Save the Planet! What
is Our Christian Role?
November 3, 2010
With the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico still fresh in everyone’s mind, saving the planet and the environment has become a popular cry from many different environmental groups. While the blame for the oil spill is still being determined, it is refreshing not to hear the evolutionists blaming Christians for another environmental disaster.
For years now, evolutionists, atheists and New Age environmentalists have placed much of the blame for all of the environmental problems on Christians and the Dominion Mandate. They claim that Christians use this to exploit the planet, its resources and the plants and animals for the good of man without any concern about the effects left behind.
New Agers, atheists and evolutionists alike decry the idea that the planet and everything that exists on it, are there for the sole purpose of man. They claim that this arrogance has lead to the wanton destruction and depletion of habitats and resources all over the earth. The very concept of man’s dominion goes against their fundamental belief that man is just one of the many species that inhabits the globe and we have no more right to anything than does a garden slug. Many go so far to say that the only hope for saving the planet is up to New Age and atheistic environmental groups who are not subverted by such a perverted man-centered view of nature.
Is there any validity to their accusations? Have atheists and New Agers been better stewards of the environment than Christian based systems?
Over the past 20-40 years, compare the amount of pollution and habitat destruction that has taken place in atheistic communist countries compared to the United States which at the time was still a predominately Christian nation. The levels of water and air pollution in the industrialized areas of the former Soviet Union, China and India far exceeded anything found in the U.S. Australian Aborigines have burned off huge forests, leaving behind vast grasslands and altering the ecosystems, and the list goes on and on.
So what is the Dominion Mandate?
The Dominion Mandate was given by God to Adam in Genesis 1:28 which says: And God blessed them, and God said to them, Bring forth fruit, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the heaven, and over every beast that moveth upon the earth.
Subdue and Rule. Do they mean to abuse and crush as so many non-Christian environmentalists say they mean? What do they mean and what are our roles and responsibilities?
The Hebrew word translated ‘subdue’ is (כבש kabash). Kabash and its derivatives can mean to forcibly put into submission, which seems to support the views of the critics. However, it also means to put under submission in an act of compassion as in Micah 7:19 where: He will turn again, and have compassion upon us: he will subdue our iniquities, and cast all their sins into the bottom of the sea. Basically, God is telling us to place the earth and all that fills it, under the submission to man. Man is the governor over the earth. Therefore, yes, the earth and all it contains was placed here for man.
The Hebrew word translated ‘rule’ or ‘dominion’ is (רדה radah). Radah and its derivatives means to have dominion or rule over a subject or subjects. Interestingly, the usage of radah is only used when speaking of man and not God’s rule or dominion. Again, the opponents of Christianity can say that the Bible gives man the right to exert his wishes upon the environment without care or concern for the outcome. However, Leviticus 25:43 warns the same Hebrew word, radah, against being cruel: Thou shalt not rule over him cruelly, but shalt fear thy God. In 1 Kings 4:24-25, we are told that Solomon’s rule or dominion, radah, resulted in peace and tranquility: For he ruled in all the region on the other side of the River, from Tiphsah even unto Gaza, over all the kings on the other side the River: and he had peace round about him on every side. And Judah and Israel dwelt without fear every man under his vine, and under his fig tree, from Dan, even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.
More importantly, God gave Adam this command while all of Creation was still uncorrupted by sin. In a perfect world, without any concept of cruelty or abusiveness or greed, it would have been totally meaningless to Adam if God intended it to mean what the environmentalists and atheists claim it means.
Realize also that when God brought the animals to Adam to name, this was part of the Dominion Mandate. Adam had to have spent a few moments to survey and examine each animal before he named them. Even though he had dominion over the animals, Adam understood that in order to rule over them in the way God intended him to, that he had to know something about the animals. Unlike the tyrannical rule over nature that many presume the Bible bestows, in reality, it is a ruling and subduing based upon understanding and compassion.
It is this understanding and compassion for the Creation that God gave man dominion over that drove many of the early pioneers of scientific inquiry. Men like chemist Louis Pasteur, physicist Michael Faraday, astronomer Johannes Kepler, manned flight pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright, all around genius Sir Isaac Newton, MRI inventor Raymond Damadian, and so many other great scientists were Bible believing Christians who understood that part of the Mandate involved studying the world around them. From their studies came new fields of science and technology that not only improved our way of living, but also provided new tools to better manage our environment.
Solomon was the wisest man on earth (1Kings 4:29: And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and a large heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore,). That wisdom included a vast knowledge of nature. God knew that for Solomon to be wise and rule in godly way, that he also had to possess a vast knowledge of people and the world around him. We are given a glimpse of that wisdom in 1Kings 4: 29-33: And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the East, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than any man: yea, than were Ethan the Ezrahite, than Heman, than Chalcol, than Darda the sons of Mahol: and he was famous throughout all nations round about. And Solomon spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that
is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowls, and of creeping things, and of fishes. Knowing how important it was for not only his people to also understand the world around them, Solomon also taught people from all kingdoms about nature; 1Kings 4:34 And there came of all people to hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all kings of the earth, which had heard of his wisdom.
The Dominion Mandate does give man authority to rule and subdue all of nature. Do we have the right to abuse and destroy the land? Absolutely not, for if one destroys what it rules over, they will soon find themselves ruling over nothing and that goes against everything that God has taught us through His Word. Looking to Adam, who first received the Dominion Mandate and then to Solomon, the man to whom God gave wisdom to, as our examples, we are to study our world and learn as much about it as possible. We are to take that knowledge and use it to wisely govern over the earth in such a way to preserve it from being destroyed and to provide it as a legacy to our children and our children’s children.