Written by: Hermien Van Den Bergh
Article source: JOY! Magazine

Should we be concerned when Christian leaders ignore and even resist environmental protection? Is this not a blindspot; a faultline running across our Christian faith practice that needs reform?

Why did American historian Lynn White claim that the Bible is “the ideological basis for the arrogant and aggressive domination of nature, which has led to ecological destruction?” Did Christians give her the impression that dominion theology justifies the objectification and exploitation of nature and its non-human inhabitants? Where does this damaging attitude towards God’s creation come from in Christian circles?

The welfare of our planet is our responsibility
The apocalyptic warning in the Bible causes many people to believe that the welfare of our planet is irrelevant as the end is near. They may even welcome environmental destruction as a sign of the end times. What is perplexing though is the indifferent attitude towards the suffering inflicted upon living creatures and poor people who are defenceless.

Our dominion is over all the earth
The belief that the heartbeat for God is souls and only souls, narrows our responsibility on earth. Influential evangelist Dwight Moody said this, ”I look upon this world as a sinking ship, and the Lord has given me a lifeboat, and told me: ‘Moody, save all you can.’” What he said was right, but it can easily give the wrong impression – that only human lives matter to God. It reduces the scope of our covenantal responsibility and flies in the face of biblical truth. Such a Titanic approach contrasts with Noah’s ark and the Noahic covenant that included humans and animals (Genesis 9:8-10).

This world is God’s masterpiece
Negative attitudes towards the environment may stem from a fear of neo-pagan worship. It also occurs when self-interest and financial growth is preferred at the expense of the environment. The climate change discord further obscures and delays the urgent need to deal with environmental concerns, and apathy and indifference plays a detrimental role. Planet earth is sacred, a gift from God. The astronauts who saw the earth for the first time hanging in space on nothing, described it as a “brilliant jewel in the black velvet sky.” They were awestruck by the earth’s beauty and fragility – and were profoundly changed.

We need to care for God’s planet
Christian custodians need reform in our collective attitude towards the planet, and all non-human inhabitants. Our love for God should constrain us to lay all indifference and
differences aside. We should pray, unite, and collaborate in safeguarding creation for God, ourselves, and posterity.

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