Bible Answers: Talking about the Bible and the environment

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“There seem to be different ideas about what the Bible teaches concerning the environment. What do you think?” — Tim

There are indeed different ideas. Some folks believe that the Earth was given to humans to use as they wish with little regard for conservation or long-term sustainability. They believe that natural resources should be fully utilized, a conviction that has largely driven capitalistic production and trade. This belief, insofar as it looks to the Bible for justification, holds that creation was made for man (Gen. 1 and 2, loosely) and contends that the Earth will one day be destroyed (II Pet. 3:10-12) — there is, therefore, no impediment to expending it.
Others believe that because humans are “of the Earth” (Gen. 2:7), they are interconnected with it and should treat it with respect, protecting it and “partnering” with it.
Extreme proponents of this view might even place concern for the Earth’s well-being ahead of perceived immediate and long-term needs of humans.
Quite likely, an honest biblical position lies somewhere in between. At least three biblical concepts support a balanced approach to care for the environment. First is the idea of “stewardship” (Gen. 1:26ff; 2:15). The steward understands he doesn’t own the property.
He has been given the responsibility to take care of it. Students of Scripture come to see that everything we have, including the Earth, is entrusted to us by God for its wise and careful use.
Second, the Bible declares that creation provides evidence of the invisible attributes of God (Rom. 1:20) and third, it teaches that the earth will ultimately “participate in redemption” (Rom. 8:19-23). These concepts underscore the importance of protecting, restoring and respecting the Earth.  
Faith-based environmentalism, or “creation-care” as it is sometimes called, will by definition strive for a clean, sustainable environment, deplore waste and refrain from reckless abuse.
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To send questions or to communicate with Pastor McCullough, write to wrbc-pastor