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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






19 August 2005

Christian Environmental Stewardship


Q: I am doing a religion project on Christians and their responses to environmental issues. I need to know what influence the belief that “man was made in the image of God and is a trustee of this planet” has on conservation issues. Please could you help me on what the job of humans as stewards is and what the Bible says. Thank you.

Tree HuggerA: In the New Testament, the Bible considers stewardship in light of the Hebraic and Greco-Roman world views, in which stewards were entrusted with their masters’ possessions and were expected to deal with them wisely and well. A Christian is steward of his own life and possessions, since these all come from God, as well as of his time and talents. He is to use them as the Owner would have them used. Similarly, he is to be a steward of all of Creation, both using and protecting it in a manner that glorifies its Creator.

Because sin caused the loss of the image of God, some misuse the words of Genesis 1:28, where God tells Adam to have children and to “fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over [it]” Instead of ruling the earth as God rules them — with loving concern — they take the verse as license to be cruel tyrants over the earth and its environment. Faithful stewardship, including balancing human needs with all other environmental concerns, can be exercised well only by those in a trust relationship with the Creator.

The duty of the stewards will vary from person to person, but each should continue to carefully deliberate the consequences of his actions on the earth and to the earth.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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