Friends of the Earth?—John R. W. Stott

Renowned throughout the world as an evangelical leader, preacher, and author, John Stott is the founder of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. Fueled by a desire to see God’s people live for God’s glory in God’s world, Stott has endeavored to equip Christians to understand social issues from a biblical vantage point. In the early ‘80s with environmental parties scoring political gains across Europe, Stott urged Christians to contribute to the “Green” debate.
Have Christians a distinctive contribution to make to the ecological debate? Yes, we believe both that God created the earth, entrusting its care to man, and that he will one day recreate it, when he makes “the new heavens and the new earth.” For “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Its groans are due to its “bondage to decay” and its consequent “frustration.” At the end, however, it will come to share in “the glorious freedom of the children of God.” That is, its bondage will give place to freedom, its decay to glory, and its pain to the joy of a new world being born (Romans 8.19-22). These two doctrines, regarding the beginning and the end of history, the Creation and the Consummation, have a profound effect on our perspective. They give us an appropriate respect for the earth, indeed for the whole material creation, since God both made it and will remake it.
In consequence, we learn to think and act ecologically. We repent of extravagance, pollution, and wanton destruction. We recognise that human beings find it easier to subdue the earth than they do to subdue themselves.