Many supposedly crucial social issues are really medium-size problems blown up by opportunists. Concern for our environment is not just one of these inflated issues. Though it, too, may represent ego investment for some, the issue itself is real and great. There can be no mistaking that our planet is dying. It is a matter not of if but of when. Everyone suffers from the problem, and everyone shares the blame.

From a Christian perspective, we might ask: So what? It isn’t God’s plan that man inhabit the earth indefinitely anyway. Let’s satisfy ourselves with preaching the Gospel of redemption, which will save people from the wrath to come. There is no hope for the good green earth created by God, so why bother? Forget it. This fatalism, coupled with something of a resurgence of “easy believism,” now crops up in the Jesus-people movement.

God in his ultimate judgment upon the earth may indeed use the instrument of environmental disaster of one kind or another. But we are not certain from his Word that he will take this route. Even if he were to do so, he would hardly ask us to help by being indifferent. The wrath of God will be visited upon earth in his own time and in his own way, and it will come in spite of man’s efforts rather than because of them.

In the meantime, our mandate is to preserve life. This was of the very essence of the Incarnation. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, to kill, to destroy; I have come that men may have life, and may have it in all its fullness” (John 10:10, NEB). To fail to respect life and all other environmental resources is to demean creation and to violate biblical principles of stewardship.

What is the basic problem in the environmental ...

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