providence and climate change: redux

Climate change seems to be making a comeback from post-Copenhagen obscurity (although someone really needs to tell the sceptics to stop flogging the dead horse of the University of East Anglia ‘cover up’).

Since I wrote did some work on it last year, I’ve been doing a bunch more thinking. Back then, I kept banging on about the fact that in the face of widespread anxiety and cynicism, God’s providence means that Christians are invited to participate in his care for and rule over the world he’s perfecting through Jesus by the Spirit.

Far from writing a permission slip for a laissez faire attitude (because ‘It’s all going to burn anyway’ perhaps?), this means that a Christian response to climate change will be marked by confidence and humility.

  • Confidence without humility quickly becomes an excuse for arrogant meddling — whether along the lines of greedy exploitation or hardline conservationism that seeks to wind back the clock. Creation remains God’s. He bears primary responsibility for it and we are ‘junior partners’, seeking his glory rather than our own comfort and selfish ends.
  • On the flip-side, humility without confidence in the risen Lord quickly descends into panic, despair or (perversely) frantic activism. Under God, we bear genuine responsibility, which we shirk to our shame. But we do it with hope and iron-clad trust that God’s ultimate purposes will not be thwarted. Life not death will triumph.

That being said, I’m keen to push things further in terms of practice. I’ll post a plan for my reflections next week.

Before I begin, I want to indicate something about how I’m going to tackle it: My reflections will be anchored in Jesus’ confrontation with the devil in the wilderness. Why? For the one thing, it’s a climatic moment in God’s interaction with his world. More, it has stacks to say about God’s providence and what it means for us to live truly human lives, liberated from the devil’s distorting influence.

By sticking with this one passage I can keep things both theologically informed and focussed on the practical implications. That’s the hope anyway!

Stay tuned…

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