Sunday, June 6, 2010

christ and creation: is it biblical to care for the environment?

if this earth is eventually going to be destroyed anyways, then should christians care about the environment?  if God gave people tasty animals for the purpose of eating them, does it matter what their life is like?

these and other questions about the earth have been on my mind recently.

my life experiences have shaped me to be someone who makes conscious choices about how i treat the environment.  i was raised in a house where we recycled and composted before it was popular, and i owned 3 or 4 books with variations on the title "50 ways you can save the earth".
this environmental consciousness grew when i lived in germany, a country with deep respect for the outdoors.  among other things, grocery stores dont give out bags (bring your own or purchase at the check out counter), hormone use in livestock is prohibited and EVERYTHING is recycled (i remember my first day there being very confused by the 5 different garbage cans in our friend's kitchen... each one was for a different type of recycled good.)

more recently, my research about modern farming practices has intensified my desire to care for creation.  understanding the unnatural diets fed to chicken, cattle, etc that leads to unnecessary disease, as well as the environmental effects of the over-use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer has saddened me and convicted me to change my shopping and eating habits.

a few weeks ago, alex and i got into a long discussion about environmentalism and the bible.  he asked me why, biblically, it is a priority to care for the environment.  it was hard for me to answer... i just knew that i felt very strongly about the subject, and i felt that since God made the earth, and gave us dominion over it, that we should care for it (just like any good ruler should care for those under his rule).  but i wanted a sure answer.  was i just falling for a media ploy to care for the environment that was needlessly using up my time and money for something that was not actually honoring God? 

fortunately, i remembered a recent recommendation on noel piper's blog for a book called christ and creation by craig sorley.  since i pretty much trust anything she recommends, i immediately ordered the book.  i just finished reading it, and i wanted to provide a review and summery of the book here.

"christ and creation" is God-centered and scripture saturated.  furthermore, from what i can tell his theology is sound, considering that the majority of his quotes from outside sources come from either calvin, piper, edwards or luther.  sorley has clearly studied this issue for a while and
covers a broad range of reasons why scripture supports our need to care for creation.

the book itself is rather short, just over 100 pages, but with more than enough written to give a solid biblical basis for his points.  he does not go into the practicals of how we should treat the environment/creation, but focuses solely on the "why" and basis for doing so.  i found myself underlining many points, nodding my head in agreement and wanting to stand up and cheer.  it was encouraging to read something that is firmly focused on God and not entangled with the political/emotional side of this issue.

this is the only book of its kind that i have been able to find (a book about creation from a solid scriptural perspective), and i would commend it to all christians, especially in light of the fact that the environment is such a popular issue these days (and can be a very hot-button issue).

here are some of the main points that he makes in this book.

from scripture, why should christ followers care for creation?

1. because God created it (colossians 1:15-16, genesis 1)

2. because the purpose of creation is to testify to the beauty, magnificence and glory of God (psalm 19:1-4)

3. because jesus died to reconcile creation (colossians 1:19-20, romans 8:18-23)

4. because God declared that all he made was good (genesis 1)

5. because God himself delights in his creation (psalm 104:31)

6. because God gave us dominion over the earth (genesis 2:15) and our dominion is supposed to be carried out in a christ-like manner (genesis 1:26).  many christians exercise dominion over the earth in a worldly manner, characterized by greed, self-centeredness, laziness and materialism.

7. because God is the owner of creation (psalm 24:1) and he will hold us accountable to how we steward it (matt. 25:14-30)

8. because we are called to glorify God, and caring for creation is one way of doing this. (1 corinthians 10:31)

9. because creation is suffering as a result of our sin (jeremiah 12:4, hosea 4:1-3), and jesus died to conquer sin and enable us to do good (titus 2:11-14).

10. because when the environment is ruined, the poor suffer the most, and God calls us to care for the poor (proverbs 21:13, micah 6:8).

11. because caring for creation can enhance our efforts to fulfill the great commission, because it leads to more holistic discipleship (matt. 28:18-20)

12.  because we want to point people to paradise with God and our eternal future home (2 peter 3:13)

last time i checked, this book is listed on, but not actually available from there.  here is the website where i got it, straight from sorley's ministry.

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