Christianity and Environmentalism

 

By Don Ruhl

 

ENVIRONMENTALISM HAS BECOME A MAJOR ISSUE

Are you irritated when you go into the mountains and find beer cans and other trash? If so, you are like most people, aggravated by the pollution that surrounds us.

I grew up in Southern California where air pollution is a major problem, and here in Oregon wood smoke is a health threat in the winter. My mother often made us kids lie down on our beds when the smog was really bad because it burned our eyes and made breathing very difficult. So I rejoice whenever pollution is cleaned up.

We all want a place to live and paper to use and water to drink, etc., meaning that we have to use our environment, but we are still saddened when part of a forest is gone, or a beautiful field is developed.

The environment has become a major issue of the 90s because it is being thrust upon us whether we like it or not. Those in positions of influence have decided that this is a problem that needs to be addressed more than others. Sometimes I wonder if my children are learning more about environmentalism in school than academic subjects.

Many people in the media and colleges and government agencies are using environmentalism as a springboard for putting down the government, Christianity, men (especially white European males), and other traditional parts of our society.

LET US ALL BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE PLACE ON WHICH WE LIVE: THE EARTH

The Great Pacific Northwest has fierce battles between those who use the land for a living and those who think man should not use the land at all.

Some on both sides have absolutely no foresight for future generations. One mindset uses and abuses the environment and could care less what damage is done. Another mindset is perfectly content to ruin economies and families, believing that man is an invader and an enemy of nature and that by man’s very existence he is a threat to nature.

THE EMPHASIS OF ENVIRONMENTALISM

According to environmentalists man is entirely wrong and is the blame for all of the problems in the environment. Yet, most of them are evolutionists, and readily acknowledge that there have been massive changes in the environment in the past without human intervention.

U. S. News & World Report, recently had a cover story maintaining that there have been “global warmings” in the past that were far worse than the one we are supposedly having now, and those in the past, the evolutionists claim, were not human generated.

If there is a global warming at the present, and be slow to believe that there is one, is it possible that it is simply natural, one of the cycles that earth goes through from time to time?

Truthfully the environment has been affected by man for both good and bad, far more than most environmentalists would care to acknowledge. For the good because it is man who builds wildlife refuges, and captures animals that are close to extinction and breeds them in captivity in order to restore their population and other measures to help the environment.

For the bad because it is man who has been the reason for two worldwide changes that we shall never be able to reverse. The first one was after the sin of Adam and Eve, when God cursed the ground because of Adam’s sin (Gen. 3:17-19).

The second one was the global flood of Noah, which had global and catastrophic changes, forever changing the earth from a worldwide paradise to what we see today. Psalm 104:6-9 tells how God changed the earth geographically, after the flood, in order to prevent a global flood from ever occuring again, which he promised would never happen again (Gen. 8:21,22; 9:8-17). The psalmist wrote:

Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a vesture; the waters stood above the mountains. At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away (the mountains rose, the valleys sank down) unto the place which thou hadst founded for them. Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.

The flood occured because there was at one time enough water in the atmosphere to provide for a 40-day rain and the ground water of the earth was brought forth (Gen. 7:11).

With much of that water out of the atmosphere, life is now very different, causing many animals and plants to become extinct and the process continues to this day. With water flooding the earth enough to cover all land there would be drastic effects on the land, even as small floods cause today.

Earth is changing all the time because it is growing old “as doth a garment” (Heb. 1:10-12), even as everything else does in this universe and changes accordingly.

In a popular book of two decades ago, The Population Bomb, the author considered man as a “cancer” on the earth.

Reader’s Digest , describes an organization, Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, in which the founder, Les U. Knight, from my beloved state, Oregon, says: “The hopeful alternative to the extinction of millions of species of plants and animals is the voluntary extinction of one species: Homo sapiens – us.”

Lynn White, Jr., a prominent environmentalist, has said: “We shall continue to have a worsening ecological crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man.”

David M. Graber, a research biologist with the National Park Service, is sharp with his tongue: “Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.”

According to environmentalists man is a late comer. Thus he does not have as much right on the earth as the animals and plants do.

Listen carefully to evolutionary environmentalists and you will hear them speaking of man as though he is not a part of nature like the animal and plant kingdoms are. Even though they believe that man evolved from nature, yet man is considered an alien.

Environmentalists are of the persuasion that man is vastly inferior to the earth and that man is for the earth rather than the earth for man, and the earth shall also outlast man.

Philip Hyde, who has done some photographic journalism to help preserve wilderness areas, has said, “I’m not too worried about the Earth itself any more. The Earth is going to survive. I see now that the question is, is man going to survive on the Earth?”

Yes, we all want to preserve the beauties of the earth, we want it for both our personal enjoyment and clean high quality of life, but the earth is only temporary and man shall go on through eternity.

Not only is the earth wearing out (Heb. 1:11b), but God shall destroy it at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:10).

Environmentalists see man as an accident upon the earth, but Christianity sees earth as the proving ground for man to see of his desire to live in the true Paradise of God.

According to environmentalists earth is first. This grows out of the two previous points, that man is wrong and that he is a late comer.

Humans should certainly come first because one person is more valuable than many sparrows (Mt. 10:31), but again Christians should also be concerned about maintaining this place in which we live, even as we attempt to do with our homes, or else by neglect and abuse we will hurt our home, the earth, and subsequently ourselves.

Moreover, these people in the current political campaign are not saying vote for a certain man, but “Vote for the Earth.” In the last election Organic Gardening magazine had an editorial on this, and the recent Democratic Convention had people holding up posters with this message.

According to environmentalists we should all be vegetarians. This also is a logical progression from the previous points, for if man is wrong and is a late comer and the earth ought to be first, then we should not eat animals.

But why should we eat plants?

And since many of them are evolutionists, what happened to the survival of the fittest? Do they object to animals eating other animals? No! Why? Because they would argue that it is natural. But it is not natural for man, who is also of the earth and who has the capacities to consume flesh, to eat animals?

If a man chooses to be a vegetarian that is his business and he ought to be accepted fully into the fellowship of the church, but he should not force others to accept his persuasion (Romans 14:1-3,6).

According to environmentalists we should have zero population growth. This doctrine leads to: abortion, euthanasia, and other things to keep the population down.

Environmentalists will quickly advocate strict punishment for senseless destruction of nature, but propose elimination of humans as the answer for saving the earth. One environmentalist on television said that China has the death penalty for anyone who kills a panda, and he wondered why we do not have similar laws.

We do have strict laws, such as in destroying an unhatched bald eagle, and we ought to keep those laws, and we spend plenty of money on saving whales, et al., but it does not make sense to fund the killing of innocent human lives, via abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, etc.

Of course this all grows out of the myth that the earth is overpopulated with humans.

According to environmentalists the planet itself is some type of living force known as Gaia. They believe that they are in contact with the spirit of the earth.

Mother Earth News magazine in 1988 and 1989 ran a series of articles in which they were exploring “Environmentalism & Spirituality.” The articles were not seeing if there is a connection between the two, but reporting on the fact that there is a connection.

Organic Gardening also is heavily into the idea that earth is a living force, and to be successful in life we will have to cooperate with the spiritual earth.

These two magazines offer valuable material, but be careful of the paganism disguised as environmentalism or ecology.

THE ATTACK BEING MADE ON CHRISTIANITY

Christianity is being blamed for environmental problems, because sometimes those who have been destructive and exploitive have either been church-goers, or claimed that the Bible sanctioned abuse.

Also environmentalists have misinterpreted Genesis 1:26-30, which authorizes man to have dominion over the earth, believing that it encourages exploitation in an abusive sense.

Secular environmentalists attack the idea that the earth was created for man, believing that that means man can do whatever he wants. A gift is not for abuse. For example, we know that the word of God was given to us, for our benefit (Deut. 29:29), yet that does not mean we are free to do whatever we want with the word of God, but it is important that we respect it and use it properly, lest we condemn ourselves.

The same is true about the resources of the earth, they have been given to man for both his care and use.

He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man; that he may bring forth food out of the earth (Ps. 104:14).

The heavens are the heavens of Jehovah; but the earth hath he given to the children of men (Ps. 115:16)

As we shall see shortly, man does have dominion over the earth, and all other creatures, and we are to subdue it, but this includes caring for it, “And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Gen. 2:15).

There are many animals and plants that would not survive without man’s care, e.g., the sheep.

Science is man’s attempt to subdue the earth, and even environmentalism is an attempt to be lord of the earth.

However one environmentalist has said this: “The ‘control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man”

THE MEANING OF GENESIS 1:26-30

Interestingly, environmentalists, evolutionists, new agers, et al., without realizing it, fulfill this passage by their concern for the welfare of our environment.

God did not give any animal dominion over the earth, therefore animals do not build wildlife refuges, make studies of biology and the other sciences.

The first thing to note is that there is a God who created all things:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God created man in is own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them (Gen. 1:26,27).

Dominion and subduing are not synonyms for destruction or abusing at one’s pleasure, but like God’s dominion over us has led him to have infinite care for us, so we should care for the earth.

Dominion does mean that man is the preeminent one and that it is his responsibility to take care of the earth and all of its creatures. The fact that environmentalists are even concerned for the earth is a sign that they are attempting to do as God wants done, though that does not mean that all of their methodologies and philosophies are valid. In fact they have become excessive in many ways, but our response is not to become excessive in the other direction.

Man is to fill the earth according to Genesis 1:28:

And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

This means that God is able to provide for the humans that populate the earth. It also means that God is in control of the earth and everything associated with it.

Overpopulation is a myth conceived in the minds of those who do not believe that God is able to take care of humanity.

God gave man the plants of the earth for food, to the animals also:

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and very tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food: and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food: and it was so (Gen. 1:29,30).

CHRISTIANS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Christians should realize that this is our Father’s world and he has promised us that we shall inherit the earth (Mt. 5:5; Mk. 10:28-30; 1 Cor. 3:21-23; 2 Cor. 6:10).

Christians should also realize that nature, or creation, is just as much the work of God as the Bible is. Knowing that Scripture is the word of God causes Christians to study it and be very careful to preserve its teachings. Knowing that nature is the creation of God should also cause the Christian to study it and be very careful to preserve it.

Accordingly, let us use the earth, which even environmentalists do, but let us also use it properly. It is inconsistent for Christians to be careless in the use of a gift of God (Lk. 16:10-12).

WHERE ENVIRONMENTALISM IS HEADED

The worship of nature is quickly becoming a major tenet of environmentalists, and this should not surprise us, because every time man leaves the true God man eventually turns to some idol, as Israel did repeatedly.

Hear the teaching of Romans 1:21-23:

Because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.

LET US AVOID THE EXTREMES OF BOTH SIDES

Let us be thoughtful, caring, responsible people with our environment, but let us also realize that humans come first.

We can be balanced with our view of nature by following carefully the word of God, which has numberless references to nature and lessons we should learn and so forth, which will also help us to remember that “The earth is Jehovah’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Pss. 24:1; 50:10,11).

Let us be wise in our use of that which is another’s, in this case the earth is God’s and he is letting us use it.

THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE

The foremost issue for mankind: the saving of his soul.

Let us be mindful of our current environment, but much more so with our future environment – heaven (Mt. 6:19-21).

1U.S. News and World Report, June 8, 1992.

2quoted in: Imprimis, July 1991, Vol. 20, No. 7, p.4. Imprimis does not endorse such a view, but the author was reviewing environmentalism.

3Reader’s Digest , April, 1992, p. 147.

4The New American, June 15, 1992; in: Christian News, June 15, 1992, p. 14).

5Ibid.

6Backpacker, October, 1989, p. 28.

7Organic Gardening, November, 1988.

8Rachel Carson, Organic Gardening, date unknown.

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3 thoughts on “Christianity and Environmentalism

  1. Don, God IS Nature. “God” is another word for Nature, as car is another word for auto, man is another word for person, agua is another name for water, etc. It is a mistake to think of God as being some different entity than Nature… because these are the same thing. That being said, if we mess with “Mother Nature,” we will pay dearly.

    • Tom, We will have to disagree on this, because nature is the work of God, even as a car is the work of mankind. True, if we damage the work of God, we will suffer, therefore, we should worship God, not His creation.

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