Christians' Environmental Forum

Extracts from email responses to my study guide "Christians and the Environment"


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3 October 2005: Received from Laurel Inman, USA

Dear Alan,

Thank your for the wisdom in your Christian environmental knowledge. It is about time we all become more serious about the INCREDIBLE ecosystem created by God! As someone very passionate about this subject I appreciate your work and look forward to reading more of it.

8 September 2005: Received from Kabiswa Charles, Chairman, Ecological Christian Organisation (ECO), Uganda

Hullo Mr. Marshall Allan,

Its now some time since I communicated to you. Just to remind you, Kabiswa Charles who enjoy reading your essays so much on environmental Christianity. Iam the Chairman of Ecological Christian Organisation (ECO). ECO started a year back with a Vision of conserving nature basing on Christian Principles.

The last time I communicated to you via my personal email, you were creating a web page to act as a directory of Christian Environmental Groups. I do not know how far you have gone. I would be very grateful if you include mine as well. What information would you need to include ECO? I also need to open a website for ECO, though that may comein later.

Allan please, keep in touch with me because I expect alot from you regarding my programme developments. Please send me any contact that you see is very useful and I need your prayers because sometimes i dont find things easy. Because what I have managed to put on ground is entirely from my pockets. I think you know what this means, but with God's blessing I have managed to move on. Iam now trying to create awareness and sensitizing Christian Leaders to be active in the Compaign of Conserving nature. At the same time trying to plant several tree species arround religious institutions especially churches. Thats what has been keeping me busy all throughout. I have also written several project proporsals which are on my files still pending and I have several others not put to paper.

So Allan, thats why you could be a blessing to me if you try to send me any useful contacts and advise me accordingly. I love being advised so much. Who knows, we can one day run a programme together in Uganda. May God bless you and iam looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Kindest Regards, Kabiswa Charles

My Reply

Thankyou for you feedback. I am encouraged to hear about your iniative and will pray for its success. I am going to create a web page to act as a directory of christian environmental groups. If you send me contact details for your organisation, I will be happy to include it.

God Bless, Alan Marshall

31 August 2005: Received from Lindsay Heneghan, USA

Thank you very much. I am a teacher of Re and was looking for something to help me with the Christian view on caring for the environment. I was having little success when I discovered your page. What joy. I had never read about or considered for myself using the Flood Story in this context but now it seems so obvious.

21 August 2005: Received from Bob, USA

I'm a Christian and I'm a environmentalist. I'm a Christian and I oppose abortion as a reality based treatment for unwanted pregnancy, but don't think it needs to be outlawed. I'm a Christian and don't agree with 92% of what comes out of Presidents Bush's mouth and I didn't vote for him either time. You seem to think that my primary responsibility is to render unto Caesar and to obey my Government. You seem to think that standing up for clean air, water and food is pushing the boundaries of being a good Christian. I think it is time that we look at the fundamental mentality of Christians that supports the continual assault on the creation in the name of "Comfortable life style" and get over it. The plan fact is this; If we don't do something to change our current wasteful consumption of the Earths resources and Jesus doesn't come back within the next 25 to 50 years we are all completely DOOMED!! But, by all means don't appear to overly concerned about these issues at the cost of saving one more soul for the Kingdom. Question: What good is it to save one more child from being aborted if the world they are born into is toxic and unable to sustain there basic needs of air,water and food? Wake up and smell the organic bird-friendly coffee Mr.

My Reply

Thanks for your feedback. Actually I totally agree with you! I too am a christian and an environmentalist. You seem to have misunderstood my point on government, but I am grateful because on reading my study again I see it needs some clarification.

In the essay “Christians & the Environment” I wrote:

We should acknowledge the role of government and “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Mat 22:15-22, Rom 13:1-7). That is, God wants us to submit to government in those matters concerning the common good which are properly its role. Law and order and taxation are explicitly included. I would argue that the environment is also very much the business of government. There is nothing we have more in common than the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate we and God’s creatures live in.

I live in Sydney, Australia. The leaders of both my country and yours have been opposed to coordinated international action on reducing green house emissions. They fear the economic consequences of protecting the environment, and they distrust the United Nations and most binding international agreements.

The leaders of both Australia and the USA are christians. In the essay I was suggesting that they should not let christians’ historic distrust of big government prevent them from cooperating in the international effort to tackle climate change. After all, the weather doesn’t respect national boundaries. Climate and other environmental concerns are global problems requiring a global response. While christians would be right to resist an international agreements that made abortion easier, I think they (including Howard and Bush) are wrong to resist international agreements that protect the environment. Government at the national and international level is our “Caesar”. They have a God-given responsibility to protect this world that God has given us. If they fail, then you and have a responsibility to stand up to them. Jesus point about taxation (“give to Caesar what is Caesar’s”) was that even if God’s people, the Jews, didn’t like Caesar, he had a God-given job to do, and the Jews needed to cooperate with Caesar to the extent that he was legitimately doing his job. Many christians don’t like the United Nations, but I would argue that Jesus’ teaching means we should respect that organization, and other international bodies, when that attempt to do something about the problems that affect us all.

What do you think?

God Bless, Alan Marshall

PS. You might be interested in my letter to Prime Minister Howard. (It did get a response.)

19 August 2005: Received from Patrick Raynard, BC, Canada

Dear Alan,

Just a quick note to thank you for listing the Bible references pertaining to the environment, particularly with your linking the terminology to today's vocab, especially "sustainability." In 3 weeks I will begin teaching Religion 8 (among other subjects) which covers Old Testament, and I believe I will be able to make use of your material. I will give you full credit and encourage my students and colleagues to visit your site.

My Reply

Thanks very much for your feedback. I originally put the material together for a bible study I was leading, but the response I have received from christians around the world, both catholics and protestants, has confirmed it useful to a wider audience.

God Bless, Alan Marshall

19 July 2005: Received from M.I. Varghese, India

Dear Alan,

I am a Forest Officer of Kerala State, belonging to Indian Forest Service. I also teach Environmental subjects in various Institutions. I am invited recently to address a Forum of Catholic Priests on the subject "Environmental Protection - The God given duty of Christianity".

I had occassion to see your study the guide on "Christians and the Envirnment". Kindly send me some more articles on the above subject through E-mail.

29 June 2005: Received from Christina, Australia

Hi Alan, I like your use of submission to government, common law etc to provide a framework for environmental responsibility. It is not proving easy to find Christian thoughts on the environment in an Australian context that does not end up in extreme liberal land. If you know of any good references, I would love to know!

Cheers Christina

11 June 2005: Received from Sigrid Benson, Gulf Breeze, Florida, USA

Thank you for your hard work.

I am trying to convince the many conservative Christians in my area (NW Florida Panhandle) that caring for the environment is their God-given duty. I fear their materialism has clouded the teachings of the Bible, leading too many to accept the rampant growth and destructive practices thereof. Especially I'd like to convince our Christian elected leaders, many of whom list their church affiliation in their biographies.

After I study your Biblical references, I will be better able to appeal to them. Thank you again.

My Reply

Be encouraged. The number of evangelical christians who are getting serious about environmental stewardship is steadily growing. I believe the biblical case for environmental responsibility is strong, because care for creation is part of the mandate given to man in Genesis 1. Indeed, it is part of what it means for man to be made in the image of God, for God cares for all that he has made. I will pray that God is able to use your influence.

Regards, Alan Marshall

6 April 2005: Received from Don Mottley, USA

Alan,

I am a Christian and an environmentalist. It is often hard to get our politicians especially the Republicans to understand that we must have clean water and clean air in order to survive. I often butt heads and it seams like what I share with them goes through one ear and out the other. I live in Southwestern, Indiana and we have the largest water polluter in the state just up-stream of me and 17 coal fired power plants within a 42 mile radius of were I live. We have a lot of cancer patients and autistic kids along with a higher asthma rate in our kids than the rest of the state.

We have politicians that economic development is placed above everything else even our health. They do not understand that when you have a polluted environment and your employees are sick all the time that production fails and you begin to lose business. I appreciated your study and if you have other studies that deal with how we can better protect and preserve God's green earth and be the stewards he wants us to be please share them with me.

Don Mottley valley@evansville.net

My Reply

Thanks for writing. I apologise that I have not been able to get back to you sooner. When it comes to the environment I find that many christians have one of two problems.

With some the problem is that they think the only important task for christians is to share the gospel. I don't dispute the importance of evangelism, and I am very active myself in supporting missionaries and providing bibles. But the message we are to share is not just about how to get into God's kingdom when we die, but how we manifest the kingdom now by living out its values. One of those values is stewardship, whether that be stewardship of creation, stewardship of money, or stewardship of the gifts God has given us.

There is another kind of christian that is more worrying, and sadly, they have always been with us. Characterised by greed, self-justification and bigotry, their opposition to environmental protection is primarily economic. The economic conservatism of the christian right fuels their denial of environmental problems, which they think of as "socialist" concerns. Historically, the christian right has opposed every major social reform, from the abolition of slavery to the New Deal to the civil rights movement. Socially progressive christians however, have been at the forefront of each of these movements.

However as you will see, there are many other less selfish christians with questioning minds and love of truth who are open to a fresh biblical understanding of the unique set of problems the planet now faces.

19 February 2005: Received from Heather Welsh, USA

Alan,

Thank you for your prompt response. Interesting that all three movements have developed in the UK. I can recall that when I lived in the US in the early 80's the view was put to me that being an environmentalist was akin to being a satanist! This Christian perspective was on the basis that the Earth is perceived by many fundamentalist Christians as the province of Satan and that as the Apocalypse will be soon, caring for the environment was to support Satan and delay the Endtimes.

I am relieved to read recently that a number of these US fundamentalist Christians have recently re-discivered the Doctrine of Stewardship but don't want to be called "Greens" so call themselves Creation Conservators. Apparently they have been lobbying George Bush, much to his chagrin, on the US position re Kyoto. Would that they had discovered the doctrine before the presidential elections! However, at least they are listening and finally seeing a Christian perspective. As a political force those right wing Christians are a powerful political force in the US and may yet force the US to change some of its policies which have environmental impacts. Personally I see the application of the Doctrine of Stewardship as providing common ground for a coalition or working partnership between Jews and Christians.

14 February 2005: Received from Jim Varick, USA

Allan,

I am seriously considering starting an organization of Christian Environmentalist and found your site while doing research on the web. I feel that God is leading me into a ministry that would help to break down the barriers that have been building between Christians and Environmentalist (at least in the US). Many Christians that I know assume that all Christians 1) do not believe that global warming is a problem, 2) do not feel that keeping ecosystems functioning into the future is important, and 3) feel that energy and time spent on preserving our environment is time wasted. As a botanist and follower of Christ I feel that God created the world as he did for a purpose. His creation declares his glory. By not being an active part of the environmental movement (physically, spiritually, and politically) Christians are ignoring a part of the Christian mandate and missing an opportunity to share the love of the Creator with those that appreciate His creation. I would appreciate your input and any ideas you might have.

My Reply

I am greatly encouraged by your concern. I know that the christian right in the USA tends not to think global warming is a problem. It seems to me their main concern is the perceived economic impact, and their economic conservatism fuels their denial of environmental problems, which they think of as "socialist" concerns. Historically, the christian right has opposed every major social reform, from the abolition of slavery to the New Deal to the civil rights movement. Socially progressive christians however, have been at the forefront of each of these movements.

As science graduates, we both know that such denial is ignorance. And eventually even the christian right will be forced to acknowledge the problem as glaciers disappear, coral reefs die, sea levels rise, malaria moves north from Central America, and temperatures in southern USA become increasingly uncomfortable. Back in 1997 I wrote to the Australian Prime minister, John Howard in an effort to secure Australia's ratification of the Kyoto protocol. A link to my letter is here. Australia has not yet signed, but unlike the USA, at least we are on track to meet the target we agreed to at Kyoto. Despite the best efforts of the oil lobby, and the pig-headed attitude of many in the christian right on this issue, we can be greatful that in God's providence, the Kyoto Protocol comes into effect tomorrow. You may be able to play a useful part in nudging the christian community, which includes your president and secretary of state, in the direction of environmental resposibility. And it maybe more profitable to forget about George and concentrate on Condi. She is the one who can bring intellectual horsepower to foreign policy.

There are indeed a growing number of christain organisations who are concerned about the environment. I have inserted links to some of them below. (See directory).

21 January 2005: Received from Hannah Dunn, Australia

My name is Hannah Dunn and i am a year 12 student. I have found the information displayed on your webstie extremely helpful but i was wondering if you had any more information about christianity and it's response to environmental issues.

My Reply

Thanks for your feedback. Knowing others find the material useful is reward enough for me. Here are some other web sites by christain organisations who are concerned about the environment. (See directory).

13 October 2004: Received from Pat Imperatore, USA

I was doing a web search about christians and the environment as I want to put together a small group in my church. I found your guide very good and would be interested in more info if available.

12 October 2004: Received from Imad, Syria

dear brother,

please email me weblinks to some bible verses that are related to our current global environmental pollution issues as iam contemplating doing an extensive bible study on this issue. thank you in advance for your valuable help

a lone crusader from syria

My Reply

Imad,

Thankyou for writing. I presume you are a christian, but I happy to share biblical insights with Muslims as well, because both religions accept the book of Genesis and should recognise that man, made in the image of God, was to rule the domain that God had given him with the same care and responsibility that God exercises over all creation.

My essay Christians and the Environment, which you have probably read, contains all the key verses on this issue. If you are interested in seeing how I have applied these principles to the critical environmental issue of global warming, you can read my letter to the Prime Minister of Australia, who is also a christian. The countries of the Middle East will, if nothing is done, be particularly badly affected by the increase in temperatures. By the end of the century, most of the Middle East will be uninhabitable.

I thought I would also include links to christain organisations who are concerned about the environment. (See directory).

Imad's Reply

dear mr. alan,

thank you very much indeed for yoru helpful links thought i must say that i wasn't able to access more than two from your given weblinks. so, please resend the following again as file attachments: -your letter to the prime minister of australia -the lebanon link thank you again for all your valauble help

p.s. : i am a syrian christian believer & web evangelist for christ

My Reply

Imad,

The bible's principle concern is about man's relationship to God, and his reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ. So there is not a lot about the enviroment. But what there is, starting with Genesis 1:20-28, is important. My article "Christians and the Environment - A Study Guide", contains all the scripture references I am aware of. If any any of these references are unclear, let me know. Do you have a bible? You may find the online bible tool at http://bible.gospelcom.net/bible to be useful. Just type the references from my guide into the left hand box and click Go.

I am aware that while Syria is an ancient homeland of Christianity, the majority of Syria's citizens today are of the Islamic faith. While there are fundamental differences between the faiths on man's relationship to God, they are in agreement when it comes to the environment. It is important to understand this if you are to have influence in your part of the world.

I found the following quote at http://www.caspianenvironment.org/biodiversity/iran/islamvis.htm

The story of the Flood and the Ark in the Holy Koran is important, as it shows that, from the very earliest times, all forms of animal life were considered to be essential. The first conservationists were the Noah family; no species were to become extinct. All forms of animal were acknowledged to have a value in the affairs of mankind.

This agrees with my observations on Genesis 6:19-21.

God Bless, Alan Marshall

2 October 2004: Received from Maxine Chaseling, Papua New Guinea

Dear Alan,

I am assisting Conservation International to establish the Milne Bay Church Development Association in PNG. I am working with 38 Christian leaders with limited education and resources, so your Christians and the Environment- A Study Guide, will be so helpful. Our aim is to protect God's creation which also includes the villagers of PNG. A child dies every nine minutes in PNG and the Association believes that those children are God's Creation. I will try and keep in contact as our resources are limited.

My Reply

Thanks for the feedback. I would be interested to know the details of what Conservation International is doing with the local churches. I am glad you have found the study guide helpful. My resources are limited too (the web site is an unpaid part-time operation), but you are most welcome to print off whatever quantity of the study guide that you need for your ministry.

God Bless, Alan Marshall

29 July 2004: Received from Rev. Dave Bookless, Director, A Rocha UK

Dear Alan,

I came across your essay (http://alanmarshall.org/essays/christians&environment.htm) whilst looking for something else on the net. Good stuff!

If you aren't already aware of A Rocha, the international Christian practical environmental charity, I thought you might be interested (www.arocha.org). As a pastor and bible-teacher myself, I became involved through studying scripture and realising how relevant this was, and yet also that the churches have ignored it for so long. A Rocha is one of the few bodies doing something practical in the name of Christ. So... I ended up setting up A Rocha UK (www.en.arocha.org/uk) along with my wife!

Happy surfing!

My Reply

Thanks for your encouragement. I get feedback periodically, and so far it has been positive.

It's a bit lonely out here in the antipodes! There is little awareness of environmental issues among evangelical christians, though the catholic church seems to have a more responsible attitude. Many christians think that Jesus is coming back soon, and that they need do nothing, not realising that they and their society are violating the creation mandate. As a committed christian with scientific training, I seem to find myself cast in the role of an educator whenever I get involved in discussions with other christains about these things.

I believe I have had one tangible measure of success. In the leadup to Kyoto I wrote to the Prime Minister of Australia (the letter is on my site), and received an encouraging reply from the Minister for the Environment. The Prime Minister had previously been threatening to reject the treaty outright. It is just possible I helped nudge the government into signing the treaty, although parliament is yet to ratify it.

I heard a report on the news tonight that parts of the Greenland ice sheet are melting at ten times the rate previously thought. Responding to climate change is going to reshape our world, so it is important that christians understand the issues and be ready to help direct the process of change.

Your web site looks very interesting, and I look forward to exploring it!

Yours in Christ, Alan Marshall

27 April 2004: Received from Rev. Helen Nelson, MO, USA

Dear Mr. Marshall:

I found your Christians and the Environment Study Guide on the web and would like your permission to copy and use it. I am a volunteer minister who makes presentations to various local groups from time to time, often regarding environmental issues. On May 1, I will host an earth day exhibit from a Christian perspective for an inner city nonprofit community garden sponsored by Heartland All Species Project (www.allspecies.org). I ran a mission in Kansas City, Missouri's 49/63 neighborhood, where the garden is located, for over 7 years and still volunteer with other groups there whenever I can.

My background is very ecumenical. I was raised and confirmed Methodist, baptised Southern Baptist, explored various denominations and religions, ordained a Unity minister, then licensed as a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister, with standing in the Presbyterian Church (USA) as well. I am Chair of the Elders at First Christian Church (DOC) in Blue Springs, MO and coordinate and preach for ecumenical Sunday morning services at two local retirement homes.

If you could give some background information on your denominational affiliation, it might help give credence to your views, for those who need that kind of validation to consider new theological ideas. I will be volunteering my time and not charging for any of the Christian environmental information I distribute.

My Reply

Thanks for your interest. You are welcome to use the (adapted) study guide. I put it on the web for that purpose.

The essay does not reflect the view of any particular denomination. I was raised in an Anglican (Episcopalian) church, have spent some years in a pentecostal church, and now worship at Macquarie Chapel, a Presbyterian congregation with links to Macquarie University, Sydney. I have a bachelor degree in science (maths major) from the University of New South Wales.

I have had a long interest in environmental issues, particlularly in relation to the problem of controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

I welcome any feedback from your presentation.

God Bless, Alan Marshall

 

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