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Can a Christian be an environmentalist?

Can a Christian be an environmentalist? September 10, 2020

Can a Christian be an environmentalist? In this rich, compact biblical theology of creation care, Sandra Richter argues that once Christ-followers understand God’s perspective of his earth, they all should be environmentalists.

An expert in ancient Israel and Old Testament theology, Richter argues that creation care is a biblical and moral issue that impacts not only the globe itself, but also the church’s witness to global humanity. How God’s people care for God’s earth is a reflection of their love for God and his children, for the biblical paradigm provides for the marginalized.

Genesis gives a blueprint of God’s will for the earth and for the humans he set in dominion over it. Much as Israel “rented” the promised land from Yahweh, so do we all merely steward—not own—the earth. Just as the Israelites’ disobedience to God’s farming laws (see Leviticus 25:4–7) caused their land to wither with famine and drought, so the earth suffers under the unsustainability of modern agricultural and industrial practices. Embedded in Scripture itself is the pattern for animal care; Richter’s chapter on the animal abuse that underpins our food industry will have you searching for the closest farmer’s market.

With effectual storytelling, Richter balances her theological chops with well-researched examples from history and current events. And while she paints a bleak picture of the church’s trajectory related to creation care, she also offers hope and practical suggestions for individuals and communities. Discussion questions following each chapter will foster thoughtful, sometimes challenging conversations among those who used this book for group study—a practice every church should consider.

 

Author photo
Dr. Sandra L. Richter

Sandra L. Richter (PhD, Harvard University), professor at Westmont College and a member of the Committee for Biblical Translation for the NIV, is best known in the church for her work The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry into the Old Testament (2008). Stewards of Eden: What Scripture Says about the Environment and Why It Matters (2020) reveals the Bible’s relevance to current events in a remarkable way. She is a sought-after speaker and teacher for ministry conferences, retreats, leadership events, and academic events.

I had the privilege of hearing her present a paper at the Evangelical Theological Society‘s 2019 annual meeting: “Rape in Israel’s World: A Study of Deuteronomy 22:23–27.” In this podcast, she elaborates on the topic of that paper, why Old Testament Law required a rapist/seducer to marry the young woman he violated. She has a gift for explaining ancient texts so an unfamiliar audience can understand and find new significance in the Word of God.

My review of Stewards of Eden is reprinted from Bible Study Magazine (Sept/Oct 2020) with permission.

 

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