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The Dilemma of an Adventist Environmentalist: Is this World My Home, or Not? By Dr. A. G. Schwarz Southwestern Adventist University Keene, TX.

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Presentation on theme: "The Dilemma of an Adventist Environmentalist: Is this World My Home, or Not? By Dr. A. G. Schwarz Southwestern Adventist University Keene, TX."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Dilemma of an Adventist Environmentalist: Is this World My Home, or Not? By Dr. A. G. Schwarz Southwestern Adventist University Keene, TX

2 Earth – Our home in the universe

3 Spacecraft Spaceship designed to sustain life by careful engineering Complex systems generate oxygen, carry & maintain food supply, clean & recycle water Resupply from earth (space stations)

4 Spaceship Earth was engineered by God Free ecosystem services: Cleanse water Regulates water supply (storage & release) Cleanse air (replace oxygen) Regulates atmospheric composition Recycle wastes Stores nutrients Provides food for humans Pollination services (⅓ of crops need animal pollinators)

5 More ecosystem services Protects crops from pests Provides fiber Resilience to disturbance (reforestation, etc.) Provides other useful products (medicines, non- fiber building materials) Soil formation Protects soil from erosion Influence & regulation of climate Aesthetics Recreation

6 Earth is hurtling through space, but where are we going? Earth is home to nearly seven billion of us. It sustains life without resupply from elsewhere More complex than a man-made spacecraft. It provides us with all that we need for life. Perhaps that’s why we think of it as beautiful. What else could we want from our home? We are all together on spaceship earth, hurtling through space, but where are we going?

7 Christians know where we are going! We – especially Adventists, are going to heaven! Yet the quality of our existence on earth is threatened by – our numbers, – depletion of resources, – fouling of air and water – prospect of global climate change Should we care that the life support system on spaceship earth is under threat?

8 Some places I could call home Midwest US & Canadian prairie provinces – wheat fields Washington state – temperate rainforest

9 More places I’ve lived China – rice paddiesAfrica – banana plantation

10 Nu’uanu Pali cliffs - Hawaii

11 Responses to environmental challenges (among Christians) 1.License to Exploit Mankind should act quickly and take from the earth as fast as possible in order to “finish the work”. Environmental concerns do not matter. 2.Benign Neglect Do nothing because in light of Christ's soon return, preservation of the environment is useless. 3.Internal Conflict Internal conflict between the advent that will take us “home” (to heaven) and a desire to part of the environmental solution. 4.Green Religion A quasi-religion with “sins” of wasting resources like water or electricity, or failing to recycle. Seeks to save the earth from environmental destruction (= salvation by environmental good works). 5.Sensible Stewardship The earth belongs to the Lord and that our role is stewardship, or God's managers, placed here to act in his image, just like we will do in the earth made new.

12 Purpose of this paper The purpose of this paper is to show the religious dimensions of the environment, and To support stewardship of the earth as the best possible position “The nations were angry; and you wrath has come. The time for judging the dead... and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” Rev. 11: 18 NIV

13 “Sensible Stewardship” Humans DO have unique ethical responsibilities toward our environment. Acceptance of the challenge of stewardship, not greedy exploitation, neglect or indecision. Stewardship (not exploitation) calls for managing the Lord’s earth in His image.

14 Stewardship after the fall In the beginning our 1 st parents were stewards. At the Exodus, God reminded the children of Israel that the earth belonged to Him (Ex. 19: 5). Many laws in Leviticus governed relationships with land & animals; evidence that the Hebrews were to resume stewardship after slavery. (Lev. 1: 1-9; 18: 24- 30; 20: 22; 25: 1-7; 25: 8-23; 26: 3-6, 32-35, 40-42). After 40 years of wandering, a new generation was reminded that the earth belonged to the Lord (Deut. 10: 14), and they were reminded against greed with respect to their relationship to wild animals (Deut. 22: 6, 7).

15 Stewardship: Present We retain the role of steward. Hebrews saw themselves as part of creation Modern worldview has us apart from & superior to the creation Cultivated land (%)

16 Stewardship: Future We are not always good stewards because we have not internalized that we are part of the creation. We now have a wide variety of sophisticated tools to aid in environmental management. If we truly feel at home in the ecosystem, we will not use them to more efficiently express greed. It is time for us to internalize our role as God’s stewards (managers, caretakers) of the global ecosystems that form our life support system.

17 Acknowledgement of our God-given role as stewards The creation needs stewards to act in God’s image. Environmental stewardship is like health care. Human health has an environmental dimension. As a church, we have had an impact on global health. I think we should educate for environmental stewardship

18 Three Advents 1.Simeon & Anna recognized Jesus as the Messiah when he was a baby (Luke 2: 21-38) 2.Today, Adventists await the 2 nd coming 3.Will we look forward to the 3 rd coming of Christ with just the same longing as the other two?

19 Creation is Groaning For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God... creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves... groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Rom. 8:19-23 NRSV

20 Imagination...

21 Acknowledgements: Southwestern Adventist University This presentation may be freely distributed.

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