A Christian’s Perspective on Caring for Creation?

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I recently saw this tweet from Think Christian:

"Question of the Day: What do you think should be a Christian's perspective on caring for Creation?"

I personally think the idea of "Creation Care" is a great viewpoint that adds a fresh perspective that is sometimes missing from the "Go Green" movement.

What do others think?

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Since I have been working in this area for the past 20 years (ack has it been that long) I wholeheartedly agree. I do not think that it is a salvation issue (you can still make it to eternal life with your Creator if you don't recycle your paper) but I do think that it is a crucial discipleship issue (answering the question - now that I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour how do I act and follow in His footsteps in the area of caring for the world HE created). It's not just about adding a Christian voice to the "Go Green" movement...it's about walking alongside our Creator in caring for what He created and what He cares so much for that He became part of it to begin the reconciliation process that will be completed when He returns...but I'm getting on my soap box. I'll get off now :-)

Cindy Verbeek

I agree with you Cindy, recycling or believing in the man-made global warming hoax is not a salvation issue.  We should all care for the world God created. I think it's important to distinguish radical environmentalism from conservationism -- the rational, or conservative, brand of environmentalism that rejects any and all gratuitous or preventable damage to the natural world. Conservationism is committed to minimizing air pollution, water pollution, the destruction of natural ecosystems, and the unnecessary depletion of natural resources. By the same token, however, it understands that the potential benefits of progress and industry (conducted in an environmentally responsible manner) may sometimes justify mankind's manipulation/exploitation of landscapes, forests, rivers, mineral reserves, etc.

 

I have been reading a lot about the environment from a Christian perspective from the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, at http://www.cornwallalliance.org/

You and others may be interested in reading more from this site. They have done a lot of thinking and research in this area. From their web site:

"Dominion. Stewardship. Conservation.

What do these words mean? How do they interact? And just what is humankind’s responsibility to care for God’s creation?

In the closing years of the last millennium, these questions gained unprecedented prominence in religious circles as clergy, theologians, and laymen alike grappled to establish a firm environmental ethic. In the face of growing concerns about how our rapidly advancing technologies, coupled with our increasing demand for resources, were impacting creation, yet at the same time trying to balance the need for increased progress and productivity – especially for the world’s poorest citizens – many divergent views emerged.

A major step was taken in the spring of 2000 when a coalition of scholars and religious leaders put forward an ethical statement of belief called the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship. This declaration has so far been signed by over 1,500 clergy, theologians, policy experts and other people of faith, – including such well-known leaders as Dr. Charles Colson, Dr. James Dobson, Rabbi Jacob Neusner, Dr. R.C. Sproul, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, and Rev. Dr. D. James Kennedy, among others. It has come to be viewed as one of the most significant expressions of belief about religion and the environment in modern times.

Regarding Cornwall‘s contents, the declaration recognizes “the moral necessity of ecological stewardship has become increasingly clear,” and then seeks to clear up three common misunderstandings that can impede a sound environmental ethic.

First, the document notes that “many people mistakenly view humans as principally consumer and polluters rather than producers and stewards.”

Second, Cornwall takes a critical look at the perception that “nature knows best,” or that “the earth, untouched by human hands is the ideal.”

Third, the declaration points out that while “some environmental concerns are well founded and serious, others are without foundation or greatly exaggerated.” This is of particular concern in developing nations, where basic issues like inadequate sanitation, widespread use of primitive fuels like wood and dung, and primitive agricultural practices go largely unaddressed while more distant and theoretical issues receive the lion’s share of funding and attention.

The Cornwall Declaration further sets forth an articulate and Biblically-grounded set of beliefs and aspirations in which God can be glorified through a world in which “human beings care wisely and humbly for all creatures” and “widespread economic freedom…makes sound ecological stewardship available to ever greater numbers.”

By all accounts, Cornwall provides the philosophical and theological underpinnings upon which a broad environmental ethic can be formulated."

Just curious John, What do you think the motive is behind the climate change hoax?

Thanks

Ken

Hi Ken,

That is an excellent question… we must examine the motives behind the climate change hoax, to understand why they are perpetrating this hoax.  As with many issues, there are several motives, sometimes overlapping, and sometimes separate.

Some who perpetrate or support the hoax don’t know about the other people’s motives, and some don’t care, as long as they support and promote the idea of global warming.  They assume if it they can fool the people into believing in man made global warming, it doesn’t matter why the fall for the hoax.

In some cases it is a philosophical motive: some just don’t believe that God created man in the image of God at the pinnacle of creation. They worship nature and think mankind is just a nuisance and an intruder to nature.   

Their agenda, radical environmentalism, is not the advancement of human health, human happiness, and human life, but rather the creation of a world where "nature" is deemed to have "intrinsic value" that ought to be revered for its own sake, irrespective of any benefit to mankind. Radical environmentalists espouse "deep ecology," which asserts that the environment is an end in itself and that man is an intruder -- if not a rapist and despoiler -- who should have no greater priority than any other species. From this axiom, they reason that any human action that changes the environment is necessarily immoral.

Notably, radical environmentalists invoke the doctrine of intrinsic value not against wolves that eat sheep, or beavers that gnaw trees; they invoke it only against man, only when man wants to use natural resources for the advancement of some business endeavor. Thus they tend to reflexively oppose the pursuit of such endeavors as oil exploration, logging, housing development, and all manner of commerce.

The “green” movement hides behind the smiley-face rhetoric of "sustainability" and "conservation", but in reality they have a dark agenda. The authoritarian impulse underlying the Green crusade aims to regulate your behavior, downsize your lifestyle, and invade the most intimate aspects of your personal life.  Whether they're demanding that you turn down your thermostat, stop driving your car, or engage in some other senseless act of self-denial, the Greens are envisioning a grim future for you marked by endless privation.

In other cases we can “follow the money” and that leads us to the motives.  Many like Al Gore have invested in carbon trading schemes, and many politicians seek to use climate change to extract more taxes and gain more control over individuals. Others do not believe in Gods command “Thou Shalt Not Steal”, which is a command to respect private property. They believe that free-market economic systems are inherently plagued by greed and by a willingness to exploit the environment to whatever degree is necessary for maximum profit, without regard for any resultant ecological harm. Consequently, a hallmark of radical environmentalism is its hostility to capitalism and its embrace of socialism as a preferred economic model.

It is imperative to distinguish radical environmentalism from conservationism -- the rational, or conservative, brand of environmentalism that rejects any and all gratuitous or preventable damage to the natural world. Conservationism is committed to minimizing air pollution, water pollution, the destruction of natural ecosystems, and the unnecessary depletion of natural resources. By the same token, however, it understands that the potential benefits of progress and industry (conducted in an environmentally responsible manner) may sometimes justify mankind's manipulation/exploitation of landscapes, forests, rivers, mineral reserves, etc. 

From a Christian perspective, the problem I see with radical environmentalism and the global warming hoax is that it condemn the world’s poor to generations of continued misery characterized by rampant disease and premature death.

Interesting article here I recommend to you all:

Obscuring the Gospel in the Name of Creation Care

By James Tonkowich, D.Min.

The "true path to personal salvation" does not lie "in nature-and in the actions one takes after encountering God there." The "true path to personal salvation" lies in encountering and receiving the grace of God through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Nature does not save; only Jesus saves.

http://www.cornwallalliance.org/blog/item/obscuring-the-gospel-in-the-name-of-creation-care/

I think this is a real danger when people start worshiping nature instead of Jesus, and start blinding following the global warming hoax without checking out the true science of the matter.

http://www.oism.org/pproject/

For example, 31,487 American scientists have signed this petition, including 9,029 with PhD:

"We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth."

 

There is also a good peer reviewed research paper at this site, called "Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide".   Unless we read both sides of an issue, we may be blinded by those with an agenda or hidden motives ("nature worshiping philosophy, making money or gaining political power from the global warming hoax, etc.)

Wow John, you are really into this stuff. What do think we should do.

Thanks

Ken

Hi Ken,

That is an excellent question, "what should we do"?  First, we should do our own research and discover why the man-made global warming hoax is being perpetrated on us. We can get a Christian perspective from the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, at http://www.cornwallalliance.org/

Once we study the science and understand that man made global warming is a hoax that is hurting people, we should try to tell as many of our family and friends as we can. God commands us to help the poor and needy, and since the polices being put into place by those who are promoting the global warming hoax are hurting people, we should expose them and stop them. We should stop them at the ballot box, in the media, and in our personal lives.

God commands us, "Thou Shalt Not Lie" and the global warming hoax is a lie that needs to be stopped. We should fight this lie with the truth and good, sound, reasonable policies that protect the environment without punishing good human beings who are following God's cultural command and using the good things he has given us.

So what is a Christian's perspective on caring for creation?   First, I would say that creation by its very name honors God as the creator.   Second, Creation is not an accident, but has a purpose.   Third, people were created to have a relationship with the rest of creation, in a very special way.   It is a gift to us to be able to live in it, to enjoy it, to use it.   As such, a gift given by God should be treated as a gift.   This gift is also the means by which God provides us our daily life.   Rejecting or mistreating creation is a way of rejecting the life God has given us on this globe.   Fourth, we should not honor this creation for its own sake, nor worship it, nor assume that God gave us a weak, cheap, vulnerable world, or an inadequate world to live in.  We can see that this world continues to provide amazing resources as our eyes continue to open when we live in it.   We can see that we are pretty small compared to the amazing things that happen in this world, whether it is snow covered mountains, huge icebergs, giant rivers, tsunamis, volcanoes, hurricanes and tornadoes.  But we can also see that we have some impact on water quality, air quality, species habitat, diseases, weeds, resource extraction, and innovative ingenuity.   The invention of the lightbulb, extraction of oil and shale gas, invention of computers, GPS, steam engines, petri dishes, anti-biotics, and plasma tvs are only a few examples of things that people in the past did not have nor understand, and it is likely that we will continue to discover and utilize things that are presently barely imagined.   The gift of creation that God gave us, seems to be getting bigger and better all the time, and such a gift is not yet limited by our imagination.   But denying it is a gift, by mistreating it,  will reduce its potential.

Beyond this basic understanding, we then begin to debate some of the details. 

Guide

John, I agree completely! Sometimes it's frustrating watching the church put so much energy into focusing on our differences, rather than the key issues. 

Wendy, well, what about focusing on differences?   What does that mean?  I think that if we understand our basic paradigm, then differences will be easier to deal with.   But we should probably not look at them as "our" differences.   They are simply different perspectives, different theories, different knowledge bases, and different conclusions about how we care for creation.   There are different theories about summerfallow, for example, both based on caring for  creation, but with different perspective on what that means.  There are theories about "tillage", but different understanding on what that means.  There are theories about species extinction, about conserving nature, about climate change, about recycling, etc.   There is no way of making progress on these things without focussing on different theories and approaches.   It is in the struggle itself, that knowledge arises and becomes refined.   It is in the struggle itself that new innovations appear, that new technology develops, that more correct approaches develop.   The struggle is not bad; in fact it is necessary.   What is bad is diverting the struggle by attributing divergent motives, or personal invectives, or deficient intellect, or premature conclusions.  But probably you are right.   It is probably not good for the church as institution to focus on the differences, but instead to emphasize the basic paradigm.   Individuals within the church as the body of Christ can operate within society to concentrate on the differences, in order to refine and develop the details of how to care for creation most appropriately.   It is not good for the institution to assume that there is only one way of doing that, and that our knowledge will not change in the future.   

I think the focus of this upcoming Thanksgiving season should be praise and joyful thanks that for fifteen years there has been no global warming. The scare tactics that even penetrated to Synod should be recognized as the hoax they really are. We need to thank the Master of the Universe, our Lord, that we can again use the abundant and inexpensive fossil fuels that he has given to us without the guilt complexes that some would like to impose. We need to give thanks that we can, once again, use these resources to generate the jobs and the incomes that fuel joyful giving for His work in this His world. And we need to be thankful that the resources we have been diverting into much more expensive energy alternative can now be used to show the love of our Lord to those in need. This should be the greatest Thanksgiving ever for our denomination.