The third course the students took during autumn quarter was a course on Theology/Ethics. One of the major questions the class sought to answer was, “What responsibilities do Christians have towards the earth?” We explored the Noahic Covenant in Genesis 9 and found a God who makes a promise not only to Noah but also to the earth. This covenant provides strong evidence in support of a position entitled “creation care.”
Too often, people consider Christianity the ideological source promoting the plunder of earth. Typically, the biblical proof texts used to justify the abuse of the earth are Genesis 1:28 and 2 Peter 3:10. The Genesis passage proclaims,
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
For many, dominion over the earth is interpreted as domination of the earth. However, dominion does not necessitate domination. In fact, biblical themes of leadership as evidenced by Jesus require those in authority to loving serve people and creation. Thus, dominion is not given for humanity to plunder creation but instead to preserve it.
The other text, 2 Peter 3:10, states,
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”
The argument behind this text is that if the earth will be burned up anyway, humanity should use the earth to its fullest extent while it is here. However, the Greek word in the verse translated as “burned up” is heuresthetai which literally means “be found.” Thus, the earth is not burned up, it is found! This is further evidence that humans ought to care for the earth, not abuse it. God observed creation and concluded that it was good. It’s probably a good idea for us to do the same.
– Donovan Richards