By Pastor Rick Rogers

Key Verse: Colossians 1:16

Introduction: The environment must be included in a study of ethics because of the implications – not always so evident – that accompany it. In this section, two views will be under discussion. 1) Biblical Environmentalism. There is a strong biblical responsibility concerning the environment. Many believers are not aware that God, as part of His creation and Divine plan, has given direction and commands concerning the world in which we live. Man is a steward of God’s world. 2) Modern Environmentalism. This view has perverted the biblical doctrine, and the environment has become a symbol of control, religion and radical regulation. It is difficult to separate much of the modern environmentalist movement from the New Age movement! One means to clearly differentiate between the two is to note that with Biblical environmentalism, man controls creation; with modern environmentalism, nature controls man!


A.    The Divine Plan for Creation

1.   Man is Sovereign of Creation

a.   man is the ruler of creation, Psalm 8:5
b.   man is the representative of God in creation, part of the Imago Dei, Gen. 1:26-27

2.   Man is the Center of Creation

a.   the heavenly bodies are formed to determine times and seasons, Gen. 1:14f; 8:22
b.   the purpose of the heavens and earth is to serve man, Gen. 2

3.   Man is the Steward of Creation

a.   man’s accountability of the earth, Psalm 24:1
b.   man’s accountability of the animals, Psalm 50:10-12
c.   man’s responsibility in creation, Gen. 1:28 – replenish the earth
d.   man’s responsibility with creation, Gen. 1:26 – subdue it, have domain over it

B.    The Divine Providence in Creation

1.   His Care Sustains Creation, Col. 1:17
2.   His Concern Spans All Created Life:

a.  beauty in nature, Matt. 6:28-30
b.  food for living creatures, Matt. 6:26
c.  death of His creatures, Matt. 10:29

3.   His Compassion for His Creatures

a.  rest for animals, Exo. 20:10, …
b.  food for animals, Deut. 25:4, 1 Cor. 9:9
c.  life of animals, Jonah 4:11

C.    The Human Preeminence in Creation

1.   Our Responsibility and Concern of Animals:

a.  all animals die because of our sin, Rom. 5:12, 8:22
b.  creation is important to God, and thus should be to us, Gen. 1:26-27 (our care for it)
c.  all things are God’s possession and are therefore valuable, Psalm 24:1, 50:10-12
d.  we have dominion over nature, Gen. 1:26-27
e.  we are infinitely more important than animals, Matt. 6:26, 12:12
f.  destruction of nature is destruction of a gift from God
g.  our dominion is parallel with our stewardship

2.   Our Renouncement of Cruelty to Animals:

a.  God commands care, Exo. 23:4-5, Deut. 22:6-7
b.  animals have been used of God for His purposes, Num. 22:28ff
c.  our new nature as believers forbids cruelty, Pro. 12:10.

Consider: I once heard it said that one can tell the true heart of another by how one treats animals, whether pets, farm animals, … There is much truth in this statement, in my opinion! This does not mean that hunting, fishing, eating meat, … is wrong, as long as one considers his responsibility, accountability and stewardship. God will judge and does condemn wanton destruction! Dr. Kober writes, "The sport of hunting is certainly justified if it serves a useful purpose such as thinning out a herd or obtaining needed food. Hunting for the sheer joy of destruction as was done with the buffalo and the carrier pigeons is immoral because man destroys without good cause that which does not belong to him."1

3.   Our Responsibility to Environment

a.  how we behave in nature, Deut. 23:12-13
b.  how crops are grown and cared for, Exo. 23:10-11, …
c.  polluting the land is selfishness. Geisler said it well: "At the basis of pollution is selfishness. Man wants much out of nature but he is willing to put little back into it. He wants to use it for gain whether it is usable again or not."2
d.  pollution affects people – now and in the future. Geisler again states: "Garbage influences sanitation and sanitation affects the health of persons. Sewage affects rivers and lakes, and polluted water affects the health and enjoyment of people. Bad air is breathed by good men and it tends to make the less complete … The physical world was made for man but it is not to be abused by man, because there are other men yet to use it."3



Defined: In using this phrase I am referring to the modern definition of radical New Age environmentalism, with the extreme characteristics that are essential to support and defend the view. You are likely familiar with the nomenclature that is used, as global warming, over-population, mother earth, … There is an entire "theological" scheme with this type of environmentalism that cannot be disregarded in a discussion such as this, so by virtual necessity we must discuss some of the main tenets of the New Age Movement. If not for the belief system such as this, there would not be this type of radically, unstable and irrational movement. Having some background on this will enable you to understand the emphasis in our world on nature, the environment, and mother earth. Note that this is a very brief synopsis only.4

In point of fact, it is easy to contrast a Biblical environmentalism with pagan environmentalism. In a Biblical framework, man controls and cares for nature according to God’s Word. In the pagan framework, nature controls and cares for man - the exact opposite. In the Biblical perspective, man is sovereign over nature. In the pagan perspective, nature is sovereign over man.

The following outline provides a brief but adequate overview of the New Age environmentalist belief system, and the motivating factor behind the radical views that are held.5

A. Monism. The New Age system teaches that all of the cosmos is derived from an ultimate and single source. All diversity flows out from this source to the universe around us.

B. Pantheism is the natural result of the monistic view. "God" is an ultimate principle that is identified with the universe. Thus, "God is all and all is God." The challenge for humanity is to tap the knowledge of the divine that is resident in each person. Each person must choose a sadhana, or path, through which one will experience a transformation that will eventually bring the knowledge of the divine. This may take quite a large amount of time, thus …

C. Reincarnation and Karma (karma is the law of retributive justice) are derived from Hinduism and believed in the New Age movement. Good or bad will be granted in the next life as people are cast into the wheel of rebirth, depending on their previous good or bad actions, thoughts and beliefs.

D. Universal religion. Since one must find divinity within self, and since the system is Monistic, there is ultimately only one religion. All divergent religions are alternate paths to the same reality.

E. Personal transformation. However one decides to get to the goal (divinity, god consciousness), there are successive steps which leads the potential New Ager to develop and attain the goal. Initially, one must have a mystical or psychic experience that results in a paradigm shift from an "old world" belief system to the "New Age" system. It would include the acceptance of the preceding points (Monism, Pantheism, …) Note that the acceptance and embracing is not based on propositional truth, but is based on mystical experiences. To help attain this experience, three mediums are used.

1.   Holistic Health Movement. Transformation involves healing, but not the type of healing as a medical doctor would provide. The healing of the "whole person" is emphasized. This means that people are more than physical bodies, thus more than the physical needs healing. The means used for this includes acupuncture, exercise, massage techniques, diet, herbs, teas, vegetarianism, … the "natural means."6 The purpose of holistic health is that the natural healing will enable the "universal life energy or force to take its course." Thus, the healing is for the material and immaterial aspects of personhood, as it were getting transformed into the higher "self," and becoming one with the ultimate "One."

Other terms reflecting this movement include:

There are additional practices that are related to the NAM (New Age Movement)

2.   The Consciousness Movement. This term describes the efforts or organizations and people to teach the NAM doctrine and philosophy. This takes place in training seminars in business, art, philosophy, culture, classrooms, churches, … A quick glance in virtually every bookstore (even in some Christian bookstores!) will reveal a myriad of books teaching New Age doctrine and practices.

There are several celebrities that are very devoted to the NAM, along with many in very influential positions of authority. Beware of the NAM terminology!

3.   Human Potential Movement. This stems from the pop-psychology movements and philosophies. It holds the "I’m OK, You’re OK" analysis. It esteems man and his nature. One strives to move forward to the One that will transform you to a higher consciousness.

F. Planetary vision. "Because nature is viewed as being an aspect of the One, the earth is viewed as being the single most important entity on which life is sustained … New Agers favor a political platform in which issues concerning the environment are hegemonic (dominant)… because those caught up in the all-important New Age ideal of a paradigm7 shift toward planetary consciousness."8

It is in this sphere that the radical environmentalist movement is fueled. Beware of terms, names, … as Planetary Citizens, Green Movement, Global Education Associates, … It is thus that those in the NAM attempt to conserve the natural world at all costs. There are animal rights activists (in their scheme, both man and animals are part of the One), vegetarians (ditto), … again, note the distinction between biblical environmentalism and NAM environmentalism. It is ultimately God’s Truth and Plan verses the lies and plans of Satan!

Douglas Groothus summarized the counterfeit New Age Movement well:

It is important to realize that the NAM accepts every world religion into their system – the only exception being CHRISTIANITY! One can be a Hindu, Muslim, Atheist, … but it is totally incompatible with the true Christian faith. Make no mistake: the NAM may well set the stage for the false messiah we know as the Beast, Man of Sin, 666!!

For further study:

Geisler, Norman. "The New Age Movement," in Bibliotheca Sacra, Jan. – March 1987, pp. 79-104

Groothus, Douglas. Confronting the New Age, InterVarsity Press, 1988

--- Revealing the New Age Jesus, InterVarsity Press, 1990

--- Unmasking the New Age, InterVarsity Press, 1986

Matrisciana, Caryl. Gods of the New Age. Harvest House, 1985.

Lutzer, Erwin and John DeVries. Satan’s Evangelistic Strategy for the New Age. Victor, 1989

There are other books and numerous articles in Christian periodicals addressing the movement.

End Notes:
[1] Dr. Manfred Kober, “Ecology: Nature’s Use and Abuse,” Man and Society, p. 8
[2] Norman Geisler, Ethics: Alternatives and Issues, p. 254-255
[3] ibid., p. 255
[4] If further study is desired a bibliography is included at the conclusion of the chapter.
[5] Much of the information for this summary is from George A. Mather and Larry Nichols, Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions and the Occult, Zondervan Publishing House, 1993
[6] It is noted that there is nothing negative about some of these activities.  For example, proper diet, exercise, using herbs and teas, … can be positive things (see Gen. 1:29, 2:15, 1 Tim. 4:8).  The point is not necessarily what it is (though some things, such as acupuncture, a common occult practice, should always be avoided) but how and why it is used.
[7] The word paradigm has become a common word, which basically can be defined as a parameter, model, type.
[8] Mathers, Nichols, p. 203.
[9] Douglas Groothus, Confronting the New Age, pp. 20-31