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Making an Idol out of the Earth

Sunday, 9th April 2011

This is a sermon by Edward Spalton on the topic of climate change. The politician mentioned in the fourth paragraph is of course myself, and the panel discussion took place in Leicester Cathedral.

Holy Church commemorates the historical fact of our Lord's passion, crucifixion and resurrection at a time when plants soon begin to grow. The seed sown in the ground is likened to the body in the tomb and raised to new life. This is a kind of comparison to help us to understand what would otherwise be beyond human understanding. It shows that the Church in its teaching has always regarded the natural cycles of the world as a sort of parable of the great providence and mercy of God whose early promise (Genesis 8.22) was

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease”.

And, of course, we know from the historical and archaeological record that this pattern contains a great deal of variability. In Roman times, it was so warm that grapes could be grown in the South of Scotland. In the Middle Ages things warmed up a little less but grapes could still be grown near Hadrian's Wall. Greenland was given its name because parts of it were green. They were being farmed then but are now under thick ice – as was England hereabouts tens of thousands of years before that. Charles Dickens wrote of the hard winters and snowy Christmases of his youth and things have warmed up a little since then – which is nothing out of the ordinary.

Yet people are remarkably worried about the climate and mistrustful of the promise given in Genesis. This has reached deep inside the Churches themselves who have taken up the hysteria. It applies in this country. In the Winter of 2009/10 a politician I know was invited to join a panel discussion on the subject in a Midlands cathedral.

He said something which even climate scientists, who believe in imminent catastrophic global warming, admit to be true – that the earth's temperature has not risen but even gone down a little in the last fifteen years. We all know how remarkably tolerant and elastic-sided the Church of England is in doctrinal matters but this was going too far. The bishop wrote a most thunderous denunciation of this heretic in the local paper! He would never have done so, if a Christian doctrine had been attacked. So there is a sort of substitute religion at work here.

As in other fallings away from the teachings of the Universal Church, the American Episcopal Church is rather like the Church of England on Speed. I came across this dreadful parody of Christian belief at the holiest time of the year.

Their spokesman claimed “Two of the holiest religious holidays are set to fall on April 22 this year – Good Friday for Christians and Earth Day for environmentalists. The Church's office of Economic and Environmental Affairs released a statement urging followers to stay mindful of global warming, recycling and reducing carbon dioxide emissions while celebrating the ancient Christian holiday.”

The spokesman continued “On Good Friday, the day we mark the crucifixion of Christ, God in the flesh, might we suggest that when the Earth is degraded, when species go extinct, that another part of God's body experiences yet another sort of crucifixion..”

This is a terrible misunderstanding at best and a very well-known evil heresy at worst. It is called pantheism (God in everything) and it would take a whole series of sermons to explain its consequences which have so afflicted our world - because all beliefs have consequences. For the Church to take this up is a wilful turning away from the God revealed in both the Old and New Testaments.

They are making a god – or a goddess of the earth and worshipping it. Some environmentalists call their deity Gaia . They have raised up images and altars (such as wind turbines and solar panels) to it and sacrificed children in the name of population control. Many rulers of the children of Israel did something very similar, like Ahaz

2 Chronicles 28 2-4
For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim. Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and under every green tree.

Parents and grandparents, who have listened to youngsters coming home from school frightened with tales of the angry carbon god in the sky, will recognise the evil.

This is not say that we should not be grateful and careful in the way we use the wonderful world God has given us to live in. You would not believe it from the papers but things have actually got a great deal better in my lifetime. I know 'cos I was there!

When I was about four, I was terrified out of my wits in the back of a car, going on holiday to Barmouth when we drove through the Potteries. The sky was black, the houses were black – everything was black. Nobody else seemed frightened, so I kept quiet which was what little boys were supposed to do – and I did not wet myself, thank God! The skies are clearer now.

In the Fifties I went on a boat trip on the Soar Navigation and in the locks the froth on the water from detergents was so deep that it came in over the side of the boat. If anybody had fallen in, nobody would have been able to see them. The water courses are cleaner now.

Throughout my childhood and early life, Derby had two memorable smells which were a fact of life – and you could cut them with a knife! - “The Derby Hum” from the hide and skin factory and the acidic “Spondon Pong” from the Celanese. Modern, proven, scientific methods cleaned these up – but not any theory of general catastrophe. Since the industrial revolution, Western Europe has never been cleaner or greener – yet you would never guess that from the media.

This year, the ice in the Sea of Okhotsk (to the North and West of Japan and in the Gulf of Finland in the Baltic was unusually widespread and deep. Many ships were trapped. People in St Petersburg were getting short of potatoes and fresh vegetables – but you never heard that on the mainstream media. It does not fit with fashionable catastrophism.

There will be catastrophes, as in Japan. There will be changes in climate and weather. We don't know the reasons and it is arrogant to think we can control them. In the Seventies, scientists were talking of strewing soot all over the Arctic to prevent the glaciers of a new Ice Age from burying us all. Some of these same scientists are as keen on frying us today as they were on freezing us then.

My next text is not a scriptural one but one of Man. It is an American press report which begins “Scientists astonished by Arctic warming. Northern United States to become “subtropical”

Strange Things Happening In Frozen Arctic

It seems at least possible that the extraordinary warmth in the Arctic during the last few years marks a step in this direction. Such a change as that suggested cannot be suddenly or even rapidly accomplished: but, if there shall come a time when the North Polar ice cap is completely melted, and Greenland incidentally freed of the ice sheet which covers it, the latitudes in which we now dwell will experience a wonderful climatic alteration. The Northern parts of the United States will become subtropical...Seals leave their breeding grounds because the water is too warm and vast schools of Smelts arrive further North than ever before, while land begins to appear which has always been covered by ice.

Accompanied by photographs and scientific diagrams, this article appeared in 1922!

So people should not allow fear to drive them to the worship of the great god climate or environment. It is not God nor even the body of God but something else with quite hellish consequences.

Those who would use this idol to desecrate Holy Week and Easter, the commemoration of our Lord's Passion, Crucifixion, Death and Resurrection should be firmly rejected by all true Christians.

Remember the promise from very early in the revelation of Scripture with which I began

Genesis 8.22
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease.