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Should Christian Be Environmentalists?

Should Christian Be Environmentalists? By Dan Story


Dan Story, apologist for the Christian faith has written a timely and provocative book on the relationship between Christians and the environment. Growing up with a passionate fervor for the environment and being heavily involved with environmental efforts since the 1970’s, Story knows what it’s like first hand to have a profound respect for God’s creation. In this book, Dan tries to bring together a biblical theology of nature, respond to secular environmentalists and develop an apologetic platform for the faith through Christian environmentalism.

One of the eye-opening chapters in the book was the chapter entitled Are Non-Christian Religions More Environmentally Responsible Than Christianity? Mr. Story goes to great lengths to brush aside the common held belief that all pre-literate and tribal societies respected and did not alter the environment in which they lived. The reader gets a partial glimpse of a story told by anthropologist George Catlin about the Sioux killing 1400 buffalo just for their tongues, which was used in trading for whiskey (44). Beyond the killing of animals, tribal groups would burn up the land in order to plant new crops or to kee their livestock encircled. What caught my attention after reading this chapter was how easily I had succumbed to the idea that pre-literate tribes (including Indians) were environmentally pure. I think that part of this thinking was how I was taught growing up in school (social studies), but also my little reading into the practices of these societies.

One of my favorite parts of the book was Mr. Story’s insistence on weaving the biblical narrative in connection with environmentalism. As a Christian apologist, Story helpfully speaks of God’s role over creation while maintaining the idea that God is in no way a part of the creation (78-79). In writing about the image of God in man, Story carefully delineates the practical reality of this doctrine by stating, “Why is this important in terms of developing an environmental doctrine? To be created in God’s image is to be endowed with responsibilities…we are to have the same loving concern for nature that God has for nature..maintain it, nurture it, even in a sense “save” it (from destructive exploitation and abuse)” (83). There is a moral, spiritual, and physical responsibility given to man in his stewardship over creation. Furthermore, if part of the goal of the Christian life is to be conformed to the image of Christ and Christ cares greatly for his creation, this is all the more reason why should follow after his example in caring for God’s creation.

The next few chapters of the book help the reader understand the fall, redemption and stewardship within a biblical context. The last few chapters deal with the role of the church in dealing with environmental concerns, biblical environmental ethics, and evangelism and ecology. Of particular note is the Environmental Doctrinal Statement on page 127 which gives a biblical and theological snapshot of what it means to see the creation in light of God’s word and how what stewardship entails (the responsibility and the sin involved with the environment).

What really sparked my mind as I was reading through this book was how immensely practical yet biblically faithful this book is. I came away from this book with a profound sense of wonder at the creative order but also with a sense of my own responsibility to it. Secondly, Mr. Story brings to the forefront the person of Christ in the discussion of these issues, which I have failed to take into account myself.

I highly commend this book to anyone interested in the environment, the abuse of the earth at the hands of humans, and those wanting to develop a biblical theology of the environment. This book written by someone who loves God’s world and God’s word should go a long way in furthering the discussion between faith and the creation in which we live in.

Much thanks to Kregel Publications for the review copy of this book.

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