Saturday, May 06, 2006

Biblical Environmentalism?

Given that the Protestant work ethic derived from a specific set of verses from the Bible and that this ethic contributed to a consumer driven economy that, in turn, created large-scale environmental degradation, is a biblical view on environmentalism feasible? Since the main focus of the Bible is the relationship between humankind and God, and the relationship among humans Mark 12:28-31 (Deut. 6:4-5), a view of this kind must be derived from a group of scriptures. The first group of scriptures that I will consider concern God’s relationship to earth.
  • God created the world and it is his (Gen. 1:1, 1Cor. 10:25-26 [Ps. 24:1], Col. 1:15-20).
  • What God created was good (Genesis 1:20, 25; Is. 6:3) and a source of joy (Job 38: 6-7).
  • God controls the earth (Deut. 10:14, Ps. 50:1, Ps. 147:8, Acts 16:26).
  • He uses it to exact judgment (Num. 16:32, 2 Chron. 7:3, Ps. 46:8, Is. 13:13).
  • The earth responds to God (Ps. 98:7-8, Ps. 148, Ps. 97:5, Ps. 77:18, Psalm 46:6).
Clearly, the Bible states that God created the earth, cares for it and interacts with it.

The second part of this analysis concerns what the Bible says about our relationship to the earth.

  • God appointed us as stewards (Gen. 1:26, 28; Gen. 9:1-3).
  • What does it mean to rule or be given everything in your hands? Note that God demands an accounting from the animals as well (Gen. 9:4-5, Ps. 148:13, Prov. 28:3, Is. 32:1, Matt. 5:5, Lk. 1:52).
  • There are warnings and consequences concerning our role (Is. 24:5-7, Hosea 4:1-3, Jer. 51:25, Rev. 11:15-18).
  • Our commission regarding the earth (Matt. 6:19, 2 Pet. 3:13, Is. 45:8, Is. 66:1).

Main questions for thought, given the above analysis:

  • What are our priorities, duties and responsibilities to the earth and the poor?
  • What is our relationship to the earth?


Romans 1:20

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

  • There is a correlation between consumption and pollution. Can the above be true in a polluted city?

James 1:27

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

  • There is a correlation between consumption and poverty (ecological footprint, above).

Hebrews 6:12

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

  • God cares for the earth so we should.

What can you do?

  • Recycle.
  • Buy responsibly – buy more local produce and less exotic produce and buy fair-trade to ensure farmers in other nations can make a living.
  • Buy organic to nurture the earth.
  • Drive less.
  • Complete your footprint to see what you need to work on.

If you want a version with the full scriptural references post a comment requesting it with your email and I will get one to you.

The reason that I am passionate about the environment is that when I first moved to B.C., in the 1980’s Acid Rain and the Greenhouse Effect were plastered on the front cover of a majority of publications. As time went on I witnessed logging protests, etc… Like many students at university I explored new ideas and was passionate in the expression of these ideas. It was during this time the 3-R’s became popular and the time that I first recycled, bought bulk items to avoid packaging and visited the Walbran. Today I still recycle, avoid saran-wrap, bike as much as possible, etc... Unfortunately, I have an ecological footprint of 4.6 earths (the amount needed for everyone on the earth to live at the same lifestyle). The NA average is 6.9 earths. I used the MEC one (; my results for were 3.5 and 4.7 earths respectively. Thus, the future in this area always looks bleak as so many people live “without” to sustain that which I use. There is no equality here, but I realize that the less room I require, the more room there is for others. Thus, choices of consumption in North America are important and a way to bring social justice to the world. The bottom line is not the lowest price, but rather ensuring that others are treated as Jesus would have treated them. I won’t even mention sweat shops.

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