Earth Stewardship in the Bible – An Excerpt from Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home

ESciGWOHOne thing that makes Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home (now from Classical Academic Press) stand out from its competitors in the middle-school textbook market is its treatment of Earth stewardship. Earth care is not something we do just for pragmatic or emotional reasons but because stewardship of the creation is part of God’s mandate to humanity. We are to take care of the creation for the glory of God, the good of our neighbors, and for the good of the creation itself. The primary theocentric (God-centered) environmental stance presented in Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home stands in contrast to what is found in similar Christian or secular textbooks. Most Earth science textbooks from Christian publishers have an anthropocentric (human-centered) leaning (God created coal so humans could burn it), while secular alternatives leave God out of the picture altogether, which is not what most Christian schools and parents are looking for.

Here is the section on Earth Stewardship in the Bible, from Chapter 3, Thinking About Earth:

The first area of stewardship mentioned in the Bible is the stewardship of Earth itself. According to Genesis 1 and 2, God not only created our world “very good,” but placed humans in a special stewardship role over the creation. The foundation for this idea is in Genesis 1:28, which states God’s intention for the newly created human pair: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”

Most Bible scholars believe this command to subdue and have dominion over the earth did not apply just to Adam and Eve, but to all of their descendants, and that includes us. Some people have read this verse, with the words “subdue” and “dominion,” and have concluded that the Bible teaches that humanity can do whatever they want to Earth. But the picture in Genesis is one in which Adam and Eve are vice-regents, that is, people who rule in someone else’s place. God is the king of the universe, but he placed Adam and Eve—and their descendants—as his representatives over the creation. This means that humans are to rule over the creation as God would—to be stewards of creation for God’s glory, for the good of all the people of Earth, and for the flourishing of the creation itself. This points once again to the two greatest commandments in Scripture, to love the Lord our God with all our being, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

The account of the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2 gives us an additional perspective on what it means to have dominion over the earth. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” A gardener may do things to his garden to improve its ability to yield a crop, such as tilling, irrigating, or adding fertilizer. The gardener does these tasks in order to make the garden more fruitful. We would consider a gardener to be a poor steward of his garden if he kept it in such a way that the soil eroded away, the water became polluted, and weeds crowded out the desired plants.

It is hard to read the first two chapters of Genesis without getting a sense of a world of abundance where life flourishes. For instance, Genesis 1:20-22 describes the creation of sea life and flying things:

And God said, ‘Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.’ So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’

The statement that the creation was to “swarm with swarms” of all sorts of living creatures tells us that God did not create Earth to be sparsely populated, but to have great numbers of many different types of organisms in many different places.

The section on Earth stewardship goes on with subsections about natural resources, sustainability, and the degradation of creation.

This perspective on Earth care is just one of a number of things that makes Earth Science: God’s World, Our Home an excellent choice for your Christian school or home school.

Grace and Peace

 

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