In recent years, extreme environmentalism has taken center stage in the public discourse, with numerous overly-impassioned voices calling for a radical reevaluation of our relationship with the natural world, as though the future of humanity is solely dependent upon “Mother Earth.” Among those who place their hope in creation rather than the Creator are various so-called “Christian” groups that exist for the sole purpose of advancing an ideal consistent with Pagan Earth worship, demonstrating their radical environmentalism through extremist conduct ranging from tree-sitting, illegal sabotage of logging operations, to locking themselves up in streets public streets to block traffic and even advocating for population control measures to reduce humanity’s impact on the planet.
While biblical environmental stewardship is an important responsibility, even for Christians, we must approach the issue with discernment and balance, lest we fall into the trap of an obsessive attitude that undermines the sovereignty of God over Creation and humanity’s exceptionalism within it. Drawing from Scripture, we should engage in a robust and multi-faceted discussion of environmental stewardship while remaining grounded in biblical truths. The current trend of environmentalism frequently veers towards an obsessive attitude that is at odds with the biblical emphasis on God’s ultimate control over His creation and the exceptionalism bestowed upon humanity by Him.
Genesis 1:26-28 provides a foundation for our understanding of humanity’s unique position within creation: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'”
The divine mandate given to humanity in these verses illustrates the dual responsibilities we have been entrusted with: exercising stewardship over the earth while acknowledging God’s ultimate sovereignty. However, the current environmental movement often loses sight of these biblical principles, elevating human responsibility to an unsustainable level and ignoring the unique status of humanity within creation.
Psalm 24:1-2 declares, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.” This passage reminds us that, ultimately, God is in control of His creation, and our role as stewards must be viewed in the context of this divine authority.
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Some professing Christians, like those at Biologos, are advancing the agenda of Earth Day, advocating for a greater sense of solidarity with creation, arguing that this will lead to a more profound appreciation for the environment and the need for responsible stewardship. However, this perspective blurs the lines between humanity and the rest of creation, diminishing our unique role and privileged position in God’s plan. Genesis 1:26-28 establishes a clear distinction, as God creates humans in His image and grants them dominion over the earth and its creatures. To conflate our role with that of the environment is to risk losing sight of our exceptional purpose in God’s plan.
Biologos, in a recent article titled Spiritual Practices for Earth Day, calls on Christians to lament how the creation has been mistreated by humanity as a response to environmental degradation. “Lament opens a space for us to name all the wrongs in the world—corporations putting short-term profit over long-term common good, beautiful swaths of forest cut to bare ground, rivers clogged and poisoned, and those in power neglecting their duties to serve all people instead of a select, rich few,” the author writes.
While lament serves an important function in expressing grief in a valid, biblical context, Biologos’s proposed practice only serves to overshadow our ultimate hope and trust in God’s sovereignty. As Christians, our faith in God’s plan for creation should be greater than our despair over the brokenness of the world, whatever that may be, even an exaggerated view of the environmental state of the world. A singular focus on lament minimizes the power and authority of our Creator.
In addition to the pitfalls of excessive lament, the environmentalist movement fosters an inflated sense of human responsibility for the natural world. By doing so, it subtly undermines the biblical truth of God’s sovereignty over His creation. Psalm 104 beautifully illustrates God’s intimate involvement with the natural order: “He sends forth springs in the valleys…He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the labor of man” (Psalm 104:10, 14). The environment is not an autonomous entity separate from God’s control or concern; it is a direct manifestation of His divine will.
Even so, Biologos urges us to “confess” our role in “environmental degradation.” This movement, like many progressive ones, seeks to instill a sense of collective guilt, which can ultimately leads to collective punishment. For example, when a single mass shooter attacks a school and kills innocent children, the left blames society as a whole and then advocates for widespread gun control, which does nothing to address the root cause of individual sin. Similarly, when individuals litter or pollute, the environmental movement likes to hold society collectively responsible, with the ultimate aim of bringing about global change and limiting individual freedoms.
While environmental stewardship is undeniably important in a biblical context, we must approach the issue with discernment and a healthy dose of skepticism toward the more radical claims of the environmentalist movement. By rooting our convictions in biblical truths, only then we can engage in meaningful conversations about the stewardship of our planet while remaining faithful to the divine order established by our Creator. By doing so, we can maintain a balanced perspective that honors both the sovereignty of God and the exceptionalism of humanity, whom he has called to subdue Creation rather than caving to the demands of the environmentalist cult, allowing them and their agenda to subdue humanity.