you can catch up on the first part of this post from yesterday by clicking here
In the PBS report, “Evangelicals and the Environment”, there is an immediate, almost relfexive, move from caring for the earth to talking about climate change. Richard Cizik, the National Association for Evangelicals’ government representative, deftly moves from one to the other, “We, as evangelical Christians, have a responsibility to God, who owns this property we call earth…And if climate change is occurring, can we simply, with blinders on, pretend it isn’t happening?” This implicitly reveals two things: that there is a misunderstanding of ecological stewardship, and that our care for the environment is almost solely based on the idea of an impending crisis. Combating this myopic approach is Roger Crook’s more balanced and broad viewpoint, “It certainly would appear appropriate for modern people, scholars and laypeople alike, to operate on the assumption that the created order is a valid object of concern not merely because of our own self-interest but also because of the inherent value of everything that exists”. Both Cizik’s and Crook’s views appeal to Christians to engage environmental awareness and actively care for the earth, but while Crook’s appeal is based on a sense of moral responsibility, Cizik feels obligated to delve into du jour arguments that have proven more suitable for polarization than unification. And it is this polarization that has defined much of the Evangelical response to ecological responsibility.
I have in recent years attempted to distance myself from the hyper-conservative stream of Christian thought that believes the environment is not a central issue for the church. I have personally heard Christians use the rapture (or their own personally romanticized idea of it) like an eschatological hammer, attempting to beat the topic of environmentalism out of their minds and hearts. But even if a Christian holds to this kind of doctrine of escapism, there is no dissonance with caring for the world that you believe you are going to leave. I fear that the world grows weary of a church that alleges love in proclamation and then seems intractable in its desire to be right with regard to every nuance of science. The Bible is not a science book, it was not written to be one.
Ultimately, the Christian’s ethical approach to how we treat, care for, and do our best to sustain this world is rooted in worship. A reductionistic view of worship leads to a Christian who believes that spiritual responsibility begins and ends as we enter and exit the doors of a church. But the kind of worship that the Bible instructs is an all-encompassing thing that cannot help but rejoice in and laud the beauty of creation both in proclamation and action. Until the Evangelical community sees the validity in worshipping God through caring for and cultivating – dare I say subduing – His creation, there will always be a fatal and nefarious disconnect between them and the earth. Tragically this will result in those who do not know God in a salvific capacity doing more redemptive work in the natural sphere of life than those who have themselves been redeemed.