Biblically understood, "the environment" is actually part of God's creation, of which human beings are also a part. So why should we care for all of God's creation?
- Christ died to reconcile all of creation to God (Col. 1:20).
- All of creation belongs to Jesus (Col. 1:16; Ps. 24:1).
- It fulfills the Great Commandments to love God and love what God loves. (It's hard to love a child with asthma when you're filling her lungs with pollution.)
- Pollution hurts the poor the most, and Christians are called to care for the poor and the less powerful (Mt. 25:37-40).
Thus, caring for all of creation provides a Christian with the deepest sense of joy and contentment since it is part of loving God. We call this "creation-care."
What is "creation-care"?
Creation-care means caring for all of God's creation by stopping and preventing activities that are harmful (e.g. air and water pollution, species extinction), and participating in activities that further Christ's reconciliation of all of creation to God. Doing creation-care fills us with the joy that only comes from doing the will of God.
What about nature worship?
As a biblically orthodox Christian organization EEN totally rejects nature worship and pantheism. Nothing is clearer in Scripture: we are to worship only the Creator - never His creation. There is only one God in three Persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - to whom all praise, glory, and honor are to be given. EEN's Evangelical Declaration puts it well: "Our creating God is prior to and other than creation, yet intimately involved with it, upholding each thing in its freedom, and all things in relationships of intricate complexity. God is transcendent, while lovingly sustaining each creature; and immanent, while wholly other than creation and not to be confused with it."
At the same time that we condemn nature worship, we must not let our zeal to avoid idolatry prevent us from our biblical call to care for all of creation. Indeed, one cannot fully worship the Creator and at the same time destroy His creation, which was brought into being to glorify him. Worshiping the Creator and caring for creation is all part of loving God. They are mutually reinforcing activities. It is actually unbiblical to set one against the other.
How are we to treat non-human creation? Are not people more important?
Our relationship to the rest of creation is to be based on God's relationship to it and how God wants us to behave towards it. The Bible proclaims that in the beginning God blessed the rest of creation and called it good (Gen. 1:20-25; 31). It exists to praise and glorify Him (e.g. Ps. 19:1-6). Christ sustains all of creation and died to reconcile all of creation to God (Heb. 1:3; Col 1:16, 20). In Christ's future Kingdom the rest of creation will be transformed into a new earth (Rev. 21:1). Thus, the Bible clearly teaches that God values the rest of creation tremendously.
At the same time the Bible also proclaims that human beings have a special role and a special responsibility in God's creation since they are created in God's image and have free will. Human beings are called to care for the rest of God's creation, not abuse or destroy it.
Good economic stewardship has a significant overlap with good environmental stewardship. God created us to depend on the rest of his creation for our material existence, for the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and the raw materials we use for everything else. Creation includes the natural environment, the built environment (including our houses and cities and economies), and all the creatures that depend on those environments. We’re charged with safeguarding the fruitfulness and productivity of creation for all its inhabitants, including people.
It is clear from Scripture that God plan and providence allow resources for people and for the rest of God’s creation. We are hard pressed to think of an irresolvable conflict between human needs and care for the rest of creation. The power of God's grace, combined with human creativity and intelligence and our responsibility to fulfill the task of creation-care, provides us with the capability to find peaceful resolutions to what appear to be serious unavoidable conflicts with the rest of creation. (There are clearly conflicts between unlimited human wants and careful stewardship of God’s creation.) Furthermore, environmental problems that harm the rest of creation usually harm human beings as well (e.g. air pollution). Thus, the task of creation-care is part of loving one's neighbor, loving what God loves, and therefore loving God.
What is the Evangelical Environmental Network, or EEN?
EEN is a biblically based ministry dedicated to the care of God's creation. EEN is made up of both individual members who believe in and support our vital ministry and major evangelical organizations who work with EEN to help equip, educate, disciple, network, and mobilze the church for the care of God's creation.
My church has not considered creation care before. What should I do?
Take time to learn as much about creation care as possible before you get started. If your church follows a typical small group format, try and find ways to get a conversation started at your church through an evening teaching seminar or a private or church sponsored small group. Be sure to let us know so we can be praying with you as you discern your next steps.