Look, I’ve been standing at the door, knocking!
If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him;
and I will dine with him, and he with me.”
Revelation 3:20

                           
                          LOVE (III)
 
Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey’d Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack’d a single thing.
 
“A guest,” I answer’d, “worthy to be here.”
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
 
“Truth Lord, but I have marr’d them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not,” says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down,” says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.

—George Herbert

Here is an excellent short essay for any pro-life biblical scholars who may be viewing this post.

More than once I have interacted with men who use Exodus 21:21-22 to justify abortion, asserting that it places a lesser value on a baby that is (supposedly) miscarried.

However, as John Piper shows, it actually teaches the exact opposite. For when properly translated, it is found to align perfectly with all the rest of the Bible in assuming and teaching that the pre-born are true human beings, endowed with souls, made in the image of God, and therefore of infinite value (Psalm 124, Luke 1:39f, James 2:26).

Accordingly, those who intentionally inflict injury or death on the child are guilty of assault or murder, exposed to judgment, and needy candidates for the mercy and love that God offers them in Christ (Gen. 9:6, John 3:16, Acts 13:39, 1 Cor. 6:11f).

I hope that as the need arises, you will remember and share this practical work of scholarship.

Note: Not a week goes by that I don’t read one or two letters to the editor of our local newspaper decrying the supposed effects of man-made climate change. The fear is palpable, the proposals sincere, but the misunderstanding hurtful. In hopes of shedding some (biblical) light and warmth into people’s hearts, I decided to submit this short essay on the subject. Since our community is quite progressive, I felt it wise not to include too many Scripture citations. I did, however, want to introduce my readers to the biblical worldview, and to show how, in the face of so much alarmism and doomsaying, it has great power to calm our fears and fill us with hope. Opinion pieces in the Press Democrat appear under the heading Close to Home. To date, the article has not hit Close to Home. I’m praying it will.

 

Climate Change: A Biblical Perspective

My subject is global, but for Press Democrat readers it will strike close to home. In biblical perspective, I would like to address climate change.

Presently, a naturalistic worldview dominates public policy on climate change in California and elsewhere. Modern naturalism posits that the universe evolved through random physical processes. This hypothesis entails that our earth is extremely fragile, and that man, who is often viewed as a clumsy Johnny-come-lately, could completely destroy it if he’s not careful. Therefore an observed trend towards global warming, possibly caused by us humans, generates existential alarm both in naturalistic scientists and the people who listen to them.

The biblical worldview (BWV) posits that God is the creator, sustainer, and ruler of all things, including the weather. It also posits that man is his vice-regent on earth, specially appointed to develop and care for the home he has given us. Because of man’s fall into sin, God has temporarily burdened his originally perfect creation with various natural evils such as extremes of heat and cold, drought, storm, earthquake, etc. Ultimately, these “severe mercies” are wake-up calls designed to discourage nature worship and bring the wanderers home.

Sinful man can and does damage his environment, but the Bible assures us he can never destroy the earth. That prerogative is reserved for God alone, who has explicitly said he will preserve the earth in its regular cycles until the return of Christ (Genesis 8:22). Only then will he destroy it, after which he will create new heavens and a new earth, the eternal home of the redeemed (2 Peter 3). Knowing all this, Christian citizens are indeed concerned about environmental abuse, but also confident that man can never “destroy the planet.”

With these thoughts in mind, let’s look at climate change in biblical perspective.

Christians acknowledge that for the last 100-150 years there has been a modest warming trend. They point out, however, that within this time frame, and also throughout prior centuries, there have always been climatic fluctuations. Following the Medieval Warm Period there came the Little Ice Age. Back in the 1970’s a brief cooling trend engendered fears of a new Ice Age. Last winter a Polar Vortex clobbered the mid-west with record cold. Polar ice caps wax and wane. The BWV predicts such changes. They are normal for a world under divine care and discipline. Good and bad weather happen. We should try to hear what God is telling us in both.

Christians go on to emphasize what all honest scientists admit: It is difficult to ascertain the precise cause(s) of climate change. To say that the recent warming trend is caused solely by man-made CO2 is simplistic and highly improbable. 90% of greenhouse warming—so vital for life on Earth—is due to water vapor and clouds. As one scientist puts it, “CO2 is a bit player.” Furthermore, most CO2 is generated by sunlight interacting with the oceans. Human activity accounts for a miniscule 5%. If our contribution were truly significant, why the constant fluctuations of the last 150 years?

Knowing all this, researchers now look elsewhere for the causes of climate change. Many cite a demonstrable correlation between sun-spots, solar radiation, oceanic warming, and patterns in the weather. Others ponder the effects of natural weather cycles (e.g. El Nino), clouds, and volcanic emissions. Dr. Roy Spencer thinks climate change is normal, the result of “the climate system itself.” Christians conclude: Whatever the complex causes of climate change, they are in God’s hands, not ours.

Such considerations will shape our response to climate change. Here are a few policy suggestions I think would serve us well.

First, let’s lay aside all the climate alarmism and doomsaying. According to the Bible, they are not based in reality (or on faith), but only terrify the Greta Thunbergs of the world. God has said to the proud waves of the sea, “Thus far, and no further” (Job 38:11). They will obey.

Secondly, let’s keep in mind the upside of global warming: increased global greening and decreased desertification, relief from deadly winter cold, reduced energy consumption, and greatly improved quality and quantity of agricultural products. The folks at the CO2 Coalition invite us to see global warming as a blessing. Imagine.

Finally, and most importantly, let’s swiftly rethink our current attitude towards fossil fuels. In biblical perspective they are a fabulous gift of God, laden with manifold benefits. If we turn our back on them we will increase the cost of energy, curtail technological advance, and condemn the 2 billion people living in undeveloped countries to poverty, disease, injury, environmental degradation, and death. Oh, and one more benefit of using fossil fuels: We can get rid of those horrid windmills that blight our landscape and kill millions of our birds!

Here is a solemn tautology: Our worldview has a profound influence on the way we view the world. It determines how we see, think, feel, love, fear, hope, choose, and live together in our precious home. As we think about climate change, let’s think carefully about our worldview as well.1

Dean Davis
Santa Rosa CA

Dean is a retired pastor and the director of Come Let Us Reason, a Bible teaching ministry specializing in Apologetics and Worldview Studies

Notes

1. Material for this essay was taken from the little book Global Warming: A Scientific and Biblical Expose’ of Climate Change, published by Answers in Genesis (2016). For helpful information on the scientific, economic, and political aspects of this issue, please visit the website of The Heartland Institute, available here. Also, here is a fascinating and easy to use website showing that CO2 (along with fossil fuels) is actually a friend, and not a foe. Finally, here is a link to the Cornwall Alliance, and to the Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have likely heard of the Christmas Truce of 1914, when, for a few brief hours, the Brits and the Germans left off their fighting and came together to celebrate Christmas.

That fascinating event raises an important question: How could one man—or rather the memory of one man—stop a whole world war? How has it been able to do so for over 2000 years? And how will it continue to do so until the end of time?

If you’re like me, you are grieved by the cultural and political war that seems to have engulfed us. If you’re like me, you may also be grieved by the part you have played in it. How in the world will this end? How can we extricate ourselves from this all-consuming anger and polarization?

Here is my best thought: At Christmas it is God himself who draws near to us, and who draws our attention once again to the baby of Bethlehem. Then, as we pay such attention, he somehow reveals to us what we are actually capable of being—as individuals, and as the family of man—if only we could abide in this Spirit, and enjoy this peaceful presence year round.

Thus, the revelation is also an invitation: to consider afresh, not only the baby in Bethlehem, but the life he lived, the death he died, the aftermath of the death he died, and what all of this might have to do with us dwelling permanently in the presence of a divine being who can truly change the world.

As in 1914, so today: When the Christmas truce is over the world will go back to war.

But the memory of that truce, and of the invitation to consider the baby of Bethlehem, will linger throughout the year. And in my experience, those who take time to accept the invitation will often find, to their great joy, something they have been looking for all their lives: not just a temporary truce, but an eternal one.

Well, lest my inner preacher overtake me, I will cut short here.

I will, however, leave you with this lovely short clip about the Christmas Truce.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KHoVBK2EVE

May it—and the baby of Bethlehem—be a rich blessing to you and yours throughout 2020.

With All Our Love,

Dean and Linda Davis

Hinting broadly at the deity of the promised Messiah, the prophet Isaiah spoke of Jesus Christ as Immanuel, which means “God with us us” (Isaiah 7:9). That name got me to thinking about the many fascinating ways in which Immanuel is related to us. Here are a few of the choicest:

  • He was before us—with the Father and the Holy Spirit—prior to the time when time began and the world was created through him
  • He was ahead of us, when, for four millennia, the Old Testament prophets longingly foretold his coming
  • He was down here among us after he left heaven and, through the Spirit’s work, took up residence as a true human being in a virgin’s womb
  • He was out there among us, when, in the days of his flesh, he lived, worked, taught, and ministered (miraculously) to the children of Israel
  • He was in behalf of us, when, through all of the above, he obeyed every divine command, fulfilled every law, and passed every test, thereby attaining a perfect righteousness that God will credit to all who believe in him
  • He was instead of us, when, on the cross, he endured the sentence of suffering and death for all who would place their trust in him for the forgiveness of their sins
  • He is now over us, having risen from the dead, ascended into heaven, and taken his seat at God’s right hand as King of the Cosmos and Head of the Church
  • He is now facing us in the person of his people and their proclamation of the Gospel, through which he urges everyone who hears to receive him by faith as Savior and Lord
  • He is within us (and at work within us) through the gift of the Holy Spirit, if and when we do receive him
  • He is up above us in heaven, where he is praying for us, and where, on the day of our death, our perfected spirits will see him and fly to him with inexpressible joy
  • He is up ahead of us in the World to Come, which he himself will create at his return, when he raises the dead, judges the world in righteousness, and welcomes the saints to eternal life with God in the new heavens and the new earth

This is our Immanuel. As we think afresh about him this Christmas, may he be with us all in every possible way.