Summary: Part 1 of 2 in the NewSong teaching series, "GREEN" which explores present day environmental movements in light of Biblical teaching and insight.
:: Church Culture & the Environment
• Lifeway Research - purpose of “assisting & equipping church leaders with insight that will lead to greater levels of church health and effectiveness.”
• Their research includes studying emerging trends in culture and Christian communities – including Environmentalism, Global Warming, and Going Green
• In October 2008, a telephone survey of 1,002 randomly selected Protestant pastors discovered that pastors are evenly split about environmental issues.
• 52% of Protestant pastors address environmental issues once a year or less
• 11% never speak to their church members about the environment
• 12% address the issue at least once a month.
• The survey concluded that pastors “are as divided as Americans are” on issues concerning the environment
Due to the trendiness of our society concerning environmental issues, we are launching a two-week teaching series in order to achieve two primary objectives:
1) Laying a Biblical foundation for humanity’s role in environmental affairs
2) Highlighting Scriptural practices of environmental responsibility for our community
:: Environmentalism and the Bible
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” So God created human beings in his own image… male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Then God said, "Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.”
• This Scripture is used as the foundation for four differing environmental viewpoints
• This reminds us that there is a difference between how God views the environment and how many political and social activists view it
• HEBREW: RADAH (to subjugate, rule and reign over, prevail against, dominion)
Eco-theology acknowledges the relationship between human spiritual worldviews and the environmental concerns that we face today.
:: Absolute Dominion // Creation Care // Global Stewardship
This viewpoint expresses the belief that, since God commanded humanity to rule over the earth and subdue it, then it is humanity’s right to rule as he pleases and to use the earth and its resources in whatever manner he sees fit.
• People who align with this view tend to take their “dominion” of creation very seriously, to the point that they believe it sinful not to use all of earth’s resources.
Creation Care is a term used to define the movement known as Evangelical Environmentalism. According to this view, all of creation – including nature and humanity – are inextricably linked, having been formed together by God and will remain linked after our bodily resurrection and into life on a new earth.
• In this viewpoint, all Scripture concerning creation is interpreted in light of Christ’s role in that creation – whether as creator, sustainer, reconciler, etc.
• Often, the question they ask is not “What is Jesus’ relationship to others?” but “what is Jesus’ relationship with all nature, this tree in particular?”
• While there is some excellent practical methodologies offered by this movement – and the majority of the time, the intentions and purposes of the movement are good – we do not just want to cling to a worldview that leaves us feeling morally superior when it is in fact, spiritually suspect.
o Jesus came to reconcile all creation to himself – the context of this Scripture is fallen humanity, not fallen planet. The planet suffered as a result of sin, but it was neither the cause of nor the recipient of sin.
o Jesus came to “seek and save that which was lost” – not the “innocence of nature” but the unique relationship that God created humans to share in with Him
o Jesus’ relationship to nature [creator/sustainer] is mine as well – while Scripture clearly teaches that Jesus reigns over all creation and was part of the act of creation itself, there is no indication in Scripture that the role of creator, sustainer. reconciler was passed on to us. Jesus does not expect us to put more time into saving the planet at the expense of saving our neighbor.
Global Stewardship holds many of the same views and practices as Creation Care, but modifies their theology to better reflect Scriptural teaching:
o Humanity is not just another part of creation – we are unique & special, made in the image of God (imago dei)