Stewarding God's Creation

A Biblical Perspective on Environmental Concerns

Posted by Dan Jarms & Logan Long & Seth Weber on April 24, 2024
Stewarding God's Creation
00:00 00:00

In this episode Logan Long and Seth Weber discuss how we as Christians are called to steward the earth that God has created. We look at a Biblical foundation starting in Genesis at creation for the idea that man is to work and keep the garden, talk about some of the environmental issues that are caused by man's sin, and look at the hope we have in Christ that leads us to aim for faithful stewardship through gratitude for all that God has blessed us with and the desire to love others.

global warming, climate change, environmentalism, conservationism, environmental activism, mother earth, earth day, pollution, air quality, save the earth, chemicals, mother nature, 

  • Automated Transcription
  • Dan Jarms 0:00
    Today on faith matters, we have Seth Weber interviewing Logan Long on environmental stewardship.

    Dan Jarms 0:13
    I'm Dan Jarms.

    Seth Weber 0:14
    And I'm Seth Weber.

    Dan Jarms 0:15
    And you're listening to faith matters a podcast to help update you on matters of Faith Bible Church, as well as equip you in matters of the Christian faith.

    Dan Jarms 0:33
    All right, well, why would we talk about environmental stewardship. In our particular case, we have a member Logan Long, who has done some research, gotten some training and and has an interest in it. And just one practical thing to say for me as a pastor, there are many callings in our church, not every calling is to vocational ministry. Sometimes a calling is to work a job and actually make an impact in the world with your job. That's what Logan is trying to do right now, in some really practical ways. So I want to frame this before we jump in to the interview you did with Logan, and say, why would we want to talk about it? Let's first say what we're not saying. And then we could say what we are, there is what we probably would call the religion of environmentalism. And it comes from a naturalistic worldview, where this planet is all we have this planet is, is the mother of all things. And so that that kind of religion without God will also come to conclusions and policies that Christians might not come to. Okay. But that said, we're not talking about that. What we are trying to do is frame this based on what you'll hear in the, in the episode about the creation mandate, from Genesis one where we're, we're told to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth subdue it, exercise dominion. Yeah, I would add one other piece, from Genesis to where Adam was placed in the garden. And the language has to work and keep, and that word keep is to pay attention to but embedded in the word keep is to protect. So there would be good justification, moral justification to think about what we do to the environment. And Logan will share it really well about how it can cause hurt or harm to others. And Christians should be moved by the rule of love. So that's, that's why we're talking about it. We have somebody who is interested in talking about that. And I always want to fuel or encourage any Christian in their calling to apply to biblical principles to their calling to their world. And I love hearing Logan do that.

    Seth Weber 2:57
    All right, well, I'm here with Logan long in the studio, and we're going to talk about environmental issues and stewarding the resources that God has given us. So welcome to the studio. Logan. Thanks.

    Logan Long 3:10
    I'm glad to be here

    Seth Weber 3:17
    I'm curious what got you interested in the topic of environmental stewardship to begin with.

    Logan Long 3:23
    It was a few different things. I think initially starting with when I was younger, just growing up in a family spent a lot of time outdoors. My mom was a is science teacher or has taught science in the past and just has a love for for the natural world. My grandpa's Well, love for God's creation. And even though I didn't always carry that love when I was younger, it really began to grow throughout middle school in high school and I was just had the privilege at my my high school at the Oaks to go to Yellowstone on a trip, I believe in 11th grade. And on that trip it was it was just for natural science just to go explore all the hot springs and some other things. One of the activities we did was go with this believer backcountry guide just this big Montana man. Really, really awesome. His name's Shane takes people on big backcountry horse trips and nice backcountry there. It's really neat. But he took us on a little hike and we're just walking around and he was pointing at this point that that and Sam like, Oh yeah, you can notice how the deer they graze on the south facing slopes because the south facing slopes have all melted. Because the sun shines in the South North faces are more steep, more snow stays there longer and is not facing the sun and ends up talking about all the different kinds of trees ends up talking about how at one point in the early days of Yellowstone, all predators were thought to be horrible, because like people would maybe be attacked. Livestock would be killed. And so wolves bears controversial topic number one wolves were completely eliminated in Yellowstone. And as a result, deer populations skyrocketed. Sure, because there's no more predators really hunting them. Yeah, bears delete the dead ones that the wolves got, but there's not going to be any other predators actually hunting them down. For the most part, when the deer population skyrocketed, disease spread very rapidly through them. And so there was a massive die off actually caused by population spike. And so that population spike wipes out the deer, all the grass that would normally be eaten by these deer, which you wouldn't think would make a big difference. It makes a huge difference. And so wildfire seasons just got way more damaging because the grass was burning. And so fires were able to spread throughout the plains way more readily and easily. Wow, just ripple effects. Yeah, but those ripple effects, really just point out that God made this world pretty intricately, and ways that science now is just finding out more and more things. It's just called ecology. It's the relationships between living organisms. And really, this this balance that God has created. And that just blew my mind. And there's many other examples of that. And it's just really incredible to see that, wow, God made this world really, really cool. What messes it up, like, why did these, I guess fires, that's like one little example, how many other ways in which this natural order that God's made and just this wonderful design that he's made, get mess messed up? And so that brings, immediately the conversation brings it to environmentalism? Because there's plenty of people who see like man as a disease, even though they are a man or woman? Disease, yeah, I have a disease, or they'll end up blaming the disease on a political system, or an economic system, or people with deeper pockets than theirs. And there's just this blame game. And it can it can turn dark really fast, because then people will turn to humans with the issues. So population controls good. And I mean, there's so many different movie plots, like you can think of Avengers, endgame. I mean, it's like, we're a disease, we need to like, be eliminated. But the point was, God really made this world get very good. Actually, I ended up doing my senior thesis on a theological reevaluation of environmentalism, my class teacher goes to crush our hope. And he was super great, really, really supportive and really enjoyed helping me with my thesis and just gave lots of great feedback. That was formative. That was like five years ago, I've always wanted to pursue ministry. But for a college degree, I was like, why not just study environmental science? I ended up taking, studying environmental science with a geology emphasis. Now I'm working because kind of in the geotechnical engineering world, which is not necessarily there's environmental components to it. It's not what someone would think someone who studies environmental science is going to end up doing necessarily sure. It's very broad. So

    Seth Weber 8:16
    tell me about a little bit about your time studying this in college, because I'm sure that you were taught some things and heard some things that were like, really helpful and really interesting, and maybe some things that you were like, I'm not sure I agree with that. Tell me about that experience.

    Logan Long 8:32
    Yeah, when I was studying at university, the content of what I learned, was really good. The term environmental science, really all it means is, is earth science. And there's included components of how humans might impact or interact with it. Because we are part of like the ecosystem, we are part of the environment. And as we'll get into maybe talking about dominion and Genesis are more than that. So really, school was really great, because when we're looking at research, looking at science and the natural world, really more of what I was seeing than anything was, wow, God is so wise. And what he's making an AP associate is evolutionary biology that has led to ecology somehow. And it's just like, I can't understand how you can think that, like, this is all the relationships that God has made between the plants, the animals, the gases, and I mean, it's just incredible. Yeah, it's incredible. And so that content was really good. And I'd say faith building. So I definitely would encourage anyone don't shy away from studying the natural sciences. Even at a secular university. If there's a there's a strong foundation of faith and the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. It can be sweet, but I'd say that the what would get difficult would be discussing Things like solutions. And you might think that people would be really optimistic of Oh, we got to get like, have these policies passed, we got to ban this or ban that, or whatever. But that's more people that study social science and political science. Okay. The people that are actually studying environmental science, typically, at least, at least Eastern, were like, Yeah, we're, we're kind of done for like, that's, that's really that's really the attitude. It was it was we're done four, or we can't have any more kids. Like it was, it was it was those three things. So the

    Seth Weber 10:34
    conclusions they come to? While the studying is good, the conclusions they come to are not in line with a biblical worldview.

    Logan Long 10:42
    Oh, yeah, not at all.

    Seth Weber 10:44
    So before we dive into some, some of the more specific details here, there's a specific book that I know we've both read, give us sort of a preview of of that book and what that's all about.

    Logan Long 10:55
    So when I was preparing for my senior thesis at the oaks, my senior year of high school, theological revaluation, environmentalism, the main resource that I used was a book called pollution and the death of men by I'm so ominous. It sounds super intimate. I'm an anonymous, let me say that word ominous. And it's by an author that we all might know fairly well, Francis Schaeffer. Anyway, he wrote this book called pollution and the death of man, because he saw a lot of environmental destruction, particularly through mountaintop coal mining, where mountaintops are essentially like, removed and flattened. And coal is really important energy source, it's really effective. But the process of of mining, when people are cutting corners, getting as much as they can, as fast as they can, right. People were getting sick and dying, because their water was getting affected, their land was getting just destroyed, groundwater is getting destroyed and poisoned. And so Francis Schaeffer really writes a very simple book, where he says that the issue is that greed and haste caused destruction to creation, which I

    Seth Weber 12:10
    think is just a side note here, I think it was an important point that the examples he gives are dated. But that principle of like, people are going to cut corners to make more money, and that greed and haste like that, that still applies today, just in different ways, right?

    Logan Long 12:25
    Yeah. And so that framework that he laid, you could almost call it like, just a branch of hamari ideology, which is in systematic theology just means the doctrine of sin. And so if anything, environmentalism kind of belongs under that branch of systematic theology, which is just the theology of sin, in some ways, because at least the ways that man destroy, yeah, he stopped with greed and haste. And I don't think he would have said that those are ultimate, are the only ones but I mean, you can you can extend it out to gluttony, laziness. I mean, materialism and greed, pretty much go hand in hand, but just plain, just plain old selfishness. getting what I want, when I want it as much as I want, and I don't want to really labor to get it, or go through the hard work to get it. And

    Seth Weber 13:22
    to get it without doing something that will harm someone else, potentially.

    Logan Long 13:27
    Right. Yeah.

    Seth Weber 13:29
    So lay out for us a biblical basis for the idea that we are stewards of the environment, or the the ecology around us the earth.

    Logan Long 13:38
    I mean, it starts in Genesis one, the command to be fruitful, and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and take dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air. It's really this idea that while God is King, we are essentially to kind of rule over the earth as his vice Royce. So kind of like ruling under his rule, pointing to his rule, being like this authority isn't mine. Scripture says, doesn't say the earth is mine. It says, The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness that are of the earth and all that dwell there in and creation worships the Lord. It doesn't worship man and worships the Lord. So it's really all about creation and the Lord's relationship, and then our relationship to creation as being under the under the Lord. And so with the fall, obviously, man, rebelling against God rebelling against his rule, saying, I don't want your rule, I want to rule my life, the way that I want to rule it. And every one of us has, has done the same, we've altered our own way of wanting to be king. So of

    Seth Weber 14:46
    course, that's going to have an effect on the way that we relate to the world around us. Right? The the environment.

    Logan Long 14:51
    Yeah. And I think that that is probably one of the areas that has maybe the least recognition and what might be modern day Christian thought is, we really clearly see how sin destroys relationships, how sin destroys families, how sin destroys, you know, businesses, churches, and now we'll say governments too. But we won't really say that with creation as easily. You know, first of all, because God has actually made some promises about how he is never going to flood the earth again, then OAIC promise, there might be a little bit of a, we don't want to overstate how destructive our sin is. But sure, I think that in doing that, we fail to recognize just what God means by like, creation groans under sin. And how what's going on right now is not the way things were meant to be. The church does need to be equipped, especially seeing a future where resource restriction might be a thing. I mean, you've already seen it big cities with water, do you see it in big cities, things like that being more common, and maybe more people buying into, you know, there really might be some big stuff going on with our temperatures and the weather and all this stuff. And whether or not people are going to blame that on on humans, there's just going to be some drastic effects on on lives and the environment that we live in. Yeah, because of such changes. And so it's not going to become a less talked about topic. And a lot of ways. It's really a, it's really a symptom of a bigger issue. The big issue is, is not ultimately that humans are harming the environment. Like that's not the biggest issue in the world, that humans are hurting each other. It's not necessarily the biggest issue in the world. It's part of the biggest issue. But the really biggest issue is that man is at enmity with God, right? That we are sinning against him, rejecting Him and His authority, rebelling against him and thought, word and deed, and wanting to live as our own kings and do our own way. Yeah. And the biggest issue is not the symptoms that we'll see of that, whether it's a corrupt government, or a broken family, it's that the relationship between God and man is broken. And really the thing that matters, especially if everything's just a symptom of that, really the thing that matters is that people do know and understand the gospel. Right?

    Seth Weber 17:27
    Yeah. So so what we do is man, our sin clearly does have an effect on the earth. Can you talk about some of the specific harms and just some examples of how that works? So

    Logan Long 17:39
    silver Valley, it's about 45 minutes an hour east of Spokane, it's an Idaho Kellogg, Idaho, Wallace, Idaho, that whole area, they're represented mountain right by silver mountain, that area was at one point, the richest place in the United States, the most millionaires did not know that by population size. Wallace, specifically, which is even smaller than Kellogg, okay, during westward expansion, there were so many men who would leave families leave whatever to go strike it rich and and Kellogg or and Wallace at those mines, some of it can be chalked up to not, not there really being an understanding of the damage, or like the damage that lead might cause or mercury, arsenic, and all these things might actually cause but the point was that all the waste was just getting dumped into rivers was getting dumped on the side. And it was just, it was really a lawless place. brothels murder, and drunkenness like Sodom and Gomorrah really, in a lot of ways. And that was pretty typical of a lot of mining towns, that's not throwing the mining as an as a thing under the bus being it's like it's all Sodom and Gomorrah, that's not the case. I'm not saying that. But what would characterize Kellogg would just be, go get rich, make as much money as you can, as fast as you can get in get out. And it was just a city of sin.

    Seth Weber 19:12
    That's the greed is the great and then the environmental effect is,

    Logan Long 19:16
    man, it's unreal, the amount of work that had had to be done later to make Kellogg livable children were playing in dust like nothing green could grow and Kellogg because of what what had happened. The ground was just so toxic. Children were declining in their test scores, again, just their cognitive function, and it came down to their blood level average was like 70 times the toxic limit. The effects on human health is is massive. It's an irreversible mess, that there's a lot of work being done to to fix things and, and there has been some substantial restoration but I mean, it's just it's it's just unreal.

    Seth Weber 20:00
    I mean, that was quite a long time ago, Jamie more recent examples of things that you've seen.

    Logan Long 20:06
    Yeah, I did my capstone project on Indonesia, the water scarcity crisis that affects rural populations, everything from mining a lot of the metals for electric cars, batteries, so many things come from Indonesia. China comes in and mines in Indonesia, and the water gets polluted, the reservoirs get damaged, because the surrounding forests are all destroyed for the sake of growing palm oil. The excess runoff into the reservoirs, pollutes the reservoirs makes the reservoirs, they're no longer all drinking water. Aquifers have drawn down the sea level is now impacting the aquifers where aquifers would be coming saline. So there's saltwater and that's no good. I mean, the water scarcity issue there is is is insane. The rural populations are particularly affected because their most common, their most common types of water are twofold. It's rain catchment and trucked in water. trucked in water comes from those reservoirs which are getting polluted. And also human waste. Just because there's not a lot of good infrastructure for human waste is another contributing factor. People are people are suffering. And I believe that it's everything from cleft palates to cancers to so many parasites, there are so many health issues that have to do with water, air and water, really, the things that we that we ingest and go into our bodies are the things that can affect and kill. And it's has devastating effects in Indonesia, and looks to continue on that trajectory, and a lot of ways.

    Seth Weber 21:56
    So if environmental harm is caused by man's sin, we don't have the power to make people stop sinning. So is the environment basically like those guys? Were saying like a lost cause?

    Logan Long 22:07
    Yes, and no. Mostly? Sort of Yes. But I think that a helpful parallel is, should we sin that grace may abound? If our body if our body that we're in right now, is one day going to be buried? Does it matter what we do with our body? And I mean, we would say yes, because we're, like, the Spirit dwells in us. I'm not going to parallel that with creation. That's weird. But the point is, is just because something isn't, you know, just because that something might be decaying. We, we want to live in a way now, the way that things are meant to be, and are promised to be that in the future, when we have new bodies, there's a new creation, right? I think that what ends up becoming a really helpful shift in focus is not asking, what actions can I take that are environmentally friendly, because then that becomes a whole, like savior, thing, or whatever it might be. But to instead have a mindset of, you know, what other areas of my life? Might greed be present? Because sometimes we might think of greed, simply only in terms of how we manage our money, and whether we're giving or not, yeah, but the accumulation of wealth is another opportunity for greed, not the accumulating wealth is you're going to be greedy. If you're making a lot of money. That's not necessarily true at all, but how you're making your money. Yeah, how you're making your money in the motives, and really the desire of the heart when, if there's a shift to you know, this is to be generous to people. It's to love my neighbor, you know, you're not going to be cutting through someone's lawn to go blow up the mountain behind them when you want to love your neighbor. Yeah, you know, we all have our own sin to deal with. And we all need to be seeking to honor Christ and love our neighbor by putting off greed. This gluttony, materialism, impatience, and put on thankfulness, contentment, generosity, and hard work. And going the extra mile, even if it's inconvenient. A lot of people get sacrificed on the altar of efficiency. Like we need to be able to be willing to go the extra mile to do what is most helpful and most loving and most environmentally friendly for our neighbor. And I think we'll we'll really see good things.

    Seth Weber 24:41
    Efficiency is only good if it's not at the expense of honoring God through taking care of His creation, right. Yeah. Some of our global partners in Southeast Asia. They were saying how a lot of the garbage from the United States is just shipped over there and the governor It gets paid to take that garbage, but then they have no idea what to do with the garbage. So they just dump it like it's just all over the country. So like, what we do with our garbage does matter. It's out of sight out of mind. And I think that's that's not a good thing. In some ways.

    Logan Long 25:16
    It's not at all. Yeah. I'm think when there's a heart posture, that's, instead of being what are the what are the things I need to do so that I'm being environmentally friendly? If it just shifts to, like, is purchasing this item that I'm about to purchase? Do I really need to do that? Like, is that a good use of my money? Do we? Do we need all this stuff, when when we start making decisions from I want to have gratitude, I don't need to make as much money, like it's okay, if it takes time to make some money, I don't need to cut the corners. You know, I want to love my neighbor, I don't need to have this or have that. I think it's really simple things like that, that, that I think there's just more ways we can be aware of, you know, I'm actually being kind of impatient right now. Or I'm being actually kind of greedy right now, with this choice. I need to repent and not do that. I think there's more ways that we can really do that. And that's not adding law. I think that's just having a bigger picture.

    Seth Weber 26:16
    It's just being intentional with your stewardship, just like we would with our money. We're being intentional with the stewardship of the of the environmental resources that we've been given. Right.

    Logan Long 26:24
    And I think one thing that modern science has really allowed is it's it's allowed us to see the different ways in which we are actually able to help or harm people. Like, it's not that everybody always knew that this chemical or that chemical was really, really bad. Yeah. But now we have the ability to base off that understanding, make a decision, that is in the interest of our of our neighbor. And it really comes down to an attitude of thankfulness for what God's given, I don't need all this stuff. I don't need the fancy food or the the all this extra, whatever. It's really just a heart of I think thankfulness for all things.

    Seth Weber 27:07
    Yeah, it reminds me of that scene. And if you've read perelandra by CS Lewis, I haven't. So it's a it's in like a pre fallen world. And the main character is running through and he finds this fruit. And he's like, Oh, I'm going to I'm going to eat this fruit. And he takes, you know, one and eats it. And his natural, like, earthly instinct was like, oh, so good, I'm gonna eat another. But he just has the sense that like, No, I should just be thankful for the one that I had, and be done. And just like, enjoy the fact that the science fiction version of God in that book, just gave me that and it was, it was very impactful to me to think about like, oh, yeah, that's like, it's a really good point. Yeah.

    Logan Long 27:50
    Yeah. I think if we, it would be pretty insane the effect that it would have on the natural world if everyone lived that way. And I think that's the point is that contentment, thankfulness and gratitude is really the best counter warfare against any kind of environmental issue. It's gonna go a lot farther than changing how you vote, it's gonna go a lot farther than changing the greatest policy, like the best activism is his gratitude, I guess. Yeah.

    Seth Weber 28:19
    All right. Well, thanks for joining us, Logan. Yeah,

    Logan Long 28:23
    thank you Seth.

    Dan Jarms 28:40
    It was really great to hear the interview, Seth. So thanks for spending some time with him on that. I know you and he have some interest in it. Yeah, I wanted to follow up I, I loved what he talked about, when it came to gratitude how much less we use, how much less we need, if we are consumed with gratitude, some good illustrations with there, I do think there are more things we can do. It's just where it gets dicey among Christians, how we weigh in on environmental policy, or what kind of jobs we pursue, sometimes require enormous amounts of knowledge, that could be pretty overwhelming for the average Christian. But I would say, if you have an interest, and you have a calling in that area, you feel like God's moving you in that area and you could serve the world and represent Christ. pursue it, pursue that kind of calling, weigh in on policy, if you understand policy, and, and bring a Christian perspective to it. Typically, the Christian perspective is it's all going to burn so let's just use it and abuse it. But that's not what the Bible says. Yeah, Jesus is going to recreate the world we're gonna have a new heavens and a new earth. But right now until he comes back, we have a an obligation to our fellow man to love them and care for them. And make sure we're not doing something that damages Their world or our kids world or something like that. So I think there is a still on moral obligation under the creation mandate to do that. So weigh in on that policy, and then do whatever small practical things you can do in your household to make choices that reduce pollution, reduce waste, reduce, it's it's just good environmental stewardship, that that can be very practical. There are so many things that you can do. If a lot of people do them make an impact. And

    Seth Weber 30:32
    even if it doesn't make a huge difference, you know, there's still the issue of we want to be faithful to steward you know, in obedience to God as well as we can. Yeah.

    Dan Jarms 30:41
    And so there are a lot of small little decisions of what you buy or don't buy, how you buy it what you can that at least are faithful Yeah, that Elise are faithful to God and faithful to that. I would expect that if you take it to that kind of level, the bigger more obvious things you'll be read more ready to do also, which is good. Yeah. All right. Thanks for listening. If you have any questions about this, please interact I know since it is a heated topic in our world, you may you may have questions and you you may want to interact that we would love to hear that and interact with you more.

    Seth Weber 31:22
    You can email us at

Dan Jarms

Dr. Dan Jarms is teaching pastor and team leader at Faith Bible Church in Spokane Washington, as well as associate dean at TMS Spokane. He has been married for over 30 years to Linda, and has three adult children. He earned his B.A. in English at the Master’s College, B.Ed. at Eastern Washington University, M.Div and D.Min in Expository Preaching at The Master’s Seminary. His other interests include NCAA basketball, gardening, brick oven cooking.

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Logan Long

Logan Long currently serves in Youth Ministry at Faith Bible Church.

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Seth Weber

Seth is the Communications Director at Faith Bible Church and loves anything to do with design, video, audio and tech. He and his wife Kaitlyn have three children.

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