Climate Cultism and the Providence of God
The Lord Rules and The Earth is His Footstool
The headlines of the Western world have for several years been rife with tidings of impending climate doom. In the last week alone, media jeremiads have reliably informed the public that there exists an extinction date for all mammals in some quarter-billion years, and that climate change has started to generate stronger hurricanes much earlier in the summer.
The evidences that climate alarmism has become a religious cult are manifest, with Gaia joining the ranks of Molech and Ishtar in the perverse pantheon of our American empire. Take, for example, how a recent Apple advertisement featured Mother Earth, played by a matronly yet stern Octavia Spencer, and her demands that Tim Cook and other executives hold themselves accountable for various corporate sustainability benchmarks. Rather than facing judgment before the resurrected Christ seated on the throne of heaven, these executives provided an account of their deeds before a portly black woman seated at the head of a boardroom table.
Beyond this unintentionally laughable knockoff of Christian eschatology, the climate cult has gained ground in the public square: legal nonprofits are now seeking the recognition of a legal “right” to a clean climate, while teenagers driven by climate anxiety are taking vows to save the environment by no longer bearing children. One investment note even concluded that the “movement to not have children owing to fears over climate change is growing and impacting fertility rates quicker than any preceding trend in the field of fertility decline.” The litany of new paganism must always coalesce. The Center for American Progress wants you to know that “climate justice” and LGBTQ “rights” are inseparable. Both must be supported, of course, and to support one is to support the other. Climate idolatry, then, imports the entire apparatus of regime theology.
These confessors of the climate cult, though they would never describe their actions in such terms, are prophets of Baal who “cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances” (1 Kings 18:28). As with all false worship, those who hate the wisdom of God “love death” (Proverbs 8:36), and “like smoke they vanish away” (Psalm 37:20) by means of their folly.
Never to miss an opportunity for false worship, however, the National Association of Evangelicals likewise declared last year that they wished to address the matter of climate change and “love the least of these” by calling for legislation to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Yet this august assembly has never issued a meaningful statement on child genital mutilation or any other blood sacrament which the aforementioned pantheon holds dear. The priorities of NAE are clear, and they are in lockstep with approved opinion.
The assertions of the climate cult and their professing Christian sycophants, beyond their obvious absurdity, most fundamentally contradict the truth of divine providence, by which the Triune God sovereignly governs his creatures and the creation in which he placed them.
Scripture confesses that God “laid the foundation of the Earth” (Job 38:4) and “hangs the Earth on nothing” (Job 26:7). Even more than creating the Earth, the sea, the heavens, and all of their inhabitants “by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3) at the dawn of creation, God is presently and deeply involved in the minuscule details of the world. He intimately knows “when the mountain goats give birth” and carefully observes “the calving of the does” (Job 39:1). Not even a sparrow “will fall to the ground” apart from the will of the Father (Matthew 10:29).
The point at which the average evangelical departs from this biblical testimony is indeed the very point that best equips him to counter the lies of the climate cult. The Earth, rather than a petulant and frail deity, is a durable handmaiden to the Lord because of his immutable decree, and therefore a common grace blessing to all of mankind. Rather than functionally perceiving the Creator as a distant entity who sets the world into motion and turns away, we must understand not only that “the universe was created by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3), but that he is the Sustainer who guarantees that the Earth “should never be moved” (Psalm 104:5).
John Calvin observes in the Institutes of the Christian Religion that because the sun was stayed by the prayer of Joshua and retracted as a favor to Hezekiah, this celestial body “does not daily rise and set by a blind instinct of nature, but is governed by him [i.e., God] in its course, that he may renew the remembrance of his paternal favor toward us.” Denying the goodness of God in creation, especially by treating the Earth as a fickle master that must be appeased with chastity vows of sterility, meritorious deeds of sustainability, and other various religious rites, also withholds worship from the only one in whom we live and move and have our being.
“It were cold and lifeless to represent God as a momentary Creator, who completed his work once for all, and then left it. Here, especially, we must dissent from the profane, and maintain that the presence of the divine power is conspicuous, not less in the perpetual condition of the world than in its first creation,” Calvin said. “Those moreover who confine the providence of God within narrow limits, as if he allowed all things to be borne along freely according to a perpetual law of nature, do not more defraud God of his glory than themselves of a most useful doctrine.”
The doctrine of providence is never more useful than recalling that God specially decrees all events and circumstances “for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28). Beyond the rains falling on “the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45), God uniquely means rains, droughts, and any natural condition in between for the sanctification and purification of his elect, not to mention the various temptations and trials which face the believer in this life. Even the revelation that not a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father is a reminder of the special providence that exists uniquely for the church. “You are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31). We need not attribute hurricanes and tornadoes to the capricious hand of Gaia, but to the mighty arm of the Lord, who purposes all of creation to glorify Jesus Christ. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
Athanasius notes in On the Incarnation that redemption was the very purpose for which the Word became flesh. “The renewal of creation has been wrought by the self-same Word who made it in the beginning,” Athanasius wrote. “There is thus no inconsistency between creation and salvation: for the one Father has employed the same agent for both works, effecting the salvation of the world through the same Word who made it in the beginning.”
Christians, standing on the firm foundation of Scripture, can freely assert in the face of climate cultism that Mother Earth is no deity at all, but is merely the footstool of the Father. We need not fear the several false deities and emergent mystery cults in our idolatrous land; we need only fear the God who creates and sustains us, who offers us salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, and who will one day call us into account for our deeds in his world.
Image Credit: Unsplash