Dr. Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of the 15,000-member Northland church in Florida, has released a new documentary titled "Our Father's World," where he reminds Christians that God made people stewards, not owners of the planet, and that environmental issues are Christian issues.
"Scientific evidence now is very much backing up the Scriptural mandate that we need to take care of this Earth. All of the credible scientific organizations of the world are showing the degree to which the environment is being harmed by our pollution, by the disobedience to the first commandment that He (God) gave us," Hunter says.
The 26-minute long documentary is available for viewing and download free online, and includes interviews with leading evangelical scholars, including Bill and Lynne Hybels, Tony Campolo, James Merritt and Mark Liederbach.
One of the main points made in the film is that many Christians seem turned off by the environmental movement because they believe it has been hijacked by political ideals.
"Many Christians still see environmental stewardship as a political issue, rather than seeing it as a biblical issue. Scripture clearly teaches us to be good stewards of our finances, time, talents and relationships, and the church is beginning to realize there is another form of stewardship that we have neglected to embrace," says Raymond Randall, leader of Northland's Creation Care Team.
Caring for the planet is one of the very first commandments God gave to man, Pastor Hunter reminds viewers.
"This was our first calling, recorded early on in Genesis 1 and 2, and we remain God's caretakers over all creation today," Hunter explains.
The documentary reminds viewers that the Earth, its creatures and its resources do not belong to people – they belong to God, and humans are called to be stewards of creation and to protect it, not exploit it and destroy it.
"I don't know why this issue is so complicated from a biblical standpoint. Those of us who are Christians believe that God created the Earth. We don't believe that the Bible is a book of science, it doesn't exactly tell us how He created it but certainly throughout the Bible, we read of God's relationship with creation, that he was that life force that brought it all into being in the beginning, that He said it was good," says Hybels, co-founder of Ten for Congo, an advocate group spreading awareness about the hardships people face in Congo.
"He called us to have dominion, to rule, to subdue it, to till it, to work it, and a lot of people have taken that to mean that we can dominate and rule in a harsh way."
Despite God's clear message to believers, many people today have chosen to ignore or dismiss that calling, the film says, which has led to huge environmental problems, including deforestation, the destruction of habitats and the extinction and endangerment of many species.
Bob Giguere, the Emmy and Telly award-winning director of "Our Father's World," insists that environmental issues are not a concern only for the secular world, a message that the film drives forward hard.
"I know many Christians who commonly mistake environmental responsibility as a task for the secular world," Giguere says. "Upon seeing this film, it should be obvious that the Christian walk can be a very green path."
Apathy toward the environment does not simply impact wildlife and nature; poor communities around the world are hit hard when they lose access to natural resources that they greatly depend on to survive.
"A growing number of evangelical Christians worldwide are uniting in their belief that environmentalism is not merely a moral obligation. It's a matter of justice for the poor and for the generations to come," Giguere stresses.
In "Our Father's World," Hunter calls on Christians and people of all faiths and backgrounds to unite and take meaningful steps to truly become stewards of the planet.
"God has given us problems so big, that not one faith community can solve on its own. Therefore, we need to work together, and we need to find common ground, both with believers of other religions and with those who believe in no religion," the Northland pastor urges.
"Biblical justice is social justice, and it calls for interfaith cooperation."
"Our Father's World" is "ideally suited for presentation at churches and study groups," a press release noted.