have to repeat the multitude of environmental sins we constantly commit. N.T Wright, in his study outline on Revelation notes that one pastor, after reading Wright’s book SURPRISED BY HOPE, started to preach the NEW EARTH gospel, upsetting his major contributors who had grown up with the Heaven doctrine.

That means that the church is caught between two opposing forces. The inevitable result is an ineffective gospel. It is high time that the church develop a NEW EARTH GOSPEL and prepare THE WORLD FOR AN EARTHLY FUTURE, because without a NEW EARTH emphasis the church has little to say.

I believe that, if the church plods on, torn between heaven and earth, and unwilling or unable to implement 2 Peter 3: 13, then both NULLA SALUS EXTRA ECCLESIAM and NULLA SALUS INTRA ECCLESIAM hold true.
This means that even though “there is no salvation outside the church” there also is “no longer salvation inside the church”, because all it does is prolonging PIOUS SECULARISM as Bonhoeffer put it.

In that case what happens to the NEW EARTH BELIEVERS?

For them the church is there to teach them humility, to learn patience. For them the church is there to love our fellow neighbors in spite of unbelief, in spite of ignorance, in spite of misunderstanding, in spite of traditional faith, in spite of hypocrisy.

Jesus knew that the Jewish religion of his time was godless. Yet he went to the synagogue and temple. That’s why I too still go to church where the minister has the unenviable job to balance between heaven and earth.

THE FINAL REFORMATION.

History teaches us that every 500-600 years a new start is made in religion. Major religions seem to be born every five- six hundred years. Moses and the emergence of the Yahweh worship took place some 1200 years before Christ. About 600 years later the world saw the birth of three separate religious streams: Zoroaster in Persia, Confucius in China and Buddha in South East Asia, while the Solomon Temple in Jerusalem was also inaugurated.
The Christian Religion took off with the death of Christ, while Islam saw its rise with Mohammed who lived from 570-632.
The Crusades – 1096-1291- could be seen as a major change, as the church became militant. This was followed by the 100 YEAR WAR between France and England -1337-1453-, and especially the 14th Century Black Plague pandemic which killed at least one-third of the European population.
All this prepared the world for the next religious event, the Protestant Reformation, led by Martin Luther on October 31 1517.

Now, with the speeding up of history thanks to our carboholic addiction, 500 years later we are due for what I call the FINAL REFORMATION.

As I see it, this FINAL STAGE will take the form of John 3: 16 where all churches, all denominations, all religions will embrace LOVE FOR THE COSMOS, or perish, most likely the latter. That is what Jesus prayed for as recorded in John 17: 21: “That all may be one,” uniting on the theme of LOVING THE COSMOS. He was about to give his life for this goal.

That’s why today churches everywhere must ignore all denominational directives, most shelve all confessional documents and contemporary statements and unite under the banner of 2 Peter 3: 10-13:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live HOLY and GODLY lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Living HOLY and GODLY lives means that we must be totally aware of Christ’s sacrifice, be in tune with God’s Creation, and ban, as much as possible, all polluting elements in our life and so effectively prepare ourselves for the arrival of THE NEW CREATION.
THAT CONSTITUTES THE FINAL REFORMATION.

Posted in Co-owning the Earth | Leave a comment

THE FINAL REFORMATION

OCTOBER 28 2017

THE FINAL REFORMATION.

On October 31 2017 it is exactly 500 years ago that Martin Luther started a true revolution: challenging the all-powerful ecclesiastical empire, with Rome as its capital. The final outcome: thousands of new denominations, a cacophony of different opinions, the birth of Colonialism and Capitalism. Now, 500 years later do we experience the end of organized religion?
Fact is that from 100 percent participation in matters divine then, today, in our Western World, only a few go to church, mainly the old.

The traditional churches, Anglican, United, Presbyterian, are dying, at least in the village where I live. In Quebec the same is true for the R. C. Church. Our local Anglican Church expired a few years ago, as they could no longer pay the overhead. I was at its last service where many lapsed members came for their final farewell. What were they thinking?
I liked their minister, a very-open-minded, sincere Christian. When, in our Presbyterian Church we had a series of terrible preachers, we often would go there. At the time there also was an excellent Roman Catholic priest in town, who had been a missionary in Mexico. He was truly ecumenical and had no respect for the RC hierarchy.
Not so much the Pentecostal Church. I once went to a concert there, but walked out, couldn’t hack the music, the lyrics and the male-chauvinistic atmosphere.
Then there is our Salvation Army station. It sponsors the food bank, and has a second-hand clothing store. When I needed a black blazer I went there and found a brand-new virgin wool coat for $4.00 and a leather belt for $1.00: can’t beat that. Our village has a limited commercial section, no stores that sell such items, but it does have a large segment of unemployable and disabled people, people that somehow may not feel at home in our church which is thoroughly middleclass, almost half of them retired teachers. Sally Ann fills a definite need in our municipality. The commercial options maybe limited but for the 6500 people that live here there’s lots of religious choice.
Oh yes, I almost forgot the most important part: half of the arae confess to be of the Roman faith. We have two large R. C. churches no more than 4 km apart. Together they seat more than twice the other churches combined. It certainly is not lack of capacity that plagues the churches: the United Church seats some 300 people, the Presbyterian about 250, and the two R.C. churches more than one thousand. Yet on any given Sunday no more than 250 people attend church representing less than 4 percent of the total population. I’m pretty sure that’s an optimistic figure.

Tweed had a large influx of unilingual French people some 150 years ago. When they were registered by the English officers their names were phonetically recorded, so Thibeault turned into Tebo, Robichaud resulted in Rabbishaw, Faubert formed Fobear or Fobert and Villeneuve was transcribed as Villneff, just to cite a few name distortions. Of course, then they all were staunch Catholic.

The church we go to, St Andrew’s Presbyterian, was built in 1890 and inaugurated in 1892. This past Sunday we celebrated our 125th anniversary.
We joined it in 1980 when there was a thriving Sunday School and a regular attendance of some 70 people. The choir then had close to 20 members and competed in music festivals. On our 100th Anniversary we even performed the Messiah.

Since then people have died and moved away. Of the current members only 5 were born into the church. Thanks to an influx of new people we still have a core of some 40 people. The choir, now reduced to 9 people (I am the only tenor), has only one original member: the rest, including the choir leader, are new. Gone is the Sunday school.

Does that indicate that the days for organized religion are numbered and the need for God has disappeared?

Religion will never disappear.

When people stop believing in God they will start believing anything, such as Infinite Economic Growth. “Anyone who thinks that exponential growth can go on forever on a Finite Planet is either a madman, an economist or a politician,” remarked one astute observer.
There must be a lot of mad people in the world, because Exponential Growth is still the reigning mantra in the land. It is pure RELIGION, replacing the Creator God with the god Mammon.

Basically I am an Collapsitarian, a state of mind that finds ample reinforcement today, witness the frightening disappearance of 75 percent of insects, imperiling crops and fruits: another definite sign that we are approaching THE DAY OF THE LORD.

I am a firm believer in the laws of Ecology, one of which is: “everything is connected to everything else”. Our entire societal system consisting of economic, environmental, ecclesiastical segments is one gigantic whole with all parts so intimately intertwined that when one part fails the entire structure collapses: no insects, no humanity. Just last week the WHO – World Health Organization – reported that today one in six deaths world-wide are the result of pollution, the direct result of today’s pseudo religion which allows us to live as kings, with One Hundred Energy slaves at our disposal 24/7 for a very brief time.

One example.

There is a nihilistic strain coursing through the veins of a significant number of people on the American right, composed mostly of Rapture believing, cosmos despising, church people. They delight in Mr. Trump’s effort to annihilate truth and draw energy and purpose from the unsettling effect he has on the nation as a whole. For them, Mr. Trump is a “fighter,” and politics needs to be weaponized in order to be enjoyed. They see politics as World Wrestling entertainment and Mr. Trump as the best wrestler in the ring.

Nihilism and fatalism go together.

Take the farmers across six US states in the wheat belt. They all live – and die – by the OGALLALA aquifer system.
They know what the problems are, and they can clearly see that it has a multi-hundred-year recharge rate, and that they’re drawing it down far too fast. The farmers full well know that if they continue to do this then the very farms that they consider their chief assets are going to be ruined. Now they basically grow corn in a desert. It simply doesn’t make sense. Everybody knows it doesn’t make sense, and yet they persist and continue to do this.

World-wide we do the same thing everywhere: we saturate the soil, water and air with plastic particles and pesticides, which have murderous effects on all life, including insects and humans.

We need an APP for thinking.

When I was running last week, outside, in shorts, at the end of October!, I thought up a perfect APP for making people think. It’s a program that, when activated will suddenly destroy access to the Internet in all of North America forever. That will restore people to think for themselves again. It would also bring people back to church, for fellowship, a necessary ingredient for sanity, wellbeing and longer life, because people who go to church live longer and healthier, for the simple reasons that we are created to be part of a community. In the Apostles’ Creed, the only line that gets an elaboration is: I believe in One Holy Catholic Church, THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS.

What is the role of the church in these FINAL REFORMATION DAYS?

By and large the church no longer can bring the truth, because it will only alienate the people in the pew, most of them being Heaven Adherents.

The truth is found in 2 Peter 3: 13, where it says that
“In keeping with Christ’s promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

It is now all too clear that there is no righteousness in our state of affairs – and I don’t have to repeat the multitude of environmental sins we constantly commit. N.T Wright, in his study outline on Revelation notes that one pastor, after reading Wright’s book SURPRISED BY HOPE, started to preach the NEW EARTH gospel, upsetting his major contributors who had grown up with the Heaven doctrine.

That means that the church is caught between two opposing forces. The inevitable result is an ineffective gospel. It is high time that the church develop a NEW EARTH GOSPEL and prepare THE WORLD FOR AN EARTHLY FUTURE, because without a NEW EARTH emphasis the church has little to say.

I believe that, if the church plods on, torn between heaven and earth, and unwilling or unable to implement 2 Peter 3: 13, then both NULLA SALUS EXTRA ECCLESIAM and NULLA SALUS INTRA ECCLESIAM hold true.
This means that even though “there is no salvation outside the church” there also is “no longer salvation inside the church”, because all it does is prolonging PIOUS SECULARISM as Bonhoeffer put it.

In that case what happens to the NEW EARTH BELIEVERS?

For them the church is there to teach them humility, to learn patience. For them the church is there to love our fellow neighbors in spite of unbelief, in spite of ignorance, in spite of misunderstanding, in spite of traditional faith, in spite of hypocrisy.

Jesus knew that the Jewish religion of his time was godless. Yet he went to the synagogue and temple. That’s why I too still go to church where the minister has the unenviable job to balance between heaven and earth.

THE FINAL REFORMATION.

History teaches us that every 500-600 years a new start is made in religion. Major religions seem to be born every five- six hundred years. Moses and the emergence of the Yahweh worship took place some 1200 years before Christ. About 600 years later the world saw the birth of three separate religious streams: Zoroaster in Persia, Confucius in China and Buddha in South East Asia, while the Solomon Temple in Jerusalem was also inaugurated.
The Christian Religion took off with the death of Christ, while Islam saw its rise with Mohammed who lived from 570-632.
The Crusades – 1096-1291- could be seen as a major change, as the church became militant. This was followed by the 100 YEAR WAR between France and England -1337-1453-, and especially the 14th Century Black Plague pandemic which killed at least one-third of the European population.
All this prepared the world for the next religious event, the Protestant Reformation, led by Martin Luther on October 31 1517.

Now, with the speeding up of history thanks to our carboholic addiction, 500 years later we are due for what I call the FINAL REFORMATION.

As I see it, this FINAL STAGE will take the form of John 3: 16 where all churches, all denominations, all religions will embrace LOVE FOR THE COSMOS, or perish, most likely the latter. That is what Jesus prayed for as recorded in John 17: 21: “That all may be one,” uniting on the theme of LOVING THE COSMOS. He was about to give his life for this goal.

That’s why today churches everywhere must ignore all denominational directives, most shelve all confessional documents and contemporary statements and unite under the banner of 2 Peter 3: 10-13:
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live HOLY and GODLY lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Living HOLY and GODLY lives means that we must be totally aware of Christ’s sacrifice, be in tune with God’s Creation, and ban, as much as possible, all polluting elements in our life and so effectively prepare ourselves for the arrival of THE NEW CREATION.
THAT CONSTITUTES THE FINAL REFORMATION.

Posted in Co-owning the Earth | Leave a comment

WHY ARE WE HERE?

October 21 2017

WHY ARE WE HERE?

We, you and I, are here for one purpose only: to look after creation. Nothing else comes even close. It’s also a rewarding affair: when we look after creation, creation looks after us.

This ‘cultural mandate’ was given to the first human pair: there, in the beginning, before time started (because it was supposed to be FOREVER) the original human calling was service in its fullest scope and doing this gladly with all it possessed. That was clearly evident when God entrusted Adam and Eve with the occupancy and care for the cosmos. Entrusting implied full ownership: total possession.

Caring for creation was then and still is now our primary cultural mandate.

Faint notions of this original assignment are still visible to us. Actually it’s becoming more evident now that creation is in such a state of imbalance because our creational sins are catching up on us. You see the opposite is true as well: neglecting, abusing creation makes it our enemy.

Still………

Scientific observations confirm that living along greenery, close to trees, in the midst of vegetation, soaking in nature makes us happier, and lengthens our lifespan.

It is really striking how great our powers were at the time of creation when God allotted us full ownership of creation.
Basically the Creator said: “I give you complete freedom to develop the earth as you see fit. I will first allow you a learning period, in which you can begin to see the intricacy of all created matter, so that you can respect and understand how all things fit together. After that you can start to develop created matter, to deploy the means of creation, use your brains and so serve God.”

When we start to learn about ourselves, which is perhaps the highest goal of every human, we realize that all of us have many diverse abilities and talents, but we all need three specific traits: (1) We have to acquire special knowledge, (2) Must aim for total peace with the Highest, and (3) See the holiness of all creation.

Life, from the very beginning was a classroom; life from the very outset was a harmonious relationship with the Creator; life was always to be a constant, never ceasing learning and worship experience.

Those three features give us humans our unique stamp, lending us a character that distinguishes us from every other creature, making us rational, spiritual, and moral beings.

Last week I was reading “TENDING THE GARDEN: essays on the Gospel and the earth.” The introduction cited a survey done by Yale University, tracing human attitudes toward nature and wildlife. The outcome was rather startling: “the more frequently an individual attended religious services, the higher the probability that his or her attitudes toward animals would tend toward those of domination or even outright negativity. Similarly, those who reported that they rarely (if ever) attended religious services were far more likely to display an ecological or naturalistic stance toward the animal world.”

One key rule.

Of course we must respect creation as an extension of God, the Creator: it is the earthly, natural reality of God’s creativity.
When we look around us into the whole wide world out there, we immediately are overwhelmed by the rich diversity we see everywhere. The immense richness is simply astounding. The abundance of varieties of beings and the many kinds of creatures is beyond belief.

A closer survey discovers ever-newer shapes and forms and ever more encounters with different, previously unknown species.
When we more closely examine what goes on around us, then instead of mere admiration for the amazing newness of it all, we are struck even more by the unity and order that are evident everywhere, because everything on earth is somehow harmoniously connected to everything else. The one species influences the other and the one creature depends on the other.
Plants cannot exist without the earth that feeds them. Animals, on the other hand, cannot function without plants, as these are often the sole source for their food.

The phenomena of day and night, of summer and winter, of rain and drought, of heat and cold, all are part of the grand chain
of happenings, depending on where the sun happens to be and from where the wind blows. The one event influences another and yet the one cannot exist without the presence of the other.

We continuously discover that the order is one full of purpose. The great connectedness of all these entities is at the same time the reason why the totality is served by it as well. We don’t even need to explore everything too deeply to discover the amazing fact that behind everything there is an invisible set of laws: that the one as it were serves to complete the other. The butterflies serve the flowers just as much as the flowers serve the butterflies. The sun, that big, beneficial celestial body, which from an immeasurable distance bathes the earth in multicolored splendor, is itself not conscious that from a distance of millions of miles it brings light and warmth. It is the sun that maintains life on earth. It is the sun that causes plants to sprout out of the moist earth. It is the sun that removes mourning and remakes it into merriment. If the sun had a mind of its own, then perhaps it would muse: I shine because that’s my nature: I delight in it; it’s the joy of my life. But it knows not that a Hand mightier than the sun has included it in the beautiful law of serving. Because, unknowingly, that so superior sun serves the tiny, tiny plant that full of life expectancy courageously stretches its stem to absorb its rays.

When we look around us with open eyes and minds, then there
is one thing that time and again touches us to the core: it’s all about serving. The law of serving is at the heart of every creature: it is the overarching purpose for every being. That law makes it possible for the entire world to exist.

Every creature may think that it is there only for itself, but in the final analysis it is nothing else but a servant for others. To be alive, to exist at all, finds it destination simply in serving others. Without that law nothing else can be. Yet that law of serving is remarkable in more than one way.

What is so truly amazing is that, as a rule, no creature is there for the sole reason of serving, as they all think that self-help
is their sole goal, but all that serving goes automatically, and thus is simply an unconscious act. It is as if a mighty hand brings all this into motion and, in spite of itself, stimulates this self-less serving. This serving, therefore, is not a sacrifice, is not a duty, but an in-born act, without compulsion, without intent. Each single being is there according to its nature, but everything together is so oriented that the existence of the one supports the other and maintains it.

It also soon becomes clear that the act of serving changes in direct proportion to the higher status of the species.
There are three categories of beings in creation, three large classes, which differ among themselves.

The first category consists of the ordinary, lifeless material. That
too involves service, but it is one that is ostensibly accidental. The fertile soil serves the tiny seeds that germinate there but they are unaware of this, and that’s alright with them. A blanket of snow, with its dense cover, serves to protect the field against the bitter cold. The high mountains also serve when they gather the snow in the winter and preserve it throughout the spring only to release it in the summer and so replenish the rivers with their pure and cool water. But all this proceeds unknowingly.

Then there is the rotating of the earth around its axis. Is this not also a serving of immense meaning because this daily motion makes the transition from day to night possible, something that, in the final analysis, enables us to live?

All these elements are unaware of their serving. Sometimes, circumstances may cause severe damage. This happens, for instance, when unusual rainfall results in widespread flooding, or when a merciless sun burns the promising harvest to a crisp. In the seemingly nonliving world the great order of natural law still rules, generally attuned to the great law of service; but under the prodding of the great Adversary it is now more and more inclined toward destruction.

In the second place another broad range of species can be found in the smaller of the animals and plants. In that segment service takes on a more defined role, has more purpose, more unity, and looks to be more intentional. The plant offers itself with all its tender organs, and, when circumstances become unfavorable, it even changes its approach to other methods to serve better.
Upon closer examination it appears that the typical plant is less concerned about its own welfare and more about the well-being of its progeny.

The mother offers her life to advance that of her child. The full ear shrivels to dust when the seeds have been released into the earth. To propagate the line the single specimen brings the ultimate sacrifice.
The mother protects the young against all danger and would rather perish than neglect her newborn. There also is evidence of a peculiar “specimen-egoism.”

We are on top, but…..

At the very top of these three compartments is the final stage, that of the conscious possessors of free will, the human species.

With humans service is simply different, is infinitely richer, but because of that also more difficult. It is self-evident that the aforementioned natural instincts are also present in the human race.
There too they care for children; there too a touch of “specimen-egoism.” But these powerful instinctive forces are here recognized as such. Humans know exactly what they do and why they do it.
Consequently humans have much greater opportunity to serve.

Service becomes specialized as each assumes a small part of the great societal task. The trouble with us humans is that the inclination to only serve our specific needs is both stronger and more dangerous, promoting our welfare at the expense of our fellow citizens and creation. Even though we are more conscious of what we do and are able to gauge our needs we also can easily ignore the plight of our neighbors and creation.

That happens all too easily when we center life around our own interests, while often pushing away the needs of others. In short: serving is for most of us something we are loath to do, driven by egoism, the “I come first” instinct. That “I come first” inclination
often overwhelms all other feelings, stifles them, and comes out on top. With us humans the urge of “me first” usually takes priority over conflict, the struggle, the concept of serving.

Given this weakness, we have been given a command: serve one another! This serving, something all other species of the world accomplish automatically and by instinct, we have to implement in full awareness of what we do. In this third category we are given the command, the moral code: Love your neighbor as yourself, and God and his creation above everything else.

There has been one, the human Jesus Christ, who has expressed
his life’s calling: The Son of Man, Humanity personified, has not come to be served, but to serve.

Not serving creation comes at a price.

Already we see the contours of the end times. This past week it was discovered that 75 percent of all insects world-wide have disappeared: jeopardizing pollination and starving birds. That is just one sign.

The end manifests itself in an increasing and senseless chaos among the human race in ways far greater than ever before experienced. In the very end, thoroughly evil elements will use the powerful instruments of modern technology to make life totally machine-dominated.

Still, we, you and I, are here for one purpose only: to look after creation. Nothing else comes even close. It’s also a rewarding affair: when we look after creation, creation looks after us.

That was and still is our ‘cultural mandate’.

P.S. Some of these thoughts I owe to J.H. Bavinck in his book “The Riddle of Life”.

Posted in Co-owning the Earth | Leave a comment

THE LOST GOSPEL OF THE EARTH (2)

OCTOBER 14 2017

THE LOST GOSPEL OF THE EARTH. (2)

My Dutch nature compels me to be entirely truthful, which forces me to see politeness as a form of hypocrisy, consider bluntness to be an asset while insincerity and ambiguity are a no-no.

For this week’s critique I have singled out the contemporary Statements of Faith of two denominations: the Christian Reformed Church’s OUR WORLD BELONGS TO GOD, and for the Presbyterian Church in Canada its LIVING FAITH, a statement of Christian belief.

Synopsis.

I believe that the current ecclesiastical set-up is becoming unglued because of an anthropocentric reading of the Scriptures and neglect of and even disdain for The Gospel of the Earth.
This has brought us to a religious state where churches have become ineffective as their basic assumptions are wrong, those assumptions being that the church is there to proclaim personal salvation, that creation is of little or no consequence and that heaven is the ultimate destination of believers.

Let me state in advance that I am not a theologian and have not studied theology in any shape or form. I now believe that all church doctrines and denominations have become irrelevant: only one thing matters: LOVING CREATION.

I do admit to being a life-long student of the Bible and have become a great admirer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings.
The same is true for J. H. Bavinck whose (1) HET RAADSEL VAN ONS LEVEN, (2) AND VOORT WENTELEN DE EEUWEN and (3) DE MENSCH EN ZIJN WERELD I have translated and now are available as (1) THE RIDDLE OF LIFE, (2) BETWEEN THE BEGINNING AND THE END, A Radical Kingdom Vision, and the yet to be published (3) ON AND ON THE AGES ROLL, an exposition of REVELATION.

My Love for creation is based on John 3: 16.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls John 3: 16 the most important text in the New Testament. Here it is: “For God so loved the world (COSMOS) that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Why is this text seen so important?

At a bible study session I asked what the word ‘world’ in this context meant. The general response was that it meant ‘the people’, and for a long time that too was my opinion, until I looked closer at the word ‘world’, which, in the original is ‘cosmos’.
My dictionary defines the word ‘cosmos’ as “the world or universe regarded as an orderly, harmonious system.” It cites chaos as the opposite.
In essence this means that, since God loves the cosmos so much, it is our Christian duty to do the same: it is not enough to love one’s neighbors: love for creation is even more essential because it includes everything and everybody.

Based on this premise I believe that HUMAN REDEMPTION CAN BE UNDERSTOOD ONLY AS AN INTEGRAL PART OF REDEMPTION OF THE WHOLE CREATION.

That is a statement not found in either of the religious outlines.

The Christian Reformed statement was first written in 1986 and a much improved version appeared in 2008 in which the ‘stewardship’ designation was dropped, and Climate Change was noted.

In businesslike terms John 3:16 states that God bartered his Son in exchange for the return of the COSMOS. It’s as simple as that.

Somehow the Devil, by means of the most devious act ever committed, had secured ownership of the COSMOS, a deal that took place in the Garden of Eden. There this wily evil angel hoodwinked an immature and inexperienced couple, to whom God had entrusted his creation, in transferring ownership from them to the Great Deceiver, an act which has detrimentally affected everything and everybody, until Christ returns.
Psalm 115: 16 is quite explicit about ownership: “The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to humanity”.

We all agree that the world has God’s signature on it, just as the famous painting by Rembrandt THE NIGHT WATCH carries his imprint. Yes, creation is God’s work of art, but just as Rembrandt’s painting is now owned by the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum, so too, to our increasing sorrow, Creation too is no longer under divine guidance. That means that, just as THE NIGHTWATCH has undergone change of ownership, so too has the earth.

All that is confirmed in John 3: 16, where God, the Father, paid the ultimate price – the life of his one and only son – to buy the COSMOS back from The Evil One.

John 3: 16 is so important because properly understanding this text – unconditionally LOVING the COSMOS – guarantees us ETERNAL LIFE.

Here’s what I believe!! This is my conclusion:

Christ did not come into the world to save sinners: no, Christ came into the world with the SOLE purpose to wrest ownership of the cosmos away from Satan and restore it to the people of God.
The Creator-God was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice – the life of his Son – to buy back the COSMOS from the Satan. That’s what happened on Calvary. Jesus died by offering his divine body for the sole purpose of regaining ownership of the COSMOS.

As a rule churches in general give this text a pious twist and say that he died for our sins. He did that too, but that was and is an incidental matter: God’s main goal was the re-acquisition of the Cosmos which WE had sold to the Evil One and which Christ bought back with his blood.

THAT IS THE LOST GOSPEL OF THE EARTH, a message which the church must regain.

Let me repeat: somehow the cosmos, the world that God created had fallen into the wrong hands: it no longer was God’s cosmos, it no longer belonged to the creator. Ownership had changed to the great dismay of God, the creator. His beloved work of art, of which Psalm 33: 9 says that “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm”, that wonderful world, created by and through God’s Command, had fallen into the wrong hands.

This means that today, the world in which we live, is not in God’s care, but subject to the evil influences of the Great Deceiver. This is becoming more evident by the day.
And the Bible backs that up.

Three examples point that out.

1. Matthew 4:8: Again the devil took him (Jesus) to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.

2. 1 John 5: 19: We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

3. John 17: 15-16: My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

These three texts indicate that not God, but the Devil, which Jesus often calls, The Evil One, is in charge of this world. It explains the Holocaust, Nuclear weapons, Climate Change and today the emergence of Trump.

In other words: The world which God created and which, at one time, “belonged to God” as the creator, no longer is his, but has fallen into the wrong hands.

When the Devil took Jesus on a high mountain and showed him all the wonders of the world, the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, the wild-life abundance of Africa, the indigenous culture of the Americas and implied that all this –the entire world – was now the grand possession of the Devil, Jesus did not dispute that claim. He did not say, “This world belongs to God.” No, Jesus knew that the Devil spoke the truth.

He affirmed that when he prayed to his father – as recorded in John 17 – where he asked, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”

That text has often been used by the Heaven adherents to prove that we don’t belong to this world. But that is incorrect: Jesus knows that the world we live in, is in the power of the evil one, and that we should have no part of such ownership. Jesus wanted nothing to do with such a world, and neither should we. We are in the world, but don’t belong to a world fully in the possession of the enemy, the evil one. We simply cannot participate in a world, totally owned by the Devil.

That situation is plainly explained by John in his letter: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”

The LIVING FAITH, the 1984 “Statement of Christian Belief” of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, takes as point of departure that God is still fully in charge of creation and while the Devil plays a role in the world, creation ownership remains fully vested in the God creator.

OUR WORLD BELONGS TO GOD, a Contemporary Testimony of the Christian Reformed Church has as its Preamble:
As followers of Jesus Christ,
living in this world—
which some seek to control,
and others view with despair—
we declare with joy and trust:
Our world belongs to God!

Not a very auspicious beginning, but that is beside the point. The statement should not have said that ‘some seek to control’, but that today it is fully controlled by the evil one. That would have been the truth and would have altered the entire document.

Also neither of the Reformed testimonies even hints that there is a Created Word, which, quoting the Belgic Confession is “like a beautiful book, in which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God: his eternal power and his divinity.”
Also nowhere in these two statements is found that creation is holy and that, when we cause pollution, we sin. Also nowhere in the statements is creation seen as alive, as suffering, as burdened under the sins of the people, yet Isaiah 24 eloquently outlines how:
The world languishes and withers,
The heavens languish together with the earth,
The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants,
For they have transgressed the laws,
Violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant.

That points to the all-important covenant God made with humanity and Creation, as outlined in Genesis 9.

Churches are ANTHROPOCENTRIC.

Our sin, so vividly illustrated in the Book of Job, is ANTHROPOCENTRIC, the arrogant and deluded belief that the earth and the universe were designed for human benefit and control. Churches today, almost without exception, foster some sort of mindless obedience, void as it is of any creational connection, tacitly if not openly advocating that cursed heaven connection.
The Book of Job outlines more than any other book in the Bible that we ought to give ourselves whole-heartedly over to the universe, arising from humility that leads to wisdom instead of anthropocentric pride.

Just as Job is born again, converted from an EGO-centered life to an ECO-centered consciousness based on awe, we too must see that our own conversion and the redemption of creation go hand in hand.

What both statements should have emphasized is the Coming of God’s Kingdom, the New Creation, following Jesus’ plea, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6: 33)
That means that when we pursue the welfare of creation as our goal in life, everything else will fall into place, including our personal salvation.

Bavinck categorically states that “It is God’s intention to unite all fractured parts of his creation into one overarching harmony. There is no such thing as individual salvation. All salvation is of necessity universal. The goal of our life can never be that we personally may enjoy God and be saved in him. The goal of our life can only be that we again become part of the wider context of the Kingdom of God where all things are again unified under the one and only all-wise will of him who lives and rules forever.”

That’s what I really miss in both statements of faith.

P. S.
Praise the Lord: today – October 14 – I am entering my 90th year!!

Posted in Co-owning the Earth | Leave a comment

THE LOST GOSPEL OF THE EARTH (1)

OCTOBER 7 2017

THE LOST GOSPEL OF THE EARTH. (1)

Last week I went to a memorial service, where a celebrated preacher did the meditation. He lived up to my expectation: a good speaker, well versed in the Scriptures, giving a solid orthodox message.
Of course I had expected it. When he mentioned THE WORD, the Bible, he sounded totally convinced and was completely confident that there was no other Word, that only Sola Scriptura (Latin: by Scripture alone) contains the infallible rule of faith and practice.

I no longer believe that.

That Scripture is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path, as per Psalm 119:105, is no longer understood: we stare so much at the light that it blinds us from seeing the path.

I am becoming more and more convinced that Sola Scriptura is killing the church. It fosters complacency and lethargy and self-satisfaction and apathy, plaguing the church more than anything else. The Sola Scriptura dogma simply endorses the status-quo. The trouble is that we are quite content with the sort of Christianity even though it attracts fewer and fewer people.

Yet I still believe that the Reformed church of which I have been a life-long member has the capability and the potential to truly be a reforming element in the world, but it must retrieve the Lost Gospel of the Earth.

When I arrived in Canada in 1951 as a 23 year old, I was still completely a child of the neo-Calvinist movement, fed with it since birth. As a self-employed person since 1952 I had the opportunity and the desire to serve on boards of local and provincial Christian movements – serving from 1959-65 as the recording and corresponding secretary of the (Province of) Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools. That plus being secretary of the local Christian School society and member of its education committee took then perhaps 20 percent of my time, while simultaneously building a business and providing for a growing family. Amazingly in that 6 year period I was able to save $5,000 as a down payment, enough to build an 1800 square feet house, costing then $20,000, including the site- 80 x 180’ – situated on a major street in St. Catharines, On. Built-in was my home office from where I operated my real estate and general insurance business.

These where exciting years in which, as a friend put it, we threw a few bricks together and, miraculously, full-fledged Christian elementary and high schools emerged, fully in line with our neo-Calvinistic principles. We were truly convinced that we were helping God building his kingdom.

Since then, thanks to reading and translating Johan Herman Bavinck’s book, now entitled BETWEEN THE BEGINNING AND THE END, A RADICAL KINGDOM VISION, I have come to see that God’s Kingdom is not of human origin but is the New Creation to come. That’s why I believe with Bavinck that personal salvation and the salvation of the earth are two sides of the same coin: we can’t have one without the other. All the Christian schools and all the Christian churches and the people who make these possible, are useless and a waste of natural resources and good intentions if these institutions come at the expense of environmental cohesion, while fostering an implied Heaven belief.

This was again confirmed in that Memorial Service, where the preacher emphasized the resurrection and life eternal, but where the requested song “Guide me, O my great Redeemer pilgrim through this barren land”, reaffirmed the opposite.
This song was composed in 1745, when the earth had less than 1 billion people and was basically in pristine condition. The ‘pilgrim’ reference and the ‘barrenness’ mentioned, were philosophically inspired by Greek pagan thinking, seeing earth as a passing–through stage, with nature not seen as touched by God’s grace and heaven the ultimate goal. The Greek influence was again quite evident in the next verse, “When I tread the verge of Jordan”, which, just like the disdain for the earth, is directly taken from Greek Pagan Mythology, where the STYX is the river that forms the boundary between EARTH and the UNDERWORLD, while a piously renamed JORDAN gave it a biblical semblance.

We should not forget that hymns are usually the only way the people in the pew participate in a worship service, and, judging by the Presbyterian song book, at least half of them point to heaven. That’s what the average Christian holds true and is highly upset when this is contested.

We are being tested.

We only dwell on our earth for a very short while compared to eternity. Yet it is a tremendously important period because it determines our forever-future: our brief span of life here, some 80-90 years at most, is a bagatelle compared to eternity, yet it serves as the proving grounds for the Hereafter.

The belief that Sola Scriptura, that the Scriptures alone point us to the road to salvation, holds no longer true. It may sound pious, but it is a false piety, correctly labeled so by Bonhoeffer as Pious Secularism.

Christian endeavor of any kind has the tendency and the danger of seeing the church where we worship, the Christian schools where some send their kids, as the road to heaven. We forget that history marches on and current global developments warn us that we are racing toward creational demise, which urgently requires new thinking.

This is the month of Re-Reformation, 500 years after Luther.

This ought to be the year of rediscovering THE LOST GOSPEL OF THE EARTH, without which all what goes under the name of Christianity will become futile.
The only hope to revive the church is by totally changing the approach to the Good News.

Paul sets the tone.

Paul, in his letter to Romans, the very first chapter, makes an amazing statement.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse: for even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.”

Let me rephrase this passage from Romans 1 into everyday language. Here Paul writes that by simply looking at creation, living in it, seeing how the bee serves the fruit tree, how each segment complements another, discovering that everything is connected to everything else: this immense intricacy should convince us to detect the divine design, which leaves us no excuse. That’s why the Belgic Confession plainly states that:
We know God first, by the creation, preservation and government of the universe, since that universe is before our eyes like a beautiful book to which all creatures, great and small, are as letters to make us ponder the invisible things of God, his eternal power and his divinity, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1: 20.
All these things are enough to convict humanity and to leave them without excuse.

This is our Father’s World, which makes it God’s PRIMARY OR DIRECT WORD, in contrast with the Bible which is God’s SECONDARY OR INDIRECT WORD finalized by human vote at the Nicea concilium in 350 AD.
With gusto we sing ’in the rustling grass I hear him pass – he speaks to me everywhere’. We mouth it, but we do not live it. We really don’t want to see. Intellectually we see, but in reality, in our day-to-day affairs we push this knowledge away, we repress it, we are knowers who do not know, seers who do not see, because this knowledge that the world we live in is “Our Father’s World”, and therefore HOLY, is too dangerous to fully live, is too difficult to make it true in our lives. So we invented heaven, taking the clue from pagan Greek philosophy.

The pagan Greek Heaven idea has gained a seemingly insurmountable foothold in the Christian church: people in the pew seem powerless to grasp that that ‘going to heaven’ is an impossibility because “God lives in inapproachable: nobody has seen God and nobody can see God”, Paul writes to his friend Timothy (1Tim.6:16), while John 3: 13 plainly states that nobody has ever gone to heaven. I once heard Billy Graham tell Larry King that when he dies, Jesus will take him by the hand and bring him to God. Pure nonsense and total contrary to the Scriptures.

In our heart of hearts we believe that somehow science will find a cure for Climate Change, that electric cars will do the trick and solar panels. At the deepest level this denial is rooted in a faith that there must be a technological fix for everything.

In religious terms we must be ‘born again’ in creation. Jesus wept because we claim to be ‘born again’ Christians, but we live like born again pagans, while the Religious Right call environmentalists ‘pagans’.

By and large the church has failed to call the actions of corporate and government polluters as a mortal sin against God’s creation nor have the clerics defended the earth in the same way they have defended the poor and victims of discrimination as God’s children.

Sad to say, but generally speaking we are only willing to accept those environmental reforms that can fit comfortably with our cultural, political, religious and economic assumptions.

It is high time that we formulate and implement a NEW GOSPEL OF THE EARTH CREED, so that we can make our religious traditions relevant to the environmental crisis that is upon us as it becomes more and more severe as Global Heating accelerates.

That New CREED must start with the statement that THE EARTH IS HOLY because God made it, and must continue with that most dreaded sentence that harming the earth is SIN.

We sing “Breathe on me breath of God”. ‘Breath’ in Hebrew is RUAH, which also means spirit and wind, the same forces that in Greek are meant in PNEUMA. Our lives have been activated by the breath of God.
We are breathing the same air that Jesus did. We breathe through CREATION. The air we breathe is generated and maintained by trillions of active organisms, from bacteria and termites, to flowers and pine trees. We breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide: we totally live in symbiosis with the trees which breathe out oxygen and breathe in carbon dioxide.
When we pollute the air which is all around us, we poison and sadden the breath (pneuma= spirit) that is really inside us and ourselves. “Thou shalt not kill” applies to all created matter.

THE NEW GOSPEL OF THE EARTH must not only contain that it sees Creation as holy, and harming it as SIN, but also that our eternal salvation depends on living holy lives, totally in awe on account of God’s marvelous handiwork, where everything – like an intricate mechanical clock – fits together in complete harmony.

Paul’s amazing statement, fully expressed under the aegis of the Holy Spirit, that we stand condemned for failing to acknowledge God’s voice in the cosmos makes me wonder whether we are saved when we do see creation to be of divine design, not knowing the Scriptures.

When we do see the Cosmos as God’s particular object of love, and love it in turn with every fiber of our body, mind and spirit, will God, on Judgement Day count that of sufficient merit for admission to THE NEW CREATION? I especially have indigenous people in mind.

I believe that in this month, exactly 500 years ago that Martin Luther, on October 31 1517, had the courage and the holy zeal to challenge the church of his day and start the REFORMATION, we, the church of 2017 can do no greater service to the humanity than reinstate THE LOST GOSPEL OF THE EARTH.
John 3: 16, GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD, the cosmos, must become the ultimate reality also for us.

More about that next week.

Posted in Co-owning the Earth | Leave a comment

GET OUT: but how?

September 30 2017.

GET OUT: but how?

In our church we are part of a Bible study group which for the past 18 weeks has studied the Book of REVELATION, using N. T. Wright as a guide.
Last Thursday, September 28, we dealt with Revelation 18 which is headed by THE FALL OF BABYLON, and says
“?‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!’
She has become a dwelling for demons
and a haunt for every impure spirit,
a haunt for every unclean bird,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable animal.
For all the nations have drunk
the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”
Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
“?‘Come out of her, my people,’b
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes.

The GET OUT passage has long fascinated me, so I decided to write about it, remembering a line I once read, “I don’t know what I am thinking until I have read what I have written.”
While I wrote I remembered that Jeremiah also mentioned the same warning (Jeremiah 51:45): “Come out of her, my people! Run for your lives!”

Then I wondered how often the GET OUT theme occurred in the Bible, and was amazed how frequently this has been the case.

Right from the very beginning, in Paradise, Adam and Eve were forced to get out of paradise. Noah too was asked to leave the world in which he had grown up; it had become too sinful, so he was chosen to make a new beginning. Then it became Abram’s turn to depart from his patrimonial place to go on an as yet unknown destination.
Lot, his nephew was guided out by God’s angels, urging his family on with the curious words, “hurry because I can’t act until you are safe.” That made me wonder. My guess is that Lot’s name was written in the Book of Life, so it would be impossible for him to die with the sinners, because a name in that book cannot be removed, ever.

It seems to me that the place, Sodom and Gomorra the Lot family had to quit, very much resembles the situation today: a haunt for every impure spirit, a haunt for every demon, a haunt for every unclean bird, and every unclean animal.

The entire book of EXODUS deals with the fledging Israel tribe getting out – exodus – to go to the Promised Land. Later that same nation was banned to Babylon, and then returned: another phase in the long series of relocations.

Don’t forget that the first Christians had to make a very difficult choice: by getting out of paganism and converting to Christianity they had to abandon their immediate family, their friends, business associates, and be shunned by them, disinherited, not unlike today when Muslims become Christian.

The same was true with the Reformation, creating intense friction among families and communities, wars even.

A more recent event occurred in my own family, when Abraham Kuyper was the driving force seceding from the Dutch National Church to form a new denomination, the Reformed Church, of which my grandparents became members.
That brings me to today and that recurring theme:
“?‘Come out of her, my people,’
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes.

Sins piled up to heaven have a double meaning, I believe. It’s both the CO2 filled atmosphere, causing floods and hurricanes that are becoming common place, as well as our actions causing great grief in HEAVEN.

Does “come out of her, my people” apply to us today?

It is plain to me that through the way we live we are killing creation. All of us, without exception, partake in this murderous process. We are guilty like hell, to say it crudely. The problem is that we have painted ourselves in a corner: there’s no way we can go back in time to the year 1800 before the Carbon Age.

I do believe, however, that even though we cannot avoid being partakers in these global sins, God will forgive us when we are aware of what we do. It means that we must constantly pray for forgiveness and do everything in our power to minimize the damage we do. We can’t get out anymore. We are stuck.

And global sins they are: the entire world is guilty. “For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.”

What strikes me in this text is that again the earth is seen as a living body, and ravaging her is pure adultery, a direct sin against God. The reference to wine shows that the act is one of addiction, truly making us CARBOHOLICS.

Addiction is terribly hard to cure. It robs us of common sense, deprives us of sound reason intoxicated as we are with a substance that makes it almost impossible to see what’s really going on in the world around us. Just as an addict is oblivious to the effects of the vice, so we too ignore what our life style does to us and to the world we live in.

Of course we know. The signs are all around us. The ruling powers, especially those in charge of the mightiest nation in the world, openly encourage the use of substances that further poison the atmosphere, and all rulers, without exception openly state that their aim is ECONOMIC GROWTH which always, always, means more pollution, more harm. Television is kept in power because the merchants of the earth grow rich and richer: the heirs of WALMART are among the 0.01 percent, in Canada the Westons and Jim Patterson.

More and more regions of the world resemble utter desperation. Not only Puerto Rico where it will take months to restore electricity, not only parts of Texas or Florida or Mexico, where natural disasters, brought on by us poisoning the atmosphere are the direct cause of anger: the entire world is under threat, such as North Korea, Iran, the entire Middle East and now Asia as well.
In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya have been forced to flee from Myanmar, in the midst of a brutal army offensive that has been described by the UN’s human-rights chief as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

That is just one example of religious intolerance, instigated by Buddhists, supposedly peace-loving. Religious intolerance is on the increase. We see it in the Western world against Muslims, encouraged in the USA by the top ruler there.
There are increasing signs that the USA is on the brink of another Civil War, which most certainly will erupt if or when Trump is forced to resign or be impeached. Far-right elements are on the march – promoting nihilism, of which the US president is an obvious example.
There is more to society than a deteriorating environment. We also have created a global money system which is based on debt, – created by a mere touch on a computer screen. Once it is in existence, however, it must be repaid, because a debt is an obligation to repay.
Indeed the problems we face are multi-dimensional: they are not only environmental: they also are monetary, religious, political and ethnical. Since life encompasses all these facets, COMING OUT OF HER entails quitting all these different strata as well.

Yes, the problems we face are complicated: they together keep us chained to the system. Oh, Satan is so clever: we really don’t grasp the intricate way in which we are bound to Capitalism, that very web that keeps us glued to what Revelation 18 calls our sins and crimes.
I admit, instead of giving an answer to our plight, I have done the opposite: I have immensely complicated the situation.

So let me try to untangle this. I read three books on Revelation: REVERSED THUNDER by Eugene H. Peterson, N. T. Wright’s Bible Study Guide on REVELATION, and J. H. Bavinck’s Dutch EN VOORT WENTELEN DE EEUWEN, loosely translated as ON AND ON THE AGES ROLL. None of the three give me a concrete answer to my question: “How do we disengage ourselves from our current way of life” which we are discovering is highly destructive.

Lot and his family were guided out by the Angel of God. We, supposedly having come of age and are on our own. That is very frightening.

So, after all this loose talk, what do I do about it?

My life’s motto is Ora et Labora, Pray and Work. I run 2-3 times each week and often bike to Tweed – 11 km round trip. I ran the Terry Fox 10 km in good time. My mantra when I run is “Maranatha, Lord come quickly, Maranatha, Lord come quickly”. When I put my head on my pillow at 10 p.m. my lullaby is “Maranatha, Lord come quickly”.

Remember the ICE STORM now more than 10 years ago, when electricity was out for weeks not too far from where we live. Since then I have installed a frost-free hand pump on our well. My freezer is on solar panels, recently renewed, and so are our lights, CD player and TV.
I am very conscious of our carbon footprint, use our car sparingly. We have not renewed our passports, foregoing a recent wedding of a grandson in Minnesota. I mow our lawn using solar power, have a large veggie garden. For many decades we have been vegetarian.

Even though I increasingly regard church denominations as irrelevant – John 3: 16 is what counts today – I support the Presbyterian World Service and the CRC World Renew. My wife and I are active in our local church where we attend a weekly Thursday morning prayer meeting, choir and Bible studies. I am a member of the church’s environmental committee.

My theology has been shaped by Bonhoeffer and Bavinck, but goes beyond that. My botanist-animal-specialist friend tells me that homosexuality is found among animals, so why would it not be seen among humans? It also points to evolution. God gave us eyes to see and brains to arrive at conclusions to detect what goes on in God’s created Word, the COSMOS which he loved as his ultimate work of art, which we sold to the Satan, and which Christ bought back on Calvary.

We now wait for Christ’ return with bated breath, because the birth pains are becoming more frequent and severe, fully aware that Romans 3: 24 tells us that we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus”.

In these last days we consciously must treat creation as HOLY, as God’s DIRECT word. Deuteronomy 6: 4 says
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.

We cannot split God from his creation, just as we cannot split the St Matthew Passion from Bach, or the Messiah from Handel. That is the Cardinal Truth the church seems unable to grasp.

The church must reshape worship to include Creation as God’s Primary Word, and so prepare the believers for the New Creation to come where the Bible will disappear as we will able to directly communicate with the authors, with Moses and Isaiah, with Amos and Jonah, with Job – if he were an actual figure – and whoever wrote the Song of Solomon and, of course talk to the apostles and Jesus himself. That’ll be lots of fun and provide for some rich reasons for merriment.
In the New Creation in the company of the true saints, of totally like-minded people, we can look back to our former times, and laugh.
It reminds me of Isaiah 51: 11, “Those the LORD has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”

So ‘get out’ and look forward to everlasting JOY.

Posted in Co-owning the Earth | Leave a comment