Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content

Environmental Studies 395: Environmental Studies Seminar (1999)

God’s Creation, Our Obligation: an Environmental Ethic for Calvin College

Authored by: the Environmental Seminar Class, 1999

Jon Anderson, Bryan Berkompas, Scott Clearwater, Chris Clousing, David deJonge, Christin Frieswyk, Krista Hoekstra, Elizabeth Katt, Matthew Mulder, Matthew Post, Stephanie Swart, Jeff Shoemaker, Nick VanHouten, Karen Veeneman, Rachel Veltman, and Michael Zylstra | Under the tutelage of: Dr. Janel Curry

Go to the entire paper

Table of Contents and Abstracts

Forward……………………………………iii

This ethic was authored by our Seminar in Environmental Studies class (ENST 395), spring semester, 1999. We feel passionately about the environment and believer that our role as citizens of the earth and as Christians calls us to care for creation. Throughout the semester we have read about and discussed these things, attempting to develop a distinctly Christian philosophy and ethic of the environment. To this end we have looked at critics, controversies, and philosophies. We have argued about the intrinsic value of nature, humanity’s place in nature, and a Christian response. The class has helped all of us develop both as people and as Christian environmentalists. Through this ethic we hope to share what we have learned with the Calvin community and provide a foundation and focus for the development of an environmental consciousness on this campus.

Chapter 1: Contemporary World Views……………………………………1

To begin our journey through environmental ethics and its relationship to Calvin College, we will take a brief look at how other environmentalists view the ecological crisis and their solutions. Some of their ideas may seem a bit radical but we can learn from them even as they are critiqued. These contemporary worldviews give us starting place, a springboard, from which to develop our own environmental ethic.

Chapter 2: Biblical Foundations for Creation Stewardship……………………8

At this point, you may be wondering where Christianity fits into all of the different environmental worldviews. What does the Bible have to say about the environment, if anything? Actually, the Bible has a great deal to say about the earth and our relationship to it and in studying it, we find both similarities and differences to other environmental worldviews. Most importantly, Christian environmentalism is neither anthropocentric nor biocentric; it is God-centric. In the Bible, we can see how an environmental ethic permeates every aspect of Christianity from creation to redemption and beyond.

Chapter 3: Accusations and Assumptions……………………………………14

As we saw in the previous chapter, Christian environmentalism is deeply rooted in biblical teachings. The Christian environmentalist, however, does not have an easy task. In our world today they are attacked from both sides, from fellow environmentalists and fellow Christians. These two groups seem to have a rather intense hatred of each other and Christian environmentalism is caught in the middle. In order for us to fulfill our biblical call to be stewards and to bridge the gap between the two groups. We must be aware of the accusations and assumptions made on both sides

Chapter 4: A Vision of Calvin……………………………………17

These days people are focused on the future. The year 2000 is fast approaching and we are gearing up for not only a new century but a new millenium! Aside from the Y2K frenzy it seems as though Calvin too has a futuristic agenda, a new science building, a new conference center, more athletic fields, and of course more parking. The world is growing and we must keep up. The question is, what will this new and improved Calvin College look like? Perhaps it will be a marvel of modern technology, a glorious tribute to all that humans (with God’s help of course) have accomplished…or maybe not.

Chapter 5: What Really Happens at Calvin……………………………………20

After looking at possibilities for the future of Calvin you may be wondering about the present. Calvin today is by no means the epitome of environmental stewardship but neither is it a gigantic trash heap. Calvin, like most places, falls somewhere in-between these two extremes. The question for us, then, is how does Calvin rate right now and in what direction is it heading?

Chapter 6: Environmental Ethics in our Mission Statement…………………22

We now know the facts about Calvin’s environmental status. So what? Well, for starters, Christians are called to take care of the earth, including our campus. At Calvin, though, our call to take care of our campus hits even closer to home. It is part of our mission statement. The mission statement of Calvin holds the foundations of an environmental ethic, yet another reason to take steps toward making this campus the most environmently friendly it can be.

Chapter 7: The Implementation of an Ethic……………………………………44

Finally, after discussing worldviews, the Bible, critics, visions, facts, and missions, we come to the final chapter of our environmental ethic. The fact remains that we have a responsibility to care for the earth and that our campus could use some improvement. The following asserts some changes that can be made to help Calvin tread more lightly on the earth. We need to put our ideas into actions.

Conclusion……………………………………47

Bibliography……………………………………48