Is God a greenie?

Whose side are you on: the loggers or the greenies? Conservation has become a major political issue. The Green Independents hold the balance of power in the Tasmanian government. As Christians, where should we stand on this issue? Is there a distinctive Christian point of view?

Two competing principles

The Bible presents two competing principles: Creation and New Creation. We shall see how each bears on conservation.

God created this world: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Ps 24:1). Furthermore, God originally gave us responsibility to look after it. It is wrong to abuse it, spoil it or mutilate it needlessly.

The conservationists have drawn attention to the fact that we are ruining our world. For too long, we have chased profits with no regard for the environment we all live in. Dollars have been our goal, regardless of the in-disposable waste created. Short-term gain has won out over the long-term wellbeing of the community. Now our sins are catching up with us—in the harbour, on the beaches and in the air we breathe.

Conservationists are saying that we simply can’t go on living like this. This is what God has always said.

It is possible to see in some sorts of pollution the judgement of God on the self-centredness of our society in the sense that he has allowed us to reap the reward of our greed.

I’m no animal

However, conservationists are doing much more than combating pollution. There is the question of endangered species. Among some conservationists, there is a belief that we have no more right to exist than any other animal. This idea stems from Darwin’s theory of evolution. It argues that since people, animals and plants are all part of the same evolutionary process, they are all equally worthy of existence.

Scripture disagrees. People are unique. God gave people the role of ruling over the other animals. God blessed people, and commanded them to subdue the earth. God gave them the plants for food. People are more valuable than animals or plants, so while we may be happy to “save the whales”, we must also remember that people are more important than whales.

New Creation

The second principle in the Bible is completely missed by conservationists. It is the principle of God’s New Creation.

Although this world is God’s, it is temporary: “For this world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor 7:31). It is flawed as a result of man’s sinfulness. God’s plan is to start again. He is going to renew the universe. Evil, suffering, tears and death will be no more. And this is not all in the future; he has already put the plan into action by sending his Son to die for sin so that forgiveness of sins is available now. We can become part of the New Creation now by accepting Christ.

For a Christian, these realities of eternity must overshadow the realities of this world. Our concern for the welfare of this planet, as valid as it is, must pale into insignificance beside our concern to see people recreated in Christ. Saving people is more important than saving whales.

We must walk the tightrope

I can’t become a fully-fledged conservationist; that would mean devoting too much of my time to a world that is passing away. My major concern must be seeing people become one with Christ. So my overriding concern must be to proclaim Christ.

Yet I must not be totally anti-conservationist either. This is God’s world. The forests are his, the mountains are his, the seas are his; I share a responsibility with the rest of mankind to manage the planet well—for the good of all people.

When it comes to logging, I am against any logging that needlessly destroys forests. But I am for logging that is necessary to enable people to communicate with one another on paper. I am for the loggers themselves. As fellow humans created by God, they must be treated with compassion and respect. Same with the greenies!

Like so many issues, we must take a balanced position. We must walk the tightrope, guided by the principles in God’s word.

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