Latest posts by James M. Taylor (see all)
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In the latest iteration of the mainstream media fawning over left wing activists disguised as conservative or mainstream Christian leaders, Tuesday’s Washington Post published a bizarre Op-ed by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, identifying herself as the past president of the Chicago Theological Seminary, saying it is “morally evil” for skeptics to disagree with her on global warming. For people of faith who may take a quick glance at Thistlethwaite’s asserted credentials and assume that she speaks for conservative or mainstream Christians and a Biblical point of view, beware of Thistlethwaite in sheep’s clothing.
For those who haven’t read Thistlethwaite’s editorial, it defines the terms incendiary and bizarre. In an editorial titled, “ ‘Super’ Typhoon Haiyan: Suffering and the sin of climate change denial,” Thistlethwaite claims Typhoon Haiyan was “evil” and the typhoon was caused by the twin “moral evils” of fossil fuel consumption and global warming skepticism. Affixing the deliberately insulting word “denial” to skeptics of the asserted global warming crisis, Thistlethwaite says this “denial” is a sin against God that requires confession, repentance and penance.
Inquisition, meet the twenty-first century.
Thistlethwaite did not mention whether she has any scientific education, training or expertise regarding the earth’s climate. Based on her failure to present any meaningful scientific argument in support of her religious condemnation of the conclusions drawn by scientists at such institutions as NASA, NOAA, Harvard, Princeton, etc., I am guessing it is essentially nonexistent. This is an important point because any assertion of a religious duty to oppose the use of fossil fuels depends on the prerequisite scientific assertion that humans are causing a global warming crisis that is responsible for Typhoon Haiyan and other “evil” natural weather events.
Given the number of times I have presented in this column the objective data showing hurricanes are becoming less frequent and less severe as our planet warms, I will merely link to a summary of such scientific evidence here. The point is, the issue is one of science, not religion, and the scientific evidence is strong that global warming is having a neutral or beneficial impact on hurricanes. Thisthlethwaite’s attempt to force people in the Philippines and elsewhere to use expensive, non-fossil fuel energy sources – if any energy sources at all – merely impoverishes people, creating unnecessary human misery and leaving little wealth available to build storm-worthy houses and infrastructure that can save lives when typhoons occur.
If we accept Thistlethwaite’s dubious premise that it is morally evil and a sin against God to misunderstand science or to form the wrong conclusion about how to best reduce human misery, then Thistlethwaite better hope God is a very forgiving God.
Which brings us back to Thistlethwaite’s asserted theological credentials that apparently convinced the Post to publish her Op-ed. The mainstream media love to call attention to global warming activists who have some connection to religion and then falsely portray them as representing the Biblical interpretations of conservative or mainstream Christian leaders. Thistlethwaite and the Washington Post are no exception to the rule.
Thistlethwaite’s greatest claim to fame is authoring the book “Occupy the Bible,” in which she claims Jesus was anti-capitalist. She urges present-day anti-capitalists to “occupy” Christianity the way the socialist Occupy movement took over street intersections and public parks. For people of faith who witnessed the rapes, drug abuse and trashing of public property at the sites taken over by the Occupy movement, this is a frigthening thought.
Thistlethwaite’s revisionist theological assertions in “Occupy the Bible” are astounding. Mark 11:17 states, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” According to Thistlethwaite’s book promo, however, this was designed to be anti-capitalist political agitation: “Jesus occupied the Temple in Jerusalem—effectively the national bank of his time—and threw out those who were exploiting the poor.” In the gospel according to Thistlethwaite, Jesus was less concerned about preserving the religious purity of prayer at the Temple and more concerned about making a statement about the moneyed classes sticking it to the poor through capitalism. (And even if you believe that religious whopper, don’t socialist nations have money exchanges, too?)
Similarly, Thistlethwaite downplays the religious meaning of Jesus calling Andrew, Peter, John and James to be his disciples and invents an anti-capitalist agenda. According to her book promo, “Jesus organized fishermen whose industry had been wrecked by the Roman Empire .”
While Thistlethwaite directs so much attention to her revisionist interpretation of Jesus clearing the Temple courts and calling his apostles to be fishers of men, perhaps she might want to consider Matthew 7:15: “Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”
Thistlethwaite extends her revisionist theology in other columns for the Post, with such titles as, “We need a new Social Gospel: the moral imperative of collective bargaining,” “The right’s war on poor women” and “Does nuclear power usurp the power of God?”
Thistlethwaite can interpret – or misinterpret – scripture all she wants. However, people of faith should know upfront that Thistlethwaite does not represent conservative or mainstream Christian leaders when they read her column calling it morally evil to use fossil fuels and morally evil to subject alarmist global warming claims to the Scientific Method.
By the way, given how Thistlethwaite calls it a moral evil to use fossil fuels, I am wondering whether she owns a car, rides a bus, flies on airplanes or uses electricity in her home. Unless she rides a bicycle to work and writes her Op-eds by typewriter and candlelight, I think she might want to read Matthew 7:5 before calling the use of fossil fuels morally evil.
On a deeper plane, does Thistlethwaite really believe God is honored and pleased when she applies the “morally evil” label to sincere, God-worshipping Christians – many of whom have substantially more extensive scientific education and training than her – for merely disagreeing with her lay interpretation of climate science?
Not that Thistlethwaite’s Chicago Theological Seminary is any more representative of conservative or mainstream Christian thought. In the Seminary’s 564-word “Philosophy” webpage, there is not a single mention of spreading the good news about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Instead, the Seminary’s Philosophy webpage provides a long and detailed manifesto of leftist liberation theology, castigating our nation for being “a society riven by racism” and “threatened by new forces of division under the banner of homophobia.” Apparently division and name-calling under the banner of global warming activism is nevertheless desirable.
In short, Thistlethwaite may be a past president of a seminary that advocates leftist liberation theology, but this doesn’t give her any semblance of leadership or representation of conservative or mainstream Christian thought. Moreover, her condemnation and insulting rhetoric directed at skeptics of her asserted global warming crisis have no religious, scientific or moral weight.
[Originally published on Forbes]