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Christian View of the Environment
  • Is there a Crisis?
  • Is Judeo-Christian Thought Responsible?
  • Naturalism and Pantheism have been offered as Substitutes
  • The Christian Environmental Ethic

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A Christian View of the Environment

Ray Bohlin


  1. Is there an environmental crisis?

    • Land is being converted and habitats destroyed at an increasing rate.

    • Some estimate that three species are becoming extinct every day.

    • Land is being degraded by overuse of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.

    • Hazardous chemicals and wastes are finding their way into the environment.

    • Pollution is rapidly ceasing to be a local problem and is becoming a global problem.

    • The atmosphere's ability to regulate itself is being perturbed by excess carbon dioxide, CFC's, and other gases.

    • Human cultures that know how to live in harmony with nature are rapidly disappearing.

  2. Some have blamed Judeo-Christian thought for our ecological problems.

    1. That man is to have rule and dominion over the earth justifies the notion that what can be done should be done.

    2. Many have suggested that the problem is not technological, but philosophical. The Judeo-Christian heritage of the West must be abandoned.

  3. The world views of naturalism and pantheism have been offered as substitutes.

    1. Within the naturalistic world view, the ultimate value is human survival.

      1. Man cannot survive without a healthy planet.

      2. We must act to preserve our planet in order to rescue the future of our children.

      3. This view is ultimately pragmatic.

        1. The value of nature is degraded to the whim of egoistic man.

        2. This view will ultimately be destructive in the long run.

    2. In the pantheistic world view, all of nature is equal because all is god and god is all.

      This thinking will be prevalent among New Age enthusiasts.

      1. Nature is respected and valued because it is a part of the essence of god.

      2. We must act to save our planet because it has equal value with man.

      3. But while pantheism elevates nature, it subsequently degrades man and will ultimately degrade nature.

        1. Man has no more value than a blade of grass.

        2. In pantheism, it is the whole of nature that has meaning. The individual particulars of nature do not have intrinsic meaning or value.

        3. Therefore, the will to care about a particular species, for example, is derived only by romanticizing nature.

        4. In practice, pantheism has no answer for the two faces of nature: benevolent and destructive.

  4. The true answer lies in a Christian environmental ethic based on the reality of God as Creator and man as his image-bearer and steward.

    1. God is the Creator of all things. The creation is not part of His essence (Gen. 1, 2; Job 3841; Ps. 19:1, 24:12, 104; Rom. 1:1820; Col. 1:1617).

      1. All of nature is equal in its origin, including man.

      2. Nature has value in and of itself because God created it.

      3. The rock, tree, and cat deserve our respect because God made them to be as they are.

    2. While man is a creature, he is also created in God's image (Gen. 1:2627; Ps. 139:1316).

      1. Man is therefore separated from creation yet related to it.

      2. While a cat is not to be romanticized as though it had human emotions, as Christians we respect it as having value since God made it. The cat's purpose is to glorify its Creator.

      3. Man was given dominion over nature.

        1. Man is not sovereign over the lower orders of creation. He does not own them. They belong to the Lord.

        2. Since man was told to cultivate and keep the garden, we certainly may use nature, but only as God intends (Gen. 2:15). An example is the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:1530). Technology puts nature to man's use, but unnecessary pollution and waste degrades nature.

        3. We are to exercise dominion over nature not as though we are entitled to exploit it, but as something borrowed or held in trust.

©1998 Probe Ministries
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