Where the Study of Environmental Stewardship Begins

image In several lengthy discussions that I’ve had with friends and colleagues over my new interest in environmental stewardship, inevitably we begin discussing the stereotypes of environmental activists.  Being raised in West Texas my whole life, I haven’t really encountered very many individuals that would be classified as environmental activists, but I’ve certainly heard my fair share of disparaging political epithets: hippy, environmentalist wacko, tree hugger, ecoterrorist, econazi, etc.

If you have a personal conviction to care for God’s creation and feel that abuse to the environment is tantamount to desecrating a temple of God then you may be offended by such terms.  I wouldn’t blame you.  But there is also the very real concern that environmental activism might be concomitant with the deification of nature.  Some of the people I talk to have reminded me that the much of the theology of popular environmentalism comes from humanism, paganism and pantheism

As a friend stated on the last blog entry,

It’s too bad that over the last 2-3 decades, environmentalism has been appropriated by a mainly leftist political crowd and propped up as a kind of secular religion. Environmentalism is for everybody, and conservatives have a lot to bring to the table on this issue. Christians too.

I believe it is possible to respect God’s creation in the same way that we respect other temples of God without deifying them and treating them as a god, outright.  We are called to sanctify the church, the altar of God, and even our own bodies.

image So, instead of beginning with the love of nature and its beauty as a motivation of environmental stewardship, I think the best place to begin is in Scripture.  After all, the love of the outdoors has not come naturally to the “indoorsman” city-boy that I am.  If I do end up an environmental activist (yikes, that still scares me) it will be as one who moved from environmental indifference to environmental concern as a result of my faith and not as one who started out concerned about the environment and added my faith to the reasons for that concern.

By the way, I am still deliberately avoiding any statement or position on the many hot-button environmental issues such as climate change, over-population, deforestation, etc.  My reasoning goes back to the fact that the starting place for creation care is the stewardship of God’s world out of respect and honor for Him. Concern for nature and the world God created seems to be one of our responsibilities as God’s children with or without a crisis on our hands.

Below are several passages that I’ve begun meditating upon that deal with humanity’s relationship to creation and creation’s relationship to God. Please note that relating any of these passages to environmentalism can only be done in an honest and accurate interpretation of Scripture.  The most basic of principles that I hold to when interpreting scripture is that a passage cannot be made to say something that was not intended by the original author.  It must fit into the context in which it is given as well as in its genre.  The application of Scripture to our lives must flow out of the original meaning to the original audience.

The following were collected and compiled by the Evangelical Environmental Network and Creation Care Magazine.  You can download the original document from the Evangelical Environmental Network. These will serve as a devotional guide for the next few entries on environmental stewardship.

Jesus Christ’s Relationship to All of Creation: Creator, Sustainer, Reconciler, Consummator, true Imago Dei, Heir of all things, Lord

Creation Declares the Glory of God

The Old Testament Proclaims God as Creator

The Earth is the Lord’s

Christian Love and Justice

God Provide for and Desire’s Sufficiency and Contentment for the Rest of Creation

The Interrelationship Between Humanity and the Rest of Creation

The Rest of Creation Harmed by Humanity’s Sin

God’s Future Kingdom: a New Creation

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