What Does the Bible Say about Tree Huggers?

December 4, 2009

Four principles should guide the Christian’s view of the environment.

  1. God owns everything. God created everything and He sustains it all (Genesis 1:1; 2:1; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). Consequently, He owns it all: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains” (Psalm 24:1. All Scripture quotations here are taken from the NASB).
  2. We are caretakers of God’s creation. God wants us to tend His creation (Genesis 2:15)—to fill, subdue, and rule over the earth (Genesis 1:28). He crowned us with glory to rule His creation (Psalm 8:5, 6). But we own nothing; everything good comes from God (James 1:17). We have nothing that we have not first received from Him (1 Corinthians 4:7). We are stewards, not owners, whose requirement is faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:2).
  3. We may freely use and enjoy creation. God gave us plant and animal life for food (Genesis 2:16; 9:2, 3). Indeed, “everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude” (1 Timothy 4:4). God permits us to freely eat all things (1 Corinthians 10:25, 26). He gives us rain and fruitful seasons, “satisfying [our] hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). By extension this includes all the resources God created, for “He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things” (Acts 17:25). Using God’s creation is permissible and good.
  4. We must use creation responsibly. God is our example of creation care. He feeds the birds and clothes the fields (Matthew 6:27–30). He cares for every sparrow that falls (Matthew 10:29). We are righteous when we care for God’s creation, but wicked when we are cruel (Proverbs 12:10). When we care for creation, we show love for God by imitating His righteous behavior; we also exhibit love for our neighbor by conserving the resources we all need to sustain and enjoy life. Christians may freely use God’s creation, but we must do so responsibly. We should never abuse or mistreat creation. We must respect God and love our fellow human beings by caring for creation so that all might enjoy the good things of God’s creation for years to come.

Ken Gardoski (PhD, Trinity International University) is a an associate professor of systematic theology at Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pa.