A Different Shade of Green
“If Christianity is the only legitimate foundation for solving environmental problems, why is it that groups with wrong religion or philosophy are trying much harder to solve them?” Dr. Gordon Wilson’s book, A Different Shade of Green, is both a refreshing primer for Christians with questions about environmentalism and a spur for the indolent. Green issues polarize—the left looks hysterical, and the right seems apathetic. Neither approach is preferable—A Different Shade, published by Canon Press offers the better way: A Biblical Approach to Environmentalism and the Dominion Mandate.
Surveys show Christians are less concerned with environmentalism than competing worldviews. By and large, environmental campaigns and agendas are the creation of secularists and occasionally mistaken religions. For the conservative Christian, those agendas carry unsavory baggage concerning fundamental issues—the Imago Dei, God’s rule or even his existence, and the role of government. So they lean away from environmentalism altogether and abdicate the responsibility.
Dr. Wilson calls environmentalism, simply, “wise dominion.” Broken into three sections, Wilson’s book propounds biblical reasons for wise dominion, practical reasons for wise dominion, and current problems with suggested solutions.
In the first section, Dr. Wilson unfolds the implications of the dominion mandate in Genesis 1, and the creation narrative’s implicit green ethics. “It’s agricultural and wildlife management on a global scale,” says Wilson. “Sometimes stewardship doesn’t carry enough impact, so I emphasize a strong sense of ownership in the book. We take better care of our own car than a rented one.” He also adds that God’s declaration, “it was very good,” is the foundation of wise dominion. Creation—its many creations and habitats—is valuable and demands respect because God said so, in so many words.
In section two, Dr. Wilson explains that the Earth “is our life-support system”—it provides sustenance, medicine, and recycles our waste. Throughout the section, Wilson educates the reader with brief and helpful meta concepts like the merits of biodiversity and the mechanics of the biogeological cycle. He argues, “if we don’t know about [basic ecology] that God created to keep our planet alive or functioning properly, then it is easy to inadvertently disturb or destroy ecosystems by just going about our business.”
The final section tackles fiery issues like global warming, pollution, development, habitat destruction, and overharvest. Dr. Wilson gives practical and spiritual advice, providing a larger picture in which to evaluate such hot topics. He also advances the idea that Christian sanctification should include wise dominion—as we love God and neighbor more, wise dominion should naturally arise in our hearts. We’ve damaged Earth mainly because of “corporate folly [in thinks like short-sighted development]. That and greed—whether for feathers, timber, or furs, our greed has brought many animals to the brink of extinction. Some we’ve thrown totally under the bus.”
As he says in this podcast, Dr. Wilson says garden cities should be the archetype for development, and state parks are preferred to city parks. Instead of turning the keys of creation over to the state, sinking into apathy, each Christian should contribute to wise dominion as they value what God values, develop a strong sense of ownership towards the Earth, and cultivate a love for God’s beauty in creation. As Dr. Wilson concludes:
At best the State can only put a Band-Aid on the gangrene. The ultimate problem that threatens the welfare of this wonderful creation is the collective sinfulness of mankind. The ultimate solution is our Savior and Creator, Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:1-3). The reality of his life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension is the only thing that deals decisively with our sins and reconciles us to God the Father. Once that occurs, we can begin to exercise wise dominion under His lordship and begin to heal the damage our sins have wrought on the creation.