At Wayland, there has been an increased emphasis on the need to "go green". I'll admit to having inherited a very West Texas conservative viewpoint on the environment. I'll even go so far as to admit not giving it much thought at all and just taking for granted the natural resources that are available to me.
So, what is a West Texas conservative viewpoint on the environment? Allow me to attempt to describe what I think it is and please don't necessarily take the following as truth or even a fair representation of what I currently believe. And while this is by no means universal in this part the world, it’s certainly not uncommon.
If I can afford it, I can use it. If it's on my land, then I can do with it what I want. The climate change issue is too controversial. In spite of a vast scientific consensus among climatologists, the issue has become so politicized that I doubt the integrity of the scientists involved in the debate. Is it warming, is it cooling, is it natural, is it man-made? I don't know because I haven't paid close enough attention. But if I allow myself to fall along party-lines, like I do on so many issues, then it may or may not be warming but it's unlikely to be caused by man."
Of course, climate change isn't the only issue. There's deforestation, there's the massive extinction of animal life on the planet, there's a significant decrease in the availability of fresh water, there's pollution, and so much more. If you listen to most environmentalists, we are doomed. If you listen to the rest, we are at the very least at a crisis in human history. The vast number of humans on this planet have reached the point that they are a geologic force changing the landscape, the ecosystem of the oceans, and the atmosphere.
Are these real issues? Should I really be concerned? I honestly haven't decided yet. But I have a renewed interest in finding out what I believe.
At Wayland, we've had a couple of guests to our campus within the last two weeks, both of whom are founders of the organization called Care of Creation. It is their goal to make Christians aware environmental issues and to promote their involvement in helping to become stewards of the environment. Also, at Wayland we have begun an Environmental Stewardship Bible Study in which several faculty and staff members are participating. In preparation for participating in the Bible Study, for attending the talks by our guests, and for completing a two-day workshop on environmental stewardship, I've begun doing a lot of reading in this area.
I have chosen to use my blog to document my journey down this road. I may very well end up where I started but most certainly, by the end, I will have made some decisions and will have reached place where I can reasonably defend my positions. Here is a brief survey of some of the questions that have arisen in my thought process about which I hope to reach a conclusion:
- Does the Bible provide a foundation for environmental concern within the believer?
- There is clearly a call to exercise dominion over creation and a reasonable case can be made that we should not abuse and destroy God's creation. Where is the line between cultivation and abuse?
- Free markets are amazing for the development of new ideas to deal with societal and even environmental problems. But they seem to be inevitably entangled with the problem of greed. Free markets have polluted the environment and lead to the deposition of toxic chemicals into drinking water and caused major illnesses because of their disregard for people and their ultimate regard for the bottom line. Is the free market the best and sole solution to potential environmental crises?
- Is the alleged environmental crisis important enough to be a central ministry of the church or do we need "to keep the main thing, the main thing"?
Here's something I already know: We are called to be stewards of many things as followers of Christ: stewards of our lives, stewards of our talents and gifts, stewards of our families, and stewards of our finances. God is creator and this world was deemed "good" by Him. We should take care of this Earth, a gift that He gave us to live on. The resources of this world are a gift and we are to be stewards of the Earth just as much as of our lives, family, finances and homes.
There is much, much more to come.