Sunday, July 08, 2007

In Defence of Bishops

It isn't very often you find me leaping to the defence of bishops in the wake of some of the eccentric political statement s they are prone to making.

However, as I was heading out for church in the morning I caught Gloria Hunniford on "The Heaven and Earth show" referring to a news article from the week regarding the bishops of Carlisle and Liverpool, who apparently claimed that flooding and disaster were God's judgement being poured out on our society for its sins.

Naturally just a day after I posted my own thoughts on climate change, it seems an especially relevant topic to discuss.

In attempt to clarify the bishops' position, a spokesman was quoted in the Church Times as saying the following:

“The Bishop of Carlisle did not say that God ‘sent’ the floods. He and the Bishop of Liverpool did point out what environmental campaigners have been saying for years: that the floods are a consequence of global warming, which is a lack of restraint and lack of care for our planet.”

The Bishop of Liverpool also pointed out that we live in a world of consequence... where our actions for good and ill, have effects on others. What they were apparently trying to point out was that if we live selfishly and with out regard to other people and God, there are going to be negative consequences... because that is how the world works... and that one example of this is man's influence on climate change. If we buy a menagerie of electrical appliances and leave them running 24 hours a day, and if we jet set around the world regardless of the damage we know it does... and then don't bother to clear up the mess we make... the natural consequences of our actions are going to come back to haunt us.

As a Christian I of course believe God is sovereign. However I do often wonder if some of the apocalyptic "judgements" that appear in the Bible are actually God pronouncing the consequences of our own sin... things we have brought on our selves, as much as or rather than him being wrathful.

Take for example the Fall of Man... I have sometimes wondered whether it is whether it is the truth told in a compacted narrative format. Mankind partakes of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil... and becomes more intelligent, able to reason between right and wrong. You might understand why God increases the pains of childbirth for women... as a consequence of our increased intelligence, we would have proportionally bigger brains... making for proportionally bigger babies - much harder to squeeze out. I am also convinced that the reason man is told he will work by the sweat of his brow until the day he dies.. is in some ways a direct consequence of our separation from God. By becoming aware of good and evil, we come to thinking we know best.. and become reliant on our own efforts rather than God's gracious provision. If this were not true, then why does God graciously pour out his provision to people who in the Bible are desperate and at their wit's end? It is because they recognise at that point that they need him, that they can't go on alone.

So I wonder if we should consider this for some of the stuff in Revelation? A third of the earth scorched and waters poisoned? Well we are certainly having a decent crack at engineering those conditions!

Something to think about.

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