Friday, April 22, 2005

Earth Day & Imago Dei

I had no idea that today is Earth Day until I read Greg Koukl's insights about the inconsistency of Darwinian theory and the belief that humans are morally obliged to care for the environment:
The moral obligations underpinning Earth Week activities simply do not follow from the naturalistic world view that embraces Darwinism. It follows, rather, from a theistic world view in which God has created man as unique and given him responsibility over the Earth to care for it. Earth Week makes sense for Christians, not for Darwinists.
I've been reading in Anthony Hoekema's Created in God's Image. In it, he notes that while in one sense post-Fall humanity retains God's image (Gen. 9:6; James 3:9), that image has been severely perverted and stands in need of being renewed in Christ (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10) who perfectly images God. This progressive renewal manifests itself in three relationships: with God, with each other, and with nature. Concerning the last he writes:
The renewal of the image means, in the third place, that man is now enabled properly to rule over and care for God's creation. That is to say, he is now empowered to exercise dominion over the earth and over nature in a responsible, obedient, and unselfish way. This means that man is now enabled to look upon himself as a steward of the earth and all that is in it, rather than an overlord with absolute and completely arbitrary power. This includes holding property, tilling the soil, growing fruit trees, mining coal, and drilling for oil not for personal aggrandizement but in a responsible way, for the benefit and welfare of one's fellowmen. In our present world this also includes concern for the conservation of natural resources, and opposition to all wasteful or thoughtless exploitation of those resources. It includes concern for the preservation of the environment and for the prevention of whatever hurts that environment: erosion, wanton destruction of animal species, pollution of air and water. It includes concern for adequate distribution of food, the prevention of famine, and the improvement of sanitation. It also embraces the advancement of scientific investigation, research, and experimentation, including the continuing conquest of space, in such a way as to honor God's commands and to give him praise.
A dear Christian woman who enjoys gardening and is very good at it recently told me that other believers have insinuated that the time she spends working the soil could be better used evangelizing. The implication is that such (trivial) pursuits are obstacles to authentic spirituality. I think this reveals how desperately evangelicalism needs to consider the doctrine of creation as something more than the apologetic answer to evolution. Since the Bible presents redemption as a restoration of creation (not just individual souls) then it's imperative that we understand the beginning of the biblical story. In his excellent book, Heaven is a Place On Earth Michael Wittmer reminds us that: is good for us every now and then to revisit our theological footer and check for cracks in our doctrine of creation. Even small problems there, if left unattended, will cause exponentially larger difficulties upstairs, in our understanding of the fall and redemption. In short, to the extent that we misunderstand the story of creation we will also be confused about the gospel.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if as part of our discipleship we encouraged followers of Christ to garden to the glory of God?


Sir Isaac said...

Are you a reformed pastor? 'Cause this sounds a little like the cultural mandate espoused within reformed circles.

We should be able to enjoy this world to the Glory of God.

BTW, I like your blog, it's one of the better ones. I have a brief post on you. Check it out at

Keep up the insightful post.

KP said...

sir isaac,

I'm grateful for your encouragement. I'm glad you check the site out regularly. I hope you'll continue to do so and add your input. Thanks too for the mention at your site.

You've correctly identified the cultural mandate in my thinking. I'm not in a Reformed denomination (Evangelical Free Church of America) but I'm primarily Reformed (and always reforming) in my thinking.