Monday, August 3, 2015

Something for everyone. . .

Pope Francis, writing on environmental issues, has something for everyone.  On the one hand, he will be loved by the green folks for advocating the immorality of wasteful consumption, the denial of clean drinking water, the exploitation of the poor, the use of air conditioning, the slowness of the governments to act, the acceptance of the science behind global warning, among other things.  On the other hand, he refuses to countenance population reducing ideas (from abortion to euthanasia), challenges the decline of the family, refuses to bow before the grand deity of technology, and refutes the adoption of the modern cultural ideas of sexuality and same sex marriage.  It is a long and expansive document (too long) and quite pessimistic in tone. He solemnly warns of global warming, insist that man is responsible, and believes sweeping changes are required on every level of government and life in order to save the earth.

But Francis is not speaking merely to the world.  The bulk of his address seems to be aimed at those who will probably never read more than a snippet of his grand, sprawling encyclical.  Individuals are his focus.  He does not believe that some mighty one world authority nor recycling efforts will fix what is, for Francis, a spiritual crisis as much as an ecological one.

All in all I am not sure what to make of this encyclical in terms of its take on its subject.  Perhaps the best of Francis words are his rejection of the idea that this is merely a problem to be addressed and solved.  Life is not a series of problems to be resolved and such a focus is not really living at all.  At the same time, Francis does not let us off the hook for our personal accountability for the problems and our personal responsibility to bequeath to our children a world less tainted by our excess and abuse.  In the end, though, it would seem to Francis that his version of ecology almost requires a Christian mindset.  That being the case, what is being asked of the reader is more than the practical adoption of some theses for a better stewardship of the earth.  Rather, Francis seems to be asking for a wholesale conversion of spirit and values to conform to Christianity.  That may give his words more authenticity in the minds of some but it will surely distance his words from influencing others.

All of this only points out how hard it is for churches to address the science and technology of our world with a call to repentance and faith.  I can think of no one who has broached this subject with much success.  So in that respect Francis is no worse and perhaps somewhat better at the task than some of the others who have gone before him.  Whether his encyclical will be remembered or forgotten, only time will tell.

What I can point out are some of the things now institutionalized for the Roman Catholic Church within the encyclical that, while not part of the major thrust of what was said, are profound changes nonetheless.

  • Francis implies that people have a relationship with the earth -- something not different from their relationship with God and with their neighbor and that the Genesis account is “symbolic and narrative,” not literal;  "The creation accounts in the book of Genesis contain, in their own symbolic and narrative language, profound teachings about human existence and its historical reality. They suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself.”  Thus the Pope has institutionalized the liberal theology that discounts fact and history over myth and story.
  • Francis rejects any notion that human beings have “dominion” over nature;  “Our ‘dominion’ over the universe should be understood more properly in the sense of responsible stewardship.”  and “The Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures.”  In other words, Francis sees dominion exclusively in terms of stewardship and rejects any and all ideas that man is above nature or acts as lord of creation in the stead of God.  Dominion to Francis means preservation.
  • Francis seems to advocate a “mystical nature panentheism.”  “The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things.”  It is as if the Pope has read the script from Avatar or Lord of the Rings and made nature somehow more noble and pure in its expression of the Creator's will and purpose than mankind has.  
This encyclical is primarily a teaching document, primarily a theology text, and yet, surprisingly, it even includes a footnote to the words of Sufi mystic Ali al-Khawas.  Something for everyone!  Only 15% of the  encyclical’s 184 pages are devoted to technical or scientific address; the rest is theology and the theology expressed therein now institutionalizes the liberal perspective on creation, on the relationship between man and nature, and the divinity inherent in all things created.

BTW if you disagree with me, you can read anyone or all of the following who also think they know what the Pope really said or should have said or could have said...


Carl Vehse said...

What is driving such repeated Lutheran infatuation with Jorge Bergoglio and his encyclical?

After all, a few years ago the Missouri Synod put out its own environmental encyclical, "Together with All Creatures: Caring for God's Living Earth." and a mention, much less a warm discussion, of it is barely to be found on Pastoral Meanderings. Surely Jorge's version is not anymore Lutheran (or "catholic").

Anonymous said...

Francis is a Jesuit marxist, an outright communist. What we should be hearing is "Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing," because he is definitely a wolf at the door. The man has bought into Marx, Engels, and Lenin and abandoned Jesus Christ. He is a false shepherd in every sense.


PS: What a huge disappointment coming right after B16, a man of great faith and a true scholar. This is yet another demonstration that the Roman Church makes huge errors.

Carl Vehse said...

"What we should be hearing is "Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing," because he is definitely a wolf at the door."

You can hear it in the Lutheran Symbols, the Smalcald Articles, Part II, Article IV: Of the Papacy, and the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Strickert,

For all your complaint, the truth is that the world listens to the pope and nobody pays any attention to a CTCR document from the LCMS. Was Pr Peters drawing our attention to goodness or warning us against confusion (at best) or error (at worst) in a document that has found many more readers in the world than the LCMS has found in its own borders for its little CTCR document.

Former LCMS now RC

Carl Vehse said...

"the truth is that the world listens to the pope and nobody pays any attention to a CTCR document from the LCMS"

Regarding both enviromental encyclicals the world is half right.

The Good Tale said...

Satan has deceived the whole world into worshiping the wrong father John 8:44, Rev 12:9, and I prove it by the word of God Acts 3:23.

Our true Father will not put any child of his into a hell fire as torture or as a second death no matter what their sins, whether they repent or not 1 John 2:2 in this life. That thought has never entered God's heart or mind Jer 7:31, Jer 19:5, Isa 28:18. God has an eternal place planned for all of his children, according to their works Rev 20:12-13, Ezek 37:26 of how they have treated their neighbor as themselves. Only those living by every word of God (love) will be allowed inside the walls of his coming city Rev 21.

The Bible is the book of the knowledge of good and evil. How to understand its secrets is now revealed on God's raised prophet's blog "The Good Tale". This is God's story, only God is good.

Now you can know your true Father's 1 John 4:8 everlasting Gospel that turns the hearts of the father's to the children Luke 1:17 from the wilderness Rev 12:5-6, Jer 31:22, Isa 14:16-17, Rev 12:17 as a witness to the world Matt 24:14.

Only the wise will hear Pro 1:5 and understand Dan 12:10 because only the wise will hear all things Acts 3:22.

Anyone believing or teaching the lies that Satan has deceived the whole world with will NOT be allowed Rev 22:14-15 inside the walls of the New Jerusalem Rev 21:2 in the coming kingdom of God Acts 3:23.

Kirk Skeptic said...

@former lcms: of course, the majority is always right...