Just two months after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, an international evangelical forum sought in August to iron out the wrinkles in their own approach to caring for the planet. Their effort comes on the heels of two other influential gatherings that evangelical leaders attended recently in Washington.

The conference, “Evangelical Christianity and the Environment,” drew 60 people from five continents to the Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies in northern Michigan. Cosponsored by Au Sable and the World Evangelical Fellowship, the forum was heavy on theologians and scholars. It also included youth workers, a rain forest-restoration volunteer, a forest ranger, and high-ranking government officials from the U.S. and Great Britain.

The leaders said the secular environmental movement reveals a deep spiritual hunger that evangelicals can respond to—if they take a fresh look at the Bible. “The forum was the first worldwide meeting of evangelical Christians to work seriously on the relationship between faith and caring for the creation,” said Calvin DeWitt, Au Sable director.

Reclaiming A Biblical Heritage

Paper after paper noted variations on the same theme: Evangelicals need to reclaim their ancient biblical teaching that God is Creator and Redeemer. “The Earth is the Lord’s. [Christ] is before all things, and in him all things hold together,” said the summarizing committee report.

Those at Au Sable noted that Rio demonstrated the appeal of such a concept of a force holding all things together. The Gaia hypothesis, a theory many scientists take seriously, goes beyond understanding the Earth, or its living creatures, as forming an interconnected system to say that Earth acts like a “superorganism.” Popularizers who seek ...

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