Use this term around a typical group of Christians and you’re likely to get some extreme and extremely polarized responses. Though 82 percent of the world’s environmental scientists believe human activity is
1/3 of Earth's known species are in danger of extinction.
a significant contributor to global warming, just 34 percent of America’s white evangelicals agree. The level of vitriol in this debate can run high.
Political anger, distrust of the scientific establishment due to decades of perceived “faith versus science” battling in the public square and debacles like Climate-gate—where leading scientists were caught fudging data to be more sympathetic toward the theory of human-caused global warming—add to the furor. Like a big green line drawn in the sand, Christians are picking sides.
Is it possible to find some common ground where believers of varying opinions can stand together regarding creation care? Can Christians agree on environmental stewardship without fighting about former vice presidents, ice caps or apocalyptic movies?
Why Creation Care Matters
Though there may be debate about the causes of climate change and humanity’s role in it, there’s a core concept in which all believers need to agree. Scripture’s creation narrative clearly points to God as the maker of all things. Nestled in the creation account is a clear mandate for humankind: to “rule over” the created world (Genesis 1:26-28) and to “work it” and “take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). This task of stewardship involves wisely using and preserving earth’s abundant resources in a manner that reflects God’s character.
Clearly given a special place in the created order as image-bearers of God, humankind is in a sense “above” plant and animal life but, as science clearly demonstrates, is never separate from it. “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1).
God’s created world is designed to function in intricate and interrelated systems; humans must drink the earth’s water and breathe its air; humans grow crops in the earth’s soil and consume animals living in the earth’s diverse ecosystems. This is how God designed life to exist; along with all the created life on this planet, humankind is the Lord’s. This is the starting point for discussion and is a foundational reason that Christians with varying opinions on the science of climate change must agree that creation care matters.