The Bible and Ecology and the Environment
What has the Bible to do with ecology and the environmental crisis? How do the Bible and ecology and our concern for the environment overlap?
Conversation often centres on Genesis chapter 1 where humanity is given "rule" over the Earth. But what does this mean? The rest of the Bible can help us understand.
It certainly does not mean "exploit". We have not properly listened to Genesis 1, getting sidetracked by debates on evolution. Genesis has to do with much more important things.
Photo by Ivan Bandura on Unsplash - used with permission
What Resources Does the Bible Offer
A key resource the Bible offers is if we draw a parallel between "the land" promised to Israel, and the whole of creation. The Israelite nation were taught how to care for their land. For example they were not to over harvest everything. They should leave some for those who were poor. (The book of Ruth is a wonderful story about this.) They were to offer a welcome for strangers. The land was allowed to have a Sabbatical Rest every seven years.
The Promised Land and the Whole of Creation
Since Christ breaks down barriers, what applies in a limited way in some parts of the Bible can now be applied more widely. So what in the Hebrew Scriptures applies to just the Promised Land can now be applied to the whole of creation. Christ is Lord of all. So anything in the Hebrew Scriptures relating to the land can in some way be applied to our planet.
Of course, the laws needs suitable adapting: laws are given for particular people at particular times in particular places; We need to look to the principles behind the Hebrew Scriptures and apply those.
To take one example: the Israelites did not eat pig, in part perhaps because of the health risks at that time. We might adapt this and say for example that we will not consume tuna fish that has not been sustainably fished.
Extinction Rebellion and the Prophets
Other things in the Bible have their place as well. The prophets such as Jeremiah spoke of the destruction of the nation because God's laws were being ignored.
This is very similar to the warnings of Extinction Rebellion who warn that we are going through a great Extinction, on a par with that of the dinosaurs. Maybe Jeremiah, and Ezekiel (who liked to act out his protests) would have been viewed like Extinction Rebellion. Maybe the Bible and Extinction Rebellion are close allies.
The Bible brings light to today's world. (Click on the image to start reading now).
The Bible and Ecology have got a lot to do with each other.
The scriptures thus help us think how to protest and seek to bring change. The Bible and ecology have indeed got a lot to do with each other. The Bible brings light to today's world.
We cannot wash our hands
Hopefully our recent preaching series helped us all grapple with these issues. You can catch up with it on YouTube. The fact we trust in Christ does not mean we can wash our hands of these things, leaving it all in God’s hands: on the contrary, our faith is evidenced by how we care in this world: for people, and for the world.
God created an amazing universe and placed humanity at the centre of it. God wants us to care for it. Extinction Rebellion are speaking deep truth to us, whether or not we agree with their approach.
As we care for the world around, we will find that God is already going before us.