MU Environmental Network News
Vol. 11, No. 3,
Jan Weaver, Ed.;
Heather Clenin, Asst. Ed.;
422 Tucker Hall, MU / Columbia MO 65211
Caring for Creation
by Jan Weaver
Which organization do you think is urging fellow believers to sign the
* I will organize my life so that it is easier and more desirable to
walk, bike, car pool, and use public transportation.
* If I need to purchase a vehicle, I will choose the most fuel efficient
and least polluting vehicle available that
truly fits my needs.
* I will discuss with others the moral concerns and solutions
associated with transportation.
* I will encourage automobile manufacturers to produce the most
fuel-efficient and least polluting vehicles
possible that truly fit the needs of the American people.
* I will urge government leaders to support public
transportation, a significant increase in fuel economy standards, and
research and development for promising new transportation technologies that
reduce pollution and increase fuel efficiency.
Greenpeace? Sierra Club? Audubon? Actually, it is the
Evangelical Environmental Network. This organization is a partnership of
World Vision, World Relief, Intervarsity, the International Bible
Society, and other organizations, churches and individuals committed to
an evangelical ministry on the environment. The pledge above is part
of their WWJDrive - What Would Jesus Drive - campaign. Evangelicals
are not the only Christians weighing in on environmental problems.
Baptists, Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists,
Presbyterians, and a host of other Christian denominations have issued a
call to their faithful to "care for creation". Since 75% of Americans
claim to be Christians, making the connection between the environment
and a Christian world view could have a powerful impact on American
However, not only are most environmentalists not aware of
these efforts, many may believe Christianity is actually responsible
for our current environmental problems. This point of view goes back to
a 1967 essay by historian Lynn White in Science Magazine. White's
thesis was that the Judeo-Christian theology that gave man dominion over
nature was unique in the ancient and medieval world, and it paved the
way for the scientific and technological revolutions that ultimately led
to the environmental crises of the 20th (and now 21st century).
This perception has been reinforced by recent news stories
focusing on connections between the Christian right and conservative
Republicans in congress. An article in Grist by Glen Scherer hi-lights
the tight correlation between votes supporting the conservative
Christian agenda on abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research, and
votes against environmental protection. Scherer argues that this makes
sense if you consider how many Christians say they believe the
prophecies in Revelation about the end times. If you accept a theology
where the earth is going to be destroyed - and pretty soon at that, why
would you care what happens to it now?
Evangelical apologist Francis Schaeffer responded to White's claims in
the 1970's with his book - "Pollution and the Death of Man" pointing out
that neither secularism (which held nothing sacred) or Pantheism (which
led to nature being treated no better than man) offered real protection
to nature. These days influential Christian leaders from Pope John Paul
II to James Dobson of Focus on the Family and Reverend Billy Graham have
argued forcefully that humans have a God given responsibility to the
earth: Jesus's commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself is a call
to environmental justice, and his commandment to love God (and therefore
God's creation - the earth) with all one's heart is a call to
environmental stewardship; yes, we have dominion over the earth, but
our dominion over the earth should resemble God's dominion over us - we
should love and care for creation, as God loves and cares for us; and,
because God created nature, it has value in and of itself, not just
because of its usefulness to man. Just this past October, an
"Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility" had over 1000 religious
leaders signing on urging the faithful to take care of creation.
This would be a good time for all environmentalists to seek out common
ground and work together, whether the goal is the secular one of
protecting resources, the Pantheistic one of healing mother earth, or
the Christian one of caring for creation.
Evangelical Environmental Network - http://www.creationcare.org/
Catholic Church - http://conservation.catholic.org
Presbyterian Church (USA) - http://www.prcweb.org
United Methodist Church - http://www.umc.org/interior.asp?mid=1701
White Essay -
Schaerffer and Pollution and the Death of Man -
Christianity Today article -
Scherer article -