We have no need to protect natural resources in light of the imminent return of Jesus Christ–did you know that evangelical Christians believe that?
Except that we don’t.
Upon receiving the Global Environment Citizen Award from Harvard Medical School in 2004, Bill Moyers claimed that James Watt expressed this view to the U.S. Congress. Watt was President Reagan’s first Secretary of the Interior and a conservative Christian.
Moyers later apologized for passing along this falsehood, but it’s just a recent incarnation of a persistent myth that can be traced back to 1967 when Lynn White, Jr. wrote an article in Science magazine called “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis.” In it, he argued that Christians have to shoulder the blame for environmental problems because our theology is hostile toward the natural order.
As Austin celebrates Earth Day 2016 this weekend, it’s a good time for believers to emphasize “creation care,” as we call it. Oh, evangelicals will differ with certain environmental groups that deify the environment or elevate other species above human beings who are made in the image of God. We even differ with each other on the contentious issue of climate change. But, as the late Charles Colson once urged the press, don’t miss the bigger story: “Evangelicals of all stripes agree that caring for the environment is our Christian duty. And articulating this care is an important part of a Christian worldview.”
True, this hasn’t been an issue on the front burner. We’ve been a little busy what with human trafficking, clean water initiatives, disaster relief, religious liberty, right-to-life efforts, to name a few. But creation care is on the list, too. As evangelical environmentalist Calvin DeWitt said, “There’s been about three decades of a creation theology and a creation-care theology that is really coming into its fruition.” He added, “The biblical theology comes from re-examining texts that are very well known but haven’t been applied in recent years. These include things like the expectation that people will serve the garden and keep it [Genesis 2:15].”
So, learn how to be good stewards of this earth God has entrusted to us. It’s part of our life’s calling!