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Ecotheology: The latest departure from the faith

If I was to use the word “theology”, most Christians would have an accurate understanding of what it means.  However, for the benefit of those who may be unclear, the word is composed of two Greek words: theos (“God”) and logos (“word”).  In the literal sense, the study of theology refers to the study of words about God, specifically the revelation of God through His true and trustworthy Word.  Therefore, the knowledge of God is the goal of theology.


Now, what if I used the word “ecotheology”?  Well, if you want to know more, this is an excerpt from the Harvard Divinity Bulletin: “This course surveys constructive religious reflection, drawn from a variety of religious and spiritual traditions, that is informed by an ecological worldview and accountable to various forms of environmental activism.  In constructing the syllabus, I sought to include constructive or ‘theological’ texts from as many different religious traditions as possible.  As a result, the course functioned as an introduction to comparative theology as well as to the ways people of diverse faiths think about environmental issues.” 


The reading list for the course is somewhat eye-opening but the last one really caught my attention.  It is entitled “When God Was a Bird: Christianity, Animism, and the Re-Enchantment of the World”.  In the description of the book, it reads: “Many environmentalists today identify as animists, which means they affirm the personhood of all living beings.  In this volume, Wallace explores what it might mean for Christian theology to embrace the animist worldview.” 


Might I say very strongly that no Christian should be adopting an animist worldview.  However, syncretism between Christianity and animism is, sadly, being promoted.  The website claims as follows: “Animism is the word most widely used to describe humanity’s original spirituality and worldview.  We believe it is the original biblical Christian belief; this is why we choose to speak of ‘Christian Animism’”.  In short, animism is the belief that everything has a soul or spirit and since they believe this to be the case, animists believe each anima (Latin for “breath” or “spirit”) is a powerful spirit that can help or hurt them and therefore they should be worshiped or feared.  Generally, animists will deify animals, stars and idols of any kind.  As part of their belief system, they practice spiritism, witchcraft, divination and astrology.  To protect themselves from evil spirits and placate the good spirits, animists use magic, spells, enchantments, talismans and charms.  The Bible very clearly prohibits such practices!


Missionary David Scoville wrote this concerning the clear difference between Christianity and the false religion of animism: “Animism is a religion because it is a system of beliefs which link a man with his culture and, within the context of nature, to the supernatural. Very simply stated, an animist is one who believes in spirits whose activity affects his universe and whom he seeks to control to his advantage through ritual and ceremony. The Christian faith proposes one God who alone controls the universe. He is sovereign, doing as He wills within that universe. In contrast, an animist, is one who believes in multiple gods (spirits) and feels that he (the man) can and must control his universe. Thus, through ritual, and ceremony he seeks to placate, manipulate, coerce, or whatever to achieve his best interests. Animism proposes that the right ritual guarantees the right result, so the animist seeks by all means possible via his ritual to rise to the controller position.”  Missionaries worked hard to rid unreached tribes of animism, only to find that mainstream Christianity now wants to adopt it!


In 1967, medieval historian Lynn White Jr wrote an infamous article entitled “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis”.  The article was published in Science and argued that “Christianity bears a huge burden of guilt for the ecologic crisis.”  White came to this conclusion because he believed that the growing environmental degradation was the result of Christian philosophies that encourage society to regard nature as a simple resource for the sole benefit of humanity.  Here are some excerpts from his article:-


  • The spirits in natural objects, which formerly had protected nature from man, evaporated. Man's effective monopoly on spirits in this world was confirmed, and the old inhibitions to the exploitation of nature crumbled.

  • By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.

  • Christianity, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia's religions (except, perhaps, Zoroastrianism), not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God's will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.


Rather than refute the claims made under the banner of ecotheology, it appears that many churches and seminaries are jumping on board, keen to “repent” for their climate crimes and adopt the pagan religion of animism into their beliefs, all in the name of supposedly saving the earth from man.  Union Theological Seminary in New York City, had this message posted on their “Listening and Teaching” page: “I understand the ecological crisis as a crisis rooted in social domination; in colonialism, in racism, in capitalism, in militarism, in patriarchy, in poverty, in heteronormativity, in a Christian hegemony, in our general alienation from each other, from the means of production, from political power, from the land.”


People the world over continue to be fooled by the climate change alarmists.  Their lies are designed to prey upon many well-meaning Christians who may want to genuinely see Biblical stewardship returned to the fore concerning God’s creation.  But turning away from God’s truth and adopting unbiblical practices is certainly not the way to do it.  God is sovereign and He is in control.  Perhaps it’s time to bring back the simple truth of that old Sunday School favourite: He’s got the whole world in His hands.   

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