We should all value what God has made
Doug Heacock, contemporary worship leader, Lawrence Free Methodist Church, 3001 Lawrence Ave.:
Honestly, my first reaction to this question was, "Are you kidding me?" In trying to imagine where this question comes from, all I can come up with is that it may stem from a general perception that "Christian" equals "Republican," and "Republican" equals "anti-environment." It seems pointless to waste too many words here on the unfairness of those assumptions.
I have noted in a previous installment of this column that the Bible says, "The Earth is the Lord's, and everything in it ..." (Psalm 24:1). Human beings are the stewards of God's creation, and the Scripture teaches that we should value what God has made and care for it accordingly.
Yes, many Christians have neglected environmental causes for too long.
But the blame for human-influenced problems with the environment rests not on any particular faith, but rather on human sin in general. The carelessness and greed that have resulted in air and water pollution can be found in people of all faiths, because they are problems of the human heart.
While God is clearly not finished with the work of completely transforming the life of every Christian (myself included), the Christian faith is based on a gospel of new life in Christ that specifically addresses those matters of the heart.
To argue that Christianity is to be exclusively blamed for environmental problems is patently absurd.
- Send e-mail to Doug Heacock at firstname.lastname@example.org
Religion often used to justify interests
The Rev. Peter Luckey, senior pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt.:
Our planet is at risk. Our addiction to carbon-based energy is resulting in global warming; rising food prices, which in turn have led to unrest and violence. All this threatens the Earth's long-term health. Our consuming ways are unsustainable.
Is the Christian faith responsible? Yes, in part. Here's why. When the Industrial Revolution kicked into high gear, we vastly increased our capacity to destroy and exploit the Earth. The very unleashing of this prodigious energy was aided and encouraged by a mentality grounded in a Christian theology of the time which was largely human-centered. This view held that humans were separate from and above the rest of creation.
These anthropocentric ideas were buttressed by texts like Genesis 1:28: "Be fruitful and multiply : and fill the Earth and subdue it, and have dominion over : every other living thing." A better understanding of the Hebrew suggests that what is meant is not "dominion over" but "caretaking of."
Many Christians are learning these days that there is nothing inherent in the faith that is harmful to the Earth. Rather, religion has been used to justify our short-sighted interests.
Just as we have to change our ways - drive less, recycle more, walk more lightly upon our Earth, so, too, must we change our thinking about God. We are not separate from creation. The God, who lives in us, lives in everything.
- Send e-mail to Peter Luckey at email@example.com