Saturday, August 14, 2010
The Christian and the Environment
This is a brief Bible study that we had in our Men's Ministry Saturday, August 14, 2010.
The environment has been a growing concern in our American culture. President Teddy Roosevelt's love for nature compelled him to preserve beautiful landscapes for all Americans to enjoy. President Woodrow Wilson established the National Park Service. The demise of the last Carrier Pigeon caught people's attention as have other extinctions. But along with concern for the environment has grown an almost religious devotion to it. Henry David Thoreau called for an intimate relationship with nature. Photographer John Muir argued for the inherent rights of nature. NASA scientist James Lovelock taught the Gaia Hypothesis that life on earth is to be understood as one organism. This is an important part of Deep Green ideology and was featured prominently in the film Avatar. Environmental disasters certainly raise awareness of the importance of taking care of the environment. The main question in this Bible study is this: How should Christians care for the environment without falling into the temptation to worship it?
1. What does the Bible say about our relationship to the environment in the following passages?
Genesis 1:28 - Man was given dominion over the earth.
Genesis 2:15 - Man was commissioned to care for the earth.
Psalm 8.6 - Man was given dominion over the earth.
2. Has the Biblical language of "dominion" led to exploitation of the environment?
Secular humanists often complain that the Biblical teaching of "dominion" has led to destruction of the environment. The idea of dominion divorced from caring and good stewardship could certainly lead to this. But dominion is not an isolated concept for Christians, and this type of dominion is a mischaracterization of Christianity.
3. How does Psalm 96.11-13a help us with a Christian view of the environment?
In a number of places the Bible portrays the creation itself glorifying God. This does not mean that plants and animals have souls and a faith relationship with God. However, it does show that creation has a role to play in bringing glory to God (see Psalm 19).
4. How does God's covenant with Noah and the creation in Genesis chapter nine help us see the importance of caring for the environment?
God's covenant with Noah was also a covenant with the earth. He promised not to destroy it again with a flood. His plan to preserve life on the ark shows us His love for the creation.
5. What is the purpose of caring for the environment for a Christian?
By its very existence the creation glorifies God. God loves His creation. We should love what He loves and take care of it as a testimony to Him.
Every part of the environment holds within itself the mystery of creation. By avoiding wasteful and unnecessary destruction of creation we help to preserve the mystery of life. Who knows what benefits (medicines, etc.) may be discovered in any corner of God's creation.
6. What can we as Christians do to "care" for God's creation?
Study environmental issues and take care to avoid unBiblical beliefs such as pantheism and panpsychism.
Work for energy efficiency and reduce trash output.
Support efforts to protect species while working to balance human needs.