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RE:QUEST

A space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith

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Environment: What do Christians Believe?

Learn about why Christians believe they are stewards of the earth

 

When we hear the word 'environment', our first response is often to visualise the scenes of pollution from disasters, usually man-made. Also, we think of animal cruelty, such as fox-hunting and experimentation. The rise in industrialisation over the last centuries has particularly taken its toll on the planet, forcing the issue into public consciousness. With these growing concerns, many Christians have also reconsidered the Bible’s teaching on caring for the environment.

What do Christians believe about the environment?

Christians believe that the world is not ours, but God’s. The Book of Genesis makes it clear that God is actively behind the creation of the world, and this theme is repeated elsewhere, as this verse suggests.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” (Psalm 24:1-2)

The Bible, in particular the Psalms, are full of words celebrating God’s creation of an incredible world, and saying thank you to God for the amazing things he has made. According to the Bible, God has given humans dominion over His creation, that is, the right to rule on his behalf.

Psalm 8:6 says, ‘You put us in charge of everything you made.’ This 'rule' over creation, brought responsibility, which sadly has been lacking, as we have treated the world poorly over the years. Unfortunately, once you tell someone that they can rule over something, abuse can all too easily follow.

Christians today see their role as one of stewardship of God’s earth: they should look after and care for it, keeping it in a good state to pass on to future generations. Many believe they will be judged by God in part about their care of the planet and the animals on the earth.

Reflect
‘God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”’ (Genesis 1:26)
What do you think 'ruling' over the animals means? How might a belief that God created the earth affect a Christian's attitude towards caring for the environment?