What the Bible Says about Global Warming, etc.
Environmentalism is a hot topic today. The Bible has plenty to say about it.

Ashlie asks: Which bible verese does God say something about the Resilient Planet? I was so confused so I asked u guys so give me a good asnwer please!
Question about A General Question: Meaning of a passage
Motivation - Student: Writing a paper
Bible view - A religious guide - [question 122, Monday, 03-Sep-2012]

Political arenas are arguing about the resilience of the Earth. One group, exemplified by organizations like the Sierra club, say that the Earth is fragile and vulnerable, precariously balanced in the vastness of outer space. The opposing group, exemplified by organizations like the National Rifle Association, portray the Earth as massive, rock-solid, and completely invincible to all outside influence. What does the Bible say about this?

In his article Environmentalism is a Religion, noted author Roy Latham make his position clear:

There is nothing wrong with wanting clean air and clean water. The environmental movement has moved well beyond those reasonable goals to become a religion that demands irrational behavior to please unnamed, but clearly assumed, gods of nature. It’s time to sort out the unfounded religious beliefs and recognize them for what they are. If a traditional religion tried to impose their religious practices upon us, we would rebel in outrage, but it seems that eco-religion has no bounds in forcing us to bow to their gods.

Mr. Latham builds a good case for the idea that environmentalism has become a modern-day religion. He makes his argument from facts, reason, and logic, but he does not appeal to the Bible. Since AFTB presents what the Bible says, this article addresses environmentalism from that perspective. In a nutshell, the Bible says:

  • The Earth itself is rock-solid and God is responsible for it, so you don't have to worry about 'saving the planet'
  • Life on Earth is fragile and men and women are responsible for it, so put your efforts into helping all living things: people and animals

Planet Earth: Who is in Charge?

Hands holding the Earth
The question in the environmental debate boils down to this: Are these God's hands or man's hands?

The underlying question in the environmental debate is Who is in charge of the Earth, God or man? If man is in charge of the Earth, then we can wreck it all at once with nuclear bombs, or, through negligence, unwittingly destroy it slowly with global warming. If God is in charge of the Earth, then there is little we can do to affect God's control over it.

Most advocates of modern environmentalism conclude that man is in charge of the Earth and they take steps to protect it and literally Save the Planet. Not surprisingly, the overall message of the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is contrary to this way of thinking. The Bible says that God is in charge of the Earth and there is nothing mankind can do to save it except, perhaps, pray. Here is one key verse. There are many similar verses.

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.
- I Chronicles 29:11 [KJV]

So profound is God's control over His creation that the Bible says one day He will destroy the Earth and renew it as a New Earth. This is done by God, not by man, on God's timetable sometime in the future. Interested Bible students can research eschatology, the study of final events of history and ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the 'end of the world' or 'end time'.

The Bible's conclusion that God will one day destroy the Earth is a promise that He will keep it as long as necessary to fulfill His purpose. If you are not sure about God's purpose for humankind, read our article What is the Meaning of Life? It may surprise you!

For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land
- Haggai 2:6 [KJV]

Is the Earth Resilient?

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
- Colossians 1:17 [NASB]

The Bible says that God holds everything together. That is, God makes the Earth resilient. He sustains it. The verse from Colossians in the box at the left makes this very clear.

The entire passage in Colossians chapter 1 acknowledges Jesus Christ Himself as the Creator of the universe and the One who sustains it. This passage is often called The Preeminent Christ and is uplifting reading for any believer, or anyone who might become a believer in the future. We can wonder about how God holds things together, but the fact that He does is settled by the preeminence passage. Does He do it actively, right now, all the time? Or did He do it in the beginning, making an Earth with such mass and momentum that nothing can stop it? Either way, the Earth is resilient because God holds it together. He won't let it rot or decay, and He won't let man destroy it. This means that even after a nuclear war, the Earth itself would be intact. Life would not be intact, but the Earth would be fine.

Life on Earth: Who is in Charge?

So this raises the question about mankind's role on the Earth. What, precisely, are we supposed to do, according to the Bible? The definitive verse is Genesis 1:28. Interestingly, this verse is quoted by both arguing camps, by environmentalists and by those who promote extensive use of natural resources for mankind's benefit (from the Good News Bible translation):

So God created human beings, making them to be like himself. He created them male and female, blessed them, and said, 'Have children, so that your descendants will live all over the earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds, and all the wild animals.'
- Genesis 1:27ff [GNB]

Homeless man
Instead of Saving the Planet, God wants us to improve life. (image by michele williams photography)

While God is in charge of the Earth itself, He has delegated to women and men charge over life on Earth. Specifically, He instructs us to:

> fill the earth, i.e., populate it
> subdue the earth, i.e., use its resources
> rule its inhabitants, the animals

The basic idea is one of stewardship, that is, wise management of things pertaining to life. In so many words, God says 'Do not worry about the Earth itself, I will take care of that. Worry instead about life on Earth, your fellow human beings and the animals.' This way of thinking appeals to both camps in the environmental argument, and provides common ground for working together.

According to the Bible, it is not necessary to try to Save the Planet, but it is imperative that we Save Life. These are two different things. Don't mix them up!

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
- Isaiah 61:1ff [NASB]

People who are engaged in saving the planet in order to save life are not following a biblical pattern. Instead, the Bible gives us clear indication of how to save life while trusting the planet to God's care. The first few verses of Isaiah 61 summarize Jesus' ministry on Earth, and it is all about saving life. He calls us to:

  1. preach, tell, teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who will listen
  2. wrap in protection people who are vulnerable
  3. tell people about personal freedom and how to obtain it
  4. remind people about the consequences of sin
  5. comfort people who are sad
  6. help people be happy and have better lives

If you are engaged in any part of (1) through (6), you won't have time to save the planet!

Mon, 26-Jun-2017 03:43:53 GMT, unknown: 642313 ABH/jVQm5.VME
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