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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Additional Biblical reasons for environmental stewardship

I have previously posted on "Environmental Stewardship in the Bible," and, in fact, this is one of what I consider to be one of my most significant posts (out of about 1,200!). I freely confess that the Biblical reasons for trying to keep the environment around us in as good a condition as we can were mostly, maybe totally, not original.

In this post, I wish to put forward two new arguments from the Bible, in favor of trying to preserve endangered species, and endangered ecosystems or communities. As far as I know, they are original. Perhaps that is so because they aren't very good reasons. I don't know.

Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20 tell us that observing and learning about nature are part of God’s revelation to humans. If that is so, isn’t that another reason to try to preserve nature as well as we can? The Bible is one of the ways that God reveals Himself to us. For a long time, Christians have believed that the Bible should be translated into the language people are most familiar with, so that that revelation may be as clear as possible. Similarly, it would seem that God's revelation through nature should be as clear as possible. A person is more likely to see God in a pristine stream than in a polluted river. Probably seeing bison herds roam freely in Western North America gave people a glimpse of one aspect of God’s power and majesty that they can’t really get now. Therefore, helping to preserve nature in as good a condition as we can is one way to bring people to a saving knowledge of Christ. Not the most direct way, and probably not the most effective, for many people, but it is still a way to do this.

2) Colossians 1:15-20 says, of Christ, that “in Him all things hold together.” (ESV -- other versions have similar language. See here for the ESV policy on electronic use of this version of the Bible.) That passage also says that He is working to reconcile all things to Himself, and that He is working to make peace through the blood of the cross. As Christians, we believe that it is our duty to be His instruments in reconciling sinners to Christ, and to help Him in the ministry of making peace. In fact, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, tell us that:  18 But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Doesn’t it follow that we should also participate in Christ’s work of sustaining “all things,” including endangered species and ecosystems or biological communities? (I realize that there are other places in the New Testament where reconciliation and peacemaking are mentioned, or implied, and this is probably the only one that mentions Christ's sustaining work. But that doesn't mean that His sustaining work can be dismissed, or that we have no responsibility to be His instruments in doing it.)

What do you think?

Thanks for reading. (This post was edited on October 16, 2009. I attempted to enhance the arguments, without changing them. On September 26, 2013, I added the quotation from 2 Corinthians, and the introduction to it.)

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