Can a person be an environmentalist and a Christian at the same time?

It seems to me that Christianity and care for God’s creation are increasingly set forth in opposition, which is really a false dilemma. For instance, an abcnews.com article, “For Evangelicals, Is Gulf Spill a Moral Issue,” ran with the subtitle: “Some faith leaders say spill should raise community’s ecological conscience.”  Here’s the thing: I have yet to meet a Christian who threw a party celebrating the oil spill in the gulf.  Maybe I just didn’t get an invitation.  Personally, I’ve been very frustrated to see the gushing oil spew into the water and with BP’s inability to stop the flow, now over 70 days (ironically it started on Earth Day, April 20) and more than $3 billion into the capping and clean up effort.

Christians are generally very interested in caring for God’s creation.  I enjoy hunting and fishing and spending time outdoors.  Incidentally, I’ve heard anecdotes from hunters who hunt on public land about drunken fools who litter their hunting areas with beer cans and wrappers (nothing safer than a guy with a few beers in him and a firearm).  In any case, I want to be a good steward of the natural resources He has given us to enjoy.  However, creation care and environmentalism are two very different issues.  Creation care is about using and tending the natural resources God gave us, while still worshiping the Creator.  Environmentalism is a militant and unhealthy preoccupation with keeping the world green, while worshiping at the shrine of Mother earth.  Unfortunately, broader evangelicalism is flirting with environmentalism with statements such as,

Much of the world is either directly suffering as a result of environmental degradation or reacting in numb despair to gloomy predictions. Both groups desperately need the hope of Jesus Christ. It is the hope they long for, a hope that speaks directly to the redemption of all creation and reminds them that God loves the cosmos.

Christianity and creation care have always lived in harmony.  Christianity and environmentalism are in opposition; they are competing religions, each with its own diety: the Creator God and the created mother earth.  So can a Christian be an environmentalist?  Not if it is a call to worship mother earth.  This is nothing less than idolatry which is expressly forbidden in Scripture (Exodus 20:3-4).  Can a Christian still be concerned for creation?  Yes.  Indeed, we must be.  From the beginning we have been called to have dominion over and care for what God created (Genesis 1:28; 2:15).  So let us use creation, care for creation, and give glory to the One whose mighty hands fashioned the natural resources that we so thoroughly enjoy.

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3 thoughts on “Can a person be an environmentalist and a Christian at the same time?

  1. Thanks for taking the time to write this very interesting and thought provoking article. I found it to be helpful in trying to explain what’s really at the core of the debate.

    As with many, if not all of the false teachings, it always comes down to “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).

    Andrew

  2. Hi Andrew,

    It really does get down to the core question you mentioned. Lots of competing religions and dieties out there. Environmentalism happens to be one of them.

    Doug

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