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What does Earth Day offer Christians?

NASHVILLE (BP) – Answers in Genesis (AiG) researcher Terry Mortenson recalls the story of a woman who questioned whether she should have children for fear of increasing the carbon emissions footprint.

As environmentalists mark Earth Day on Thursday (April 22), Christians can uphold Genesis 1:26-27 in which God gives humanity dominion over His creation, while at the same time worshiping the Creator and not His creation, Mortenson said.

“We do it by not polluting, ourselves, not throwing our trash on the road [nor] pouring pollutants into our farmland or streams or whatever,” Mortenson said. “We do it by taking good care of the creation and not just wantonly destroying creatures, and enjoying the creation and seeking to beautify the creation, planting trees, planting flowers, taking care of things in that way. I think that’s what good stewardship implies.”

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has also provided guidance on being good stewards of creation while honoring Scripture and God. Moore acknowledged that Christians have varying views of the observance birthed in 1970.

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“So should Christians care about Earth Day? Yes,” Moore has written [2]. “The contemporary environmentalist movement has often been flawed and clumsy and sometimes evil, as any movement made up of fallen sinners tends to be. But, at the core of it, is a concept Christians ought to recognize. It is that of creatureliness, and dependence, and longing for the permanent things. And in the face of an earth often ravaged by human sin and rapaciousness, Christian creation-care can be a call to the kind of ultimate accountability that only makes sense in a Christian story of the universe.”

Mortenson decried what he described as certain environmentalists’ “radical agenda” and encouraged Christians to base their beliefs on the truth of Scripture and to pursue “good science.” He recommended resources including AiG [3] and the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation [4].

“Because people involved (in promoting Earth Day) are made in the image of God, they have legitimate concerns about pollution, for example, and energy,” Mortenson said. “But we need to, with any controversial subject, we need to evaluate what people are saying and what kind of policies they are advocating on the basis of God’s Word. That is how we test whether that policy or that way of thinking is correct or not correct, and everything they say is not wrong. But there’s a lot of things that they’re saying that are seriously wrong and contrary to Scripture and the God who made and sustains and upholds His creation.”

Mortenson said Earth Day was developed by “radical environmentalists” who don’t share Christianity’s scriptural worldview.

Moore gives guidance on honoring Genesis 1:26-27 as well.

“Because human dominion is grounded in the image of God, this dominion reflects God’s dominion, which is not predatory. God, in the biblical narrative, creates the raw materials of the universe, He shapes these materials, and He cultivates and conserves them,” Moore wrote. “God’s dominion is seen not only in His dynamic creative activity, but also in His Sabbath rest, withdrawing from such activity. God commands human cultivation of agriculture, but also specifies rest for the land. Exercising dominion over the created order is not contrary to exercising care over it; on the contrary, only a dominion-capable humanity is capable of caring for the environment at all.”

The Southern Baptist Convention has adopted several resolutions on caring for the environment. Most recently, messengers to the 1990 SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans adopted the Resolution on Environmental Stewardship [5].

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Messengers publicly recognized a responsibility “to God to be better stewards of all of the created order,” agreed “to seek ways personally and corporately to care for the earth and all those who dwell therein,” and encouraged individuals, churches and other Baptist groups “to make an environmentally responsible ethic a part of our lifestyle and evangelistic witness.”

Earth Day 2021 promotes a mission “to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide.” Organizers claim 1 billion individuals working for the “good of the planet” with more than 75,000 “partners working to drive positive action.”