Christians don’t care about the environment, or so it is thought. To whatever extent this is true, it makes no sense. For Christians, the “environment” is the handiwork of God. If this is right, then humans and other living things are creatures within God’s creation. The story of scripture tells us God created the world, then created humanity from the stuff of the world, and called it all good, delighting in it. The poetic imagery is that God breathed into the dirt, giving us shape and life. It depicts a relationship of craft, care, intimacy, connectedness.
In the biblical view, human beings, who depend on the creation for life—needing water, air and food—are even crafted from it. Whatever the role humans are supposed to play in our world, right action for Christians will stem from the knowledge that we are but one part of creation and are dependent upon it for life. Real humility in our powerful technological age has to start with ecological humility.
If people of faith allow this biblical vision to inform our lives, then Christianity, instead of posing a threat to ecological health, can stand as a resource for its cultivation. As I write this, mountains are being blown to bits not too far from here for their coal, there are toxic levels of mercury in our fish, water sources are being poisoned from our irresponsible disposal of chemicals, and most troubling of all, our earth is warming from our rampant burning of fossil fuels. The consequences of human action are severe in their destructiveness of the creation of which we are members.
For those whose goal is to “love your neighbor as yourself,” this environmental degradation becomes even more important because it hurts poor and marginalized people the most—destroying places, particularly in rural areas and the developing world, and the communities and economies tied to them. We must find ways to live differently and pursue policy that will facilitate wholeness in the broadest sense.
Today one of the leaders of the creation care movement, Rev. Richard Cizik, will be visiting campus. Cizik is the president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, and an internationally known evangelical leader. Cizik will shed light on why Christians care about protecting the environment. As he says, “It’s time we return to being people known for our love and care of the earth and our fellow human beings.” As a Christian, I believe it is imperative that people of faith acknowledge their place within the creation and develop vision, convictions, and action stemming from this knowledge. Cizik will explore how and why Christians can do this.
David Swanson, Divinity ’14
Co-Convener, Creation Matters