Climate change is a complex issue that raises important questions for Christians. While the Bible does not directly address the modern problem of human-caused climate change, it does provide a framework for thinking about our relationship with God’s creation and our responsibilities as stewards of the earth. Here are several key principles for Christians to consider when reflecting on climate change:
God created the earth and pronounced it good
The Bible begins by declaring that God created the heavens and the earth and all things in them, and pronounced His creation to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31). The earth and its natural systems have intrinsic value because they are made by God. As Psalm 24 states, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” Therefore, as God’s stewards we have a responsibility to care for the earth and use its resources wisely, not to exploit them recklessly. Climate change poses a threat to God’s good creation.
Human beings have a unique role as image-bearers of God
The creation account also teaches that human beings are made in the image of God and given a special role as stewards over creation (Genesis 1:26-28). We are called to cultivate and care for the earth as God originally intended. Climate change reminds us of the immense responsibility and privilege we have to use science, technology and our God-given ingenuity to be good stewards and protectors of creation.
Loving our neighbor requires caring about climate change
Jesus taught that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbor (Matthew 22:37-39). Climate change is already disproportionately affecting poor and marginalized populations around the world through drought, food insecurity, severe weather events, disappearing islands and rising seas. As Christians, we are called to have compassion for the vulnerable and advocate for justice on their behalf. Climate action is a way we can love our global neighbors.
God calls us to prudence and wisdom
Proverbs extols wisdom, discretion, and prudence as virtues to be cultivated in God’s people. In light of considerable scientific evidence about human-caused climate change, wisdom requires prudent action to reduce our carbon footprint and develop cleaner energy sources. We should avoid the extremes of either naively ignoring climate science or embracing apocalyptic fatalism.
God gives human beings creativity and ingenuity
Human beings alone are described in the Bible as being made in God’s image. Part of reflecting his likeness is our capacity for reason, skill, and technological development. God expects us to employ our God-given ingenuity in coming up with solutions to the climate crisis, whether alternative energy sources or carbon capture technology. We can reflect God’s image by taking action.
All of creation groans under the weight of sin
The Bible teaches that when sin entered the world, all of creation became subject to frustration and decay (Romans 8:20-22). While we should not blame all natural disasters and changes on human sin, our sinful habits and lifestyles have contributed to the environmental crisis we face today. Climate change is linked to humanity’s greed, excess and disordered desires.
God’s sovereignty gives us hope
Climate change can seem overwhelming and hopeless at times. As Christians, we can find hope and courage in the knowledge that God is sovereign over His creation. We labor to be good stewards while trusting ultimately in His faithfulness and provision (Colossians 1:17). God’s sovereignty inspires us to action rather than complacency.
All of creation will be restored
The Bible promises that one day God will bring renewal to all of creation, reversing the effects of sin and evil (Acts 3:21; Revelation 21:1-5). While human efforts to slow climate change are important, our ultimate hope is in Christ’s return and the new creation He will bring. This promise empowers us to work for redemption in our lifetimes.
Honoring God requires keeping balance
As with any complex issue, Christians must seek balance, wisdom and nuance in our response to climate change. We should avoid reactionary alarmism on the one hand, or irresponsible denial on the other. We must resist ideologies that elevate the environment over human life, or vice versa. Our call is faithfulness before God, loving both human beings and the non-human creation.
No one has perfect knowledge or solutions
The Bible warns against human arrogance and presumption of having perfect insight or knowledge on complex issues (Romans 11:33-34). Similarly, we need humility in our scientific and political proposals to address climate change which no one fully understands. We must seek wisdom while acknowledging the limitations and uncertainties involved.
God expects justice and righteousness
Scripture frequently calls God’s people to enact justice and defend the vulnerable (Isaiah 1:16-17). Climate change activism can reflect those biblical values when it seeks to address the disproportionate impact of climate change on poor nations. At times, the Christian approach may differ from secular environmentalism.
Overpopulation concerns require caution
Some environmentalists argue that overpopulation is a major cause of climate change. But Christians affirm the sanctity of all human life and oppose proposals that could lead to ethically problematic population control measures. We can responsibly steward resources while still upholding the value of each person.
Evangelism and social action go hand in hand
The Great Commission calls Christians to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). But biblical discipleship applies to all areas of life, including care for creation. We should both proclaim the gospel and live it out by advocating for climate action. Evangelism and environmental stewardship can go hand in hand.
Apocalyptic predictions require caution
Some Christians reference apocalyptic prophecies in discussions about climate change. While biblical prophecy warrants study, we must be careful about making definitive claims that current events fulfill specific prophecies. Only God knows the timetable. We should avoid abdicating responsibility for the earth God gave us.
Climate solutions should align with Christian values
As Christians advocate for solutions to climate change, we must ensure they align with biblical values, rather than uncritically embracing every proposal. For example, certain sustainable development or environmental policies may conflict with the sanctity of human life. Solutions should be prudent, just and ethical.
Reducing materialism and consumerism is important
The Bible warns against greed and materialism (Luke 12:15). Excessive consumer lifestyles in the West contribute to over-utilization of resources. Part of Christian climate action can involve re-evaluating our needs versus wants and embracing simpler, greener living. Our identity is in Christ, not material things.
God expects perseverance and faithful effort
Scripture often exhorts perseverance in doing good works. With climate change, we may not see the full results of our efforts in our lifetimes. But as Christians we are called to be faithful in fulfilling our responsibilities before God, leaving outcomes in His hands (Galatians 6:9). Our efforts can inspire others.
The church has a prophetic role to play
The Old Testament prophets frequently called God’s people to repentance and back to faithfulness. Regarding climate change, the church can play a prophetic role by challenging the idols of consumerism and materialism and calling society to steward creation well. The church can offer moral vision.
God’s global church should work together
The New Testament describes a church of diverse peoples united in Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22). All Christians across nations, languages and cultures share a common role as stewards under God. The whole global church should collaborate in addressing climate change for our shared home.
The poor are the least responsible for climate change
Ironically, poor nations in the developing world are least responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, but bear the brunt of the harshest climate change effects. As Christians we must advocate for justice and shared responsibility. Our choices affect others, especially the poor.
God cares about all of creation
While humanity is uniquely made in God’s image, our mandate in Genesis to steward creation implies its own intrinsic value. Other parts of the Bible affirm God’s interest in animals, trees, ecosystems and more (Psalm 104; Job 38-41; Jonah 4). Caring about climate change is caring about all God made.
Faithfulness is more important than results
As Christians we are called to be faithful in fulfilling our biblical responsibilities, even when we cannot predict or control outcomes. When it comes to climate change, we may not see the impacts of our efforts. But our actions can still display obedience and bring glory to God (1 Corinthians 15:58).
No political party or faction has a monopoly on solutions
Christians across the political spectrum hold a range of views on climate change. We must avoid partisan divisiveness and be open to insights from diverse sources, neither demonizing nor idealizing any political party. Solutions will require prudence, balance and nuance.
Climate change is ultimately in God’s hands
While we are called to exercise responsible stewardship as God’s image-bearers, we also acknowledge that the earth belongs to the Lord (Psalm 24:1). Climate change is ultimately in God’s hands, and He remains sovereign over human history and creation. Our hope and assurance is in Him.
We are called to cultivate holy resilience
The Bible encourages perseverance, courage and resilience in suffering. With climate change, we must reject apathy and fatalism, cultivating holy resilience, a deep spiritual strength to uphold justice and righteousness even amidst daunting challenges (1 Corinthians 16:13). Our sovereign God reigns.
Science and faith both have important roles to play
Responsible use of science and technology is part of our mandate as stewards over creation. But as Christians, our ultimate hope is in the gospel, not science alone. We seek wisdom in balancing action and advocacy with care for people’s spiritual needs and eternal destinies.
In conclusion, a biblically-grounded Christian perspective on climate change avoids reactionary alarmism or complacent denial. It embraces responsible stewardship along with hope, wisdom, justice and care for the vulnerable. As God’s redeemed people, Christians are called to exhibit faith, courage, and biblical values in facing this complex global challenge, while ultimately entrusting the future to God’s sovereign care.