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  1. Should Christians Be Environmentalists? - Christian Research Institute
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  3. About Matthew J. Tuininga
  4. Should Christians Be Environmentalists?

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As Christian environmental activists, we may at times become preoccupied with personal frustrations and anxieties concerning our planet rather than sharing selflessly in the suffering of Christ. Activism can then revolve around our vision, our eagerness to fight against government inaction, our acts of service, and our hours spent in advocacy.

In advocating for concrete socio-political action through a Christ-centered lens, Christians must first and foremost demonstrate our respect for life and our love for the Earth.

Should Christians Be Environmentalists? - Christian Research Institute

It's much simpler to examine the issue of automobile pollution and global warming. Let's begin by looking at some statistics for the emission of carbon dioxide CO2 , which is the pollutant of concern in the "What Would Jesus Drive? According to the Energy Information Administration of the U. Department of Energy, total rail, car, truck and boat transportation in the U.

Motor gasoline accounted for 60 percent of these emissions. Thus, motor gasoline accounted for Also according to the Department of Energy, the emission of CO2 that can be accounted to residences amounted to 21 percent of the U. Thus, the emission of CO2 required to operate residences was slightly higher than that emitted by motor gasoline. This poses interesting practical and theological questions for the "What Would Jesus Drive? If driving a particular car denies the Lordship of Christ, do we also deny Christ by taking a hot shower, burning wood in a fireplace, using electrical lights at night, switching on an air conditioner or heater, cooking meals and using machines to wash and dry clothes and to mow the lawn?

After all, these and other routine residential activities collectively cause more CO2 emission than gasoline fueled vehicles. Conservation reduces petroleum imports, saves money, and reduces air pollution. In short, conservation is responsible stewardship of the environment and it makes practical sense. But its effect on global warming is less certain.

Although a growing number of scientists believe the increasing amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is the major impetus behind global warming, the issue is not yet settled. Other natural cycles may also be playing a role. Deforestation and other land use changes contribute to warming. Towns and cities and the roads that connect them form heat islands that cause significant local and even regional warming. Scientists are especially uncertain about the global warming roles of water vapor, clouds and particles in the atmosphere.

Water vapor is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. If the atmosphere were devoid of the warm air trapped by water vapor, the Earth would be so cold that the oceans would be frozen.

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Warm air can hold more water vapor than cool air. Increasing the water vapor in the atmosphere can trap more heat, thus increasing temperature. On the other hand, increasing the water vapor can also increase cloud cover, which reduces the solar irradiance that increases the temperature. The interactions of these poorly understood mechanisms contribute to the uncertainty of global warming models.

So does the presence of particles in the atmosphere, which can either reflect sunlight a cooling effect or absorb it a warming effect. The melting of glaciers is powerful evidence that the Earth is indeed warming. Or is it? Since the glacier has retreated some 7. It seems only logical to blame the retreat of a massive glacier on global warming, but checking the temperature record suggests something else must be at work.

So why is the giant glacier receding? Major sources of soot include agricultural fires around the world, coal-burning power plants in China, cooking fires in India, and massive forest fires in Alaska, Canada and Russia.

The smoke from these fires is clearly visible in NASA satellite images. The possible role of soot in melting glaciers might someday be viewed as a major discovery, particularly if it explains the melting of glaciers, such as Bering Glacier, in the absence of any warming trends.

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Job tells his accusers that people can learn from animals Sometimes God used animals for specific and unusual purposes. When God instructed the prophet Elijah to go into hiding, He used ravens to bring him food 1 Kings —5. Animals even accompanied Jesus during His temptation in the wilderness Mark And, strangest of all, in the account of Balaam and his donkey, it was the donkey—not Balaam—that saw the angel sent to prevent Balaam from doing evil Num. Then the poor among your people may get food from it and the wild animals may eat what they leave.

Here we see instructions to preserve breeding populations of animals harvested for human consumption. Had this injunction been followed throughout human history, there would be fewer endangered species today. God is equally concerned that people treat domesticated animals humanely. After the prophet warned the Ninevites that they would be destroyed in forty days unless they repented, the king of Nineveh decreed that not only the people, but domestic animals fast and be covered with sackcloth Jonah —8.

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God requires humane treatment for wild and domesticated animals. It recounts how God carefully prepared nature to support plant and animal life. It speaks of forest animals and sea life, of wild donkeys and wild goats, of birds, cattle, hyraxes, and lions. Psalm reveals that all of these creatures depend on God for food and shelter—indeed, for the very breath of life:.

Why does God express such heartfelt and earnest concern for nonhuman life? Nature and nonhuman life belong to God Ps. In terms of purely physical creation, human beings are no different than other animals; we also depend on a healthy physical environment in order to survive. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. This is only half the biblical story, however. As we saw, the Bible also reveals that people have an exalted position in creation. In order to understand the relationship that exists between people and the rest of created life, it must be understood that the human race has a dual position in nature.

Although Homo sapiens are one of countless millions of created life forms, we are unique and special to God Ps. Only people were created in His image Gen. Being created in the divine image is to be endowed with responsibilities.

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This truth is important to understand in terms of developing a theology of nature. God ordained mankind to be stewards over nature and nonhuman life; we are to have the same loving concern for nature that God does. Before we explore biblical stewardship, we need to examine a controversial passage in Genesis.

It appears to contradict my assertion that God has not given the human race carte blanche to use nature as they choose without any regard for other created life. Critics almost universally use this passage to support their claim that the Bible promotes an exploitive attitude toward nature. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Does this passage allow—even encourage—people to misuse nature if it benefits humanity? The closest related passages to Genesis —28 are found in Genesis chapter 2. This chapter provides additional details about the creation of the first man and woman and the physical environment in which they lived. The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man — Genesis —8 relates that God created a garden in Eden and placed Adam, the first man, in it.

Only later, after these events occurred, did God create Eve, the first woman 21— How do we know this?

Should Christians Be Environmentalists?

The so-called dominion instructions were given to both Adam and Eve Gen. Thus, since Eve was created after Adam was placed in the garden—and before their banishment from Eden chap. Why is this important? The natural environment in which Adam and Eve lived before the Fall was a paradise. It was free of thorns, thistles, and ferocious animals.