Christianity, environmentalism and hard materialism

Many time I’m heard from christian intellectuals that about “stewardship of creation” or “care of creation”. All well and good at first sight, no littering, better air to breath, but, and these is very important but, when it come to environmentalist movements which influence peoples minds, they for my money, mostly hard materialist organizations. They denying any supernatural part of man who is just “naked monkey”, Trinity is for them unimportant fable and generally they only interested in material world.

Also, if there is any kind of spirituality in environmentalist movement, it is spirituality, that I think can be understood properly as neo-roman paganism. Worship of trees, strange language about “Mother Earth” or “Mother Nature” which suggest some intelligent on it side and even presence of self-described neo-pagans in they ranks. I still consider this a form of materialism, since Earth is material thing.

All main environmentalism movements that I know fall into this category. Christian environmentalism movements that I know are very weak or very superficially christian, due to influence from materialists environmentalism.

I have big problems working together with such movements, since they make man focus only on earthly things, temptation that is hard to resists without proper care and hard work. And this too things are quite scares.

This is my observations and I would be glad to hear, if this is just my bias or is it some truth in what I wrote.

Are you willing to say more about why you think Christian organizations err by promoting care for God’s creation? To be sure, the environmental movement is big enough that it will include all sorts with respect to belief and religion - so I have no doubt there are many materialist or pagan environmentalists to be found. But how does it follow that environmentalism, as such, then must be ‘tainted’ by the association? My own bias is that you are succumbing to a logical fallacy here. It would be as if I decide the church should not promote kindness to others because I have seen materialists (and probably pagans too) being kind to others, so therefore kindness must be a heathen movement to be shunned by the church.

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Wouldn’t it be great if people who believed in a Creator led the way in treating creation well?

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I don’t understand the issue you’re having?

Environmentalism is about the environment. Being a good steward of the earth is about the physical. It’s about physically and actively doing things to improve the biosphere. Most of those organizations main focus is not theology. It’s not about whose saved snd whose damned. It’s not about denominational differences. It’s specifically focused on christians who see a biblical mandate to help
Care for the earth and is a counter to the idea that we can do whatever we want and God will fix it. None of it is anti God and it’s all focused around faith. But it’s not about teasing out what is the Trinity, what is hell, what is baptism, is revelation better understood by modern day preterist or futurist and so on.

Also I’m very active in environmentalism snd ecology. My main focus is on how native plants help encourage biodiversity. I know of very many Christians who I see picking up trash on hiking trails, removing invasive plants, and genuinely care about nature. People that do get upset over a 700 year old tree that houses thousands of insects, birds, and oaks that is 80 feet tall and 100 feet wide get destroyed because someone bought some land is want to build a oil change station and they are very emotional over it because they have pictures of their great grandfather proposing to their great grandmother under that tree. They see paintings from the early 1800s with missionaries baptizing indigenous people in a stream that’s 20 feet behind the tree. But none of these people, myself included, worships these trees as god. We just don’t treat them like trash.

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Here are a couple Christian organizations besides BioLogos that promote conservation and creation care. I think you will find that your critiques do not apply. Also many denominations and Christian missions organizations have made creation care part of their vision for ministry, since climate change/environmental degradation and resulting famines and natural disasters are now one of the major contributors to poverty, hunger, sickness, political instability/war, and refugeeism.

A Rocha

Evangelical Environmental Network

It is also considered one of the mission focuses of the Lausanne Movement, a global missions cooperative.

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Hi Kamil, you might also have a look at our Common Question, Why Should Christians Care for Creation? We tried to answer some of the concerns you express.

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Some reasons why you should reconsider your position:

  1. God made a covenant ‘with the animals’ (Genesis 9:10) that he would protect the animals from a second flood. I.e. he wants species to be preserved, seemingly, for their own good, if they were addressed on their own terms.

  2. Environmentalism is a human issue, as well as a ‘nature’ issue. Air pollution causes thousands of premature deaths worldwide each year.

  3. Interactions with the non-human world, have been shown, time and time again in studies to have positive effects on mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. And so we should, Jesus told us to observe the birds of the air, and lilies of the field and learn lessons from them.

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Although I am currently not a Christian, I don’t see how Christians are being tempted to sin when they decide to clean up after themselves. What sin does someone commit when they decide they don’t want to drink poisoned water or breath contaminated air? Is it a Christian’s duty to tear down forests and destroy wetlands? Is it sinful to enjoy a beautiful alpine vista on a 5 day hike through the wilderness?

I don’t think Jesus was including the enjoyment of creation’s beauty as an “earthly thing”, but I could be wrong.

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Gee, you are sounding pretty Christ-like there!
He spoke of God’s care for the sparrow, and God’s provision of beauty for the lilies of the field. It is pretty unChrist -like if we feel our role in creation is to destroy them.

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I can describe what I see, but question why this is happened, is much harder. People about which I think are downplaying christian message, replacing reference to Christ with this to “Mother Earth”, behave like fight with global warming seems to be the only cause that can move them, even when they daily lives are very flawed from christian point of view. Some are ready to abolish some parts of Bible, because they judge it as not pro-nature enough. Others when asked can say, that christian necessary need act in certain way toward other people, but they actions speaks otherwise. In most extreme case, which I never encounter directly, they organized worship of trees or something similar as supposed pious act. Rather, idolatry.

It is not a problem of being tainted by cooperation with certain movements, is about being transformed by it. And, I ask myself a question: is this a price to pay, is it worth it? I not a strong man, so I’m afraid that I probably follow steps of people described above.

I don’t with christians “promoting care for God’s creation” in general. But, I have big problems when I see what they doing, examples of which I write above.

I probably didn’t describe my problem clear enough. If some members of environmental movement that I know were materialists, these would not be a serious problem. From my observation 80% of people in this movement are quite hard materialists, often hostile to Christ. Like in most situation, decisive majority sets the tone and since I was working with such kind of people in the past, I see warning signs now.

These is my experience, maybe someone have other point of view, I would be glad to here it.

Many things could be good, but in my situation, I much more need to know what is now, not what might be.

I have no idea what nation or community your experiences here are based in. I’m sure there are places where the vast majority of people are materialists. I have problems with all of that too. Here in the U.S. we also have all sorts … both outside as well as within the big tent of Christianity here. I don’t know where your statistic is from that “80%” of environmentalists are hard materialists, but I would have a hard time believing that is anything close to true of the movement at large here in the U.S. - given that a majority of people here don’t consider themselves materialists. I don’t know what the statistic here would be - perhaps Christians here are uncomfortable identifying with such a label, and thus skew it toward non-Christian membership. That wouldn’t surprise me either, though I still don’t think such a skew would reach anything close to 80%, because so many Christians here (a growing number) do participate supportively in promoting good stewardship practices of our environment, and they do it without “worshipping trees or mother earth” as gods or goddesses. I have yet to meet anybody in real life who matches what you describe here. New ager nut jobs are probably out there I’m sure, but very few of those would be troubling themselves trying to retain the Christian label.

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There are so many examples of Christians involved in conservation work that do not fit your description at all.

Check out Katharine Hayhoe’s YouTube channel. She is a leading climate scientist and a Christian environmental activist.

This article by the director of the non-profit Plant with a Purpose:

This reflection on Earth Day for Christians:

This interview with ecologist Rick Lindroth:

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I dont follow any organization on that matter. However i do care for the enviroment and nature. Why not preserve something God created which is so beautfull? He created it for us and we should take care of it. When im in nature hiking on a mountain or going trough a forest it brings me closer to God. I have visited many monasteries which are in the nature just because it is peacefull and it brings them closer to God. So yes you shoukd care for the enviroment. It doesnt matter who else does so as well,even if no one else woukd have been interested in it Christians should be the ones who need to give an example

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My experiences have definitely been very different. Perhaps you’re hanging with some of the Christian Unity churches that uses Christian language metaphorically but believes all paths lead to god. Many of them are environmentalist to some degree.

But my experiences are not like that. All the Christian environmentalists I know don’t downplay Christ. They just focus on being good stewards.

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Really illogical and dangerous heresy for the church in my opinion. But thats just another topic!

Why is it either or both? Obviously it’s the case regardless of the Church. The question is does the Church offer a better path?

Your opinion on the matter?

What? You mean that anyone’s eternal future can be affected one way or the other based on accident?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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