Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition: Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant Wisdom on the Environment (Acton Bookstore Link). Foreward by Rev. Robert Sirico, Introduction by Jay W. Richards. Grand Rapids, MI: The Acton Institute, 2007. 119 pages.
In this thin volume, the Acton Institute has assembled a superb group of scholars from the Judeo-Christian tradition to speak their minds on what it means to be a steward of God’s creation. The book consists of three position papers, one each by the Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant representatives, that explain their own viewpoints. It also includes the text of the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship, which resulted from inter-faith dialogue between the three groups. The result is an imminently readable book that challenges us to be good stewards of what God has entrusted us with.
All three traditions emphasize the importance of the doctrine of creation. Regardless of the process itself, Genesis tells us that humans are the apex of God’s created order and have been given the role of steward in it. Thus, we are to use, cultivate, and develop environmental resources as responsible individuals.
I found it particularly interesting that each tradition’s position paper addressed the issue of over-population. I suppose this is important because it seems that every year we hear in the news about the “dangers of too many people” on earth. The book thoroughly trounces the absurd over-population argument once and for all. Other “catastrophe” positions, such as climate change alarmism, are debunked as well, most specifically in the Protestant position paper. The science itself is addressed and the duplicity of the ideas are exposed for what they are: anti-human hogwash.
Another prominent feature of the book is the affirmation of the free market and property rights as the proper means of environmental preservation. Each tradition understands that command-and-control economics cannot possibly result in environmental protection. In fact, it is progress on a free market that drives people to cleaner and better methods of production.
Surprisingly, I enjoyed most the Jewish tradition’s position paper. I thought their analysis of Torah and their logical exposition of the Old Testament was nothing short of stellar. On the other hand, perhaps I should not have been so surprised. After reading the section and reviewing some of the key points, I noticed that my favorite Rabbi, Daniel Lapin, was part of the group that wrote the paper. I guess he gets around!
Libertarian Christians need to become more aware of environmental issues, but that awareness needs to go beyond merely knowing arguments against global warming. We need to have a proper Biblical understanding of stewardship and communicate it accordingly. The Acton Institute’s little book has done the Christian community a great service with this book, and I highly recommend it to Christian readers looking for an accurate account of environmental stewardship theology.
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