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Christian Stewarship of Their Environment


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Christians and Stewardship of Their Environment 1. Introduction Our earthly habitat is not an unexpected occurrence of little worth, but rather, it is one to be highly valued and preserved. The biblical doctrine of creation helps the Christian to understand the true significance of the world in order to deal with the environmental crisis. The Bible says, “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited…” (King James Version, Isaiah 45:18). In Christian teaching, God not only created Heavens and Earth, but expressed His delight in His creation. This creation meant, everything encompassing the trees, the rivers and all kinds of elements that go into preserving the environment (Genesis 1:31). Therefore, the destruction of the environment is against God’s will. The main problem in the stewardship model is the fall of mankind into a state of sin and depravity (Genesis 3). As a result of the fall, we are in rebellion against God. We no longer act as the stewards we ought to be regarding the earth and its resources. Therefore, we tend towards exploitation and abuse. In addition, the earth has been cursed as a result of the fall (Romans 8:20; Genesis 3:17-18). Action Institute expressed it this way; “Nature now produces floods, fires, earthquakes, weeds, and crop destroying insects (“A Biblical Perspective on Environmental Stewardship”). This makes proper stewardship even more difficult; we are not only fighting our natural tendency to exploit and abuse, but also fighting against an earth that is cursed (Genesis 3:17). 2. The Earth and Everything in it Belongs to the Lord The earth is God’s creation and man is His steward over His creation. According to the Merriam Web Dictionary, the primary definition of a steward is “one who actively directs affairs: manager”) (“Merriam-Webster Dictionary”). This concept of stewardship is clearly seen in the first book of the bible. And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth”. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (King James Version, Genesis 1:26-28).

God created the heavens and the earth and now he has created man in his own image and given him the authority to have dominion over the animal kingdom and the authority to subdue the earth.

Figure 1. Genesis (meaning “beginning”) was written by Moses and records the stories. According to Genesis one, after creating the land, God calls the Earth “good” (Genesis 1:10). In other words, the life-sustaining habitats are indeed good, and should be so considered by all Christians. God fills the habitats by calling into existence the great forests, plants, and fruit trees, and then calls this vegetation “good” (Genesis 1:12). It is necessary, therefore, for us today to consider our forests as “good” and valuable, and to care properly for them. Later the Genesis account describes God as filling the sea basin habitats with aquatic creatures of all kinds, and the atmospheric environment with birds, all pronounced “good” (Genesis 1:20-25). God completes the work of filling the land environment by creating animals and by His crowning work, the creation of human beings who display His image (Genesis 1:26). God declares all of these to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31). 3. The Earth and Everything in it Belongs to the Lord We need to recognize our standing as stewards. God, as Creator, owns the earth. “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it” (King James Version, Psalm 24:1). That means we do not have the right to do with the earth as we see fit. We cannot exploit the land and suck it dry of all of its natural resources. To be a steward is to manage the property of another; that means to care for it and use it properly, not exploit or abuse the resources of the master. On the other hand, we are not to revere or worship the earth as God’s creation to the point where we fail to “subdue” it. God commands us to have dominion over the animal kingdom and to subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28). Pro-environmental groups like Deep Ecology believe that humans have an obligation to themselves and the environment as well. They believe that all forms of life have the right to exist, and that humans aren't any different from other species. They basically say that humans are equal to other species. (“Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy”). This is the sin that Saint Paul refers to: “Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever” (King James Version, Romans 1:25). Just as it is a sin to ruthlessly exploit the earth and its resources for greedy gain, so too is it a sin to revere the earth as an object of worship. We must walkout a balance between worship and exploitation, and that is where the stewardship model comes in. The stewardship model sees the earth as a blessed gift from God for the advancement and nurturing of human life. It is clear from the creation narrative that God created the earth for a purpose, and that purpose was to serve as a home for his divine image bearers. God commanded mankind to “fill the earth and subdue it” (King James Version, Genesis 1:28). To subdue the earth is to exert control over it, to make it yield to our will. However, this must be done responsibly and with thanksgiving to God who provides it all - it is his planet, after all. Failure to use the resources of the earth irresponsibly improperly is a sin. 4. Summary The Genesis narrative provides environmentally significant insight with its instructions to the first human pair: “God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (King James Version, Genesis 1:28). Human beings were to “rule” over the subhuman world in the same loving, tender, faithful way as God ruled over human beings. Moreover, God Himself planted a garden and gave it to Adam and Eve with the environmental instruction “to dress [or to maintain, cultivate] it and to keep it [to be good steward]” (King James Version, Genesis 2:25). Here is what we might call the very first Environmental Protection Act, stated by God Himself. This kind of care was appropriate not only for the garden, but also for the wider world. Because the first pair serves as the example in God’s Word for all succeeding generations, all human beings are in some sense to be “keepers of the garden,” that is. Good stewards of our planet home. Work Cited Brennan, Andrew and Lo, Yeuk-Sze, "Environmental Ethics", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), Image of God Creating Earth. Web. John C Bregston, Principle of Environmental Ethics, University of Georgia. Web. Oct. 12, 2012 Holy Bible, King James Version “Steward” The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, 11 ed. 2011 print OUTLINE

Thesis: The earth is God’s creation and man is his steward over His creation

1. Introduction

2. The Earth and Everything in it Belongs to the Lord

3. Christian and Environmental Stewardship

4. Summary

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