Caring for the Earth? Should Christians become Tree-Huggers?
In today’s society, many environmental issues are being casually overlooked by the same people who constantly complain about them. It is an ever increasing problem that will eventually become irreversible if we Christians do not respond to the issue with definite action. The four key elements of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral provide strong evidence that God has called humans to make a difference in the environment. Several examples that are found in scripture, proven by reason, witnessed through experience, and guided by tradition aid in proving God’s desperate plea to us to care for the earth. By using the quadrilateral in its entirety, I will be able to provide sustainable information that will create a viable conclusion to why I personally believe that
Christians should indeed become “tree-huggers”.
What does scripture say in terms of protecting the environment?
Scripture, the norming norm of all sources, is ultimately the main stemming source which provides moral guidance in helping humankind make wise decisions. It is an outlining source that answers many, if not most, of life’s difficult questions both indirectly and directly. As far as answering the question as to whether or not Christians should become “tree huggers”, several specific instructions provided in scripture are commands given from God to His followers to treat the earth and all the nonliving things within it with good care and respect. In the beginning chapters of Genesis (specifically in Genesis 1:28), after God had created the first man and woman and put them on earth, He blessed them and commanded them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." This specific commandment was intended to be an assignment for Adam and Eve to care for the world as they continued to dwell in it and to establish order among the creation that surrounded them. In the article “A Burning Issue: A
Christian Care for the Environment”, author Robert White elaborates on this particular verse by stating that, “the very existence of this universe is the result of God's creative activity - a world that he said was ‘very good’ and which he commanded humankind to subdue and tend.”1
Not only does scripture aid in supporting the fact that God created humankind to rule the earth, but it also draws attention to the love that God had for the world, and why we as Christians especially should care for the world just as much since our creator finds value in it. In one of the most commonly used verses in scripture, John 3:16 for example, it is said that, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Although this verse is meant to assure followers of Christ that those who believe in Him will live forever, it is also somewhat implying how much he cares for this earth and that even He, the most Holy, would place His one and only son here to live on it. Why would a most gracious and powerful God place His most prized possession on such an immoral surface? God shows content in the earth similar to how we humans find value in the things we make. The reason why God finds so much value in the earth is because He created it and owns it, and therefore declares it to be “good”. Because the earth is part of the creation that “bears the mark of Gods own goodness, our treatment of the earth reflects our attitude towards Him which is why we should love and cherish it to the best of our ability.” 2
What statistics or facts does reason provide that should motivate Christians to take action to care for the environment?
It is no secret that today we are facing more extreme environmental issues now more than ever before. These