Sunday, February 17, 2013

Guess What? God Is an Environmentalists!

This is my fourth and final blog (at least for the foreseeable future) where I unashamedly plug my new book, Should Christians Be Environmentalists? (Kregel Publications). In future blogs, I’ll explore other provocative issues, such as will pets and other animals be in heaven?  But for now,  you really need to read my book on Christian environmentalism. This is especially true for Christians ministering the so-called “millennial generation” (18 to 30 year olds). In my opinion, the topic is a perfect apologetic and evangelistic point of contact with that generation. I’ll explain why in this brief summary of the book.

In recent years, there has been a growing concern over environmental issues within Christendom. Even setting aside the controversy over climate change (which I don’t try to resolve in my book), there are other crucial environmental issues that are clearly the result of human activities: worldwide extinction rates, destruction of wetlands and other fragile habitats, and—particularly on a global scale—air and water pollution. Should Christians Be Environmentalists?, however, is not a book exposing environmental problems, nor is it a doomsayer’s appraisal of potential environmental catastrophes. Enough is already being written on those topics.
The primary purpose of my book is threefold. First, to encourage godly environmental stewardship. I do this by systematically developing a Bible-based theology of nature and guidelines for environmental ethics. I demonstrate that the Bible instructs the human race to be God’s caretakers over creation, and He provides moral principles that can guide mankind’s activities in nature so that people utilize the earth’s resources without overly exploiting the land and its wild inhabitants. God didn’t give people carte blanche to use nature with no concern for the land and other life forms.

Second, Should Christians Be Environmentalists? presents an apologetic response to anti-Christian environmentalists who claim that Christianity is the “root cause” of environmental exploitation and degradation, and that other religious traditions (i.e. tribal religions) are better suited morally and theologically than Christianity to be the spokesmen for environmental stewardship. Such claims are groundless. I’ll show that every culture, regardless of religious beliefs, has exploited and despoiled their natural environments. I’ll demonstrate that Christianity more than any other worldview—secular or religious—is better equipped to implement and institutionalize worldwide environmental ethics.

Third, I investigate the potential evangelistic opportunities embedded in Christian environmentalism. As many seasoned apologists and evangelists know, apologetic techniques that were effective thirty years ago, such as rational arguments and historical evidences for the Christian faith, are not as effective in the twenty-first century. In particular, people under the age of thirty have been conditioned by postmodern relativism to reject moral absolutes and to be skeptical of all religious truth claims. Accordingly, Christian evangelists and apologists are urgently seeking relevant “points of contact”—areas of common concern to both Christians and non-Christians—that can be starting points for conversations, often leading to opportunities for sharing the Gospel. Surveys show that the health of our environment is “top  of the list” of young peoples’ concerns today. This being the case, I’m convinced that Christian environmentalism can be a tremendously effective point of contact with this generation, especially among college and high school students and other young adults.

I conclude the book with a special word to non-Christian readers. I share my journey from a zealous non-Christian environmental advocate to an even more zealous Christian environmentalist, and the impact this journey had on my life. My story can become the reader’s story. Hope you enjoy the book, and let me know what you think.

Dan Story

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