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Environmentalism, a biblical view of caring for the planet, responsible stewardship, global warming, political action and public policy

Do you believe in environmental protection?

Postby Hopeful » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:52 pm

Do you believe in environmental protection? It terrifies me that some people don't care about the environment because they think that Jesus will come back within their lifetime and usher us all into the kingdom of God, so who cares about this world; this is a shocking/terrifying belief that I have heard from some evangelicals.
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Re: Do you believe in environmental protection?

Postby jimwalton » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:56 pm

Absolutely. "Who cares about this world" is a shocking belief, I agree, and is unbiblical. God's command to subdue the earth in Genesis 1.28 is a scientific mandate: to advance civilization and to regulate natural forces. It implies a degree of control and direction over nature. We are expected to examine, learn, and control with responsibility to enhance life. It neither means that we're supposed to protect nature from all human intrusion or to tame all wilderness. It is up to us to find the balance and maintain it. To abuse nature is an abdication of the responsibility we've been given. The verb "subdue" doesn't mean that we have the right to ruin or destroy. We're supposed to harness natural resources, be good stewards of the world's resources, and subdue the earth in Godlike manner, viz., with reason and responsibility. We are stewards of the earth, not owners of it. This world is not ours to dispose of as we will, but it has been put in our charge to manage for its owner, God.

If I go on vacation and arrange for someone else to live in my house, to take care of things, bring in the mail, and watch the dog, I give them freedom to go anywhere in the house, eat my food, watch what they want on TV. It's still my house, but I give them charge of it and use of its benefits. If I come home and find that there's food everywhere, the dog is dead, the windows are broken, I consider that a horror. Those who claim the support of their Bible for their self-indulgent rape of the environment are no different than the Crusaders, Inquisitioners, Nazis, and White Supremacists who exploit the Bible in order to justify their own, anti-biblical agendas. By caring for the earth we show respect and honor for what is God's.

Romans 8.19ff. implies that we are instruments of God in the world to save the environment. God has called us to rescue creation, if nothing else, from ourselves. In Christian theology, the earth is the Lord's. The universe wasn't created for us, but to declare the glory of God—to declare his majesty. If we let the earth become a trash can and an environmental disaster, we have blasphemed because we are interfering in the worship of God. When I experience nature I feel a reverence for God in a unique way. Pollution and extinction interfere with worship.

As you've said, many Christians don't care about the earth because they think that Jesus will come back soon. But that's exactly opposite of the Bible's teachings. We care for the environment precisely because God will create a new earth. In theology, our present life is sort of like an engagement (a promise about a future of intimate relationship), and eternity is like the wedding (Rev. 19.7-9). When a guy gives a girl an engagement ring, it's a pledge of a promise, but it's not the wedding ring. Our present existence is like the engagement period, and the fullness of the kingdom is like the wedding. Our present environment is God's gift to us. It isn't all that will be when the "wedding" comes, but it's still valuable and meaningful, like an engagement ring. No bride-to-be thinks the engagement ring is stupid and worthless because it's only an engagement ring. We take care of the earth because it's God gift to us. Even though it's going to be remade, that doesn't mean we disrespect the temporary version we have. If we are looking toward heaven, we don't want to wreck and earth and waste its valuable resources. It's not a limitless and ever-healing planet. If we're not careful, we will ruin life for the future. We have no idea who long it will be until Jesus returns. We must be scientifically astute, ecologically responsible, and tempered in our use of resources. If we care about people, we care about the earth.
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