Q. An American evangelical group called the Cornwall Alliance has placed itself in the center of debate over the environment by taking a hard line against green groups. Using the Dominion Mandate — the verse in Genesis about God giving man dominion over all life on Earth — as its chief argument, the Cornwall Alliance is vehemently opposed to environmental groups, which it sees as being un-Christian and pagan, and which it has labeled the “Green Dragon.”
A book by the alliance, “Resisting the Green Dragon: Dominion not Death,” reads in part, “[s]o-called 'natural' or wilderness areas are not hospitable to man, and God does not consider this a good or natural state,” and, “Christians must resist Green overtures to recast true religion, nor allow themselves to be prey for teachers of pagan heresies.” The book is also highly critical of feminism, socialism, Democrats and President Obama.
On the other side of the religious/environmentalist debate is the so-called “Creation Care” movement, a loose band of groups from all religions that actively set out to protect the environment and believe that in doing so, they are saving God's creation. Creation Care has even attracted the attention and support of Lisa Jackson, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Do you believe the Dominion Mandate gives humans the right to do what they want to planet? Or should we be exercising more care and responsibility over God's creation?
The Bible teaches us that “the earth is the Lord's, and all it contains” (1 Corinthians 10:26). God made it all — it’s his. God’s specific charge to Adam and Eve was: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28). God has given humanity a stewardship of what belongs to him. That means we are to take care of Earth and its ecosystems in a manner that reflects respect for his property and love for others whose sustenance and well-being depend upon a properly working natural order. It also means that we are free to enjoy all the good benefits of the earth and its contents.
Wanton disregard for, and careless destruction of, another person’s property is always wrong. We might even call it theft. And it is foolish to mistreat the good things that belong to us. We may rightly apply these principles to how we take care of the environment.
But we mustn’t overly esteem creation, either. It’s not “Mother Nature,” or “Gaia”, it’s the handiwork of our father in heaven through his spirit and his son Jesus Christ. It’s a collection of wonderful things that point us to a more wonderful creator. God has revealed that these current heavens and Earth “will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat” (2 Peter 3:12). But God has also promised to make “a new heaven and a new Earth” afterwards. So even if mankind does its worst to ruin God’s great creation, his purposes will not be thwarted. “According to his promise, we are looking for new heavens and a new Earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).
Pastor Jon Barta
Valley Baptist Church
Cornwall Alliance has apparently forgotten, or chooses to ignore, “The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof.” Playing dueling quotes from the Bible is so easy that even an atheist can do it. This highlights the problem of trying to use a beautiful piece of literature, but one rife with internal contradictions, as a guide for the real world.
Creation Care is a better idea than rule by the Dominion Mandate if, like me, you prefer survival. But better still would be a full-court strategy using every bit of real science, policy, law and regulation we can muster, no matter whose faith it may offend or whose profits it may cut into.
Cornwall Alliance is an ultra-conservative little pocket of just one of the world's religions that claims its supreme being gives humans the right to destroy the planet.
So by the same sort of imaginary power vested in me by me, I hereby declare myself to be the one true spokesperson for Earth, and on her behalf I holler, “Uncle!”
Really, mission accomplished. Without radical reversal soon, climate change and profligate use of resources has us on an inexorably downward spiral of increasingly severe floods, droughts, storms, habitat destruction, critical shortages and mass extinctions.
Anti-environmental warriors, Christian and otherwise, you can stand down. Good work.
In Theory: Trash planet Earth, or treasure it?
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