Christian Environmentalism: 2 Perspectives

The first comes from Pastor Rob Bell who outlined his stance in an interview titled, “Rob Bell Tells it Like It Is”, from the January/February issue of Relevant Magazine,

Relevant Magazine: Why do you think so many Christians are now embracing this style of living? What is it about faith that lends itself toward being environmentally conscious?

Bell: Well, for our community, this isn’t rooted in the fact that it’s gaining steam in popular culture. It’s always been rooted in the very nature of God. The central Hebrew prayer, Deuteronomy 6, says, “Hear O Israel the Lord your God, the Lord is One,” so we live with awareness that all of reality is one. We are connected with all things everywhere, and I would argue that in the last couple hundred years, disconnection has been the dominant way people have understood reality.

And the Church has contributed to that disconnection by preaching horrible messages about being left behind and that this place is going to burn–absolutely toxic messages that are against the teachings of Scripture, which state that we are connected to God, we are connected to the earth, we are connected to each other. When any of those connections fracture, the whole thing starts to fall apart. Your relationship with God is tied into your relationship with the soil. Go back to Genesis. There are essentially four dimensions to shalom, which is God’s intention for all creation: peace and shalom with our Maker, with each other, with ourselves and with the earth. They’re intimately linked from the beginning. Over and over again [in Scripture], the relationship with God is lived out in relationship with each other and the soil. Nothing we’re saying is actually new at all; it just got lost along the way. The only reason somebody isn’t sensitive to the earth or the care of the earth is because their wealth or their indifference has essentially isolated them.

Here is the other perspective, from Pastor John MacArthur,

So I believe we are charged to treat responsibly all the wonderful resources God has given us. But that, in fact, has very little to do with the environmental movement. The environmental movement is consumed with trying to preserve the planet forever. But we know that isn’t in God’s plan.

The earth we inhabit is not a permanent planet. It is, frankly, a disposable planet—it is going to have a very short life. It’s been around six thousand years or so—that’s all—and it may last a few thousand more. And then the Lord is going to destroy it.

I’ve told environmentalists that if they think humanity is wrecking the planet, wait until they see what Jesus does to it. Peter says God is going to literally turn it in on itself in an atomic implosion so that the whole universe goes out of existence (2 Peter 3:7-13).

This earth was never ever intended to be a permanent planet—it is not eternal. We do not have to worry about it being around tens of thousands, or millions, of years from now because God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth. Understanding those things is important to holding in balance our freedom to use, and responsibility to maintain, the earth.

Just a footnote. Though this earth is our temporary home, do take time to enjoy God’s beauty. Take care of your yard. Stop to smell the flowers. Enjoy the forests. God placed those rich resources on this planet for our comfort and His enjoyment. Let us be thankful to Him for that.

(from “Evangelicalism and the Environmental Movement”)

If I read this correctly, according to Bell, Johnny Mac’s words are “absolutely toxic” because well MacArthur points out that yes this earth is going to be laid waste.

The concern perhaps should not be on whether a teaching is “absolutely toxic” but is it Biblically tenable? A cursory look at 2 Peter 3:10-12 actually shows that MacArthur is correct.

“Absolutely toxic” the man’s conclusions might be, but then one will have to extend the same courtesy to the Apostle Peter from whom he got the idea.

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5 Responses to Christian Environmentalism: 2 Perspectives

  1. Guna says:

    What Rob Bell is teaching is what Hindu’s believe. That we are ‘part’ and ‘related’ to our surroundings, just as we are part of the universe, and part of the ‘One’.
    this is just a hallmark of emergent mysticism.

    funny how he says so much about scripture but doesn’t give a single verse to substantiate.

    i hope his teachings don’t get a big a following as his spectacles do. ;)

  2. Paul says:

    “The earth is the Lord’s…” Psalm 24:1
    When God created the world He said it was good. He didn’t say, “Go ahead and make a mess of it.” How would you feel if you had a neighbor come over and trash your house? People may be protecting God’s creation for the wrong reasons (ie. new age drivel) that doesn’t mean they aren’t doing the right thing for GOD’s creation. The argument that God is going to destroy it anyway is silly. The same is true for our bodies. Does that mean that smoking is OK? After all God is going to give me a new body.

  3. Laz says:

    Paul,
    Thanks for the comment but I don’t believe that MacArthur is advocating trashing our planet. Just read the first sentence I quoted.

    Indulge my curiosity, did you read what he wrote?

  4. Paul says:

    Laz,
    Yes I did read what MacArthur wrote. Maybe it was his use of the term “disposable” that bothered me. I also hear him say we should enjoy creation but I didn’t hear him say we should care for it either.

  5. Laz says:

    Paul,
    Here’s Johnny Mac’s first sentence,

    So I believe we are charged to treat responsibly all the wonderful resources God has given us.

    I don’t know what else he can say…

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