The Gospel and the Environment

What should we make of environmentalism? For many Australians, the people we love and work with, the people we want to reach with the good news about Jesus, the most serious threat to our future is environmental catastrophe. For them, the biggest problem in the world isn’t sin, it’s climate change. So for them, the solution they’re looking for isn’t Jesus, it’s environmental action. How are Christians supposed to respond? By rejecting environmentalism? By adopting it ourselves? Or something else? And how can we speak the good news of Jesus to people focussed on the environment? To get answers, we need to look again at the grand storyline of the Bible. this paper does that, then deals with some practical issues and conversations around the area of the environment, and how our response is shaped by this story.

When we follow the Bible’s storyline, we find it traces the three-way relationship between God, humanity and the rest of creation from start to finish. So the Bible begins as God creates the non-human world first (Genesis 1). Humanity is then made in God’s “image”, which gives us a position of not only privilege but also responsibility. The stated purpose of human life is to rule and care for the rest of creation, not for our own benefit, but precisely in the “likeness” of the generous, self-giving God in whose image we’re made (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:15). So the world around us was created by God as a theatre in which humanity might reflect and display God’s glory, and it’s one of our primary duties as human beings to always rule and care for the environment like that.