Question: Where do Traditionalist Methodist stand on climate change?
Answer: Great question.
The planet’s climate is under constant transformation and has been since earth’s creation. In chapter one of Genesis we read that the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep. Then light burst forth. God separated the water on the earth from the water above it and he called the water above “sky.” God caused the water on earth to be gathered into one place so that ground appeared. God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” We do not know the number of hours, days, years, centuries this process required. Some interpret the word “day” in Genesis to be twenty-four hours. Others interpret the word “day” to represent and event, like saying, “One day I made up my mind to …”
Regardless, during this process the earth’s climate was undergoing dramatic changes – and it has yet to stop.
Climate reacts to forces in the atmosphere and on earth. Some scientists argue humans are now the dominant force behind climate change. But are we? Had we lived during the days of Noah, “When men began to increase in number on the earth …” would scientists have blamed the increase in human population for the Great Flood? Did the the increase in livestock and raw sewage entering streams cause the skies to burst forth with rain and the creeks, streams, and rivers to “well-up” from beneath?
Drought was a constant problem in the Old Testament. Drought caused famines in the time of Abraham (Genesis 12:10 ), Isaac (Genesis 26:1 ), Joseph (Genesis 41:27 ), and the Judges (Ruth 1:1 ). Drought also impacted the Israelites during the days of David (2 Samuel 21:1 ), Elijah (1 Kings 18:2 ), Elisha (2 Kings 4:38 ), Haggai (Haggai 1:11 ), and Nehemiah (Nehemiah 5:3 ).
Did human behavior cause these droughts or did God have a hand in it?
In the Book of Revelation we read, “hail and fire mixed with blood was hurled down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.” Revelation 8:7
Will climatologist blame this event on global warming, climate change, and the burning of fossil fuels?
Trees affect our climate, and therefore our weather, in three ways: they lower temperatures, reduce energy usage and reduce or remove air pollutants. When we lose a third of the trees and all the grass, we can expect a substantial increase in global warming, a strain on our power grids, and an increase in air pollution.
And what of our water supply? “Something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed. And a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. A third of the waters turned bitter. Many people died from the waters that had become bitter.” Revelation 8: 8-10
Scientists warn of rising sea levels, but if the event mentioned above occurs, the melting of arctic ice at the Poles will be nothing compared to the sea-coast flooding we will experience when large tsunamis hit the coastlines of populated continents. Whole navel fleets will be wiped out. With a third of our streams and rivers toxic, those living further inland will scramble to find clean drinking water.
And what of the sky? “A third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night.” Revelation 8:12
The first thing we will notice is an increase in darkness — then extreme cold. The planet’s temperature will drop several degrees Fahrenheit over the course of weeks and months. With less sunlight, the amount of photosynthesis will decrease. Plants will begin to wither and die. Animals that rely on vegetation to survive will be left with a shrinking food supply.
We might imagine that people would rush to spend time in the sun during the reduced daylight hours, but “the sun was allowed to scorch people with fire.” Revelation 16:8. We will long to stand in sunlight, but the sun’s intense rays will prevent us from enjoying its warmth.
Sea levels will rise dramatically. “Every island fled away.” Revelation 16:20
Tectonic plates will shift, leveling whole mountain ranges. “The mountains could not be found.” Revelation 16:20
Rivers will shift or disappear. “The great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up.” Revelation 16:12
Some, maybe most, Methodist believe climate change is real, but is global warming man’s fault? God’s? A little of both?
A new heaven and a new earth are promised for those who accept Christ as their savior. Revelation 21:1. But God also commands us to be good stewards of our planet. It is our duty to protect and preserve what God created. It is also our responsibility to let others know that Christ can change each person at a soul level if they will only ask him to do so.
As Christians we should be good stewards of creation and seek to leave things better than we found them. (The “campsite” rule.) But we should also be good stewards of the words of instruction given to us by the Creator and seek to share God’s Good News with all we can whenever we can.