Isn’t Environmental Concern Pantheistic Thinking?

Because the earth tends to be an object of worship for those given to neo-pagan beliefs and other modern forms of pantheism, it’s logical for them to be concerned about abuse of the earth. Many of these deceived individuals have followed the path of earth-worship illustrated by the apostle Paul: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen” (Romans 1:25). There is a world of difference, however, between those who care for creation because they believe the earth itself is divine, and those who care for creation because they honor and worship the divine Creator and desire to obey Him in being good stewards of His created world. The truth is, according to Paul, the creation does indeed demonstrate to everyone – no one excepted—both God’s eternal power and His divinity (Romans 1:20).

We need to keep in mind that it is only natural for those who worship the creation to want to care for it. And pantheism (believing that God is everything or that He is the impersonal force that inhabits all matter) is growing today among those concerned about the degradation of the earth’s environment. In fact, Christian philosopher-theologian Francis Schaeffer warned the evangelical community thirty-five years ago that if it did not begin to address these real crises, the worldview of the environmental movement would come to be based on pantheism (Pollution, p.23). He was already voicing that concern when the Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught fire in June of 1969 because of extreme pollution by flammable liquids dumped into the stream by careless industries. This shocking disaster sent many non-Christians into a search for a philosophy or religion that could address the abuse of our environment. Sadly, they did not find it in Christianity where it should have been evident.

Chuck Colson in his book The Body tells us, “We should be contending for truth in every area of life. Not for power or because we are taken with some trendy cause, but humbly to bring glory to God. For this reason, Christians should be the most ardent ecologists” (p.197, The Body: Being Light in the Darkness, Charles Colson; Word Publishing, 1992).

Christians ought to be able to demonstrate to those who have fallen into the error of pantheism that biblical faith provides ample support for faithful care of God’s creation handiwork. Christians care because earth stewardship is our responsibility of service to God1 (Genesis 2:15). Why others may care is of little significance to believers—other than serving as a contact point for reaching them for Christ. Many believers who are outspoken advocates of creation care have had significant opportunities to reach New Age thinkers with the truth of the Gospel—providing them with the fundamental reason for environmental concern: respect for and obedience to the One who created the earth. Many of these people might be drawn to the message of the gospel if more believers consistently lived out with integrity the meaning of the gospel in all its aspects—including respect, regard, and responsibility for the creation which will one day be restored because of Jesus’ act of redemption (Acts 3:18-21; Romans 8:18-25; Colossians 1:19-20; Revelation 22:1-3).

  1. The two Hebrew words in Genesis 2:15 used in reference to caring for the creation are rendered in the King James Version as “dress” and “keep.” In modern English, these words have lost the rich meanings known in the days of King James. In Hebrew they are “abad” and “shamar.” The definitions of these words according to James Strong’s concordance include the following understandings: abad = to work, to serve, to till, to keep in bondage, to be husbandman over; shamar = to hedge about, to guard, to protect, to attend to, to be circumspect, to take, to mark, look narrowly upon, to observe, to preserve, to regard, to reserve, to save, to wait for, to watch over (as a watchman). “Shamar” is used in the familiar Aaronic blessing: Numbers 6:24 “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (KJV). Adam was apparently expected to care for the earth as the Lord cares for it and for us.Back To Article
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