I’m reposting this from 2010 in light of my current series called “Going Green.” -JB
I’m an “environmentalist” — but of a certain kind. I’m a Christian whose worldview holds that the earth is God’s good creation and human beings were created in the image of the wise, creative, caring God who gave us the responsibility to be good stewards of the planet we call home. When we trash the earth we dishonor God. When we care for the earth we obey and honor it’s Creator. Thus, I have no problem with the Green movement per se. We need to listen to their pleas and make necessary lifestyle changes in order to foster more sustainable living habits, etc.
Yet, unlike the spiritual world of the movie Avatar, Christians do not worship the environment, make it our number one obsession or turn it into a full fledged religion. A dictionary definition of “religion” does not necessarily require supernatural belief in a particular god. An anthropological definition of religion at it’s core refers to any “pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.” Religions deal with the beliefs and convictions about such ultimate issues as the origins of the world, the meaning of human existence, the problems evil, the right way of living, and some pathway toward salvation. (See video below). How many of these elements are present in the ethos of environmentalism?
I firmly believe we were created with the impulse to worship something. If we don’t serve the true God as Lord, we will find some other object, person, purpose, or cause to invest our souls in — whether it be our career, our relationships, our children, our hobbies or some noble socio-political cause. The Bible calls this “idolatry.” To paraphrase Tim Keller: Idolatry happens when we turn good things into ultimate things.
In this video best-selling author Michael Crichton uses his background in anthropology to explain why he believes environmentalism is based more on religion than science. Do you agree? And how do you think the church ought to respond to the popular green movement?