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Christians and the Environment

By Jonathan Skinner
Special to ASSIST News Service

CBN.com - BATH, UK (ANS) -- With the environment at the center of so many people’s agendas these days, and with many in our society connecting in with this, Christians need to have a well thought-out response. What is a proper biblical conception of the Earth and all of creation?

The creation account in Genesis includes the refrain “and God saw that it was good,” which indicates that creation does not exist just for what humanity can get out of it, but has value in God’s eyes. The Bible clearly tells us that we have a responsibility to rule over creation in terms of tending and caring for it. Genesis 1: 26 informs us: God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” Later, the first humans are explicitly put on earth “to work it and take care of it.” It is also notable that the move from a state of harmony in creation to the Fall is symbolized by an act of environmental disobedience.

Other parts of Scripture build on this foundation. The first covenant in Genesis is made by God to Noah, his descendants and also to “every living creature on earth.” Creation is included in the covenant. Creation care is part of the teaching from God in the Torah, where, for example, every seventh year the land was allowed to rest, not only to allow the poor to glean from the fields but also to let the land rest from production. The Psalms add to the picture of a proper relationship between God, humanity and the rest of creation. Psalm 24 opens with the ascription, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” Here is a powerful affirmation that the earth belongs to God rather than humankind.

The centrality of Christ in creation is made clear in the New Testament, where John’s Gospel, reflecting the opening words of Genesis, reveals that not only God the Father, but also the Word was present at the beginning of creation. Jesus revealed his mastery of creation by calming the storm on Galilee. Indeed, in the face of today’s various claims for lordship, not only for Mother Earth, but also from a whole plethora of Pagan gods and spirits, we must contend for the absolute claim of Jesus Christ to be Lord of all, including all creation. The New Testament reveals that, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

More than all this, the biblical perspective on our planet does not conclude with it being destroyed, but after this destruction a new heaven and a new earth being brought into being. It is true that our present creation will be destroyed by fire, but it is also true that a new earth will be established. God will re-establish his physical creation, including the planet earth – we are to be good stewards now, but realistically recognizing that the Fall of humanity will work itself out in, first, the ongoing damage of creation and finally, its destruction. In any biblical perspective on our planet, the effect of humanity’s rebellion and Fall must be taken seriously. Not only will fallen human beings tend to misuse and abuse God’s gift of our environment, but also it needs to be remembered that our environment is under the curse of God. Although this is the effect of the Fall, we are not to lose hope, for the present glories of creation will appear pale in contrast to what will yet be revealed when creation is re-established. The New Testament puts this in these words: “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” The final future for our recreated planet is glorious: “The creation awaits in eager expectation for the for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

In contrast to Materialism, Paganism, and in particular the worship of Mother Earth, which is so prevalent today, the Bible has a full, clear and realistic view of our planet. It was created good and reflects something of the glory of God. We are given a mandate to explore and care for this creation. The Fall of humanity has damaged and cursed this world, and yet we are still called to respect it and protect it. Nevertheless, when the whole world is judged, it will be destroyed. But this is not the end: God will bring in to being a new heaven and a new earth – it will all be reborn and redeemed. Our planet is to be honored because it reflects something of our maker and also because we are commanded to be responsible stewards. However, rightly honoring it is very different from worshipping it. To worship the creation but forget the creator is an utter travesty.


Jonathan Skinner is a minister of Widcombe Baptist Church, Bath, UK, as well as being a broadcaster and author of the best selling MTL – More to Life. He can be contacted by e-mail at jonathanskinner@yahoo.co.uk

Used with permission. More from Assist New Service

Assist News Service is brought to you in part by Open Doors USA, a ministry that has served the Suffering Church around the world for nearly 50 years. You can get more information by logging onto their website at www.opendoorsusa.org

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