Good Friday conjunctions

This year Good Friday falls on April 22, which is also the new environmentalist holiday of Earth Day.  (It is also “89ers’ Day,” the anniversary of the Oklahoma Land Run in 1889, as all of my fellow Oklahomans should know.)   Some churches, usually of the more liberal persuasion, are trying to honor Good Friday and Earth Day together, recommending ecological gestures to honor Christ and suggesting that Christ died for the Earth.

He did die for the world.  And the whole creation suffered from the Fall and is in travail until the coming of Christ.  So can we make legitimate connections?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Rev. Gary Hall

    Well, the whole cosmos, not just the earth has been corrupted. Maybe we should not call it Earth Day, but Cosmos day, so that we can get busy cleaning up the cosmos and protecting it as well. Even if we went totally *green* and *saved* the planet, we are still at enmity with creation. Nothing we do will fix the problem that the lion and the lamb cannot lay together. Nothing we do will stop earthquakes and Tsunamis. Perhaps you can make a connection in that death has been put to death. The Old Adam has been put to death to make way for the new. In this way headship will be restored and creation will be as intended (c.f. Romans 8:18ff). But connecting it to Earth Day turns the cry of “It is finished.” into what do I have to add to that word. The problem is not that the Earth is polluted, the problem is the Earth, the entire cosmos has been subjected to futility. Reducing carbon footprint is just not the answer. The whole cosmos needs radical rescue and it beings by restoring the headship of man by first putting to death the Old Adam.

  • Rev. Gary Hall

    Well, the whole cosmos, not just the earth has been corrupted. Maybe we should not call it Earth Day, but Cosmos day, so that we can get busy cleaning up the cosmos and protecting it as well. Even if we went totally *green* and *saved* the planet, we are still at enmity with creation. Nothing we do will fix the problem that the lion and the lamb cannot lay together. Nothing we do will stop earthquakes and Tsunamis. Perhaps you can make a connection in that death has been put to death. The Old Adam has been put to death to make way for the new. In this way headship will be restored and creation will be as intended (c.f. Romans 8:18ff). But connecting it to Earth Day turns the cry of “It is finished.” into what do I have to add to that word. The problem is not that the Earth is polluted, the problem is the Earth, the entire cosmos has been subjected to futility. Reducing carbon footprint is just not the answer. The whole cosmos needs radical rescue and it beings by restoring the headship of man by first putting to death the Old Adam.

  • Matthew Surburg

    My favorite conjunction, personally, is that today happens to be my oldest daughter’s 10th birthday! Happy birthday Naomi! (Sorry, a little off topic, I know.)

  • Matthew Surburg

    My favorite conjunction, personally, is that today happens to be my oldest daughter’s 10th birthday! Happy birthday Naomi! (Sorry, a little off topic, I know.)

  • Booklover

    We are to be good stewards of the earth. But to entirely follow the philosophy of “green” would be to fall for such falsities as a turtle is equal to a human; or humans are the problem, so we must reduce their multiplication. This philosophy, borne of spiritual blindness, leads to sorrows and griefs, for which Jesus died.

  • Booklover

    We are to be good stewards of the earth. But to entirely follow the philosophy of “green” would be to fall for such falsities as a turtle is equal to a human; or humans are the problem, so we must reduce their multiplication. This philosophy, borne of spiritual blindness, leads to sorrows and griefs, for which Jesus died.

  • Stephen

    My first reaction is “no” and that if I heard a pastor trying to do that I would likely walk out. But then thinking about it further, there is law in the cross, the most terrible law of all in fact, and there could be a way to cleverly link the two “celebrations” together. What Earth Day lacks and will forever lack is Christ himself, the One who is for us. It is all about how we have failed and how we think we can right things by our own doing, as if we can save ourselves. That message is in Good Friday too, but it does not end there. “Good” means something almost paradoxical. When it comes to Earth Day, “Earth” becomes the god for which we make sacrifices believing that these sacrifices will appease and heal our sins. I think I kind of have that right, maybe on some deeper psychological or religious level.

    But even in that misguided activity, the stewardship which God actually desires is being done. Consciences will not rest, even those of the unbeliever who thinks he can save Mother Earth by his works. And for the Christian, it is a good and merciful thing for the neighbor to be good stewards of God’s world, to delight in it and care for it and join others in a concern for it. But we do not expect that we are saving it – not really. Any mending we participate in is temporal, not eternal. I suspect even the unbeliever knows this somewhere deep down. The sun will burn out, right?

    Yet that doesn’t mean God does not intend for us to care for it diligently or even passionately, and that we cannot join others in celebrating the goodness of it. But remember – we don’t pray with pagans! :)

  • Stephen

    My first reaction is “no” and that if I heard a pastor trying to do that I would likely walk out. But then thinking about it further, there is law in the cross, the most terrible law of all in fact, and there could be a way to cleverly link the two “celebrations” together. What Earth Day lacks and will forever lack is Christ himself, the One who is for us. It is all about how we have failed and how we think we can right things by our own doing, as if we can save ourselves. That message is in Good Friday too, but it does not end there. “Good” means something almost paradoxical. When it comes to Earth Day, “Earth” becomes the god for which we make sacrifices believing that these sacrifices will appease and heal our sins. I think I kind of have that right, maybe on some deeper psychological or religious level.

    But even in that misguided activity, the stewardship which God actually desires is being done. Consciences will not rest, even those of the unbeliever who thinks he can save Mother Earth by his works. And for the Christian, it is a good and merciful thing for the neighbor to be good stewards of God’s world, to delight in it and care for it and join others in a concern for it. But we do not expect that we are saving it – not really. Any mending we participate in is temporal, not eternal. I suspect even the unbeliever knows this somewhere deep down. The sun will burn out, right?

    Yet that doesn’t mean God does not intend for us to care for it diligently or even passionately, and that we cannot join others in celebrating the goodness of it. But remember – we don’t pray with pagans! :)

  • John C

    In the movement from polytheism to monotheism the Jews and than the Christians disavowed the old gods of sun and fertility. Perhaps it is time for Christians to speak more of earthly stewardship — this does not mean you have to pray with pagans but you could still talk to them.

  • John C

    In the movement from polytheism to monotheism the Jews and than the Christians disavowed the old gods of sun and fertility. Perhaps it is time for Christians to speak more of earthly stewardship — this does not mean you have to pray with pagans but you could still talk to them.

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  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m pretty sympathetic to a lot of environmentalism, but even so, I have a hard time caring about Earth Day in general, and all the more so in light of Good Friday. In comparison, Earth Day just seems particularly feeble.

    Remaking Good Friday celebrations in light of Earth Day would be to me like finding out that your birthday is also Arbor Day, and having your parents suggest that you forego the gifts and cake in lieu of planting a tree — you know, for your birthday.

    Earth Day does share in common with Good Friday the acknowledgement that Something is wrong, things are broken and need fixing. But the narrative diverges from there, of course.

    Earth Day puts the onus on us to fix things, suggesting that it is possible to redeem the creation ourselves. Good Friday suggests that we, too, are broken, part of the problem, and points us to Christ as the redemption of us and the world. (I have in mind Romans 8:18-25.)

    Of course, not a few Christians somehow turn this all into the idea that there is nothing that can be done to improve things in our environment. Which would be akin to assuming we cannot do anything to improve things in our families or neighborhoods: “Why do I need to work at these relationships if they are tainted by sin and only Jesus forgives sin? Screw all y’all, I’m watching TV!”

    Which is to say, caring for the environment is just another way for us to show love to our neighbors — and, like all true love, it will involve sacrifice. God doesn’t need this, but our neighbors still do.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m pretty sympathetic to a lot of environmentalism, but even so, I have a hard time caring about Earth Day in general, and all the more so in light of Good Friday. In comparison, Earth Day just seems particularly feeble.

    Remaking Good Friday celebrations in light of Earth Day would be to me like finding out that your birthday is also Arbor Day, and having your parents suggest that you forego the gifts and cake in lieu of planting a tree — you know, for your birthday.

    Earth Day does share in common with Good Friday the acknowledgement that Something is wrong, things are broken and need fixing. But the narrative diverges from there, of course.

    Earth Day puts the onus on us to fix things, suggesting that it is possible to redeem the creation ourselves. Good Friday suggests that we, too, are broken, part of the problem, and points us to Christ as the redemption of us and the world. (I have in mind Romans 8:18-25.)

    Of course, not a few Christians somehow turn this all into the idea that there is nothing that can be done to improve things in our environment. Which would be akin to assuming we cannot do anything to improve things in our families or neighborhoods: “Why do I need to work at these relationships if they are tainted by sin and only Jesus forgives sin? Screw all y’all, I’m watching TV!”

    Which is to say, caring for the environment is just another way for us to show love to our neighbors — and, like all true love, it will involve sacrifice. God doesn’t need this, but our neighbors still do.

  • Tom Hering

    “Of course, not a few Christians somehow turn this all into the idea that there is nothing that can be done to improve things in our environment.” – Todd @ 6.

    Prior to Sarah Palin’s appearance at a rally in Madison on the 16th, an Isthmus reporter walked through the crowd of 500 Tea Party supporters, just to chat and get to know them. One encounter went like this:

    “[Tenpas told me] ‘I’d like to see them get rid of … the Environmental Protection Agency.’ Why the EPA? Because ‘there is nothing we can do about this planet going down the toilet. The end times are coming, in my opinion.’ She said cutting back on gas guzzlers and imposing emission controls is ‘not going to make any difference.’ In her view, ‘It’s all about screwing taxpayers.’ The person next to Tenpas eagerly joined in, calling the operative theory of climate change ‘Gore-bull warming.’ Tenpas agreed, saying the notion that the planet is getting warmer ‘has never been proven.’

    A world view from the fringe? According to a Pew poll released this month, 53% of Republicans believe there is no evidence the Earth is warming (regardless of cause). According to a PRRI poll released last month, 52% of Republicans believe natural disasters – like Japan’s earthquake and tsunami – are a sign of the end times (as the end times are understood by evangelicals, i.e., an apocalyptic event in the near future).

    I think it’s fair to say these results represent about a quarter of the U.S. population. God help us.

  • Tom Hering

    “Of course, not a few Christians somehow turn this all into the idea that there is nothing that can be done to improve things in our environment.” – Todd @ 6.

    Prior to Sarah Palin’s appearance at a rally in Madison on the 16th, an Isthmus reporter walked through the crowd of 500 Tea Party supporters, just to chat and get to know them. One encounter went like this:

    “[Tenpas told me] ‘I’d like to see them get rid of … the Environmental Protection Agency.’ Why the EPA? Because ‘there is nothing we can do about this planet going down the toilet. The end times are coming, in my opinion.’ She said cutting back on gas guzzlers and imposing emission controls is ‘not going to make any difference.’ In her view, ‘It’s all about screwing taxpayers.’ The person next to Tenpas eagerly joined in, calling the operative theory of climate change ‘Gore-bull warming.’ Tenpas agreed, saying the notion that the planet is getting warmer ‘has never been proven.’

    A world view from the fringe? According to a Pew poll released this month, 53% of Republicans believe there is no evidence the Earth is warming (regardless of cause). According to a PRRI poll released last month, 52% of Republicans believe natural disasters – like Japan’s earthquake and tsunami – are a sign of the end times (as the end times are understood by evangelicals, i.e., an apocalyptic event in the near future).

    I think it’s fair to say these results represent about a quarter of the U.S. population. God help us.

  • Rev. David J. Whan

    Hi Dr. Veith,

    I have currently been in discussion with several people about why celebrating Earth Day and Good Friday together can be done well by Christians. I have grave reservations myself as I am increasingly concerned about progressive philosophy pressing on theology and church practice. Could you recommend any resources which investigate the roots and philosophy of Earth Day in light of Christian thought. This Lutheran pastor needs a little help. Thanks so much and blessings to you and yours this Holy Week!

  • Rev. David J. Whan

    Hi Dr. Veith,

    I have currently been in discussion with several people about why celebrating Earth Day and Good Friday together can be done well by Christians. I have grave reservations myself as I am increasingly concerned about progressive philosophy pressing on theology and church practice. Could you recommend any resources which investigate the roots and philosophy of Earth Day in light of Christian thought. This Lutheran pastor needs a little help. Thanks so much and blessings to you and yours this Holy Week!

  • Tom Hering

    For starters, if I may: Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day. Some credit Pentecostal minister John McConnell Jr.

  • Tom Hering

    For starters, if I may: Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day. Some credit Pentecostal minister John McConnell Jr.

  • Booklover

    Rev. Whan:

    Here is some information:

    http://www.resistingthegreendragon.com/

  • Booklover

    Rev. Whan:

    Here is some information:

    http://www.resistingthegreendragon.com/


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