". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Monday, January 24, 2011


At the 2010 convention of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, my husband was elected to the Board for International Mission, newly formed as a result of the synodical restructuring that was approved at the same convention. As part of his duties on the board, he has been giving the assignment of reading a book on missiology: Mission from the Cross: The Lutheran Theology of Mission (Klaus Detlev Schulz, Concordia Publishing House, 2009). This morning, he shared this passage from the book with me:

"Mission typically penetrates areas where the negative effects resulting from man's inability to be good stewards of God's creation are starkly apparent. Werner Elert once compared our failure to be good stewards to riders in a closed paddock where the horses are allowed to trample everything under the hoof. Therefore, not everything brought into this world through the progress of civilization should be seen in a positive light. The alarming increase of the world's population, the ongoing drain on the world's resources, the destruction of pristine rain forests, the pollution of land and water, and atomic radiation are all a result of human failure. The myriad of such failures prove that in order to be better stewards of God's world and creation, we must use our reason in a faithful and conscientious way. For God placed the obligation of taking care of His creation into the hands of humans . . . ."

I am speechless, utterly speechless to see this sentence-- "The alarming increase of the world's population . . . [is] a result of human failure"--coming out of our synodical publishing house. The increase of life is never alarming. It has nothing to do with human failure. It does not drain resources. God gives it and wherever he does so we are to receive it with joy as a blessing, not look upon it as a burden or lapse in stewardship. Whatever other good there is in this book, and I'm sure there is some for it to have been assigned for board study, this sentence for me would call it all into question. Did anyone even read it before it was assigned as a guidebook for one of our synod's governing boards? Both possible answers--the affirmative and the negative--are disturbing indeed.


Rebekah said...

Wow. What a nasty illustration of the danger of taking talking points from the world. I marvel at the swiftness to give up the First Article for "environmentalism," and also at the failure of overpopulationists to perceive themselves as eugenicists. The solution to rich, smart, white people have to overpopulation is always to get poor, stupid, brown people to stop reproducing, for it is among them that the alleged overpopulation is happening in any significant way.

Cheryl said...

I left the citation incomplete. The quotation can be found on p. 104.

Susan K said...

As a Rebekah ditto-head, I must defer to her. All I can add is WOW.

Gauntlets said...

I'm a bit confused as to how "the alarming increase of the world's population" is indicative of "the progress of civilization," given that the latter nearly universally caps the former. As they do not see the economic progression of civilizations to be worth the "destruction of pristine rain forests ... &c" (whatever that might mean this year) then, I suppose they're going to have to deal with a "surplus" of people. And people who might actually benefit from mission! Unless "mission" is more concerned with the preservation of insects and the taxation of plastic bags these days. It's so easy to get confused.

Cheryl said...

Exactly, Gauntlets. I'm also confused by the first sentence:

"Mission typically penetrates areas where the negative effects resulting from man's inability to be good stewards of God's creation are starkly apparent."

Aren't the "negative effects resulting from man's inability to be good stewards" usually more apparent in highly developed, industrialized nations where due to their advanced technological capabilities they have more power to wreak havoc on the environment?

It seems to me that a lot of the suffering that occurs in third world countries has a lot more to do with evil regimes than it does with poor stewardship of the environment.

Dave Lambert said...

Hopefully Pastor McCain from CPH reads your blog and is able to investigate and offer a response.

Dan at Necessary Roughness said...

It causes me to cringe when I consider how people normally address "alarming increase"s of population.