For many Christians, particularly those who are conservative, environmentalism has become a partisan issue that is synonymous only with liberal values. In Green Like God, author Jonathan Merritt, who himself is a self-described conservative, explains why looking after God's creation shouldn't be a left or right proposition. Grounded in scripture, he explores how God sees his own creation and how we should see it too, as well as the idea that we have been tasked by God to care for his masterpiece. He deconstructs the bad theology that has led to so many not taking this job seriously, and shows us a different way to look at this very important issue from a godly perspective, one that glorifies God and shows obedience to him through creation care.
Green Like God is another of our church book club picks that highlight the reasons why Christians should be more involved in creation care. I felt that author Jonathan Merritt had an excellent persuasive argument for this that was biblically rooted. In fact, many of his points are things that I'd already thought of a long time ago, but that doesn't mean that I don't think this book is good. After all, I didn't choose to write a book about it, so someone had to.:-)
In the first half of the book, Mr. Merritt outlines the hidden truths in the Bible that support creation care. First and foremost, he points out that if we believe that God created the Earth and everything in it, then we must believe that it is holy and good. It's like God handiwork as a master artist. We wouldn't go and destroy the Mona Lisa or any other famous artwork, so why should we destroy God's. We should respect his artistry above all others. The author also discussed how in God's giving mankind dominion over his creation, he was really setting up more of a benevolent monarchy where we are expected to care for and tend it rather than subdue it and strip it of all its natural resources for our own selfish gain. If we engage in the latter, then we are abusing our dominion. The author further demonstrates that God values all life, and therefore we must as well by protecting and preserving it. He further explores the idea that the whole of God's creation is our sanctuary and that through his creation God can reveal himself to us, so we should strive to preserve nature for future generations so that they too can connect with God through natural revelation. Finally he wraps up this section by showing that green living and conservation isn't just a liberal or "far left" issue, while trying to dispel some of the common arguments and misperceptions that often keep more conservative Christians from engaging in this important work.
In the second half of the book, the author discusses how we should respond to the information he imparted in the first half. First he talks about the facts regarding exactly what is occurring in the natural world today, including many statistics that should alarm people, and how we can't just stick our heads in the sand and pretend that they don't exist or try to twist the facts to absolve ourselves of any responsibility. He also points out that we can be our own worst enemy and how our wasteful lifestyles, particularly here in the U. S., the most extravagant and profligate country in the world, are affecting not just our own country but everyone else on our planet. He posits that because of this we need to reinvent the "American way." Finally he shows us how and why we should adopt a J-O-Y lifestyle: Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last. If we do this, then care for God and everything he has made should come first, while caring about how our actions affect others comes second, with our own selfish agenda last. Unfortunately most corporate and political policies are the exact opposite, but things are slowly changing and the church should be leading the way on these issues. There are also a couple of appendices at the end, one of which gives a few practical ideas for living a greener life, while the other addresses the big elephant in the room known as climate change.
I've tried to live a greener life for many years now, and have spent all this time wondering why many Christians are so resistant to the idea. The author himself ran into many of these people after first publishing a treatise on the topic. I suppose it has a lot to do with conservation, ecology, and "going green" being equated with liberal ideology, but nothing could be further form the truth, IMHO. This shouldn't be a conservative or a liberal issue. We should all care about our planet, because it's the only one we have. If we ruin it beyond repair, there's nowhere else to go. That's why I appreciate that there is a book like Green Like God. Although it may not be apparent from what I've described of this book, the author is a self-described conservative who has even gotten the attention of the Southern Baptist Conference, and IMHO, we need more voices from that side of the aisle speaking up about creation care in order to fully affect change in this area.
While I agreed with all of the arguments for why Christians should be more involved in greener living and creation care, the one thing that I didn't really agree with the author about and why I chose to knock off a half-star is that in Chapter 2, I felt like he was setting up a false dichotomy between those who are "going green" as an act of obedience to God and those who are doing it for other reasons. He talks a lot in this chapter about how trendy it's become to buy organic foods, hybrid cars, etc. and seems to imply that this is the only reason non-believers are "going green." While I agree that many companies are probably taking advantage of increased sales of "green" items, and there have been many celebrity endorsements of such products and lifestyles, I hardly think that every person who doesn't believe in God is doing it merely because of a trend. It makes non-believers or believers in other faiths look shallow when they might be doing it for perfectly legitimate reasons, such as wanting to eat healthier, reduce carbon emissions, or simply because they appreciate our planet and want to look after it. I also think that scientists, many of whom are atheists and agnostics, are doing it because they fully understand the implications of not engaging in caring for our would, so they would probably take umbrage to this as well. Otherwise, though, I thought this was a great book, particularly for encouraging Christians to take a closer look at how they're living, as well as how and why they can and should be more engaged in caring for God's masterpiece.
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