Jesus & Politics: The Environment

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The environment is playing a significant role in this presidential election. Below is a graph from Business Insider on how the candidates view the issues regarding creation.

 

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Clinton is holding to the Democrat standard position with high governmental regulation on industry to enforce environmental standards. On the other hand, Trump is holding a more moderate Republican position with some governmental control over land while wanting to reduce governmental regulations over businesses. Even his position on the Paris agreement is most likely monetarily motivated. In my evaluation Hillary’s views on the environment is an attempt to appease to her supporters while Trump is moving in a very different direction to see America’s financial situation improve.

Both candidates make good points regarding the care of creation. As a Christian when it comes to creation care my position should be Biblical first, then I can compare the Biblical position with the position of the candidates.

This little blog is not an attempt to tell you who to cast your vote for however, it is a primer about the issue of creation care and what the Bible says about it. As a Christian I believe God has set creation to tell a story. And it is God’s story of creation that should be the narrative used to determine a Biblical position on environmentalism.

PART 1: GOD CREATED IT

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1

Christians believe that God created the earth. There are many overwhelming scientific proofs for believing in intelligent design. I recently shared two of them in a sermon at my church, Anchor Way. Without going into all the proofs here this is a fundamental belief for Christians and should dictate how we view creation.

 

It is from God.

Designed by God.

In the end, God’s.

 

Creation is not a god. And it is not ours. It is a gift from God that reveals His glory and His nature (Romans 1:20). The implication here is that creation is important to God and he has designed it in such a way that He would be realized through it.

 

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Taken a few nights ago from my drive way.

I live in the mountains. I literally walk out my front door and see mountains, a beautiful valley and the winding Yampa River for miles. From my living room couch I watch bald eagles and osprey fish in the river. The trees changing colors in the fall and the sun rising over the Rockies in the morning is a sight to behold! I love it. All of it. Every single aspect of the nature lifts my heart to worship the God who created it all! It all seems to point to Him. It makes me feel small. It forces me to deal with my place in it all and I can’t get past the fact that in creation’s diversity there must be something, someone beyond me that created it all. In creation, there is diversity, there is law, there is order and there is beauty. Time cannot forge such complexity. Chance is not capable of creating anything but chaos. There is no other explanation except for a great big loving God.

 

PART 2: MAN SHOULD STEWARD IT

God created the earth. Then He entrusted it to man.

Before the fall (Part 3) God entrusted the care of this incredible planet to Adam, Eve and their descendants.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:28

It is worth noting that God, after the fall and the flood, gives Noah the same basic command to steward the earth.

Genesis 9:1-3

And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.

In both cases God “blesses” man with the responsibility of creation care. Our care of God’s world is a blessing. One we should embrace. Then God tells humanity how we are to care for the world.

 

  1. Population increase is a command of God (Genesis 1:28 & 9:1)

A common narrative from the environmentalist camp is a proposal to control the pace of population growth (in other words dictate how many babies people have). This is not a Biblical proposition. And many scientist agree it’s not even a good solution.

  1. Utilizing the earth’s resources is a command of God (Genesis 1:28 & Genesis 9:3b)

God gives Noah and his descendants “everything.” That list would include:

  • Animals
  • Vegetables
  • Gems
  • Stones
  • Trees
  • Water
  • Fossil Fuels

All these and more come from creation. They have all been entrusted to humanity for our survival and for our thriving. We should feel no guilt in enjoying and using these elements.

 

  1. Caring for the earth’s sustainability is a command of God (Leviticus 25:3-5)

In God’s command to use creation for our survival we are told to be good stewards of it. This is more clearly seen in the agricultural commands given to Israel in Leviticus. For example:

For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. – Leviticus 25:3-5

If you look back over history, the over industrialization of harvesting any resource has been disastrous. When we over use coal, oil, grain, diamonds, or pick any other natural resource, you will find a devastating story behind it’s over production. We need to heed the counsel of the creator on these issues and pace ourselves in how we use the earth’s resources. We need to let resources rest. The Israelites without modern refrigeration or agricultural tools found a way to do this I think we could too.

 

PART 3: CREATION IS CURSED – Genesis 3:17-18

17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” – Genesis 3:17-18

Thousands of years later in the New Testament, Paul sheds more light on the curse of creation:

19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. – Romans 8:19-22

Creation, like us, is subjected to the curse of sin. In Romans we see a correlation between death and sin. Sin earns death. It is obvious to conclude that in Romans 8 creation groans because it is subjected to death. In other words, our fallen creation, like us is rigged to die.

That means ultimately, environmentalism is fighting an uphill battle on the predetermined future of creation. It is set to die. And it keeps telling us.

 

How is creation dying?

  1. Glaciers have been melting for some say 18,000 years (since the end of the last Ice Age) others suggest a shorter timeline of at 5,000 years. This has accelerated (due to climate change) but it is not solely due to climate change. The glaciers have been dying for much longer than SUV’s have been on the road.

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  1. The Rockies are crumbling and it’s not because of traffic. Or carbon fuels. It is because of erosion. That’s what land does overtime.

july-skywatching-portland

  1. The Moon is moving. Every year the moon moves 3.8 centimeters form the earth. Eventually the moon will move so far away the earth will experience erratic seasons, tides and gravity making life impossible on this planet.

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  1. The Sun is dying. It has some time but evidence shows that the sun will die one day. And not because of our SUV emissions. Because nothing in the universe lives forever. It all dies.

An eternal winter will come for the earth. There’s nothing that can be done to stop it. The Bible declares it and science has proven it. But there’s good new is all this! As Christians we know that the sustainability of the earth doesn’t solely rest in our hands. The one who designed it has big plans for earth!

 

PART 4: CREATION WILL BE RESTORED – Revelation 21:1-2

As Christians we believe that our Savior not only restores us to life but the earth as well.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband – Revelation 21:1-7 & 22-27

God loves creation. Because of man’s sin He cursed it and because of man’s salvation He will restore it. The new heaven and new earth is will be better than the first one. Our current earth is a beautiful gift, something to be treasured, but it is only a shadow of the new earth we will enjoy in Christ.

Revelation 21 and 22 describes some of the elements of the new earth:

LIGHT (21:23)

RIVERS (22:1)

STREETS (22:2)

TREES (22:2)

FRUIT (22:2)

SEASONS (MONTHS) (22:2)

DIVERSITY (22:2)

In Isaiah we see the lion and the lamb lay together. There’s no violence. No death. No hate. No tears. Just creation and people living in perfect community and harmony with one another. It will be perfect. As a Christian I look forward to the day when creation is perfectly restored, and I with it, because of the Gospel.

 

In the meantime, Christians are called to enjoy creation. Use creation and sustain creation until our Savior returns. It would do all of us some good to find more balance in how we care for the earth. To look to Scripture’s counsel in letting things breathe. Protecting natural resources including spaces to hike, reflect and see the work of God. To quote one of the unsung heroes of America’s National Parks, John Muir:

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir

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Let’s not waste it.

 

Thanks for reading.

Andrew Werley

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Mary says:

    Very well said! Thank You.

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