N.T.WRONG

Official Blog of the Bishop of Durham

Another #%!#&* book on the Bible and Ecology?

Posted by NT Wrong on May 4, 2008

Isn’t it strange that, after centuries of neglect, a sudden rush of books is proclaiming that the Bible contains unequalled and bounteous wisdom for dealing with the ecological crisis? And they don’t stop with that claim. Oh no. Isn’t it obvious? … The ecological crisis would never have occurred, if people had paid attention to their Bibles in the first place.

What drivel. Are we still talking about the book that begins its proclamations on ecological sensitivity and stewardship by describing humanity’s relationship to the earth in the terminology of raping and pillaging armies? I mean to say, kavash (“subdue”) on its own connotes mass destruction, occupation and forced slavery. But when paired with radah (“dominion”), we’re talking about an out-and-out scorched earth policy. “There she lies, boys, now – take her!”

So why is the Bible suddenly being viewed as the font of superior ecological thought? Once again, I’ll let the words of St William Bartley provide the answer:

“The method of contemporary theologians can often be reduced to three rather simple steps: (1) Run through the Bible picking out profound ideas about certain contemporary problems. (2) Run through contemporary secular literature picking out superficialities concerning these same problems. (3) Match the two in a book, thus providing an easy demonstration of the superiority of the Bible and the Christian tradition to contemporary secular culture … Much of the appeal, as well as the apparent novelty and profundity, of theological commentary depends on its talent for bestriding two horses at once—sometimes even when they are galloping in opposite directions.”

– William Warren Bartley. The Retreat to Commitment. 2nd Ed., La Salle and London: Open Court Publishing Company, 1984: 52.

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