Book Review: Should Christians Be Environmentalists?

I received a review copy of Should Christians Be Environmentalists by Dan Story from Kregel Books for their blog tour. I am under no obligation to write a positive review.

The question in the book title is posed by someone who was a very active environmentalist before he became a Christian. The answer is fairly obvious. The difficulty is the political quagmire one has to wade through to really explain why Christians should be “environmentalists.” The term conjures up stark images.

It can be an image of someone doing something great, like standing in an environmentally correct hiking outfit overlooking God’s green earth, followed by a picture of a pristine shoreline.

It can be an image of doomsayers blaming humanity (at let’s face it… mostly American humanity) for the ills of the earth. It could be the fear of worshiping the earth.

The images have heroes and villains. Dan Story has the noble task of attempting to make environmentalism something worth thinking about as a Christian.

To be fair, his criticism of the church not being the “vanguard” of the environmentalist movement has some valid points. After all, the first “Earth Day” had as one of its organizers someone from my very own conservative Christian denomination. (And that was back in the day when we were very conservative.) Believers, being charged by God in Scripture to be betters stewards of the resources given to us have dropped the ball in many ways. The author tries to bring us back around to responsible stewardship without falling into earth worship.

In that blame, it’s not just Christians. He blames all humanity. He is given to hyperbole: “Since Eden the human race has done irreparable damage to nature and the land” (p. 34). Just a bit over the top. But the man is passionate about his case.

He is also willing to concede that there are some things in the environmental movement that have been overzealous and overreaching. He does point out the ridiculous bureaucracy that is often in place so that nothing can be accomplished. Yet, there are things to recognize as issues that should demand our attention.

We can talk about “climate change” and causes. That’s a sore point. Some don’t want it to be too shrill. Some think they can’t be shrill enough about the issue. Yet, there are issues of change that cannot be denied. The reasons for the changes are the points of debate.

Yet, while we are debating who is “at fault,” there are things that are still going unaddressed. We need to pay better attention, and as Christians who are supposed to be better stewards of the creation given us, the church should be leading the way.

Dan Story does a fair job of trying to talk to us as Christians and ask how we can be better stewards of what God has given us. We can readily acknowledge God as Creator and not fall into earth worship and still do things that bring security to the planet on which we dwell.

In my own conservative movement, there is a tendency to say, “Well, it’s all gonna burn anyway!” So, we dismiss care of the earth.

Well, even if it is all “gonna burn,” the better question is, “Do we have to be the ones to light the match?”

Story’s book, while verging on hyperbole at times, deserves a hearing, especially to those like me, in more conservative circles, who need more convincing.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Should Christians Be Environmentalists?

  1. Honestly, I think the tendency to neglect taking care of the earth because it’s ‘all gonna burn anyways’ is an unintended, but direct result of the dispensationalist mindset in our corner of Christianity. If Jesus is just going to come back and ‘rapture’ all the good Christians out of the world and then everything goes to hell in a hand basket, then why should we bother with anything other than getting as many people to say the sinner’s prayer as possible? I personally reject this view of eschatology, and believe in embracing a more holistic Gospel where we take care of the environment and fight for justice, among countless other things.

  2. Ok 2 things on my mind from reading this. One – have people forgotten the story of Adam being given the animals and the birds, et cetera and being told he was to care for them and be in charge of them? That wasn’t said solely for Adam’s ears – God knew we would have this debate so many lifetimes later. . .
    Two – I was biking home from work last night and went past a local school that was playing a game of baseball in their diamond/field (sorry not a sports fan . . .) and just beyond that was a patch of trees . . . oops not anymore. They were all taken down leaving a grassy area that looked like it could end up being a water collection site after a big rain. I was incensed at their destruction of the land. (surprised myself with how angry and hurt it made me) I wondered what those poor trees were taken down to make room for. It wasn’t for the diamond – that was big enough. I will probably find out as I bike past it again but I can’t help wondering if it will be worth the cost to our environment and our process of breathing.

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