Friday, June 15, 2012
In general, Christian Reconstructionism calls on adherents to create an Earth ready to receive the return of the Christ and the redemption of those found, by this theology, to be deserving of redemption. How does one do this? How does one go about ‘reconstructing’ those areas of the human experience dominated by sin? There are a number of different approaches to this. One of primary concern to those involved in Earth care is Dominionism supported by Dominion Theology, an expression of Reconstructionism (often used as synonyms). This theology is based on Genesis 1:26 of the Hebrew Scripture (Old Testament) that reads “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
Reconstructionist theologians and adherents are increasingly active on the social and political fronts. They feel called by God to establish a utopia on Earth. This utopia will be based on a strict, literal interpretation of biblical law as portrayed in Hebrew Scripture and interpreted by Reconstructionist theologians. The reconstruction of biblical law will apply to all aspects of life, and that includes how humanity relates to biodiversity and the environment. The thought behind the establishment of this utopia is referred to as postmillenialism. This utopia might look different to a Reconstructionist than to those who do not follow these theologies.
It is hard for those not caught up in the End Time myth to realize how potentially influential these theologians and their millions of adherents are. However, today, there are millions of Christian evangelicals in the United States. The Reconstructionists among these Christians are more powerful than one might think and potentially dangerous to democratic forms of government, the environment, and world peace.
Millions of people throughout the United States and millions more throughout the world are adherents of a theology that not only expects apocalypse as a component of their own metaphysical salvation, but actively encourages apocalypse and may be working to see that it happens. These adherents live work, and play in most sectors of US society including the military, Congress and the Executive Branch. They feel called by their deity to bring about the End Time defined in their mythology and theology. This calling may well include widespread destruction of habitat and biodiversity, through political manipulation, if not directly.
Friday, June 1, 2012
Christian belief conceives of time as linear. There is a beginning and there is an end. How one looks at the ending depends greatly where one is located under the sacred canopy of Christianity. These beliefs may have significant impacts on the conservation and preservation of biodiversity. In terms of Christian eschatology, it is the ending, or actually the period of time just before the ending that most concerns us when we think of human responsibility for caring for Earth and life on Earth. How one perceives the end of history and when one perceives that happening, is where the concern lies when this aspect of theology intersects with issues relating to ecosystem health and the conservation and perpetuation of biodiversity.
There are about 77 million fundamentalist Christians (biblical literalists) in the United States. Between 20 million and 30 million adult Americans follow dispensational theologies, while a much smaller number of Dispensationalists are in the Reconstructionist (or Dominionist) camp. While the dispensationalist might be willing to wait for the Apocalypse, Rapture and other projected End Times events, the Reconstructionists are motivated by theologies that require that they prepare the way for the return of the Christ. These adherents are socially, culturally, and politically active and influential in the development and application of current US government policy and laws.
When encountering Christianity, conservation biology and efforts to preserve habitat and biodiversity do not usually find themselves in conflict. However, the more ‘fundamental’ the adherent the more likely one is to stress apocalypse and eschaton in one’s beliefs. And it is here that we run into conflict.
While there are millions of evangelical Christians who are active in their concern for earth care, millions more, especially in the fundamentalist camps, actively oppose such support. According to many of them, humanity is approaching the End Time, God’s end game. The core of this theology is a subset of Dispensational theology often referred to as Christian Reconstructionism.
(Continued in the next post.)
(For a fully referenced version of these thoughts go to www.greeninstitute.net and scroll down until Interdisciplinary Institute appears on the left and click.)