What happens when “green” becomes gospel?

In NOT recommended, theology on September 27, 2008 at 6:03 pm


Described by Time Magazine:

The Green Bible…calls attention to more than 1,000 verses related to nature by printing them in a pleasant shade of forest green, much as red-letter editions of the Bible encrimson the words of Jesus. The new version’s message, states an introduction by Evangelical eco-activist J. Matthew Sleeth, is that “creation care”–the Christian catchphrase for nature conservancy–“is at the very core of our Christian walk.”

Using recycled paper with soy-based ink, The Green Bible includes supplementary writings by, among others, St. Francis of Assisi, Pope John Paul II, Desmond Tutu and Anglican bishop N.T. Wright. Several of these essays cite the Genesis verse in which God gives humanity “dominion” over the earth, a charge most religious greens read to mean “stewardship.”

And here:

“This is exactly what the Church needs at this critical time.” — Richard Cizik, vice president for Governmental Affairs, National Association of Evangelicals

Call me old-fashioned, but isn’t Jesus what the Church needs at this critical time?  I’m just as into “stewardship” as the next guy, but this is missing the point.

Yes.  The Bible does set up a framework for understanding humanity’s role as stewards of creation, but is this the point of Scripture?  As I recall, Jesus said “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39 ESV).


Isn’t the person and work of Jesus the point of Scripture?

I’m not saying that it is wrong or sinful in any way to be environmentally conscious.  In fact, I think that it is very good.  It’s just that when a Bible is published that misses the point of the gospel things tend to get a bit hairy.

Now go order an ESV Study Bible.

  1. No one is denying the centrality of Christ. (Though, I agree, I don’t like that ‘core’ statement.) Rather, they’re saying our refusal to be good stewards is evidence that we have long abandoned the purpose of our creation in the first place. Redemption involves humanity becoming what they were created to be – and one of the things is good stewards of the earth.

    In other words, there need not bee an either/or dichotomy here.

    …but, again, That ‘core’ statement is a bit bothersome. I’m sure it’s just for rhetorical effect…but still bothersome.

  2. I completely agree that there doesn’t need to be an either/or dichotomy, I’m just saying that, at the very least, it confuses the message of Scripture – that being redemption found in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

    As important as stewardship is, in my humble (but strong) opinion it is ultimately secondary to the message of the Cross.

  3. I don’t think we’re in disagreement.

    I agree that Christ crucified and risen is the key to our faith. But I also think the redemption of all creation is intended in the gospel (Col. 1), and thus part of our message involves environmental stewardship.

    But, like I said, I think we’re in agreement.

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