It seems appropriate that we consider the death of Jerry Falwell in the spirit by which he lived — on a "higher level … the Biblical perspective" — and take a peek into what the Bible has to say about climate change as well.
Reverend Falwell retained an unshakable faith in Biblical inerrancy, while demonstrating a remarkably supple ability to revise his own interpretation of presumably self-evident, literal truths.
Falwell applied the theology of Biblical one-liners to buttress a view of the world and Christianity wholly uncontemplated and incomprehensible to Biblical authors and redactors — whether or not one believes they labored under the guidance of Providence.
In his February 25th sermon on climate change, Rev. Falwell asked, "What does the Bible say about a global warming catastrophe …?" The answer, said Falwell, is that "God has it all under control."
The correct answer, of course, is that the Bible is silent on anthropocentric climate change.
Falwell found his theological grounds in just two sentences of text (Psalm 24:1-2 and Genesis 8:22). Both references, read in the fullness of the passages, are more troublesome then Falwell’s radical surgery gives hint.
Psalm 24: 1-2 (KJ) reads, "1. The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. 2. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods."
Straightforward enough, though it’s difficult to find in this simple statement of ownership any pertinent conclusion regarding the present day. Indeed, the next lines of the Psalm (3-4) make plain what is important to the world builder: "3. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4. He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul into vanity …"
Falwell also quotes Genesis 8:22, "While the earth remainith, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease." and weaves its language throughout his sermon and press release.
Setting aside the troublesome problem of relying too heavily on any perpetual promise of the Lord — this being merely the first in a litany of broken vows — the unbounded language of Genesis 8:22 is almost immediately conditioned in Genesis 9: 8-11.
8. And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, 9. And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; 10. And with every living creature that is with you. of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. 11. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
Well, we’ve broken the covenant between God, the generations after Noah, and "every beast of the earth" that "came out of the ark." For thousands of years we have methodically wiped species off the face of the earth, and we are accelerating toward a final holocaust. Isn’t it reasonable to assume that God, if he is paying attention, might be thinking of Flood 11?
So what does the Bible say about the death of Jerry Falwell?
The answer can be found in Proverbs 8, a "Wisdom" text.
27. When he prepared the heavens, I [Wisdom] was there; when he set a compass upon the face of the depths; 28. When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the foundations of the deep. 29. When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth … "32. Now therefore, hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. 33. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not … 35. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord. 36. But he that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul; all they that hate me love death.