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December 4, 2006

Our guest blogger this week is John Silvius, Center Associate for Environmental Ethics.

In the last entry, we saw that the incarnation is “the ultimate testimony to the value of all human beings.” The baby born of Mary in the straw amidst the animals in the stable also provides the foundation for a Christian environmental stewardship ethic. For when God became flesh and dwelt among us as Emmanuel, He demonstrated that the value and the good He saw in His original creation (Genesis 1), now groaning under the curse of sin (Romans 8: 19-23), was worth His entry into flesh to “reconcile all things to Himself . . . whether things on earth or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20). The breadth of Emmanuel’s redemptive plan extends to the soil and water, the lion and the lamb, and to His fallen stewards of creation. This should give us pause this Christmas when we converse with those outside of Christ. Many unbelievers doubt that God or heaven-minded Christians care about the environment. Allow me to illustrate.

A recent book, Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, by E.O. Wilson, is written in the form of an open letter to a Baptist pastor. It is a plea for religion and science to unite “on the common ground of biological conservation” to solve the environmental problems of Earth. Wilson, a distinguished Harvard biologist and self-proclaimed “scientific humanist,” makes this challenging statement: “I am puzzled that so many religious leaders, who spiritually represent a large majority of people around the world, have hesitated to make protection of the Creation an important part of their magisterium. Do they believe that human-centered ethics and preparation for the afterlife are the only things that matter?”

How would you respond to Wilson’s question? Have we unknowingly conveyed an unbiblical message that Emmanuel came to save humans only while leaving the rest of creation that groans for His coming? May the message of Emmanuel and the scope of His redemptive love which includes the whole of creation (or “the environment”) embolden us to articulate with grace the message of a robust “Christian environmental ethic.”

Center for Bioethics Resource Page on Environmental Ethics

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