We occasionally receive comments through the Care of Creation website ‘contact us’ form wondering exactly what it is we’re talking about. Some of these comments come from, um, cranks – but others are thoughtful and sincerely questioning. Environmental stewardship as a central part of Christian ministry is new for a lot of people, and a comment that come through today was in that vein.
A couple of the things our inquirer said:
I have to ask just what is “environmental sin”? If Jesus had wanted this to be our “ministry” wouldn’t He have stated it? …Do you believe that we can do nothing to stop the “groaning” of creation which is under the curse of sin? …I can definitely see the need to couple the gospel with compassion but to couple it with saving a planet that God says will eventually be destroyed by Him seems…er impractical at best.
I responded as below. Those of you who have read my book or heard me speak will recognize that this is essentially what I’ve been writing and preaching for at least the last 10 years or so…
Thank you for your interesting and thoughtful comments in response to our web material. It is clear that you spent some time on our website, and while I don’t have time for a lengthy reply, I do think you deserve the courtesy of at least a brief response…
It is true that Jesus did not himself address the issue of the ‘groaning creation’, certainly not as directly as Paul did in Romans 8. However, Christians in general take the entire Bible to be inspired and authoritative – certainly we do at Care of Creation – and a command from God is just that, whether from the words of Jesus, Paul or Jeremiah.
We base our case on a couple of easily understood points:
1)God clearly cares about his creation, and expects us to care for it. (This is what the “dominion passage” is Genesis 1 means)
2)God tends to get upset – very upset – when human beings abuse his creation.
Along these lines, a couple of Old Testament passages leap out:
Woe to those who join house to house,who add field to field,until there is no more room,and you are made to dwell alonein the midst of the land. (Isaiah 5:8)
I will lay your cities waste and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing aromas. 32And I myself will devastate the land, so that your enemies who settle in it shall be appalled at it. 33And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you, and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste. 34 “Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its Sabbaths. 35As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest that it did not have on your Sabbaths when you were dwelling in it. (Leviticus 26:31-34)
And a positively frightening New Testament one:
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
18The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.” (Rev 11:18)
It is clear from these, as well as Romans 8, that God cares about what happens to his creation – even to the point of driving out his own people because they had refused to give the land the Sabbaths (rest) that God had commanded them. One hesitates to think what God might have in store for our generation whose wholesale destruction of creation is unparalleled in history.
3)It is also quite clear in Colossians 1 that God’s redemptive plan includes all of creation:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Col 1:15-20)
Simple principle of Biblical interpretation here: The ‘all things’ that Christ created in v. 16 has to be the same as the ‘all things’ that are reconciled in v. 20. Conclusion: Biblical redemption is more than human salvation – it extends to all of creation.
The conclusion is inescapable: If Jesus died to reconcile all of his creation to himself by his own blood, how dare we do less than our best to protect it, to care for it on his behalf?
There was more discussion on climate change but that need not detain us here…
Any additional thoughts?