Is Christian theology responsible for the ecological crisis?

It is impossible to ignore the ecological issues that the world is facing.  Out of control consumption leading to pollution, carbon emissions, destruction of habitats, climate change, extinction of species, soil erosion, the list continues….

Dr. Timothy Keller posed this question: ” Is Christianity going to be part of the problem or is it going to be part of the solution?  Will Christian theology get in the way of dealing with this ecological crisis or will it be a resource for it?

Many people would say the answer is no.

One sect of people say Christian theology is the problem and a major contributor.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Image via Wikipediautor to this worldwide problem.

You have the right to be offended, but is it beneficial?

In 1967, professor Glen White wrote an essay in Science magazine called, The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis.  He says the main reason for the crisis is, Christianity:  Christian theology naturally leads to the exploitation of creation.

I can just hear the groans of disbelief, where does this guy get off saying these things?

In Genesis 1 male and female were created in the image of God and were given dominion over creation.  We are “superior” to creation, made in the very likeness of God, and creation is not divine- only humans. In White’s essay he believes Christians have taken this too far, and that since we have “rule” over creation we can do whatever we want with it, whatever meets our needs.  This idea has led to the “superior and contemptious attitude towards nature”

Yes, we are made in God’s image.  Yes, we are given dominion and are to rule over creation, but with what kind of rule?  What kind of hand will you touch the earth with, a forceful or loving hand?  We are asked to be stewards right?  Oh no, that’s just with money.  Give me a break.  And what about respecting our bodies as the temple of the Lord?  Oh this only refers to drug use and alcohol…no, what about the horrible food we put into our temples, or all the chemicals that we knowingly and unknowingly use?

Stuart Pim an Christan activist and scientist passionate for animal and habitat extinction believes Christians have an obligation to be stewards of God’s creation, to look after God’s creation.  When we pollute our ocean, don’t care about the animals and habitats we are being unfaithful to God and to His creation.  In seeing that God has given him “superiority” over creation, this is what leads him to passionate for protecting these things, and in turn honoring God.

Polyface Farm in Virginia, a farm featured in NY Times, is taken care of by Joel Salatin.  He bases his idea of farming on the Bible and what the Bible says about creation. He also strongly disagrees with America’s concept of the industrialized food production- which relies on:

  • massive injections of antibiotics and growths hormones in animals, 
  • confinement of animals,
    Joel Salatin gives a tour of Polyface Farm. He...

    Image via Wikipedia

  •  farming practices that deplete the soil and groundwater, and 
  • synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.and soil erosion.  
His farm is efficient, the animals are respected, and so are his practicing methods (more of this farm later…) He calls it “Forgiveness Farming”… he is lead by the Lord and the Bible…he works with creation rather than against it.
How could anyone Christian or not come to this kind of lifestyle?
  1. Goodness of creation– everything that was made was good.  Creation reflects His goodness, when God said “it was good” he said this even before male and female were created!!!  Psalm 119- creation being itself is praising God- for us to look at nature and want to keep it the way it was made, the way it was destined to be.  Look at: Psalm 65. Psalm 96.  We are like curators. God is the artist.  The world is His gallery. Creation is praising God, and we can help it not abuse it.
  2. Stewardship of creation: Genesis 2- we were called to be gardeners.  Gardeners do not exploit the land.  Genesis 8 and 9- devastation of creation with the flood.  God makes a covenant with Noah, and with the land.  Covenant with the earth.  To save it.  Why does the earth need to be saved?  God is committed to the earth, and because of human’s evil intent, God made a covenant with the earth to save it from humans.  We need to get on God’s side, and defend the earth from man’s exploitation. Deut. 25:4- law of how to deal with the land and animals.  Provers 12:10- being humane towards animals, of loving the earth, is a mark of righteousness Deut. 20:19- leave the trees alone when conquering a land.  God is counseling restraint in regards to an army.  Ecological restraint.
  3. The Fallenness of Creation:  Someday nature will be perfected.  Because of the Fall, creation is not complete.  Nature needs repair. It doesn’t matter the view of God you have, everyone will admit that some things in nature aren’t right. Secular idea is that cancer, extinction, adapation is just a part of science.  But in Christian thinking, we are reminded of what sin has done to this earth.  But does this mean that we are to continue to abuse it?  “This is not my home,” I hear some Christians say.. why fight the plague?  Why even care about this fallen world?  Jesus in John 8- says Jesus was furious, furious of death and disease.  Jesus Christ who says He is God, is mad at the plague.  He knows this is the way it wasn’t supposed to be.  That is the reason he died for us, so He could end this, to save it. And us.
  4. The Final Restoration of Creation:  Heaven will come down to heal this land.  Someday God will heal this land.  God loved matter so much he became part of it, so we could live here forever.  There will be a final restoration of creation.  Secularism says this world is temporary and will burn up.  Only the Bible says God is so committed to it, Jesus takes on humanity because He loves it so much, and us so much.
I DREAM OF EDEN.  I respect the reality of Eden.  I hope for the restoration of Eden.  I take delight in the beautiful gallery that I see every day.  In the meantime, I honor the covenant that He has made with me and with this land.  I stand to be passionate about His commitment to this Fallen World.  I passionate for this creation. Fallen or not.
Sermon source:  “Can faith be green”  http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/can-faith-be-green
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