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The Theology of Ecology

By James Merritt | Senior Pastor of CrossPointe Church in Duluth, Georgia.

I have just returned from my annual, "Dear God, I can't take this anymore; please release me; let me go; I'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when I'll be back again" break, otherwise known as a vacation. During that time from the mountains to the beach, I got reacquainted with this beautiful place called planet earth. The clean air, pristine lakes, beautiful beaches and trees from pines to palms reminded me of how good God has been to give us such a wonderful home.

It goes without saying that environmental issues have become a hot topic literally and figuratively. It doesn't matter where you go or who you listen to, it seems like everyone these days is talking about the environment, whether they are professors or professionals, actors or athletes, bureaucrats or business people.

The topic is certainly relevant right here in our country; although we represent roughly 5 percent of the world's population, we generate 40 percent of its waste. The average American family produces 40 pounds of garbage every week. Every day, we dispose of approximately 200 million tons of garbage and less than a quarter of it is recycled. Only 7,000 of the 20,000 landfills that have been operating since 1978 are now in operation. Of those 7,000, more than 90 percent of those do not meet EPA regulations. Even such a thing as one leaky faucet can waste up to 50 gallons of fresh water a day, which is astounding considering the fact that only 3 percent of the world's water is fresh water. I could go on, but you get the picture.

The reason I am speaking about this issue is because of one basic belief I have that should motivate every follower of Christ in the church to lead the way in being in the forefront of creation care. My basic bedrock belief is: This is a God-created world. That is why, for me, The Theology of Ecology begins with the very first verse in Scripture: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).

That verse clues me in that care for the creation must be somewhere on the list of any disciplines of a Christian lifestyle. In fact, I believe there are two words that are operative for any Christ follower in how we relate to this world and those two words are responsibility and accountability. I am to act responsibly toward the creation and its creatures. I am accountable for how I do so before the God who created both.

With that being said, it is extremely difficult for me to navigate between the two extremes I often find on this issue, from the Al Gore types, who idolize this planet to the know-mores on the other side, who ignore this planet.

A true story reminds me of just how careful we have to be in examining the so-called scientific facts. A junior high school student won a science fair in Idaho one time by giving a report about the dangers of dihydrogen monoxide. He simply was attempting to show how conditioned we have become to alarmists who practice junk-science and try to spread unnecessary fear of everything concerning the environment. As a point of his project, he was urging people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of this dangerous chemical dihydrogen monoxide.

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