A Question from a Druid about Christians and the Environment

6:03 pm | NeoPaganism

I recently received this follow-up email, as the druid I have been dialoguing with expressed her concerns about Christians’ views on the environment:


I hope you are well, and I have enjoyed reading your blog posts, it’s very insightful. I do have something i’d like to discuss with you, a subject that I find many anti-evanglical people criticize your church for.

I have read that the interpretation of the biblical revelations is that once the earth’s natural resources are destroyed, the planet cannot longer sustain life, that Jesus will come back, and after the 7-year tribulation period, He will ‘re-green’ the earth for His people. Now, what I have also been reading is that the evanglical church, in conjuction with our government and corporations, are actually ingnoring, and even purpously antagonizing, the destruction of our planet to ‘pave the way for His return, and to bring the tribulation time about quicker’.

what are your thoughts on this? I am an advid enviromentalist, I have become vegan and am working to make my life completely ‘green’. We even hope to solar power our house in a couple of years. I’m devastated that anyone would want to destroy our planet to bring Jesus’ return that much quicker, because it fullfills the prophecies. But I am not sure exactly where your particular church stands on issues, as opposed to the very conservative, very right wing, evangelical church. You and the people on your website seem to be more open minded than what I used to evision all evangelists to be. If you are a part of a movement different from the right wing and ulta-conservative, please tell me of these differences, I am interested in learning. I also would like to hear your thoughts on enviromentalism vs destruction of the planet to bring about prophecies.

Many blessings to you and yours.

My response:

Hello again,

First, I am very concerned about this claim that somehow there is something we as Christians can do to hasten the return of Christ. Frankly, there is no Biblical warrant that Christians can do anything that brings Christ’s return sooner, except perhaps that the gospel is preached to every tribe, tongue, and nation. Anything beyond this is unbiblical and dangerous. Imagine if a teacher got up and said that if all the Christians would commit suicide, then Christ would come back immediately? The result would be a mass-suicide tragedy, and the news would report another doomsday cult mass suicide. Any time I hear that someone is talking about how Christians can somehow bring Christ’s return faster, I get worried. Someone is teaching false doctrine that is actually dangerous.

Second, although there are many different interpretations of Bible prophecy, the one you referenced here is called the “pre-millennial” view. Basically, the pre-millennial view teaches that a period of judgment called the Tribulation will precede a one-thousand year reign of Christ on earth. Although your average Sunday School attending Christian may be confused on the details, basically the Earth is recreated at the end of the millennial reign, not at the end of the seven year tribulation. So, if we destroy the environment now, it will be at least one thousand years before the world is made new. That would be an awfully long time for humans to survive without a functioning biosphere - especially considering that Jesus Christ will be ruling as King on earth from Jerusalem during that time :)

Third, Christians are called to be agents of redemption and restoration, not destruction. For a Christian to willfully seek the destruction of the environment as part of their beliefs begs the question of whether that person understands the gospel. Christians are not called to be reckless, careless morons with no concern for the Creation. Rather, Christians are called to be stewards of God’s creation. The world that we live on is the Lord’s, and He has made us stewards of His creation (the Earth, living things, and humans as well). Unfortunately, we are sinners, and we neglect the proper stewardship of all God has given to us. All people one day will give an account to God for how we have managed His creation. That should give us pause to reflect on how we live in this life.

Fourth, I’m afraid that this bit about a government, corporate, and religious conspiracy is a far-fetched fantasy. In the past, conspiracy theories were the exclusive province of right-wing fanatics, but anymore it seems like everyone is buying into whatever conspiracy theory can be spun. There are plenty of conspiracy theories to go around that implicate many power organizations in all manner of evil. But to think that the government, corporations, and religious institutions could collaborate at that level is, in my thinking, absurd. Christians can’t even unify their denominations or agree on a shared eschatology; business interests are always competing against each other looking for the upper hand; and government agencies, rather than being nearly all-knowing and all-powerful, are mired in a more fundamental human problem: incompetence. So, while startling conspiracy theories may seem to explain everything to a tee, the real world is much more complicated and defies simple explanations.

Fifth, there is value in taking basic “green” steps around one’s home. There is nothing wrong with looking to build a solar-powered home (my coworker has been looking at this). I’m in an apartment, so I’m a bit limited on what I can do here. My roommate and I have installed a digital thermostat that we programmed to minimize the amount of A/C that runs during the day. We installed fluorescent light bulbs in our fixtures to cut back on the electricity usage and heat. Personally, I drink a lot of water and powdered sports drinks, which is not only healthier than soda but also cuts back on the amount of waste aluminum and plastic. But these are all good and reasonable things in their own right. Even if we had an electricity source that was 100% environmentally clean - we would still be better off by not wasting electricity.

You said that you have read that an interpretation of the book of Revelation is that the Earth’s natural resources must be depleted for Christ to return. I’d like to ask, did you read or hear a Christian teaching this specifically? Of, if you read about this from a third party, where did they hear it from? Although I wouldn’t doubt that there are probably some isolated groups that teach this, we also have to consider that it is a misunderstanding of something that was said from a pulpit. Another possibility is that someone actually made this interpretation up at some point and reported it as fact to make Christians appear to be destroyers of the environment in order to drum up support for their cause. But regardless of whether this is something fringe groups are teaching, or if it a misunderstanding, or a fabrication, it concerns me that this is reported as if it were fact.

In the end, Christians should not waste resources or intentionally destroy the environment. Christians are called to be stewards, or caretakers, of God’s creation. Anyone who tries to say otherwise on the basis of Biblical prophecy has dangerously misunderstood the scripture.

I hope this clears things up :)




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