Environmental Discipleship (Pt 1)

In an age of global warming, Kyoto debate, and environmental policy, many Christians find themselves unsure how to respond. Who is telling the truth about the effect of carbon emissions, deforestation, and so on? What is the environmental responsibility of a disciple of Jesus?

Authentic Christian faith requires ecological obedience.

Ecological Obedience

Steven Bouma-Prediger tackles this topic in For the Beauty of the Earth: a Christian vision for creation care. His central thesis is that authentic Christian faith requires ecological obedience. What is our ecology? Working through various words (environment, nature, creation), he settles on the term “earth” to designate the realm that God has created and that man is responsible for.

We care for only what we love. We love only what we know. We truly know only what we experience.

We Love What We Know

He explores various spheres of earthly responsibility–lakes, mountains, forests–noting in striking detail the sheer creativity of God. The Blue Creek National Park in Belize contains over 3,300 different species of birds! In Costa Rica alone there are 550 species of butterflies. Lavish! But do we care? He notes: “We care for only what we love. We love only what we know. We truly know only what we experience.” So true. So here’s some knowledge for you:

  • Deforestation rates equal the elimination of one state of Indiana a year.
  • The hungry of our world fit 18 times around the equator.
  • 11% of birds and mammals are threatened by extinction.
  • Only 53% of the global population has potable water.
  • The hottest 14 years of recent history have been since 1980.

Scientific debate is not over whether or not the earth is warming up, but how much and how fast it will accelerate and what the consequences will be. Add to this population boom, waste production, loss of biodiversity, energy misuse, and water scarcity and we have a problem. The earth is not being cared for adequately. It is groaning.