Environment

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As God’s representatives on earth, we are called to serve all of creation as humble stewards. It is through the influence of humanity that God’s created world is able to flourish rather than be used simply as a resource for human progress. For this reason, our love of God is reflected by our love for all of that which he has made.


Our Approach to the Environment

Introduction

Humanity’s impact on the planet Earth is growing. Thankfully, our collective awareness of that impact is also on the rise. In recent years, Christian practice has received some justified condemnation for either publicly opposing policies and movements that acknowledge and address the significant negative human impact on the environment, or privately ignoring this impact. Over the course of Christian history, however, caring for our planet and our creaturely neighbours has been an important lived theology of the church. 

The MI Approach to the Environment

Why Christians Should Care for the Environment

The word “environmentalist” has strong associations for many of us. For some, it might signify those who care about what is happening to the earth, while for others it might signify radical ideologies that prioritize wildlife over people. Recognizing, however, that our planet is not a replaceable commodity, and that the future of humanity on earth is inseparable from that of the rest of creation can help us reorient our understanding of the environment. In order for creation to thrive, humanity must properly fulfill its role to care for it. Likewise, humanity thrives when its environment thrives. Insofar as an environmentalist is understood as one concerned for the environment, as an advocate, and as a caretaker, such concern is part of our very purpose as humans.

Creation Care as a Response to God’s Call to Humankind

People were uniquely called by God to act as regents within the world on his behalf (Gen 1:28). We have been equipped to fulfil this call through our capacity to dramatically transform the world, and through our conscious ability to act with care for creation. We therefore have a remarkable responsibility to benevolently govern the world as God’s appointed regents.

The Difference Between Dominion over and Destruction of Creation

Our livelihood and that of creation are intimately intertwined, so to care for ourselves is to care for creation. Scripture does, however, acknowledge that humankind has “dominion…over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen 1:26-30). What does this mean? There are ways creation can be drawn upon in a sustainable manner of which the Bible provides examples (Lev 25:1-7). If we consider the world as an unlimited fountain of resources that merely exists for the sake of our own consumption, the world will never be able to sustain our insatiable desires. What we need instead is an alternative approach to our role here on planet earth that carefully considers how our actions serve the rest of creation as those who have been endowed with the responsibility to have dominion over it.

Why the Future of the Earth Matters

Our physical world is not just an interim placeholder in God’s plan for the human race—a stopping point on the journey to heaven. Instead, the biblical story starts and concludes here in creation; this is—and always will be—our home (read Tom Wright's article on this very topic). Of course, the story the Bible tells is not about a static world, but one that is growing and changing from the garden found in Eden, to a garden city in which heaven has come down to earth. Between these two bookends, there are signs of how deeply creation has fallen out of relationship with God such as hatred, sickness, death, and pain. As the priests of creation, we need to care not just for ourselves but also for the world as a whole and work towards its health and wellbeing (Rom 8:18-25).

Featured Resources

Other Environment Resources

All creatures great and small

Article: Emma Duncan
Source: The Economist

The Oceans Declare the Glory of God

Article: Amy L. Sherman
Source: Christianity Today

A Biblical Foundation for Creation Care

Article: Jay Ewing
Source: Tenth Avenue Alliance Church: EPIC Magazine

Half of World’s Food Going to Waste

Article: Timothy MacDonald
Source: ABC News Australia

Crop Rotation Generates Profits Without Pollution

Article: Karen Stillerman
Source: Union of Concerned Scientists

For Once, Some Environmental Good News?

Article: Peter Harris
Source: Q Ideas

Within One Cubic Foot

Article: Edward O. Wilson
Source: National Geographic

Beyond Fair Trade: Seeking a Holistic Christian Food Ethic

Article: Thomas Turner
Source: Q Ideas

Farmer in Chief

Article: Michael Pollan
Source: The New York Times

A Conversation with Environmental Campaigner Wendell Berry

Article: Emma Brockes
Source: The Guardian

How the Smokey Bear Effect Led to Raging Wildfires

Article: Christopher Joyce
Source: NPR

Water, Electricity, and Transportation: Preparing for the Population Boom

Article: Carmen Nobel
Source: Harvard Business School

The Meaning of “Value” in Biodiversity

Article: Loren Wilkinson
Source: Cosmos

Proprietors or Priests of Creation?

Article: Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon
Source: Religion, Science and the Environment

Cradle to Cradle Design

Video: William McDonough
Source: TED: Ideas Worth Spreading

Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States

Article: Christopher L. Weber and H. Scott Matthews
Source: Environment Science and Technology

Christians Have Role in Environmental Debate

Article: Paul Williams, Preston Manning
Source: The Calgary Herald

Going Green in 2012: 12 Steps for the Developing World

Article: Worldwatch Institute
Source: Worldwatch Institute

Has Foodie Culture Forgotten the Poor?

Article: Erik Bonkovsky
Source: Christianity Today

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