Save the Planet, or Save Man?

As I write these words on Friday, April 22, 2011, people around the world are celebrating "Earth Day.”  This day is promoted as a way of raising appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment and creating awareness of the need to protect it.  From its rather obscure beginnings in 1970, Earth Day was taken to international levels by 1990, and today it is promoted to millions (maybe billions) of people around the world every year.  In the United States, public schools immerse children in the Earth Day celebration, and many businesses commemorate it with sales and giveaways.  In one way or another, nearly the whole world is engaged in Earth Day.

While the observance of Earth Day is purported to prevent harm to the earth, it is actually a symbol of a movement that is very harmful to the souls of men.  Earth Day has become the holy day of what is best described as a new religion, which is radical environmentalism.  Truthfully, radical environmentalism is not a new religion, but rather it is only a new manifestation of the old religion of pantheism.  Pantheism is the belief that God and nature are the same.  As a result, men revere the material world and all of nature as an object of worship.  In the words of the Bible, "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Rom. 1:25).  This religion amounts to a radical devotion to the material world and a denial of the spiritual God who made it.

As the world observes this day to pay homage to the earth, it is a good time for Christians to pay homage to God who made the earth and recognize our God-given role on the earth.  Rather than looking on the material world as a god itself, we are to see the world as evidence of the true God.  The Scripture says, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (Rom. 1:20).  God’s word tells us that the crowning achievement of His creation was not the earth, but man, whom God made in His own image (Gen. 1:26-27).  To man, God gave a stewardship of dominion, for he was told, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28; see also Ps. 8:5-6).  To honor God, we must honor His purposes and designs, which includes a responsible and accountable use of the material world he has given into our hands.

Notice that the principles of the religion of radical environmentalism are opposed to the principles of the religion of Christianity.  Environmentalism exalts the earth (so-called "Mother Earth”) as holy and all life as equal, whereas Christianity exalts God (God the Father) as holy (Rev. 4:8) and the souls of men as infinitely more valuable than any other life (Matt. 5:26).  Environmentalism considers the worst crisis facing the world to be pollution, whereas Christianity considers the worst crisis to be sin (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).  Environmentalism alleges to save the planet by conservation, regulations, taxes, etc., whereas Christianity seeks to save the world through the gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16).

The truth of God is that planet earth cannot be saved.  As stewards over God’s creation, it is our duty to use the earth in a responsible and accountable way without abuse, waste, and destruction, but we can neither save nor destroy this planet.  Regardless of what man may do on the earth, God has said, "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22).  This means that we cannot stop the days and seasons, nor can we alter the climate.  Moreover, we cannot prevent the destruction of earth, which God has ordained to come.  "But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men… But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2Pet. 3:7, 10).  The efforts of the radical environmentalists are misplaced, for they attempt to fix the wrong problem.  The real problem with the earth is not man-made pollution, but rather it is man-made sin that began in the garden of Eden.  Notice Romans 8:20-22 – "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”

Although the earth cannot be saved, mankind can be.  Our hope of salvation is in the Creator of the world, Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3; 3:16; Acts 4:12).  Instead of wasting our time and efforts on man’s concepts of conservation, we should practice godly conservation by being good stewards of both the earth and our souls.  Rather than attempting to save the planet, in holy conduct and godliness we are to save ourselves through faith in Christ while hastening the day of earth’s destruction by the hand of God (2Pet. 3:11-12).   We may enjoy the beauty and wonder of the material world God has made, "But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2Pet. 3:13).  Therefore, let us seek our own salvation in Christ, and let us leave the fate of the earth in God’s hands.

Stacey E. Durham


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