Principles of land ownership for Christians
Thu, 20 Jun 1996 16:48:01 EST

In a regular attempt to put my creation stewardship beliefs into action, I have
been honing a set of principles of land ownership for Christians that is
consistent with science and biblical Christianity. I don't believe I have
put them into this forum. In the light of our discussion on Christian
environmental ethics (not exactly a barn burner!) I thought it would be apropos to put them out for a critique. Are these scientifically and theologically
sound in your opinion?

Principles of Land Ownership for Christians

by Dean Ohlman

1. Being created in God's image, I have a wonderful capacity to utilize
the land for great benefit -- for His glory. Yet I do not truly own the land;
it belongs to God. I am the steward of God's property.

2. God expects me to use the land to meet not only my needs, but also
the needs of its other inhabitants and those who will be its stewards after
me when I am gone.

3. If the previous tenants abused the land, I should consider doing all I
can to restore it to its highest purpose for the glory of God.

4. If I deliberately diminish or destroy the land's capacity to fulfill God's
purposes as I have come to know them, there is a good possibility I am
acting sinfully. One of those purposes is for the land and all that is on it
to offer up praise to God. I must always ask if I am diminishing the land's
capacity to praise its Lord and Creator.

5. I must recognize that the land is a vital part of a vast ecosystem that
keeps all land healthy and productive. If I alter its function and nature
without careful consideration of its impact, I am acting sinfully

6. I have a responsibility to care for the living things that occupy the
land. If I act without considering their needs, I am acting sinfully.
Remaining ignorant to excuse irresponsible behavior is not Christian.

7. I have a responsibility to treat the sojourners on the land with care
and respect -- both people and animals.

8. I must not knowingly use the land in a manner that diminishes my
neighbor's land and/or his livelihood.

9. As much as I can control the factors, I have no right to deliberately
foul the air that passes over the land or the water that passes through or
under it.

10. I recognize that no use of the land is fully sustainable, but
understanding my responsibility to consider future generations and to
avoid wastefulness, I must seek to keep the level of matter and energy
loss on the land at a minimum.

11. While the idea of the formal Sabbath seems to apply specifically to
Israel in the Old Testament, there appears to be a Sabbath principle that
goes back to the Genesis mandates regarding the need to cease work --
for our personal benefit and the benefit of the land. Land must not be
pressed beyond its capacity to remain fruitful.

12. I must never let the land become a god to me. It is not the land I
worship, but its Creator. My stay on the land is brief; my stay with the
Creator is eternal.

"The true possession of anything is to see and feel in it what God made it
for, and the uplifting of the soul by that knowledge is the joy of true
-George MacDonald

Dean Ohlman
Cornerstone College