Like you, I’ve been concerned about the spewing of millions of gallons of oil 5,000 feet beneath the water’s surface into the Gulf of Mexico. This oil spill, now the largest in US history, will shortly become a death sentence to the flora, fauna, and livelihoods of so many in this region. Feeling utterly helpless, I’ve been crying out to God that He would provide wisdom to the scientists, engineers, environmental experts, and government officials in a unified tandem to find a workable solution.
My heart sinks every time I read an announcement from BP (British Petroleum) announcing that their most recent plan to halt the spewing has failed. Since the disastrous oil rig explosion on April 20 that killed 11 rig workers, our country (and others) is being poisoned by this liquid gold. Between the proposed custom-made “cap” and “top hat” procedures, all have failed. Predictions reveal that the oil spill is five times greater than first estimated.
One New York Times online article (May 31, 2010) provided a helpful overview related to the historical development of fuel production and the increasing demands for fuel with expanding world populations. The article stated: “The world’s population is expected to grow by 50 percent over the next four decades, and with it, the need for fuel.” Friends, the race is accelerating for fuel domination. Sadly, the race propels greed at the expense of protocols, safety, and safer fuel exploration.
So what is a Christian response to this ecological and economic tragedy? The Bible informs us that “the earth is the Lord’s (Ps. 24:1) but also that “the earth has been given to man” (Ps. 115:16). God has clearly created the earth and all that is in it and has entrusted us with its stewardship. This spill highlights that environmental ethics needs to be a greater priority. Who will make this clarion call?
In 1999, scores of Christian leaders including Alister E. McGrath, Jürgen Moltmann, and Ronald Sider, developed a document regarding creation care entitled: “An Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation.” Commenting on the declaration, John Stott observed that Christians historically have been amiss in responding to the Bible’s imperatives for creation care. In his preface to the book, The Care of Creation: Focusing Concern and Action (2000), Stott cautions us to avoid exploitation of nature, calling for “responsible stewardship, not destructive domination.” How are Christians continuing this creation care advocacy?
The seriousness of the ongoing oil catastrophe in the Gulf only heightens a global environmental crisis. Writing on the ethics of conservation, Ghillean T. Prance, author of the book The Earth Under Threat: A Christian Perspective, calls “for repentance, for action, for examination of the biblical basis for creation care, and for investigation of what creation reveals to us about God. If we were to do all these things, then Christians would be in the forefront of the environmental movement…”
I, for one, am committed to making one change related to creation care (i.e., not leaving lights on when not needed, being more conscious of my wasteful water usage, transitioning from plastic water bottles to a more eco-friendly water container). Anyone care to join me?
What might God be trying to teach us through this oil disaster? How should we, as Christians, personally respond? And how can we become more personally invested in the stewardship of the resources that the Lord has given us?