The phrase “evangelical ecology” may sound like a paradox, as does “conservative Christian ecology”. But, I believe that it is a possibility. Evangelicals have long been criticized rightly or wrongly for believing that the earth is going to be destroyed, so why worry about taking care of it.

Recently, the liberal agenda has taken up the cause of ecology and made it one of their foremost concerns. This has carried over into liberal theology as well. Terrence Fretheim released a book titled God and World: A Relational Theology of Creation, which fits well in this category of liberal theology. It considers creation to be the central theme of the bible and therefore ecology becomes one of the foremost concerns.

But, his understanding of creation texts in the Bible leaves something to be desired. Not only does he interpret clear metaphors in a literal fashion, but he also bends the meaning of some of the Hebrew terms. It seems that this is done so that he will have a proof-text for his presupposition of the importance of ecology. It results in making the world a living organism that is in relationship to God, much like humanity. Therefore, God would be somehow less god-like without creation, creation contributes to who he is.

I mention all of this because a truly evangelical ecology, or a conservative Christian ecology has vastly different foundations. First of all, it is founded on the belief that the environment would not be a concern if God had not made it. An evangelical theology believes that God created the world with humanity in mind. We are his image bearers and charged with ruling creation. This ruling should look like His king of ruling –a loving rule. In fact the idea is expanded in the second chapter of Genesis by describing humanity as supposed to till and keep the garden. For these reasons, ecology becomes important. Not because the earth is in relationship to God, for indeed evangelicals think otherwise.

Ecology takes a different shape too for a conservative Christian. It is not a primary concern, though it is a concern. Ecology falls under the realm of creation theology, which takes a backseat to other larger things. Evangelism and Ministry carry more weight than ecology, but it does remain important. This results in an ecology that appears more mild and balanced from the outside than liberal ecology does. But it does have the same goals in mind.

2 comments on “Evangelical Model for Ecology

  • I am very interested in this topic. I have a degree in biology and am interested in ecology and consider myself a conservative evangelical Christian. I find myself in awe of nature and it’s complexity and evidence of God’s design and artistry–but according to the bible nature is in a fallen state–right? So we are supposed to be good stewards of the earth and nature while understanding that because sin entered the picture things will never be as God intended until He restores them and Christ returns. There is a tension between repecting and honoring the earth and knowing that something new and better is coming, at least that is how I understand it. It is striving for Holy Spirit led ecology based on the the bible that I am interested in. I guess I am curious how the words ecology and stewardship are related and how they are relevant for Christians. Radical, deep ecology that minimzes God in any way is not consistent with Christian doctrine, but selfishly disregarding and disrespecting the earth and resources without prayerfully considering consquences, I guess that is where I am starting to have a problem with the way that we do things. The spiritual discipline of simplicty goes hand in hand with a Christian who wants to have a lifestyle that is God honoring and eco-concious–but as followers of Christ we also have to be careful of legalistic and self-righteous motivations. Looking forward to reading your blogs and listening to the podcasts.

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