Earth Day 2008 — Christian Environmentalism
This item was originally posted for Earth Day, 2006 (Earth Day is held on April 22nd). It is now part of my blog recycling program. Because I have more people reading The GeoChristian now than I did then, I will occasionally go back and re-use some of my favorite blog entries.
We all seem to like nature–we teach our children to throw their trash in trash cans and send them to summer camp in the mountains or woods–but beyond this, Christian response to environmental issues is varied. I’ll try to give some additional thoughts about the environment as the week progresses.
A good internet article summarizing a Christian perspective on the environment is Christian Environmentalism by Dr. Ray Bohlin of Probe Ministries. Here are some quotes from the article:
What we fail to realize is that Christians have a sacred responsibility to the earth and the creatures within it. The earth is being affected by humans in an unprecedented manner, and we do not know what the short or long term effects will be.
But while pantheism elevates nature, it simultaneously degrades man and will ultimately degrade nature as well.
A true Christian environmental ethic differs from the naturalistic and pantheistic ethics in that it is based on the reality of God as Creator and man as his image-bearer and steward. God is the Creator of nature, not part of nature.
Nature has value in and of itself because God created it.
But a responsibility goes along with bearing the image of God. In its proper sense, man’s rule and dominion over the earth is that of a steward or a caretaker, not a reckless exploiter. Man is not sovereign over the lower orders of creation. Ownership is in the hands of the Lord.
An effective steward understands that which he oversees, and science can help us discover the intricacies of nature. Technology puts the creation to man’s use, but unnecessary waste and pollution degrades it and spoils the creation’s ability to give glorify to its creator. I think it is helpful to realize that we are to exercise dominion over nature not as though we are entitled to exploit it but as something borrowed or held in trust.
The source of our ecological crisis lies in man’s fallen nature and the abuse of his dominion.
Our often uncontrolled greed and haste have led to the deterioration of the environment.
We have spoken out loudly against the materialism of science as expressed in the issues of abortion, human dignity, evolution, and genetic engineering, but have shown ourselves to be little more than materialists in our technological orientation towards nature.
By failing to fulfill our responsibilities to the earth, we are losing a great evangelistic opportunity. Many in our society are seeking an improved environment, yet they think that most Christians don’t care about ecological issues and that most churches offer no opportunity for involvement.
Grace and Peace
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