How the Gulf Oil Spill Has Gotten My Attention: What Might God Be Trying to Teach Us?

By: Diane Chandler
Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Photo of Oil Rig Explosion, National Geographic

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?

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Diane Chandler
This entry was posted by on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 at 5:00 am and is filed under Faith & Culture, Leadership, Worldview. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

15 Responses to “How the Gulf Oil Spill Has Gotten My Attention: What Might God Be Trying to Teach Us?”

  1. Latasha Williams says:

    Dr. Chandler,
    It is very disheartening that the environment has to “fit the bill” in our efforts to have more “comfortable lifestyles. I also agree that as Christians it is imperative that we take a hard look at the responsibility of stewardship that the Lord has placed in our hands. So often, we (I) take for granted the beauty and sufficiency nature has to offer; however, I must say that with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, there has also been an enlightenment towards my responsibility towards earth’s conservation. Thanks for your insight into this matter, and yes, I will join you in your efforts.

    • Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

      Latasha,

      Thank you for your comments, which highlight that we all have a part to play in creation care. It seems to me that we can become so preoccupied with the future (even eschatologically) that we neglect the God-given stewardship mandate that we’ve been called to uphold. In many ways, the church as reliquished its influence in this area of creation care. Non-profit organizations like Evangelical Environmental Network (http://creationcare.org), and Care of Creation (http://www.careofcreation.net) are attempting to heighten awareness as to this mandate and to bring to bear change in our attitudes in action to align with consistent stewardship advocacy.

  2. Melissa Gibby says:

    Dr. Chandler,

    I attended SPS two years ago when Jurgen Moltmann stated that being rightly related to the Creator insists the we be rightly related to His creation. Initially some understood him to be saying that this meant we should worship creation itself. But, I think what he really was saying is that as those who are believers we have an obligation to protect and steward that which He has created. I think in years past evangelical Christianity as a whole has seen the issue of enviornmentalism as something unrelated to our task because it didn’t revolve around issues like divorce, homosexuality and abortion. I think your article highlights not only the need for the Church to respond to the growing enviornmental crisis but even the Biblical mandate for doing so. It seems only fitting that the Church would be at the forefront of issues such as this. Thank you for the reminder and the challenge to do our part in caring for those things He has entrusted to us.

    • Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

      Melissa,

      I appreciate your sharing about Moltmann’s comments at SPS. I sure wished I had been there. I appreciate Moltmann’s perspective on creation taken from his book God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God. He views creation as a community that was fostered by the Spirit of God. Without a proper “theology” of creation, humanity will rape it of its essence and and ultimately destroy it for self-aggrandizement.

      In his book, Moltmann comments, “In this sense, a theological doctrine of creation in our own time is also guided by the will to find a way into the community of creation, to reawaken the awareness of that community and to restore it. The methods of an ecological doctrine of creation of this kind cannot be uni-dimensional. It must use multifarious ways of access to the community of creation, and make people aware of them” (p. 4).

      Although my efforts to have both a biblical theological view of creation and a corresponding ecological practice, I am reminded that my efforts dwarf in comparison to the industrial issues that loom over our planet.

      That said, I am committed to doing my part to steward the resources God has graciously given me and to remind others (but mostly myself) that this planet has exhaustible resources that need to be carefully tended. This, of course, has tremendous social, governmental, geo-political, environmental, and religious implications.

      We are just scratching the surface here. So I wrote this blog post mainly to articulate the beginnings of my own theology of creation care that I hope to further develop in the future.

      I’m happy that you joined this conversation.

  3. Emily says:

    Dr. Chandler,
    It is very disheartening that the environment has to “fit the bill” in our efforts to have more “comfortable lifestyles. I also agree that as Christians it is imperative that we take a hard look at the responsibility of stewardship that the Lord has placed in our hands. So often, we (I) take for granted the beauty and sufficiency nature has to offer; however, I must say that with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, there has also been an enlightenment towards my responsibility towards earth’s conservation. Thanks for your insight into this matter, and yes, I will join you in your efforts.

    • Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

      Emily,

      The pain of industrial and technological progress is that the environment is the greatest loser. I’m grateful for advocates who are dedicating their lives to the preservation of our most treasured national possessions (i.e., the national parks). Documentaries such as Ken Burn’s film, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, highlight the importance of these pristine resources that not only bring pleasure and renewal to visitors but also provide balance to our ecosystem.

      You may know about the advocacy of organizations like the Sierra Club, founded by John Muir in 1892, as a grassroots effort to address stewardship and conservation. John Muir’s father was actually a pastor, who sadly did not take much interest in his son. Yet, John Muir remained unflinching as it relates to protecting the wild places of the US and to educating people as to their responsibilities to preserve them.

      Years ago, my husband participated in the National Outdoor Leadership School where they spent 4 winter months out west. He was taught to always leave the environment at least in the same way that he found it, if not better. A great lesson for a young man who grew up to love God’s creation.

      Emily, glad to know that there are others who are working toward better earth conservancy ~ one decision at a time.

  4. Jeff Doles says:

    God created man in His image and to be like Him and gave him the job of being fruitful, filling the earth, subduing it and having dominion. Subduing the earth means to bring it into line with the purpose of God. Having dominion means to exercise the divine authority we have been given and the divine likeness in which we have been made for divine purposes.

    The destiny of man and the destiny of Creation are thus closely related. That is why, when Adam fell, all creation came under curse. And now all creation is groaning, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, to be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God. This has already begun for us, and for creation, in the resurrection of King Jesus the Messiah, who taught us to pray for the kingdom of heaven to come–and keep coming — and the will of God to be done — and keep being done — on earth as it is in heaven. The goal is heaven on earth, the two becoming one. The resurrection of King Jesus from the dead is the sign that new creation has already begun and what we do in accord with our divine purpose in the world will not be in vain.

    • Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

      Jeff,

      You articulate the rationale for creation care by first recognizing that humankind was made in the image of God and that He entrusted them with a stewarding mandate. Although the fall through sin shattered the perfect image of humankind, God restored the imago Dei (Lat. “image of God”) in Christ. Thus, Christ’s resurrection signified a new creation that restored the fallen image.

      When I think that God had created not only humanity but the entire earth, which we are slowly destroying (the causes of which are a topic for another blog), I can only imagine that the Lord is so grieved when His creation is damaged and destroyed. It would be as though someone gave us a gift and rather than steward it, we trounced it underfoot and destroyed it. Hardly a grateful response to a generous gift.

      The Nicene Creed articulates that the Holy Spirit is “the giver of life.” That means all life. And when life is destroyed, it must be grievous to the Holy Spirit.

      Yet, our discussion to be most fruitful must include personal practices that align with our theological positioning.

      I trust that we both will have our practices align with our espoused values, a present and living reality.

      Thank you again for your thoughtful comments.

  5. Maria says:

    The whole problem will be very unforunate for the ocean and for the global market in many clashing points. This issue would have been checked originally however sometimes calamities happen. BP should be held responsible for this new problem.

    • Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

      Maria,

      As we’ve witnessed before our eyes, this environment disaster knows no state or national borders. The ocean currents and wind velocity has seen to that. And the gulf states are the hardest hit, with beaches in Florida now awash with oil. BP has been issued an initial bill (in the millions of dollars) from the US government to repay federal expenses to date. Yet any payment could not possibly reverse the environmental damage that has already been done.

  6. BP lying again. They have zero credibility. Ruin our coast and lie the entire way through it. Oil is great, eh?

    • Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

      Kelly,

      In such environmental disasters, it seems to take a long time to find out the truth. Investigative processes are now being undertaken (most notably from our Congress and Environmental agencies), which will most likely be ongoing for quite some time. They never seem fast enough.

      This disaster brings up two problems ~ one short-term and one long-term. The short-term problem of how to stop the leak will eventually be solved (and with unbelievable damage as a result). The other problem is how the US can wean itself off dependence on fossil fuels and develop clean energy. Clean energy advocates have the momentum. President Obama’s has issued a moratorium on off-shore drilling for the next six months, which puts on hold off-shore drilling license in my home state of Virginia.

      This is certainly a time for clean energy advocates to seize the momentum created by this situation. As for our country’s leadership response, they (and we) need to keep in mind that a short-term solution to this oil issue will not address the longer-term issue of energy creation.

      The question is: will the US seize the moment for longer-term and bold solutions (without falling prey to the large lobbies which keep us stuck in an endless energy dependence)?

      And in the process

  7. Andrea Dankone-Barna says:

    I absolutely agree with all the above posts about our need of greater responsibility and more faithful stewardship for all creation, all living. This is an important message the Holy Spirit is truly emphasizing to us, the Church. It is the combination of faith and works that the apostle James talks about:

    NAS James 2:26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

    I am praying that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of revelation and understanding would come on people and “download” the solution how to stop this disaster. I know He knows and He is more than willing to show us if we pray and ask. (James 1:5) Nevertheless, I also “hear” the Holy Spirit saying and showing us some very encouraging things about the season in the Spirit we are living in, even in the midst of all this struggle. It’s not, that He chose this terrible way to say it, but He is more than able to turn things that were intended for evil by the enemy, or that are consequences of our own sins, around and bring something good out of it (Gen 50:20; Rom8:28).

    Oil in the Bible is the symbol of the Holy Spirit, of His anointing. Sea can represent people (Psalm 65:7; Psalm 18:16-17; Psalm144:7; ). The oil has burst forth in the sea and no human activity seems to be able to stop it!

    NAS Joel 2:28 “And it will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. 29 “And even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

    Today as I was praying I went back in my journals to see things that the Lord had talked to me about in the past. Since His words are eternal they are always new. I found something very interesting. This is what I recorded in 2008.

    11/25/08 DREAM: THE OUTBREAK

    This morning I woke up with a very vivid dream in my mind. I heard a very loud noise in the dream, like a rumbling underground. I felt it was like a geyser, or maybe gas or oil just ready to break through the ground, ready to explode. I tried to tell people that if they just could stop the traffic for a moment, the noises of the world and be quiet for a moment they could hear that rumbling sound themselves.

    In the next scene we were digging channels to lead the water/oil away that had broken through. We knew there were places where it was very much needed. I also saw a dam/ a controller that determined how much of the water/oil would flow through that channel.

    CONFIRMATION: GAS MAIN BREAK 11/25/08

    The first what I read the next morning as I woke up was a local news:

    “Gas main break shuts down Rt 22. A gas main break has forced the closing of Route 22 in both directions between School Road and the Cozy Inn Cutoff…. A gasoline pipeline valve ruptured near Hoss’s Steakhouse. Gasoline was shooting 100 feet into the air at one point.”

    What I really “read” was that there is no traffic/ human activity in Route 22.It’s shut down. Instantly the following scripture came to my mind:

    NAS Isaiah 22:22 “Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, When he opens no one will shut, When he shuts no one will open.

    We are given the same authority in Christ (Matt 16:18-19; Matt 28:18-19; Col 2:10; John 17:22, )! But this is a “rout,” a “place” in the Spirit where ALL human activity, everything of the flesh has to be shut down when the oil, the anointing bursts forth!

    The two ends of that route, that path are SCHOOL Road and the other end is the COZY IN Cutoff. The outbreak happened at Ross’s STEAKHOUSE. The beginning of this road is where we enroll in the “school of the Holy Spirit.” The outbreak happened and the steakhouse: we need more than just the milk of the Word if we want to walk experience and walk in this level of anointing and authority – we need solid meat. (1 Cor 3:2-3; Heb 5:12-14). The “end” of this journey, road is intimacy with the Lord and rest (Heb 4:11).

    It was also quickened to me that we do not want to waste any of the oil. We need vessels, channels to carry it! This way we can also ensure that the flow will not stop! (2Kings 4:1)

    In the dream I tried to tell people to stop and LISTEN. So are we willing to stop our busy lives and listen to what is really happening in the Spirit? Are we sensing that God is up to something awesome in this season and this is why the enemy’s activity is becoming more and more intense, and why even the “groanings of the earth” are louder and louder? Are we stopping and asking the Lord to prepare us individually for this outbreak or outpouring of his anointing? Or are we going to be so surprised and helpless as the people who are trying to stop this disaster are now?

  8. Cristy Caughorn says:

    Your blog is so informative ¡­ keep up the good work!!!!

  9. Diane Chandler Diane Chandler says:

    Cristy,

    Thank you for your kind feedback. We invite your continued participation with us as we discuss issues related to these various topics under the umbrella of Renewal Dynamics.

    ~Diane