Biblical Creation Care Is Not a Climate Issue

Climate is back in the conversation, again. When the challenges of extreme cold, massive snow accumulation and torrential winds are added to the usual complex issues of urban survival in places like New York City, my town, they merit a prominent place in our consciousness and conversation.

Last August, the Old Farmer's Almanac predicted that this winter would be colder and snowier than average – "super-cold," in the eastern two-thirds of the United States, it said. Winter is not over, but it takes no imagination to understand the term "super-cold" as we are experiencing it on our skin and in our bones right now.

Paul de Vries is an exclusive CP columnist.
Paul de Vries is an exclusive CP columnist. | (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)

In these gripping circumstances, it is fun to hear cute comments like, "This would be a great time for a conference on global warming," or "Our extreme cold is just additional proof of global warming." One year does not determine a trend, but last winter was exceptionally cold, too! What is going on? Are there multiple factors affecting the weather, some counteracting any warming trends? Of course, the weather is always changing, so meteorology and climate science are vibrant and alive, not some closed, "settled science" as Secretary of State John Kerry falsely claimed.

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One of the greatest beauties of Biblical living is that it does not depend on the weather! Weather and climate issues have often worked to awaken people to their Godly responsibilities, but many of those human responsibilities have been defined from the beginning.

First, the Lord told our first ancestors to take leadership on earth as his representatives – responsibly to subdue and rule the rest of the creation on the planet. Our first ancestors were to "improve and protect" the original garden, the place for a daily, accountable walk with God. That literal garden is also a living parable of all our personal worlds, 24/7 – including worship-space, living-space, work-space, and leisure-space. Each day we can "improve and protect" our places – or "dress and keep" them, as in the older translations.

Second, in addition to giving us that grace of Godly responsibility, the Lord also made everything "good." Everything was made with value even prior to human introduction. If we have messed up his creation, we ought to clean it up. Better not to mess it up in the first place, but wherever we have made messes we need to clean-up – just as our parents instructed us when we were little. I also believe that even the pollutants are resources out of place, and so our "recycling" can become even more creative. This original "goodness" of God's creation should guide all of our actions, as we live as children of the good Creator, the Creator of goodness.

Both (1) our assigned roles as Godly stewards of nature and (2) the inherent goodness of creation should lead us to care for creation's welfare – regardless of weather and climate patterns. We should do right, whether or not the weather predictors are right. It does not ultimately matter whether most of the climate scientists and ecology scientists are right or wrong about our present climate crises. Creation-care is a precious opportunity and commitment, at any time.

In terms of decisions we have to make, we face a kind of "wager" in our choices now. Have you heard of Pascal's Wager? Please consider now Paul's Wager:

  •   If we practice Creation-care and most of the present climate scientists are right, everyone benefits, in the present and future generations, on every continent! If most of these scientists are wrong and we still practice Biblical Creation-care, the environment is better anyway – for present and future generations on every continent, with less pollution, less disease, more access to needed resources, and such like. Moreover, our Creator is honored and pleased. Either way, Creation-care is worthy, whether most of the climate scientists are right or wrong.
  •   If we do not practice Creation-care and most of the present climate scientists are right, there is hell to pay by us and by others, on every continent. If most of present climate scientists are wrong and we do not practice Creation-care, we have still made the environment worse for others and ourselves, including our children and grandchildren on every continent, with more pollution, more disease, less access to needed resources, and such like. Moreover, our Creator is dishonored and displeased. He has made his principles clear enough. Either way, Creation-care is worthy, whether most of the climate scientists are right or wrong.

Therefore, ultimately it is not about the climate science or the weather. It is about holistic Biblical consciousness, character, conscience and conduct that honor God our Creator most of all. Let us personally (1) live our Godly responsibilities and (2) openly express in our actions our gratitude to him for the goodness of creation. The rest of God's creatures do not need merely foul weather friends, or even fair weather friends.

Whether or not we can change the weather – let us be openly responsible and grateful, caring for our Creator's awesome works. What will you do to "improve and protect" our world today?

Dr. Paul de Vries is the president of New York Divinity School, and a pastor, speaker and author. Since 2004, he has served on the Board of the National Association of Evangelicals, representing 40 million evangelical Americans.

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