RE: Environment??

Sweitzer, Dennis (
Thu, 20 Jun 96 11:56:00 EST

>Dennis Sweitzer wrote:
>>The point is is that the Bible (and it's author :-) ) is much more
>>concerned with what we do and how we act, than what we know. To a large
>>degree, the age of the earth is irrelevant to the living our daily lives.
>> On the other hand, creation stewardship does affect everyday life.

Dick Fischer responded
>How many have rejected the truth of the Bible because of what it says about
the environment? Do ... have anti-environmentalist counterparts teaching
our college students to pollute the water and air?

>By all means discuss the issue, but there are some of us whose priorities
might hinge on whether we think it is more important to save souls or
animals and plants.

You're bringing up a third topic. My point was that discussing origens is
largely a academic exercise, without much influence on our everyday lives.
(Not to dismiss it's importance--I've enjoyed the discussion [including
your input! :-) ]).

Care of creation (in contrast to origens of creation) is very much about
living our daily lives--from little habits like running water (i.e., don't
waste it), and the ever annoying "would you like paper or plastic grocery
bags, sir?" (no clear choice, other than those forgotten canvas bags one
always means to take shopping)--to bigger things like choice of car (fuel
efficiency vs. safety vs. cargo capacity vs. fun) or choice of toilet (low
volume is the only responsible choice)--to politics (of course).

Now you're bringing up soul winning as being more important than creation
care-taking, with the implication that creation care-taking is not
important. This is curious to hear (er, read) from you, given all the
energy that you have devoted to the origins issues, instead of soul winning.

I think that those "who have rejected the Bible because of what it says
about the environment" are very rare. However, those who have rejected
Christianity because of what Christians have claimed about environment are
much more common. For instance, Lynn White in "The Historical Roots of the
Ecological Crisis" accussed Christianity of being the most anthropocentric
religion the world has ever seen". We've come a long way since being given
the name "Christian" meaning "little Christ", eh?

My observation is that Evangelicals have been very zealous to avoid
nature-centered environmental ethics, and instead have embraced
wholeheartedly man-centered environmental ethics, regardless of Biblical
teaching. By doing so, we elevate man to King of Creation, and degrade God
to Steward of Creation. By denying the effects of human activity on the
environment (and our responsibility for it), we are counting on God to be a
good steward and clean up after us.

The problem is not that the Gospel has been tried and found wanting. It has
been found hard and not tried.

Regarding "anti-environmental counterparts": "Environmental" has become a
term like "Economic". No one claims to be anti-environmental, anymore than
anyone claims to be anti-economic. For instance, in spite of the
demonstrated negative economic effects of communism, no communist will take
the label of "anti-economic".

Similarly, there are people with anti-environmental agendas, but generally
deny the anti-environmental label. Generally, they acknowledge only
blatently undeniable environmental problems. For instance, they simply say
"Yeah, the Cayuga river should not have been polluted to the point where it
caught fire, but it's cleaned up now and there's no problem", all the while
ignoring the low oxygen levels therein which still render it unfit for fish.

A premire example of Christian anti-environmentalist would have to be Larry
Burkett, based on his book "Whatever happened to the American Dream". Of
course he claims the mantle of stewardship, but never bothers to check the
most elementary facts, is ignorent of basic science, and endlessly claims
conspiracy. (For instance, he claims that most of air pollution
controls--such as catalytic converters and coal power plant scrubbers--are
designed to control carbon dioxide emissions, which is absurd. Catalytic
converters control nitrous oxides & unburned hydrocarbons, and scrubbers
control sulfites, and both cause increased CO2 because of the decrease in

In short, any kind of sloppy scholarship, sophistry, deceipt, etc. that you
find in the origins debate (on either extreme), you will also find in the
environmental debate (on either extreme).

In creation origins, you have one camp denying science in favor of a young
earth, and in the other you have a camp denying God in favor of
materialistic science. And then there is us, figuring out how evidences
from both science and the Bible can be reconciled. And the young earthers
revile us as being unknowingly in league with the devil, and the
materialists revile us as being ignorent anti-scientists.

In creation stewardship, you have one camp valuing nature only as a raw
resource for man's use, and in the opposite camp you have those valuing
nature above humanity. Then there is a wide spectrum in between, but either
camp villifies anyone not in their camp as being of the opposite extreme.

So, is the Earth man's, and the fullness thereof?

Or is the Earth a god, and all that dwell within?

Or is the Earth the Lord's, and everything, the world, and all who live in
it. (Psalm 24:1)

And just as importantly, how then shall we live? After all, anyone can say
that the Earth is the Lord's, but who can live it and how? One's lifestyle
is what determines which camp into which one falls, not one's words.

Grace & peace & expecting responses to respond to,

Dennis Sweitzer