Kevin Shang reviews Climate Crisis: The challenge to the church for Operation Noah.
Climate Crisis: the challenge to the church, a new book by David Rhodes, the Anglican priest and former journalist, provides a clear and powerful argument that the Church has buried the real Jesus under centuries of hierarchical structures and protective dogmas. The Church could make a crucial difference in fighting against climate change, but the first step is to rediscover the real Jesus of the Gospels and rethink the Church’s attitude towards the world.
David argues that centuries of dogma and tradition in the Church has separated most of us from the true meaning of Jesus’life and teachings. This hinders us in knowing the real Jesus. An emphasis on sin and personal salvation in the institutional Church has stolen our attention from ‘love your neighbour’, the great commandment of Jesus. Our world contains myriad examples of groups who only love those within their ‘tribe’, including the Church. By contrast, when we love across all lines of race, class, wealth, social class, gender and nationality through our actions, we reflect something from beyond this world – God’s unconditional love. Responding to climate change is a great way for us to learn to love our neighbours and the planet.
This book is easy to read, but not comfortable to read. It encourages us to get out of our spiritual comfort zone and re-examine our understanding of Jesus. In 1 John 3:18 we read, ‘Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth’ (NIV). Personal salvation and dealing with sin are important, but an emphasis on these issues can leave us satisfied with staying in a self-protective bubble while remaining apathetic to the suffering of the world.
Written with a journalist’s courage and integrity, Climate Crisis: the challenge to the church challenges us to rethink how to follow Jesus with passion in our time. It is a great book and definitely worth the time of every Christian who is concerned about climate change.