God Said It
God created everything. He made us in His own image, and commanded us to be fruitful and multiply and watch over His creation. Although separated from God by our sin, we are lovingly restored through Jesus Christ, and take responsibility for being good stewards.
Discussion: The earth and all its natural systems are the product of an infinitely wise Designer, an infinitely powerful Creator, and an infinitely faithful Sustainer. We should expect them, therefore, to be robust, resilient, and self-regulating, not prone to catastrophic collapse due to relatively minute changes. (For instance, it is unlikely that the climate system would change catastrophically because of a tiny change in atmospheric chemistry—carbon dioxide rising from 28 thousandths of one percent before the Industrial Revolution to 40 thousandths of one percent today or 56 thousandths of a percent near the end of this century.) People, made in God’s image, are not primarily consumers and polluters as environmentalists tend to view them, but producers and stewards, capable of enhancing the fruitfulness, beauty, and safety of the earth, to the glory of God and the benefit of our neighbors. Sin results in deviations from this potential, but as the gospel spreads and more people are reconciled to God through faith in Christ and learn from Scripture to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him and to understand and use His creation as He intends, we can practice increasingly good stewardship of the earth and everything in it.
We Get It
Our stewardship of creation must be based on Biblical principles and factual evidence. We face important environmental challenges, but must be cautious of claims that our planet is in peril from speculative dangers like man-made global warming.
Discussion: Many claims of environmental harm past, present, and future are grossly exaggerated, often because they are based on computer models rather than empirical observation—which is the hallmark of true science. The Bible teaches us to “test all things, hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and doing that is what Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman called “the key to science.”
They Need It
With billions suffering in poverty, environmental policies must not further oppress the world’s poor by denying them basic needs. Instead, we must help people fulfill their God-given potential as producers and stewards.
Discussion: Poverty is a far greater risk to human well-being than climate change and other environmental risks on which wealthy elites in developed countries focus. Even moderate wealth enables people to thrive in any climate from the Arctic Circle to the Sahara Desert. Extreme poverty makes it impossible for them to thrive in the most ideal tropical paradise. Contrary to the belief of many environmentalists, economic development is not the enemy but the friend of the natural environment. Indeed, poverty is the chief cause of environmental degradation. A clean, healthful, beautiful environment is a costly good, and like all other costly goods, wealthy people can afford more of it than poor people. This means that environmental protection policies must be carefully crafted so as not to stop or reverse economic development but to promote it.
Let’s Do It
We will follow our Lord Jesus Christ and honor God as we use and share the principles of His Word to care for the poor and tend His creation.
Discussion: In His first public teaching, Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19). Concern for and protection of the poor is a hallmark of Christian faith and ethics. So is the exercise of godly dominion over the rest of the earth, as instructed in Genesis 1:28: “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.’” Thoughtful Christians will seek instruction from the study of God’s Word and world so they can “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8).