Earth Day: A Biblical Mandate

I will celebrate “Earth Day” and encourage Christians of all denominations and traditions to do so. Why? We believe that … Continued

I will celebrate “Earth Day” and encourage Christians of all denominations and traditions to do so. Why? We believe that God created the earth, entrusting its care to man, and that He will one day recreate it in “the new heaven and new earth.” We are called to “witness” to our faith as believers.

Participation in this event is an opportunity to express love for God and care for what He has created. We evangelicals call this “creation care.” Care for the entire creation — the environment and “all creatures great and small” — is a biblical obligation (Gen. 2:15). We should walk in God’s ways (Deut. 10:12) and try to inspire people by offering broader vistas of thought and service.

Can we hear the voice of the biblical prophet Ezekiel: “Is it not enough for you to drink the water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?” Here’s a modern-day question: Is it enough for you to enjoy a pleasant climate? Must you destroy it? Is it not enough for you to enjoy the myriad of creatures? Must you extinguish them? Major segments of the earth are dying and we are responsible. Earth’s resources are not infinite.

A new moral awakening is sweeping our land. It’s a re-awakening to the heart of the Gospel ethic: to steward the natural world in order to preserve for ourselves and future generations a beautiful, rich, and healthy environment. It is “revision-ing” our lives. Taking part in “Earth Day” is a response to this new calling.

Thus, our family will worship together at National Cathedral in Washington with other environmental, scientific, and faith leaders and then enjoy the outdoors together. It’s all part of a faith commitment we’ve made to do everything in our power to preserve this precious gift the Creator has given us.

Richard Cizik is vice president for governmental affairs of the National Association of Evangelicals. His primary responsibilities include editing publications such as NAE Washington Insight, directing NAE’s Washington Insight Briefing and Christian Student Leadership Conferences, setting its policy direction on issues before Congress, the White House, and Supreme Court, and serving as a national spokesman on issues of concern to evangelicals.

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  • Russell D.

    I have an idea………why not make “Earth Day” and everyday thing? Seems it would make a heck of alot more of an impact than one day a year.

  • Patrick

    Making everything religious in nature turns off all the non-christians, and christians alike.Perhaps protecting the earth for the sake of the inhabitants, instead of trying to spin your belief in whom made the earth would be far better and more inclusive instead claiming the earth origins rooted in non-scientific basis.Religion has no purposeful attitude towards the earth, since it is mostly conservative republicans; evangelics; that are destroying the world.Evangelics feeling GUILTY?

  • Mark

    Well said. I do not consider myself Christian, but I don’t think it matters. Unless your personal belief system requires you to actively destroy the planet and waste resources, most religions believe that this planet was given to us by an all-powerful creator who entrusted this place to us. It only makes sense to care for this gift. I would think taking poor care of the earth would be like a slap to the face for a creator. It is easy to imagine how you’d feel if you gave someone something special and they returned it to you in pieces. I’m actually surprised that caring more for the planet isn’t already a hard-wired Christian practice!

  • Eric B.

    Mr. Cizik,Your choice of that verse from Ezekiel was perfect. Thanks,Eric B.

  • Eric B.

    Mark,Mark, you said you were “surprised that caring more for the planet isn’t already a hard-wired Christian practice!” I agree wholeheartedly. As a Bible-believing Christian, I have been appointed to encourage Christians to live a life worthy of the name. I apologize to you on behalf of my brothers and sisters that have not represented Christ’s name well and I want you to know that here is at least one Christian striving to make a difference. I also agree that failure to care for our planet is a “slap in the face” to our creator. Well said. Thank you for your observations and please continue to hold us to our words!Eric B.

  • sean

    Christian Evangelical Born Agains, When you pushed your dark ages agenda during the last two neo-conservative election spin cycles, you lost every shred of decency, believability, accountability, respect, and tenure you ever had. Go to hell. You helped bring this administration to power, now go clean up the Sh*t they are leaving behind. All I can say to you is what Cheney infamously, and Christianly said to a senator: Go Fu*k yourselves.Sean.

  • Eric B.

    Patrick,I agree that the subject of caring for the earth does not necessarily need to have a religious ‘spin’ on it. As you said, “protecting the earth for the sake of the inhabitants” is adequate and proper motivation. However, be careful not to make assumptions. “Religion has no purposeful attitude towards the earth” is a false statement. Proper living of the Christian life includes a command to ‘love your neighbor as yourself,’ and a natural fulfillment of that is to care for the home we share. Add to that the citation by Mr. Cizik of Genesis 2:15 – mankind’s first job at the dawn of creation was to care for the garden of Eden.Also, I would add that ANY explanation of Earth’s origin is a matter of faith because science cannot be applied to the subject. The earth’s origin cannot be measured, observed, or experimented upon. Any explanation is scientifically a theory at best and not scientific fact.Eric B.

  • pv

    What he doesn’t get is that many people were already doing this for decades but were fighting resisitance from one group (the RNC) that was funded and backed by his group… or maybe he knew all along….

  • God

    I didn’t make the earth, the big bang theory is correct, stuff just happens.Also, I agree, we should remove religion from any discussions about nature and earth, etc. This way, all are included.

  • reispace

    Evangelicals might soon discover a few more novel concepts: world peace; compassion for the poor; brotherly love; and, judge not, lest ye be judged!!!!

  • Karen

    It is always a joy to read something Richard Cizik writes. He goes beyond the usual narrow thinking of the religious right and shows that evangelicals can care about something other than men loving men and abortion.

  • Jerry D.

    Richard Cizik writes well and believes what he sells. Evangelical influence over the people of the world.

  • aleco

    you gotta sympathize with us christians…With all the time spent on trying to protect unborn babies from being killed, saving marriage as the union between man and woman (well duh!), organizing famine relief, running soup kitchens, charities, adoption programs, coat drives..yeah sorry we didnt have time left over to spend on recycling our plastic and lowering our dependence on fossil fuels….how selfish of US. The world needs more people to focus on solutions to such SIMPLE problems like climate change (sarcasm) rather than protecting the issues that make us human to begin with. Here’s the real serious beef: Conservation strategies while commendable are a luxury for the rich. Third World countries need strong economies whose byproducts are industrial waste. If they go green they die, pure and simple. As for those high and mighty in the West (and on the forum) try giving up the electricity your’e using to power up your computer to post meaningless talking points on this forum, or is your ego more important than saving the planet?

  • Ted Haggard’s boyfriend

    An evangelical who cares about something else other than his own salvation??? Wow, what’s next, a sane person who still believes in Bush?

  • Aleco

    Many sane people prefer Bush to the maxim “the lesser of two evils”…the second evil being crazy liberals…

  • Aleco

    Many sane people prefer Bush due to the maxim “the lesser of two evils”…the second evil being crazy liberals…

  • NMAIF

    Unfortunately, there are many evangelical Christians who use the word DOMINION to mean EXPLOITATION. A Republican state representative in New Mexico used the Bible to justify her voting against the bill to ban cockfighting, seems she thinks DOMINION justifies anything people want to do to animals.

  • Aleco

    Oh give me a break…the belief that evangelicals are taking over the country is a crock pure and simple. Nothing like left-wing hysteria…AAAHHH THE SKY IS FALLING AAHHH!!!!!!

  • Tonio

    I’ve read about the developing split among prominent evangelical Christians over the issue of global climate change. The ones on the opposite side from Cizik seem to be the fundamentalists. I would be interested in knowing Cizik’s thought about why the split has developed that way. Why do fundamentalists such as Cal Thomas seem to dismiss environmentalism as a stalking horse for paganism?Many posters here make the same mistake often made by the media – treating “evangelical” and “fundamentalist” as synonymous. I’m not Christian and even I know that fundamentalists are a vocal minority among evangelicals. And Aleco, while you may have a point about “taking over the country,” it’s valid to criticize organized attempts to use government institutions for pushing religious beliefs on people, such as at the Air Force Academy and in Kansas public schools.

  • aleco

    tonio wrote: OK, I concede your point. Now how about mentioning the daily onslaught of leftist, liberal beliefs on our society as a whole whether its regard to gay marriage (anyone who believes marriage=man+women is a BIGOT!!), economics (if you want tax cuts you are a greedy capitalist), abortion (you dont care about women at all and unborn babies are just balls of cells!!!), premarital sex (sex is beautiful, damn old fashioned notions about marriage and sex, PRUDES!!!), God (God is dead!!! Thats right, our tolerant society demands insults to Christianity but better not offend anything liberal just conservative values).Well Tonio, your tolerant response to the above? Let me guess, its all in my head…

  • Spencer

    I wonder how many professed Christians take “Love thy neighbor” so seriously. How many are motivated by their faith to, say, refrain from littering or smoking? I doubt that only atheists are flicking cigarette butts out of their car windows.

  • GEORGE

    LET’S NOT FORGET THE BAHAI FAITH WHICH BELEVIES THAT THE EARTH IN ONE COUNTRY AND MANKID IT’S CITIZENS.

  • Harry

    I love it when non-Christians start pontificating (pun intended) on how Christians ought to be acting. If non-Christians believed the best way to act is by following Christian ideals then shouldnt they convert to Christianity??Being Christians doesnt mean that we are perfect:1 John 1:7-9 (New International Version) 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

  • John Of Little faith

    It’s always those non-Christians telling everyone else what to do. That’s a good one. You are killing me!

  • Hewitt

    Richard CizikYour notion of Christian stewardship is laudible, and I applaud your success at overcoming the traditional Religous Right assault on your position. I am curous about your response to traditional Relgious Rightists who argue that Man cannot cause or cure global warming, since global warming is God’s will.

  • dave

    Evangelicals, and Muslim fanatics: You are the ones whon God is very mad at and ashamed of. Planet Earth can do without your help. Your religious intolerance and holy wars throughout the centuries are the main cause of death and destruction to our world. God and the rest of us don’t need your help to save the world. We’ll fix it just fine without you.

  • Shelly

    Wow! I just happened to see Mr. Cizik’s little article and when I read it, I thought it was fine. Why is it necessary that so much hate and exaggeration has to be the constant response toward Christians? If Mr. Cizik had written the same article, quoting the same passages, but saying that he was Jewish or Unitarian, would the response have been so full of anger? The Christians are not the only people who drive SUV’s, live in big houses, eat meat, don’t recycle, etc.- and this behavior didn’t begin yesterday . . . many years before Mr. Cizik wrote his article, pollution was a problem. Don’t you think that the sentiments in the article were good sentiments? Can we simply focus on a positive statement that someone says instead of shredding their them . . . especially since those of you who are so angry probably AGREE that we should be doing all we can to protect this Earth!

  • tazmodious

    aleco wrote:Now how about mentioning the daily onslaught of leftist, liberal beliefs on our society as a whole whether its regard to gay marriage (anyone who believes marriage=man+women is a BIGOT!!), economics (if you want tax cuts you are a greedy capitalist), abortion (you dont care about women at all and unborn babies are just balls of cells!!!), premarital sex (sex is beautiful, damn old fashioned notions about marriage and sex, PRUDES!!!), God (God is dead!!! Thats right, our tolerant society demands insults to Christianity but better not offend anything liberal just conservative values).Marriage between a man and a woman will always be marriage, whether or not gay couples can get married will not change that fact. Tax cuts are fine when they are appropriate. It seems greedy to me to give the rich enormous tax cuts in a time of dire war against terrorism. If the terrorists are waiting at our borders, should not all of the people forgo tax cuts to fund this war? Sex, it’s all about biology, people always have and always will have sex. How do you think the human race became what it was. We are animals you know; we have fur, eyes, feet, teeth,blood, ears like all other mammals. Oh wait, you think the Earth was created 10,000 years ago. If so, what happened to the dinosaurs and all of the other extinct creatures for which we only find fossil remains. Abortion should be the choice of the women who have to labor with child and birth. Who are you to have command over a woman’s body? God is neither dead nor alive, God just is, if God exists. Why should God be like a human? What if there millions of other forms of life throughout the universe as advanced or more advanced than us? What would God be then? We’re not bashing religion, just the hypocritic folks that claim religious devotion yet fully support the destruction of God’s creation. I was confirmed as a Lutheren and it is evident to me that God would want us to take care of creation, right?

  • tazmodious

    Shelly, you are absolutely correct. If we stand on common ground then there is no reason to keep beating each other up.

  • llew jones

    If God needs our help to look after his earth he must be impotent. Seems to me that he was looking after this earth pretty well through wars, famine and pestilence until we started overpopulating it by fighting against his clever Earth sensitive policies. Of course there is just the chance that God cares a lot more about humans than he does about the rest of his creation. Perhaps that’s why he “let” us learn how to reduce the ravages of famine and pestilence. Wars? Now that’s a different kettle of fish.

  • sean Watkins

    Oh, Shelly, you arre playing the argument of saying we can’t worry about the enormous crap hole neo-cons, evangelicals, born agains, etc…dug for the world. Your argument is that we must look forward, leaving the crap hole to fester, and not place the responsibility of their actions squarely at their feet. In not telling them that their disgusting humanness did all this to the earth, and holding them accountable, they will simply rise again to pull the same sh*t next time. When they all to a person apologize, on record, and pay back every single dime they hoarded for themselves in the name of the bible and your god, then maybe i’ll give this sort of argument the light of day. Until then, it’s self-serving sh*it flavored ice cream.

  • Anonymous

    Any evidence that this Earth was actually created? I know that all the religious folks believe it, but would you behave any differently if the devil had created it? If you mess with it, you are finally cooked anyway.

  • Jeff

    Mr Cizek is saying what was written centuries ago by ancient Jews in Kohellet Rabba 7, 28. It was quoted in the journal of the nature society in Israel, “Land & Nature,” in the Spring of 1983:”When the Holy One, blessed be He, created the first man, He took him and warned him about all the trees of the Garden of Eden, saying ‘See my works, how beautiful and perfect they are, and all I created–I created for you. Beware lest you spoil and destroy My world, for if you will spoil it, there is no one to repair it after you.”The message is universal. The sooner more people learn it and apply it the better it will be for our planet and all its inhabitants.As for religion, let’s stop trying to impose any religion on others. Gandhi wrote about this in the 1920s when he implored everyone to stop trying to convert others. His message was for people to help others become better practitioners of their own religion. That would end nearly all wars, wouldn’t it, and end much of the harm to our Earth.

  • Tonio

    Aleco,This isn’t about liberal values versus Christian values. For one thing, there are many devout Christians who consider themselves political liberals. In principle it’s wrong for anyone to force his or her beliefs on anyone else. In practice, it’s more offensive when the beliefs being forced are religious ones. That’s because unlike other types of values, religious values go to the core of a person’s identity and the person’s perception of his or her place in the world. I consider myself a middle-roader poltically, and your rant about “leftist, liberal values” sounds like you’re creating a straw man. It reminds me of how some extreme pro-choicers accuse all pro-lifers of having an agenda to do away with all birth control, or of how people like Michael Moore accuse the Bush Administration of invading Iraq with a goal of seizing that country’s oil.In reference to your point about gay marriage, a person’s opinion on that is not my business nor anyone else’s, and I would never call someone a bigot for having a personal opposition to gay marriage. Now, if the person accuses all gays of conspiring to destroy straight marriage, convert all straight people and legalize pedophilia, then it might (I say might) be appropriate to label the person a bigot. At the least, such an accusation is deceitful and manipulative.My original point is that some believers want to use public schools to convert my children to their religion. Obviously, it would be just as wrong for a group of militant atheists to use the schools to convert my children to atheism, and I would condemn that just as strongly. Public schools aren’t supposed to take any position on the existence of deity or deities – they should let my kids and everyone else’s make up their own minds about religion.

  • Joel

    I understand (and frequently share) the anger and resentment that Sean has expressed. Moreover, I expect “true Christians” to repent publicly for the evil, sinful, un-Christian administration and Congresses that they have helped (s)elect over the past couple of decades (starting in 1994… and Reagan didn’t help either).Nonetheless, I applaud and support Mr. Cizik in doing the right thing NOW and urge them to do more. The renowned biologist E.O. Wilson, who was raised a Baptist but now describes himself as a “provisional deist” and a supporter of scientific humanism, has argued in his book The Creation that secular and religious people must put aside their differences for the good of the planet, the human species, and numerous other species with which we share the planet. I’m glad Mr. Cizik and the NAE are stepping up to the plate. I only hope it isn’t too late.

  • Aleco

    Unfortuantely Tonio we do not live in a “middle-of-the-road” society anymore. America has become polarized with extreme leftists and yes extreme rightists. Try sympathisizing with me, a middle-of-the-road conservative whose voice is drowned out. if you are OK with 1st trimester abortion but opt for restrictions (waiting periods, mother’s PHYSICAL health, genetic deformities) as the pregnancy progresses you are labeled by most of the mainstream media and one party as denying a women’s right to choose. If you accept climate change but prefer not to have drastic cuts to our economy to attempt to reverse it (wont work, its too late) you are labeled as anti-science. If you understand that embryonic stem cell research may indeed yield positive advances but prefer focusing instead on umbilical and adult stem cells so the ethical concerns would be ameliorated you are labeled as a religious nut. If you are a believe in helping the poor but think that too much welfare hurts rather than helps the poor you are branded as greedy and shameless. If you believe that the separation of church and state does not translate into a green light to purge any hint of religious tradition in our culture (Merry Christams vs Happy Holidays example) while political correctness runs amok, ruling with an iron fist….well, I expect a fairminded person like yourself to at least sympathize with moderate conservatives like myself…

  • Tonio

    “well, I expect a fairminded person like yourself to at least sympathize with moderate conservatives like myself…”Yes, I do. Most of the labeling that you specifically criticize comes from the vocal extremists on the left, and not the left as a group. The same is true for the right. That fits in with my theory that the most extreme members of any movement are also the most vocal ones, because of a desire for attention.I’ll answer your point about “purging any hint of religious tradition in our culture.” Many people seem to treat government and the public arena as the same thing, which they are not. Part of the problem is that commentators like O’Reilly warn of deliberate conspiracies to keep Christianity down, preying upon honest fears of believers to boost their own ratings.I believe government should stay out of religious matters, maintaining a neutral stance among competing religions. That means that no religion’s deities should be mentioned in the Pledge of Allegiance and no religion’s creation stories should be taught in public school science classes. But it also means that public schools can allow students to pray on their own before class or during lunch, and can offer classes on comparative religions. It also means that town squares should be open for all religions to set up their own holiday displays. (Invite everyone – Christians, Muslims, Jews, Wiccans, Druids, Native Americans, whoever, and if some of them don’t respond, that’s not the government’s problem.) It means leaving religion to the individual believers.In my view, a phrase like “Happy Holidays” is a well-intentioned but failed attempt at acknowledging that America is home to many different beliefs. I don’t like the phrase because it ends up watering down different religions into a bland gruel. I also think it’s almost impossible to come up with an acceptable substitute. Part of the problem is that we used to assume that everyone was a Christian. But our country has become so religiously diverse that our culture will inevitably be influenced by many different religions, not just one religion as in previous centuries. And I don’t see that as a bad thing, as long as we allow all religions to be worshiped and expressed openly. Maybe the solution is to drop “Happy Holidays” altogether, and wish “Merry Christmas” only to people who we know are celebrating Christmas. If you’ve read about the evangelism scandal at the Air Force Academy, as I alluded earlier, do you sympathize with the non-Christian cadets who faced organized pressure them to convert? For me it wasn’t about the beliefs being pushed, but the fact that any kind of pushing was going on.

  • Aleco

    “If you’ve read about the evangelism scandal at the Air Force Academy, as I alluded earlier, do you sympathize with the non-Christian cadets who faced organized pressure them to convert?”I agree wholeheartedly that te above case was out of line. But on many college campuses similar situations occur with leftist professors openly deriding and mocking (DURING class) conservative values not to mention America bashing left and right and sympathy for the worst despotic regimes the world has to offer. Many conservative students at Ivy Leagues have to keep their mouths shut. Observe the Minuteman speaker invited to speak at Columbia. 2mins in, leftist students rushed the stage and prevented him from talking. The problem is that when the extreme right does wrong its plastered all over the news, but when the extreme left does wrong only Fox news will carry it. Why the discrepancy? I am not claiming that there is an organized left-wing conspiracy in the mainstream media, but there is bias, a clear bias that permeates into society as well.And as for religion witness the double standard with the Mohammed cartoons where some newspapers under the banner of responsibility refused to show them. Compare that with the constant diatribes and liberties against any aspects of Christianity whether its movies (Last Temptation, Da Vinci Code), art (StMary + elephant dung), and of course the CNN specials about the above forms of expression. Why the discrepancy?Thoughts Tonio?

  • Anonymous

    Last I heard, God created the whole universe, not just this miserable dust speck of a planet.

  • Soja John Thaikattil

    Dear Mr CizikI agree that a conscious awareness of our duty as Christians is an important incentive to take greater care of the earth and its resources. We owe it to those who come after us. It is up to the others (believers and non-believers alike) to cultivate the same awareness in anyway they choose. It does not hurt anyone if Christians (the ones that do) choose to care for God’s creation as an act of worship to God. For instance a job may be merely a means to earn money for some; it may be a vocation for others; or an expression of worship for still others. So it is with ‘Creation Care.’Soja John Thaikattil

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  • Richard Cizek

    As you can see my name is very close to the subjects. I was training union director at a small Baptist church in Alabama and the folowing year ran some special programs for the church which involved taking care of the earth. This was in the late 70’s. This was triggered by a class that I took while working for NASA titled Fundamentials of Earth Resources. could you put me in touch with Richard Cizik? Thanks.

  • Richard Cizek

    As you can see my name is very close to the subjects. I was training union director at a small Baptist church in Alabama and the folowing year ran some special programs for the church which involved taking care of the earth. This was in the late 70’s. This was triggered by a class that I took while working for NASA titled Fundamentials of Earth Resources. could you put me in touch with Richard Cizik? Thanks.

  • Richard Cizek

    As you can see my name is very close to the subjects. I was training union director at a small Baptist church in Alabama and the folowing year ran some special programs for the church which involved taking care of the earth. This was in the late 70’s. This was triggered by a class that I took while working for NASA titled Fundamentials of Earth Resources. could you put me in touch with Richard Cizik? Thanks.

  • Richard Cizek

    As you can see my name is very close to the subjects. I was training union director at a small Baptist church in Alabama and the folowing year ran some special programs for the church which involved taking care of the earth. This was in the late 70’s. This was triggered by a class that I took while working for NASA titled Fundamentials of Earth Resources. could you put me in touch with Richard Cizik? Thanks.

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