How the Gulf Oil Spill Has Gotten Our Attention: What Might God Be Trying to Teach Us? (Part 2)

By: Diane Chandler
Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

My blog last week focused on the tragic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and raised the issue of a thoughtful Christian response to this environmental disaster.  Progress to date on the spill?  Since last week, a containment cap is collecting the oil and pumping it to a ship.  However though it appears the oil is being collected, oil is still spewing, while indeterminable patches of oil are causing increasing damage to wildlife and coastal ecosystems.  Plans are underway to replace the containment cap within the next month or so with a larger one that will collect more oil.  Yes, progress is being made, but it is agonizingly slow.

From Genesis 1:1-31, we see that God created all of creation, including (a) the heavens and the earth (Ps. 102:25 – “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands,” (b) the seas (Ps. 95:5 – “The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land”), and (c) humankind (Gen. 1:1-31; Ps. 100:3-“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his…”). God delegated the care of the earth to us.  So rather than deify nature like the pantheists or exploit nature like run-away industrialists, we are to cooperate with God in a divine partnership to steward the environment and to safely develop its resources.

John Stott reflects, “God intends our work to be an expression of our worship, and our care of creation to reflect our love for the Creator.”  In their book On the Moral Nature of the Universe: Theology, Cosmology, and Ethics, philosopher/theologian Nancey Murphy and physicist/mathematician George Ellis tie science to ethics and a sense of moral obligation.  Further, they imply a Master Designer has created the universe: “The symmetries and delicate balances we observe in the universe require an extraordinary coherence of conditions and cooperation of laws and effects, suggesting that in some sense they have been purposefully designed” (p. 143). The creation of the earth was not a result of the big bang theory, nor did it just happen. God spoke creation into existence.

A proper conception of the Creator will result in a synergistic alliance between worship of God and ethics, including the treatment of created things.  A moral and ethical approach to the environment must become a more central platform of our community, political, and legislative praxis and consciousness.  Environmental decision-making must be grounded upon moral and ethical principles for the preservation of the planet and the overall well-being of humanity.

So I pose these questions and invite your response~

(1) Is the issue of worship at the very crux of the ecological crisis of our age (not merely the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico)?  In other words, how does the preoccupation with consumerism, consumption of fossil fuels, and environmental destruction from modernity’s progress reflect a fundamental spiritual problem?

(2) Is the Lord providing yet another opportunity for us, as a nation, to cry out to Him for His help in a problem that we cannot solve ourselves?

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Diane Chandler
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