Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Think We Dropped the Ball (the ball that is our planet...)

Well, today is Earth Day.
And many fundamentalists around the globe are saying, So What?!
In fact, as I was growing up "Earth Day" had a hideous reputation (in my circles) of being some kind of "liberal" conspiracy to turn our planet into an idol.

Many conservatives (fundamentalist and evangelical alike) disdain any talk of caring for our planet. Whether it is the hot topic of global warming or the initiative to recycle, I have observed a deliberate apathy among many Christians.

This can be aptly illustrated by a comment I read a couple days ago posted on a blog which was discussing Bush's new global warming policy.
Here it is (and it's a doozie...):

"Imagine trying to save the Earth from global warming. The same Earth that God is going to destroy in His own time."

Not only is that really bad theology, it is really bad theology.

Which makes me wonder - How did we as the church get here?
Have we fallen prey to Biblical amnesia and forgotten about the very first commandment that God gave us as human beings?

Genesis 1:26-28
26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Genesis 2:15

15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

God created this earth, and said that it was good.
It is the amazing work of His hand, and He entrusted it to us!

Here in the pages of Genesis is a Creation Mandate - which simply means - it is part of God's fundamental design that we as image-bearers care for His earth in order to reflect our God's character. He keeps everything in balance, and we are called to do our best to tend to our planet.

Now, it is important to note that we are to subdue the earth - which means that yes, we as humans are superior to and in charge of animals and geological elements.
So, we should never make environmental causes our "god", and we should not be consumed with caring for the earth.

But, care for it we must.
The best we know how.

This is not a post to declare global warming as "the most pressing issue of our time" or "the greatest hoax of our time".
I am not a scientist, and I believe the scientific data is still coming in on this issue.

But I have studied the Bible a little, and I know what the Bible tells me. Whatever we conclude about global warming, we as image-bearers must be engaged in conserving our planet - graciously, realistically, and wisely.

Even if we have dropped the ball, it is time to prayerfully pick it back up.


  1. Here was the Max Lucado audio podcast (1 minute long) for today:
    entitled "New Earth"

  2. I agree - wholeheartedly!!

    Nevertheless, I must point out that when you wrote, "But, care for it we must. The best we know how.", I could not help but hear it as if Yoda himself was saying it!!!


  3. Yes! I was thinking about the same thing on "Earth Day." Actually, for Christians, every day is Earth Day. I think the issue comes from three places: (1) the association of caring for the earth with 'tree-huggers' and 'hippies'; (2) poor, lazy eschatology that believes that God is just going to burn up the earth one day (mainly, the issue comes from a poor understanding of biblical genre -- that's another topic); and (3) evangelicals attachment to a certain political ideology, which they believe is 'Christian,' but however is not completely so.

    There may be more reasons, but you get the point.

  4. I think you are absolutely right, we do have a biblical mandate to care for the planet. Believing we don't need to bother since God is in control bad theology akin to saying," I don't need to take care of my body, God is in control of when I die anyway." We may not be able to change th time we will die, but if we take care of ourselves we can have a better quality of life while we are here. In the same way we may not be able to "save the planet", but we are able to pass a nicer, cleaner, better managed planet to our children. There is alot to consider; the science does not seem to be conclusive yet and there could be serious economic consequences to moving to quickly, but what is the possibe negative to a cleaner planet and maybe fuel that doesn't cost $4 a gallon. We as Christians should be a forefront of advocating a balanced, thoughful and "Biblical" environmentalism.

  5. Gas is $4.00 because of environmentalists, not in spite of them. It's also part of the reason why food prices are increasing, although certainly not the only reason.

    I think you've been duped into believing the global warming fraud. I like your website, but on this issue I think you've swallowed the lie. Environmentalism is largely anti-God (or at least the God of the Bible), communistic and elitist at its core.

    It's hard to win this argument with fellow Christians. If we (rightly so) point out that the global warming issue is nothing but a cleverly packaged political change agent designed to bring about worldwide socialism , we are laughed off as right-wing neanderthals way behind the times. Also, if we say that it's good to care about the earth and not purposely pollute it, then we get lauged at and mislabeled as environmentalists.

  6. Steve,
    Thank you for commenting, I welcome conversation from all perspectives, provided it is generous and constructive.

    I also thank you for illustrating how aggressive and presumptive most fundamentalists are of anyone who strongly desires to care for the environment.

    I have had others criticize me in the exact manner you did, and the interesting thing is - not once did I even say I believe that man or his carbon emissions is responsible for warming the earth.
    I am simply trying to illuminate the way that caring for God's environment pits believers against one another, when it truthfully should unify us.
    And so, you have helped me do that. I thank you for that.

  7. You'll have to excuse me... I completely missed Earth Day. I was busy cutting the grass for the third time this year with my gas powered mulching mower. I choose to mulch mow maybe to be environmentally conscious but more probably because I don't like raking. Plus the thought of putting grass clippings into a plastic trash bag just seems wrong. I feel like I'm hiding toxic waste from the trash man hoping he doesn't open the bag and turn me in for throwing out something the earth recycles quite naturally. I don't think it makes me a tree hugger but maybe I am Genisizing in my own fashion...

  8. Hey Mark, I was glad to read this Post because I too have noticed the danger of what I guess could be called a 'quasi-Christian anti-Environmentalism'; I couldn't agree more with your thoughts and they reminded me of how I've come to think of the general issue of environmentalism (not a hard sense as in 'we all need to devote all our free time to environmental causes' but rather in a soft sense as in 'this is one of our inherent responsibilities as humans): for me it comes down to Stewardship plain and simple. In life on earth there are good/effective Queens, princes, governors, etc. and there are bad ones. Yes, the True King of the planet has made us temporary rulers over it, so i ask us all, what kind of rulers will we choose to be?

  9. Mark, I do think we have responsibility and it is a key issue of many in the world. No matter what side of the fence you are on, we are required to be good stewards of what God has given us. Actually I have a T-shirt that reads "Jesus Recycles" inside the recycling symbol. I often use my desire to recycle and to be more green as a tool to explain that it is my Christian duty. It amazes people to think that I have a concern because I believe it to be pleasing to God. Plus the environment is a high priority to the postmodern thinker and who else are we suppose to reach. I think it is part of being culturally relevant.

  10. I never caught the "theological" part of Bush's statement till just this time around. Seems he took a bit of the middle of the road on it, to me... I'd have to agree in the most simplest form of argument that the Creator will destroy in His time and good pleasure though I doubt it will be so pleasurable for Him. It would be like one of us working for ten years on the restoration or creation of a relic to be treasured by generations to come and then placing it in the hands of one who could give a rats butt for any of it, drinking coffee, eating donuts (and not the good pastry kind either), smoking cigarettes and throwing their fast food trash and burning butts out the window of their speeding car causing a forest fire that burns down thousands of acres of "prehistoric" forests while they are on vacation in someone else's part of the world just to return home to their own 3000 sq.ft. air conditioned palace fenced off to the world around them except for the trashman that collects their bi-weekly array of refuse that never seems to hit any portion of a recycling dispenser because that's just a waste of time because "they probably just throw it all in the same dump anyway so I'm saving them the agravation." (breathe, breathe) Yeah, it may be "culurally relevent" to be good stewards with what God has given us but it's probably what He said we should do anyway... hmmm... where in God's green earth was I going with that??? Oh, well...never mind.