This year’s theme at the Evangelical Theological Society is “Caring for Creation”. And the first of four plenary speakers was Calvin Beisner, the “Founder and National Spokesman of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.” Yesterday he spoke on the topic “Creation Care and Godly Dominion: The Search for a Genuinely Biblical Earth Stewardship.” Having heard Beisner before I knew I wouldn’t like what he had to say. But I also like to discipline myself to listen to others I think are crazy (or nearly so).
Beisner does make some interesting points and there is no doubting his intelligence. But that doesn’t change the fact that for the most part I find his views and his presentation of them deeply harmful. To give one example, Beisner eschews the term “environmentalism”. As he tersely explained, the word “environment” comes from a word that simply refers to one’s surroundings. But our surroundings are constituted by everything around us. As Beisner said, my environment includes everything from Alpha Centauri to the hairs on the back of your head. And what is the focus on everything? It is totalitarianism.
If you are confused by the leap in logic, you’re in good company (in other words, I’m good company). How you get from environmentalism to surroundings to totalitarianism I’m not sure. But having dispensed with the enemy, Beisner quickly led his audience from there to a more appropriate substitute term: “Godly dominion” (or some derivative thereof). And from there he went on to explain the insidious reach of the environmental movement, how it is driven by a spiritual philosophy of naturalistic status quo that all but deifies nature and is inherently misanthropic. A few times Beisner also raised the demonic specter of “big government” looming in the background with the threat of more regulation.
ETS has four plenary speakers this year, and Beisner is not representative of the views of all. Of that, at least, I am grateful. But I still wonder why ETS would bother to give him a platform at all.