Things Change, Don’t They?


I’m not a Bible scholar and I’ve never taken a course on the history of the Middle East, but I think contemporary understanding of the Bible might be missing an important truth: things change.

For example, I believe land topography changes. Just this summer I saw a news item on TV showing how much the drought here in the Midwestern US had dropped the level of certain lakes. That was in one year. Imagine what would happen over a period of three years in a land with no irrigation.

So I look at a map and think, Why couldn’t the Red Sea actually have stretched all the way to the Mediterranean during the time of Moses? Think, too, about the effect of the devastating plagues on the land. Was there even a Sahara Desert in Egypt before the locusts and hail and tainted river water?

Those who experienced the brunt of the recent “super storm,” Sandy have come away saying “Mother Nature” is more powerful than we are. The wind and rain and waves tore up man-made structures, but also uprooted trees and washed away coast land.

Imagine what forty days and forty nights of super storm could do.

I read the Bible and see Samson killing a lion not far from what today is the Gaza Strip, I read about deer and other wildlife not known to flourish in and around Israel, and I think, why couldn’t those animals have lived there when the vegetation was different? I read about all the variety of trees and forest areas various people cleared and the fruit trees the Israelites were instructed not to cut, and I think, things have changed.

I think the same could easily be true about culture. How many times have I heard sermons describing the plight of women in Israel–except, the Bible doesn’t seem to give the same picture. I wonder if some of these ideas about what life was like for women then haven’t been influenced by what life is like for women in the Middle East now.

They were subservient, many teaching the Old Testament claim. How do we explain the judge Deborah? Or Abigail who saved her husband and all that belonged to him by taking action herself? What about Jael who single-handed killed a fleeing opponent? How about the woman who defended her city by throwing down a millstone from the wall? Or the city whose leader was a woman? What about Athaliah who took the throne in Judah for six years? Or Jezebel who was the power behind Ahab’s throne? Obviously not all the women who took power or leadership were good. The point is, they are far more prevalent than you’d think if the culture had such a strict attitude toward women and their subservient place in society.

The New Testament is similar. Aquilla, for example, took his wife Priscilla with him to evangelize. Paul was confronted about going to Jerusalem by Agabus who had four daughters, all prophetesses. Anna prophesied in the temple over the baby Jesus. And as an adult He Himself spoke to women frequently, and in public. Paul counted women like Euodia and Syntyche as fellow workers. Nympha hosted a church in her house. Paul noted the faith Timothy’s mother and grandmother had. Lydia was a business woman as well as a leader in her community.

Granted, some of these women lived and traveled in areas heavily influenced by Greek culture. But that reinforces my hypothesis. Culture changes, often because of the influence of other cultures. This principle was one God warned Israel about. They were to avoid intermarrying with pagan women so they wouldn’t become idol worshipers themselves.

Things change. Land changes. Culture changes. And people change. No one is a better example of this last fact than Paul who went from murdering those following Christ to evangelizing people for Christ. Unless you count Peter, denying Christ one day and preaching Him before thousands a couple months later. How about the believers in Corinth who went from approving of immoral behavior in their midst to repenting and disciplining the one living in sin. Or Onesimus, Philemon’s slave who ran away, only to come back because He came to faith in Christ and Paul sent him back.

Too often I think we read the Bible as if things then were just like they are now. And I think we look at things now as if they will always be like they are. Unless, perhaps, they get worse.

Believing that things, land, culture, people don’t change ignores the power of God. Thankfully the Bible is full of examples to the contrary.

Embracing Climate Change


Announcements.
*Please don’t forget to vote for the CSFF Top Tour Blogger for April (Raven’s Ladder Tour).

*Clive Staples Award button 3Nominations are open for the Clive Staples Award for Christian Speculative Fiction. Now is the time to tell your friends about the Readers’ Choice Award so they can become participants, either by nominating their favorite book or by reading at least two of the nominations so they may vote. Spread the word. Nominations may be made here or at the award site.

The Topic. Climate change? What does that have to do with fiction or a Christian worldview? A lot, I think, at least when it comes to the latter.

Climate change, many in the media say, is a direct cause of man’s misuse of the environment, and if we but change our habits we can preserve the earth for future generations.

Christians often counter with skepticism. For one thing “climate change” used to be called “global warming,” but since the science isn’t there to support the theory that the earth is heating up, the term has changed.

Also, the cause of any perceived change can’t actually be traced to human practices (manufacturing, use of fossil fuels, etc.) since there are too many other factors and no way to run an experiment isolating one potential cause over the others. In other words, there is no real way to use the scientific method to determine the truth or error of the hypothesis.

So in view of this shaky science, why am I suggesting we should embrace global warming?

I believe liberals unintentionally are reporting what the Bible said nearly two thousand years ago, namely that Man is to blame for the decay of our environment. The difference is that liberal environmentalists claim this decay started with man’s use of fossil fuels whereas the Bible says the decay started when Man first sinned.

For one thing, God told Adam he would have to earn his food by the sweat of his brow. Perhaps this was only because of Adam’s change of address—from #1 Place, Garden, to Some Where, Out There.

But other changes occurred. The animals, once friendly with each other and with Man, no longer were. The land mass which was at one time together, divided. A catastrophic flood covered the earth. Devastating plagues decimated the Nile basin.

In fact, the Bible records numerous droughts and resulting famines. Major rivers the Bible mentions have all but dried up; some have vanished. According to Hillary Mayell of the National Geographic News, “8,000 to 10,000 years ago, what is now desert was probably lush savannah and grasslands. Today the Sahara is hot and arid, the land sandy, rainfall minimal, and vegetation sparse.”

A study in 2008 at Lake Yoa in Chad bears this out:

[The study] found evidence for a slow decline in tropical plants, followed by the gradual loss of savanna-type grasslands, and then the eventual spread of desert species.

Pollen samples revealed, for example, that the decrease in tropical trees accelerated after 4,800 years ago, while desert plants took root between 3,900 and 3,100 years ago.
– James Owens, “Once Lush Sahara Dried Up Over Millennia, Study Says,” National Geographic News.

Zoom forward to more recent times. Scientists have noted that for years the Sahara Desert, larger than the size of the US, has been encroaching on bordering savanna. In the decade between 1980 and 1990, the southern boundary moved south over 80 miles.

Of course, one scientist has now reported that in the last twenty years images reveal “extensive regreening” of the semiarid savanna in the south due to global warming.

The transition may be occurring because hotter air has more capacity to hold moisture, which in turn creates more rain, said Martin Claussen of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany
– James Owen, “Sahara Desert Greening Due to Climate Change?” National Geographic News.

I can’t help but wonder just how warm the air has to become for it to hold moisture. Weren’t the hundred-plus-degree days previous to “global warming” enough to hold moisture? But I’m getting sidetracked.

Why should we embrace climate change? Because the idea that the earth isn’t what it once was is completely consistent with what the Bible says:

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
– Rom 8:20-22 (emphasis mine)

In addition, taking care of our environment is completely consistent with God’s direction to Adam in the beginning.

Why, then, should we not embrace what the Bible says? The liberal media may have the facts wrong and certainly have the wrong idea that Man can fix a broken earth, but their conclusions and Scripture lead to the same place: Man is at fault for the mess we’re in, and Man should act responsibly to care for our world.

Why would we fight those conclusions?

Published in: on May 10, 2010 at 4:43 pm  Comments (18)  
Tags: , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: