Christianity and its relationship with the environment

Christianity and its relationship with the environment
McFague (2000) defines the term environment as the surroundings or conditions in which a human being, an animal or plants lives and operates within. In the context of theology advanced by Christians, the environment refers to the world that God created and humans are part and parcel of that creation. Modern and old works on Christianity, which includes the bible, have advanced several thoughts regarding the environment and man. These thoughts can be classified into four categories, which include historical, modern, philosophical and theological perspectives about man and environment. In this context, this paper seeks to explore the manner in which Christianity perceive the environment and man. Particularly, the paper will evaluate the historical, modern, philosophical and theological perspectives.
Historical and modern perspectives
The historical thoughts about the environment and man can be derived from the bible. As McFague (2000) indicates, the foremost chapter in the bible presents two accounts regarding the creation of the earth by God. The book, Genesis, indicates that when looking on each and every creation, God finds it “good”. Usually, most Christians fail to see these accounts as literal scientific explanations regarding the manner in which the world began. Rather, they see it as containing fundamental understanding regarding the relationship that exists between God and the Earth that God made for human beings to enjoy. Such a relationship is assumed in the book of Genesis chapter two verse fifteen where the manner in which the creator put mankind in the garden of Eden with an aim of making him not only work on it but also take care of the garden.
Christians also tend to believe that owing to the deep love for the earth, the creator of the universe and earth continues working in and also through it. In early 1980s, Vancouver held an assembly of World Council of Churches and following this, a phrase “integrity of creation” emerged. The rationale around this particular phrase can be perceived as challenging Christians to rediscover the interrelatedness, as well as, the wholeness of the creation by God, in addition to, the need for the most appropriate action necessary to renew and nourish it. More often, the word “Shalom” which is a Hebrew word referring to Peace, is used to describe this wholeness which, according to Sheldon (1989), will only take place when all creation works together just as it was the intention of God.
Further perspectives can be derived from the book of Genesis where the story of Noah is advanced. As such, it is indicated that God promised that the earth would never be destroyed by flood again after the incidence. For this agreement, God gave the rainbow as the sign. Therefore, Christians have a belief that they have a responsibility to uphold their side of the agreement with God. In addition to this, in a constant manner, the Bible returns to this particular covenant that God made with man. Besides Genesis, the covenant is readdressed in the books of Exodus, Deuteronomy, Kings, Joshua, Ezekiel and Jeremiah.
The Christianity domain believes that God, whom they refer to as the “Father”, sent his “Son” Jesus to bring this particular covenant to its materiality. Jesus performed an array of miracles and Christians perceive them as portraying the dawn of the new age. The leadership depicted by Jesus is one of service. More significantly, however, owing to the fact that Jesus died and through his resurrection, Christians tend to understand that God`s creation is united in Jesus Christ and everything, including humanity, has a future. Some few Christians also believe that when humans tend to surround themselves with a great deal of possessions it is a matter of denying the reality of death in an attempt to find immortality. With humans being inclined to doing this, they are destroying the gift of creation given by God. According to Sheldon (1989), it is only though trusting in God for life that humans can recognize the hope of new heaven, as well as, a new earth where suffering will be something of the past.
Philosophical perspectives
Despite the sufficiently-publicized claims to the converse, Christianity is known to uphold the independent value of natural creatures. In addition to this, Christianity is much committed to an ethic of responsible care and the stewardships of the entire natural world. Christianity indicates that such values have been enshrined in the Old Testament and presupposed by Jesus Christ. The same values are assumed by the New Testament all through. Christianity perceives that these values were and they are still being forgotten or becoming distorted. This, however, was prevalent in the medieval and early modern times.
Despite being forgotten and being subject to distortions, these values were never at any one time abandoned. Indeed, they have been continually rediscovered and have received renewed and broadened commitment in the modern day time, especially after the onset of the twentieth century. There are controversies that surround the teaching, which have been inherited from the Old Testament that humanity has mastery of dominion over other living things, especially animals, and also attach to the decentralization of nature implicit in the adoption of the belief in the environment as a creation of God, and not itself God. Christians believe that a belief in creation can be assumed to be an implication of the world not belonging to humanity but is a God`s world, filled with the Glory from Him and does not need to involve a variety of metaphysical dualism, which are subject to objections.
Theological perspectives
In Genesis, it is indicted that in the beginning, heavens and earth was created by God. Indeed, this is the very first sentence of the bible and together with the subsequent creation of man, a fundamental foundation for environmental reflection is provided. Christians advance that God made the earth and also gave a special place to humus together with a role of stewardship relative to the rest of the creation. This place, as well as, this particular role afford a man unique dignity, in addition to, responsibility. As Dyke (1991) indicates, environmental stewardship usually addresses the responsibility of a human to the environments, as well as, the special place and the dignity of humans within the creation by God.
In late 1960s, Dyke (1991) indicates that an American Cultural Historian claimed that the responsibility of Christians for the growing environmental issues is unique. The historian further claimed that Christianity was the most anthropocentric in the entire world and thus blamed it for the exploitative nature of the western technologies relative to nature.
From this analysis, it is evident that there are different perspectives advanced by Christians regarding the environment and man. This paper has analyzed the four perceptions based on their nature. It has been established that while they lay their arguments on the creation by God, they vary. However, there is a sense of unity in their views regarding nature and man.
Dyke, F. V. (1991). Ecology and the Christian Mind: Christians and the Environment in a New Decade. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 43(2), 174-184.
McFague, S. (2000). Life Abundant: Rethinking Theology and Economy for a Planet in Peril. Minneapolis MN: Fortress Press.
Sheldon, J. K. (1989). Twenty-one Years After “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis. How Has the Church Responded? Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, 41(1), 152-158.