We are continuing to look at the book by the United Methodist minister Martin Thielen entitled What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? Divided into two sections, Part 1 lists “Ten Things Christians Don’t Need to Believe” and Part 2 is entitled “Ten Things Christians Do Need to Believe.” Let’s think about the fourth belief Christians don’t need to believe.
Chapter 5 is entitled God Cares about Saving Souls But Not About Saving Trees. Thielen subtitles this chapter “God cares about personal salvation and social justice, and so should God’s church.”
I must admit I agree with Thielen on much of this chapter. The believer in Jesus should be concerned about the environment and social issues. It is unfortunately true that fundamentalist churches have often expressed a concern only for men’s souls. We are charged with being good stewards of God’s creation — and we have sometimes failed miserably.
I agree with the author that our religion must be personal but dare not be simply private. Every aspect of God’s world ought to be impacted by the believer living out his or her faith and caring about what God cares about.
MY RESPONSE: However, while Thielen uses expressions like “affirming faith in Jesus Christ” and “evangelism,” I suspect he will articulate a liberal view of the gospel when we get further along in the book. But at this point, I agree that we should care about the environment and not engage in partisan politics. He cites abortion and homosexuality as two issues that conservative Christians seem most concerned about, but that is reasonable given the prominence of those two critical topics. It is difficult to read the Minor Prophets, for example, and not be challenged to care about the poor, the oppressed, the unborn. We will have to see what positions Thielen takes on those hot-button issues.
One takeaway for me: I find Becoming Worldly Saints by Mike Witmer a balanced approach to caring about the world that God has made — without watering down or compromising the gospel.