Archive for December, 2009

Why is much of modern Protestantism so opposed to Environmentalism?

December 26, 2009

I recently saw an article in Christianity Today about a guy named Jonathan Merritt, who’s nickname is “The Green Baptist.”  He launched the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative and got 700 Southern Baptist Convention leaders to sign on.  In an interview he was asked “Why are you an environmentalist?”

I was sitting in a theology class with one of my favorite seminary professors, who was pointing out that general and special revelation are equally revelatory. ”When we destroy God’s creation,” he said, “it’s similar to tearing a page out of the Bible.”  I was a staunch conservative who thought environmentalism was incompatible with my faith. I thought it was funny and cool to throw trash out my window in college.   At that moment I thought, I would never tear a page out of Scripture. I left that room a different person. I knew I could not continue to live the way I lived.

He was also asked “How do fellow Christians respond to your message?”

When I have conversations with the average pew-sitting Christian, I can almost hear an exhale, they’re glad to know somebody is trying to offer a biblical answer.  But when I talk to people in Christian leadership, I find that some are driven by ideology rather than theology.  They believe we are in a culture war and that these are political battles that must be fought.  The average Christian, though, wants to know what God thinks.

I asked myself why it is so many Christian leaders (and some churchgoers) in the US are so vehemently opposed to anything that has to do with environmentalism?  They take the verse from Genesis that says to “subdue the Earth”  a little to seriously.  Christians are to be good stewards in caring for the earth (Genesis 1:28).  One Christian I know was throwing away some cardboard from a construction site, and I mentioned to him that there was cardboard recycling nearby.  His response was “I don’t recycle on principle.”  Huh?  As someone who’s spent a lot of time outdoors, I see firsthand the positive effect that being around an unpolluted environment has.  If it is easy to try to drive less, waste less, water less, etc. why not do it?  Why have one’s mind made up that you won’t do these things and stubbornly refuse to have anything to do with it??  It seems to me that many Christians think that if you’re so much as trying to do these things, you’re a tree hugging raw vegan Earth worshiper.  Please, the Earth is not evil, neither is trying to care for it.  The Bible says that God saw all that he made and that it was good.

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