Almost since the modern environmentalist movement re-began in the 1960s, the legacy of Christian tradition and the activism of various contemporary Christian groups have together been blamed for causing, exacerbating, denying, obfuscating, and actively colluding with the global ecological crisis.

A seminal paper published in Science in 1967 by medievalist Lynn White laid out the paradigm-establishing critique:

What did Christianity tell people about their relations with the environment? . . . [that] God planned all of this explicitly for man’s benefit and rule: no item in the physical creation had any purpose save to serve man’s purposes. And, although man’s body is made of clay, he is not simply part of nature: he is made in God’s image. Especially in its Western form, Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen. . . . Man shares, in great measure, God’s transcendence of nature. Christianity . . . not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.

. . . At the level of the common people this worked out in an interesting way. . . . By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.

. . . Both our present science and our present technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature that no solution for our ecologic crisis can be expected from them alone. . . . Hence we shall continue to have a worsening ecologic crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man.1

To overstate the audacity of these claims presents a challenge. In a few sentences, White appears not only to radically mischaracterize Christianity, but dualism (which predates Christianity and has often been syncretized with it) and animism as well.2 3 That making use of a particular grove, grotto, fountain, or tidepool for trade or agrarian purposes in pagan antiquity may have first required propitiating its patron deity or genus loci, even to consecrate it as a sort of classical nature preserve, is not the same as having empathy for or recognizing value in nature itself. A healthy fear of guardians, coupled with a ritualized means of placating those guardians, is not per se greatly removed from the hunting licenses and development permits of modern society. It is not self-evident that the transactional relationship between these pagan “common people” and their local deities is superior to, or even much different from, the more explicitly utilitarian relationship between man and nature that White mistakenly identifies as Christian.

Yet the paper rapidly gained widespread hearing. As its influence spread, White’s accusations could have and should have been challenged and corrected – on theological grounds, historical grounds and, ultimately, through the overwhelming counterexample of believers’ behavior. His critique ought not to have been allowed to stand.

But something different seems to have happened instead. In a 2015 article for The Christian Century, environmental historian Mark Stoll asserts that although “White’s essay prompted soul-searching in mainline Protestant churches,” resulting in a “greening” of their theology, in the 1970s “Evangelical anti-environmentalism appeared” in response.4

Such reactionism could be read as consistent with the 20th-century Anglo Protestant Mainline/Evangelical conflict. Evangelical missiologist Ralph Winter says that the focus of American Protestant outreach in the 20th and late 19th centuries became characterized by “a distinct polarization . . . [especially evident] in the Fundamentalist/Modernist controversies of the 1920s.” Winter describes this conflicted Protestant missional ethos as “an artificial tension between saving souls and saving souls plus saving people, society, and nature” – a division which “became virulent in the 20th century.”5

But Stoll suggests that Evangelicals are reacting to cultural movements outside of Protestantism also. He says that White’s introduction and/or popularization of

The idea that Christianity has been antithetical to environmentalism also inspired many to seek greener spirituality in Eastern and indigenous religions. Neo-paganism and earth-centered spiritual thought grew popular. Evangelicals recoiled from environmentalism and charged that environmentalists worshipped creation rather than the Creator. In the late 1970s they seized on the notion of the ‘culture wars’ and lumped environmentalism together with abortion, feminism, gay and lesbian people’s rights, and secular humanism as contrary to Christianity [and have been] hostile to environmentalism ever since.6

Theologian Scott Rodin’s personal experience agrees with Stoll. In 2015, Rodin published a renunciation of his life-long denial of climate change science to his blog, The Steward’s Journey, in which he discussed five modes of thinking that decades of being a “Conservative, Evangelical, Republican” had conditioned him to. Among them: “As a conservative Christian, if you even hinted at ‘caring’ for creation, you were already heading down the slippery slope of pantheism.”7

Meanwhile Catholics, along with mainline Protestants, seem to have agreed with White’s historical interpretation as well as his terms of theological indictment. In 1979, Pope John Paul II declared Francis of Assisi the Patron Saint of Ecology – something White’s paper had explicitly called for ten years prior. More recently, reporting for The Washington Post on President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, Sarah Pulliam Balley quotes Pope Francis’ 2015 Encyclical on the environment as calling for “an ‘ecological conversion’, saying Christians have misinterpreted Scripture and ‘must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures’.”8 Despite the nearly fifty years intervening, such wording could hardly have been better chosen to directly engage White’s critique – yet it does so apparently from a position of tacit agreement.

An exhaustive treatment of Christianity’s contributions and responses to environmentalism is beyond the scope of this essay. However, by refocusing attention on the ‘classical consensus’ tradition of Christian theology, this essay will address not only White’s misrepresentations of Christian teaching (and, by implication, Christians who may have too-hastily accepted his views), but also the misguided Evangelical or Fundamentalist reaction, which has served (through confirmation bias) to ‘prove’ White’s critique post facto.

Confessional vs. Lived Belief

Objections to White’s paper were raised from within the Christian tradition almost immediately. For example, at an American Scientific Affiliation Annual Convention panel specifically organized to respond to the paper just a few months after its publication, respondents noted that White’s understanding of Christian ‘dominion’ teaching was dangerously incomplete: “The answer lies not in rejection of one Biblical teaching but rather in acceptance of entire Biblical doctrine.” White’s “description of the teachings of Christianity” was described as “partially confused.” One even asserted, “There is no way that an evangelical Christian can biblically justify an indifference to the exploitation of nature.”9

However, as we have already noted, these objections and others like them seem to have made little lasting impression on the unfolding debate. One panelist’s admission that

The article’s erroneous statements seem to stem from White’s main heretical concept that there is a “Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man.” Such a statement could result from a study of the behavior of ‘Christianized’ peoples . . .10

helps to explain why. For, as T.S. Eliot observes in his 1940s-era Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, “what we believe is not merely what we formulate and subscribe to, but . . . behaviour is also belief.” He continues, “even the most conscious and developed of us live also at the level on which belief and behaviour cannot be distinguished.”11 While the panelist quoted above wishes that White had addressed “disparity between behavior and . . . Biblical truth,” Eliot would have understood such disparity as reconciled within a group’s culture, evidencing its true creed.12 13 He might have called it lived belief.

Unsound in several other respects, White’s paper was right to criticize Christendom for its lived belief toward nature. The erosion of pagan animism, combined with the progression from natural theology’s “the decoding of the physical symbols of God’s communication with man” into modern science’s “effort to understand God’s mind by discovering how his creation operates” did indeed set the table for Baconian appetites for the subjugation of nature, the modern scientific method, and (eventually) the Industrial Revolution – in short, for the capacity and execution of extraordinary near-term gains in improving human material conditions at the cost of long-term peril for the natural world (and humanity itself), largely through externalities and unintended consequences.14 15

However, this centuries-slow and deadly creep of philosophical outlook aiding and abetting technical prowess was not, as White’s paper erroneously claims, ’orthodox’. Systematic theologian Thomas Oden, venturing to speak on behalf of the ‘classic consensus’ of foundational Christian writers, draws on Peter, Barnabas, Tertullian, Luke, Origen, Athanasius, Basil, and Calvin for the following summary of Christian teaching:

Humanity is given dominion and stewardship over the earth . . . according to Hebraic religion. . . “You shall have dominion” (Gen. 1:26, 28) implies that you take care of it. God entrusts the world to your care and benefit. In the guardianship of this fragile world you are called to respond fittingly to the One who gives and transcends all creaturely values. Humanity is called to order the world rightly under the permission and command of God . . . to shape the world in a fitting response to God’s unpurchasable gift of life. All this is implied in the notion of stewardly dominion . . . Nature is to be greatly respected, nurtured, and cared for, but not worshiped.16

But, despite being laid out plainly from long before the inception of the Church, this message was slow to penetrate the pagan culture of Europe. C.S. Lewis explained in a series of Oxford lectures on medieval thought that “Though Christians were logically bound to admit the goodness of matter [i.e. nature] that doctrine was not heartily relished . . . for centuries, the language of some spiritual writers was hardly to be reconciled with it.”17

Writing more recently, David Bentley Hart explains,

Christian thought taught that the world was entirely God’s creature . . . a gratuitous work of transcendent love, it was to be received with gratitude, delighted in as an act of divine pleasure, mourned as a victim of human sin, admired as a radiant manifestation of divine glory, recognized as a fellow creature; it might justly be cherished, cultivated, investigated, enjoyed, but not [in contrast to pagan antiquity] feared, not rejected as evil or deficient, and certainly not worshipped.18

Yet Hart agrees with Lewis that though these “revisions of human thought . . . occurred at every level of society,” they did so “gradually, irregularly, [and] imperceptibly.”19

In short, it was a failure of Christian orthodoxy, not a triumph, that allowed some in the Christianized West to believe that the natural world existed expressly for humans to exploit as they saw fit. White himself seems to have based his assertion of ‘orthodoxy’ for the views criticized by his paper on the mistaken claim that St. Francis of Assisi’s ecological sympathies, his “belief in the virtue of humility not merely for the individual but for man as a species,” were somehow “clearly heretical” – thus, any view which aggrandizes humankind, however extreme, must presumably be ‘orthodox’.20 Yet White offers scant evidence to support either assertion. Had a false equivalence not, after all, risen in the popular mind between divinely-sanctioned human dominion versus domination of nature, we would suspect the so-called ‘Christian’ narrative which White condemns to be his own invention.

On one hand, we might justly excuse the Church for its tardy opposition to that false equivalence: Until quite recently, domination was entirely beyond human technical capacity. Confusion of terms, though figuratively harmful, was literally inconsequential. Actual domination of nature was for centuries no more than the toothless, senile pipe-dream of a few delusional eccentrics. During all of recorded history prior to the nineteenth century, it had been humanity that needed to fence itself off, that needed protection, from nature. When the reversal occurred, it became so far-reaching so quickly that we are still struggling to understand it. It has been proposed that we may have accidentally created a new geologic era – the Anthropocene – or even a new geologic epoch – the Anthropozoic. Writing for The Scientific American in 2014, Clive Hamilton explains,

The arrival of the new epoch represents not merely the further spread of human influence across the globe but a fundamental shift in the relationship between humans and the Earth system – one in which human activity now accelerates, decelerates and distorts the great cycles that make the planet a dynamic entity.21

This reversal of planetary-scale power dynamics happened with (anthropologically speaking) blinding speed, accompanied by a bewildering array of unforeseen social and cultural changes ushered in by the Industrial Revolution.

And yet, conservation movements arose concurrently with – arguably even anticipate – technological exploitation of the natural world, in the very same Christianized West that White faults for environmental immorality based on supposedly ‘Christian’ teaching.22 23 In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the conservation movement’s setbacks came, not from Christianity, but from laissez-faire economic theory and concern for private-property rights. Casting his eye back over the preceding century, Eliot keenly observes in a 1939 companion lecture to the aforementioned Notes,

We are being made aware that the organization of society on the principle of private profit. . . is leading both to the deformation of humanity by unregulated industrialism, and to the exhaustion of natural resources, and that a good deal of our material progress is a progress for which succeeding generations may have to pay dearly. . . . the exploitation of the earth, on a vast scale for two generations, for commercial profit: immediate benefits leading to dearth and desert.24

On the other hand, to those suffering, who have suffered, and who will suffer, directly from exploitation or its effects, parsing the exact sources of our ecological crisis would surely sound a purely semantic or ivory-tower exercise: Bickering, blame-shifting, producing distinctions without practical differences. Indisputably, the weight of Christendom’s and post-Christendom’s lived belief has fallen crushingly upon the world. From this lived belief many branches of the Church seek repentance; within that perspective, we can certainly understand and sympathize with the official responses and activities of mainline Protestants and Catholics in recent decades.

But what are we to make of the Evangelical reaction?

Tangled Identities

At first glance, it almost looks as if Evangelicals embraced White’s caricature of Christianity as gospel truth. If one wants to ‘prove’ White’s paper correct, one need look no further than Evangelical anti-environmentalism before issuing a hasty verdict. The impression thus begets a straw-man against which such caricatures of Christianity can be easily perpetuated, while also smearing into incomprehensibility what is actually a loose conglomerate of positions – some theological, others only nominally Christian; some in fierce disagreement on certain points and allied in others.

In actuality, there is no unified or codified Evangelical anti-environmentalism movement. There are only, on the one hand, Evangelicals averse to certain philosophical strains of environmentalism on theological grounds; and on the other, conservatives averse to certain kinds of environmental policy on political grounds, some of whom also self-identify as Evangelical (about 40%, according to the Pew Research Center).25 As this paper’s particular concern is with Christian environmentalism per se, we will spend a minimum amount of time addressing conservative environmental politics so as to be able to consider Evangelical theological teaching with less confusion. Such disentangling will not solve for Evangelical lived belief which, like that of every Christian culture as a whole, remains problematic to whatever extent it is insufficiently Christian. But it may help clarify the situation for those without and within Evangelical tradition.

Primary among conservative objections to environmentalism is suspicion of ‘big government’ as a provider of solutions (regulatory, service-based, and otherwise). A corollary contention concerns whether climate change and habitat destruction leading to less hospitable ecologies, or top-down economic regulation that may lack local insight and focus, poses the greater threat to the poor and least-advantaged. On these points, there’s little real quarrel with conservation or pro-environment goals; the debates are strictly about methods.26 27 Whether there is an intrinsically Christian root to these political stances is a question for a different paper. Here we must simply acknowledge that this is a factor for political conservatives and recognize its distinction from both environmentalism as such and Christianity as such. Confusion on this matter stems from the overlap between Evangelicalism and conservatism, an arena where Christian verbiage and Bible verses are commonly used to justify public policy positions or solicit political support.

This is problematic from the standpoint of lived belief: “according to Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University who does climate change education among evangelicals . . . ‘Somehow, evangelicalism got politicized to the point where, [for] many people who call themselves evangelicals, their theological statement is written by their political party first’.”28 In fact, “after taking politics and demographics into account,” a 2015 Pew Research Center analysis found that “religious affiliations and practices have little connection to most attitudes toward the environment.”29 This suggests, once again, that even among Evangelicals the problem isn’t one of Christian doctrine, but rather of the failure of that doctrine to adequately penetrate – to be fully understood, accepted, and lived out.

But there are exceptions. Heterodox environmental theologies, based on alternative interpretations of key scriptures, persist in popular and clerical creeds. Some even resemble those that White’s paper decried.

Protology: Fearing Loss of Dominion

One major area of concern for so-called ‘anti-environmentalist’ Evangelicals is a perceived incompatibility between essential understandings of humans and nature. These Evangelicals see the modern environmentalist movement as variously mischaracterizing:

  • Humans as problem-causers, rather than problem-solvers;30
  • The moral claims of the natural world as equal to or greater than the moral claims of fellow humans;31
  • The spiritual claims of the natural world as worthy of worship and service (as in pantheism, new age paganism, and other forms of earth-worship or reverence for an impersonal life-force);32
  • Human intervention in the natural world as necessary because God doesn’t exist and/or won’t intervene on his creation’s behalf.33 34

Each of these mischaracterizations would seem to challenge the Christian understanding of humankind’s divinely-appointed dominion over nature, as described in the Genesis creation accounts and elsewhere. Where many believers – such as mainline Protestants, Catholics, and in recent decades, some Evangelicals – have taken an ‘act now, preach right doctrine along the way’ approach to environmentalism, many Evangelicals insist on addressing these concerns first so as to lay a proper theological foundation for understanding the challenges faced and how best to answer them.35

While this approach is very much in keeping with a conservative outlook generally, it can also be read as part of a specifically-Evangelical attempt to shield Evangelical understanding of the Bible and biblical authority from interpretative challenges made by untrustworthy ‘secular’ authorities, which potentially includes both political leaders and research scientists. Historian Molly Worthen, writing on “The Evangelical Roots of Our Post-Truth Society” for The New York Times in April, says,

Ever since the scientific revolution, two compulsions have guided conservative Protestant intellectual life: the impulse to defend the Bible as a reliable scientific authority and the impulse to place the Bible beyond the claims of science entirely. The first impulse blossomed into the doctrine of biblical inerrancy . . . The second impulse, the one that rejects scientists’ standing to challenge the Bible, evolved by the early 20th century into a school of thought called presuppositionalism. . . Cornelius Van Til, a theologian who promoted this idea, rejected the premise that all humans have access to objective reality. “We . . . do not grant that you see any fact in any dimension of life truly,” he wrote in a pamphlet aimed at non-Christians. . . . By contrast, the worldview that has propelled mainstream Western intellectual life and made modern civilization possible is . . . an empirical outlook that continually – if imperfectly – revises its conclusions based on evidence available to everyone, regardless of their beliefs about the supernatural.36

The desire to uphold orthodox protology, to promote biblical understanding of humanity’s role as stewards of God’s good creation according to the pattern God set, is a commendable desire. But perhaps White (and many others since) have been right to criticize the Evangelical focus. Perhaps Evangelical priorities reveal heterodox theological concerns in need of course-correction. At minimum, it seems to this writer that the zeal and energy employed making claims about humanity’s divine status as creation stewards might be better spent demonstrating it. If we truly want good for our world, we don’t need to first agree about why.

Eschatology: Anticipating the End of Creation

Of greater concern are misunderstandings of Christian eschatological teaching. Theologian N.T. Wright has addressed these in an elegant article for Plough titled “Jesus is Coming – Plant a Tree!” The problem, he says, is that

Western Christianity has allowed itself to embrace that dualism whereby the ultimate destiny of God’s people is heaven, seen as a place detached from earth, so that the aim of Christianity . . . is seen in terms of leaving earth behind and going home to a place called heaven. So powerful is this theme in a great deal of popular preaching, liturgy, and hymnography that it comes as a shock to many people to be told that this is simply not how the earliest Christians saw things. For the early Christians, the resurrection of Jesus launched God’s new creation upon the world, beginning to fulfill the prayer Jesus taught his followers, that God’s kingdom would come “on earth as in heaven” . . . The question of how you think about the ultimate future has an obvious direct impact on how you think about the task of the church in the present time.37

Indeed. And if one believes or is taught that the natural world is destined for destruction, a messy slate waiting to be wiped clean, one has little motivation to improve anything that doesn’t serve one’s own personal needs. Such thinking is a recipe both for apathy towards the environment, and for pity, contempt, and resentment towards those who attempt to raise awareness and resources for efforts that, on this account of the situation, can amount to no more than expensive itch-cream on a wounded limb due for amputation.

The corrective for such theological imbalance, according to Wright, is to follow the original orthodox teaching of the Church, which

clung to the twin doctrines of creation and judgment: God made the world and made it good, and one day he will come and sort it all out. Take away the goodness of creation, and you have a judgment where the world is thrown away as so much garbage, leaving us sitting on a disembodied cloud playing disembodied harps. Take away judgment, and you have this world rumbling on with no hope except the pantheist one of endless cycles of being and history. Put creation and judgment together, and you get new heavens and new earth.38

Expecting the return of Christ, the renewal of creation, and the earthly descent of the New Jerusalem as described in Revelation 21, encourages Christians to interpret the dominion mandate of Genesis 1 and 2 in light of teaching on God-honoring stewardship that runs throughout Scripture. That we will be judged for our treatment of the material entrusted to us – our time, talents, and treasure, as well as our words, thoughts, and deeds – is a prominent theme in Christ’s teaching about His kingdom, as well as for the prophets who preceded him, who spoke soberly and passionately about communal responsibilities as well as individual complicity.39 40 To be made in God’s image, to be entrusted with the care of his good creation – to which, as Scripture teaches, He intends to return – bestows enormous responsibilities along with status. It is worth asking how well we’re living up to them.

No and Yes

Having made this preliminary effort to sift through a very complex situation, what ought we conclude? To the criticisms made by White and others who followed his lead, we must answer No:No, the teaching of the Church is not now, nor has it ever been, consistent with anthropocentric domination or exploitation of the natural world. On the contrary, the consensus of orthodox Christian theology provides strong moral motivation for environmental activism in the highest degree. To their implicit criticisms regarding the overall trend of human behavior in heavily Christianized societies medieval, modern, and today, we must honestly confess Yes: Yes, we have at particular times and places failed to follow our own doctrine with rectitude, and thus to communicate it coherently. As a result, some influential individuals as well as groups have made destructive and counterproductive contributions to conservation efforts, through both omission and commission. Our lived belief is not what it should be.

In all, syncretism has been the mutual foe of Christianity and environmentalism alike. The twisting, blending, or suppression of carefully selected theologies so that they either support (or at least do not necessarily oppose) Baconian visions of harnessing nature to for human profit; exploitative private capitalism; short-term gratification to generate wealth; conservative political ideologies; prioritization of correct thinking over obedient discipleship; exclusive relegation of scientific insight to believers who accept as a priori and beyond scrutiny certain interpretations of scripture; tenacious Gnostic and Neo-Platonic philosophies regarding the evils and inadequacies of the natural world and its inevitable and inconsequential destruction; and the disintegration of humanity’s dominion commission from its greater biblical context – each tells anew the same tired story of Christianity imperfectly applied to the lived belief of its confessors.

We conclude, then, that syncretism – not Christianity – is environmentalism’s true adversary. And we call upon believers of every tradition to re-examine and reaffirm their commitment to God, good creator of a good world, who gave himself to renew the life of that world; who ennobles us, enables us, and commissions us to imitate him, and to participate with him, in realizing “his kingdom come, his will done” on earth as perfectly as it is in heaven.

A version of this paper was previously presented at the 2018 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture.

Notes:

1Lynn White, et al. “The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis,” Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, June 1969, http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1969/JASA6-69White.html.

2 Ugo Bianchi & Matt Stefon, “dualism”, Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Dec. 13, 2022. https://www.britannica.com/topic/dualism-religion

3 One is tempted to speculate quite uncharitably about White’s decision to publish these assertions in a science rather than humanities journal!

4 Mark Stoll, “The Historical Roots of Evangelical Anti-Environmentalism,” The Christian Century, June 2015, https://www.christiancentury.org/blogs/archive/2015-06/historical-roots-evangelical-anti-environmentalism.

5 Ralph Winter, “Three Mission Eras and the Loss and Recovery of Kingdom Mission, 1800-2000,” in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, eds. Ralph D. Winter and Stephen C. Hawthorne (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), 265-266.

6 Stoll

7 Scott Rodin, “As a Conservative, Evangelical Republican, Why Climate Change Can’t be True (Even Though It Is),” The Steward’s Journey, 2015, http://thestewardsjourney.com/as-a-conservative-evangelical-republican-why-climate-change-cant-be-true-even-though-it-is/.

8 Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Why So Many White Evangelicals in Trump’s Base Are Deeply Skeptical of Climate Change,” The Washington Post, June 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/06/02/why-so-many-white-evangelicals-in-trumps-base-are-deeply-skeptical-of-climate-change/.

9 White, et al.

10 Ibid.

11 T.S. Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, (Digital Library of India, 2015), https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.159230/2015.159230.Notes-Towards-The-Definition-Of-Culture_djvu.txt.

12 White, et al.

13 Eliot admits this insight is “disconcerting,” “disturbing,” and “embarrassing,” difficult to “contemplate long without horror,” and advises meditation on “the possibility of grace and the exemplars of sanctity in order to avoid falling into despair.”

14 White, et al.

15 Cf. Eugene Schwarz, Overskill: The Decline of Technology in Modern Civilization.

16 Thomas Oden, Classic Christianity: A Systematic Theology (New York: HarperOne, 1992), 138.

17 C.S. Lewis, The Discarded Image (Cambridge University Press, 2015), 51

18 David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions (Sheridan: Ann Arbor, 2009), 212-213

19 Ibid., 212

20 White, et al.

21 Clive Hamilton, “The New Environmentalism Will Lead Us to Disaster,” The Scientific American, June 2014, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-new-environmentalism-will-lead-us-to-disaster/.

22 Cf. John Evelyn’s 1662 Royal Society presentation Sylva.

23 Cf. Evan Berry’s 2015 book Devoted to Nature: The Religious Roots of American Environmentalism.

24 T.S. Eliot, “The Idea of a Christian Society,” in Christianity and Culture (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1949), 58, Emphasis added.

25 Pew Research Forum, “Religious Landscape Study: Conservatives,” (2014), http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/political-ideology/conservative/.

26 Sean McElwee, “Can We Make Environmentalism a Centrist Issue?” The American Prospect, March 2014, http://prospect.org/article/can-we-make-environmentalism-centrist-issue.

27 c.f. Stoll, Rodin, Bailey.

28 Bailey, “Why So Many White Evangelicals . . .” etc.

29 Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Religion Doesn’t Necessarily Influence Americans’ Attitudes About Science,” The Washington Post, October 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/10/22/religion-doesnt-necessarily-influence-americans-attitudes-about-science-but-there-are-two-big-exceptions/.

30 “Where environmentalists start off as fundamentally mistaken is their vision of human beings. They see human beings as, primarily, consumers and polluters. Whereas the Bible teaches that humans, who are made in God’s image, are producers and stewards. Obviously, it’s not automatic. There needs to be education and moral commitment, and those things are furthered in my understanding through people being reconciled to God through the atoning work of Christ on the Cross and their faith in Him. As the late Julian Simon used to put it: ‘Every mouth that is born into this world is accompanied by two hands and, far more importantly, a mind.’ Those two hands and a mind are capable of producing far more than that mouth can consume.” – theologian Calvin Beisner, spokesman of evangelical anti-environmental advocacy group The Cornwall Alliance. Quoted by Leo Hickman in “The U.S. Evangelicals Who Believe Environmentalism is a ‘Native Evil’,” The Guardian, May 2011, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2011/may/05/evangelical-christian-environmentalism-green-dragon.

31 “Whereas, Some in our culture have . . . elevated animal and plant life to the place of equal – or greater – value with human life; . . . we oppose solutions . . . which bar access to natural resources and unnecessarily restrict economic development, resulting in less economic opportunity for our poorest citizens.” – 2004 Statement of the Southern Baptist Convention on “Environmentalism and Evangelicals,” quoted by Mark Stoll in “The Historical Roots of Evangelical Anti-Environmentalism” (see footnote 2).

32 Cf. Sec. 1, footnote 2.

33 “[Many of] the evangelicals Veldman has spoken to oppose. . . [man-made or man-solved] climate change because they see it as a threat to God’s omnipotence.” – Bailey, “Why So Many White Evangelicals. . .” etc. (see footnote 6)

34 “The idea that God will fix climate change  – or that trying to curb its impact is an affront to the divine  –  is a common refrain among Republican politicians.” – Jack Jenkins, “Lawmaker Thinks God Will ‘Take Care’ of Climate Change if it Becomes a ‘Real Problem’,” ThinkProgress, June 2017, https://thinkprogress.org/lawmaker-climate-change-god-bf84a114b557.

35 Cf. John Collins Rudolf, “An Evangelical Backlash Against Environmentalism,” New York Times, February 2010 https://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/30/an-evangelical-backlash-against-environmentalism/

& Tik Root, “An Evangelical Movement Takes On Climate Change,” Newsweek, March 2016, http://www.newsweek.com/2016/03/18/creation-care-evangelical-christianity-climate-change-434865.html.

36 Molly Worthen, “The Evangelical Roots of our Post-Truth Society,” The New York Times, April 2017 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/opinion/sunday/the-evangelical-roots-of-our-post-truth-society.html

37 N.T. Wright, “Jesus is Coming – Plant a Tree!”, Plough, 2015, http://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/environment/jesus-is-coming-plant-a-tree.

38 Ibid.

39 Matthew 21:28-43, 25:14-30; Mark 12:1-17, 41-44; Luke 20:9-25.

40 Matthew 5-7.