Author Archives: Stephen Vantassel

Historical Evidence

Evangelicals are trained to be highly suspicious of historical criticism. No wonder given how this critical tool has been used to undermine the truth of the Christian faith. Like most things, the problem wasn’t taking a critical view of historical evidence per se, rather the difficulty was the deistic and athiestic assumptions frequently grounding historical criticism.

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Was Jesus an Environmentalist?

With all the conversation about creation-care amongst Christians, one has to ask, “Was Jesus an Environmentalist?” It isn’t a silly question, one would hope that if Christians are going to engage in an activity as part of their Christian obligation, it would make sense to ask if Jesus would support the behavior?

In one sense, the question of environmentalism is anachronistic. People in Christ’s day had enough trouble just staying alive, let alone worry about whether a specific species was going extinct. But on another level, we can inquire and gain some insight on how his behavior should be a model for ours? For example, many people worry about whether they are recycling enough or feel guilt about the bottled water they bought because they were thirsty.
Consider Christ, he killed a fig tree simply because it didn’t bear fruit when he wanted it (Mk 11). Does this exemplify behavior of someone who is supposedly calling us to environmentalism?Christ killed a tree simply to make a point. Is that right? Couldn’t he have just made his point in a more environmentally responsible way?

I think a couple of points should be considered. First, Christ is Lord of Creation. He can do with his property as he wished/s. Second, since Christ was fully human, it means we too can destroy elements of God’s creation in God’s service. That may shock some people, but it is true. When you eat an animal, you destroy God’s creation but no moral stain obtains. The key is to judge oneself accurately and truly, by asking, “is this destruction to God’s glory or yours?”  While that is a humbling question, we should also consider that Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Stephen Vantassel is a tutor at King’s Evangelical Divinity School and author of Dominion over Wildlife? An Environmental-Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations (Wipf and Stock, 2009)

Protecting the Environment

One of the fundamental debates of the environmental movement is over what is the best way to protect the environment. This question concerns the macro-level. Should we put land into the public trust by making it the property of the government along the lines of Yellowstone Park? Or should we encourage private ownership?

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Are Children an Environmental Curse?

Doomsday environmentalists and various futurists regularly link environmental problems to population numbers. The argument goes, such and such country is having trouble because its birth rate is too high. If the West hopes to help these countries we must fund various forms of the euphemism “family planning.” The question for Christians is simply this? How do we harmonize Scripture’s positive view of children (i.e. be fruitful and multiply, Gen 1) with the apparently common sense notion that more people means more environmental and economic problems?

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Nuance or Black and White?

I recently read the interview of bioethicist John Wyatt by Andy Cheung. I am thankful that Dr. Wyatt is working for the cause Christian values. But I must admit at being a little irked at his comment regarding American Evangelical opposition to abortion-on-demand as lacking nuance and leading to harsh and polarizing rhetoric.

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Is Trapping Like Fishing? Part 2

One of the major arguments used against trapping relates to the number of non-target animals alleged to be harmed during the practice. The argument suggests that it is one thing to harm an animal that one wanted all along, but if the number of unwanted animals that are harmed is so high, then the means to capture the target animal may be too costly (in moral terms) to justify its continued use.

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