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CEAP Courses - ENST 395: Environmental Studies Seminar

Godís 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, Michael Zylstra

Under the tutelage of: Dr. Janel Curry

Table of Contents


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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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.

At the beginning of the semester we brainstormed about the things that we wanted to see in our college environmental ethic. We examined the ethics of other colleges, both secular and Christian. Eventually we decided to dedicate a chapter to each of seven topics: environmental worldviews, biblical foundations, criticism of Christian environmentalists, a future vision, current statistics, our mission statement, and implementation. Throughout the semester we worked on the chapters in groups of two or three, incorporating class discussions and the ideas of our classmates into the text.

This project was a part of the Calvin Environmental Assessment Program (CEAP). CEAP, a project of the Service Learning Center, seeks to incorporate academically based Service-Learning into the natural sciences. It also opens up a new area of service as we work toward serving the degraded creation.

Our wish is that each reader proceed with an open mind and heart. We view this ethic not as something that might be nice to do but as something that Calvin must do. Everyday more rainforest is cut, more people die because of non-sustainable practices, more pollution enters the ecosystem, and more species are lost forever. Calvin may seem a long way from all of these problems but it is a place to start. Are we not called to be a lantern on the hill? Let us be an example of the right way to live-- sustainibly, responsibly, and stewardly.


Chapter 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.

Contemporary Worldviews

Several different environmental philosophies have arisen in response to the current and projected future environmental crisis. Many of these environmental movements question the validity and efficacy of the dominant social paradigm. They seek to change the structure and the worldview of the current social order. Among other aspects of the current social order, they challenge anthropocentrism, capitalism, materialism, and an instrumental view of nature--that nature’s value lies in its use to humans alone.


The radical ecology movement is based on an ideology that values the health of the earth's ecosystems over economic progress and human interest. This value stems from the view that humans are a coequal part of nature, where our health depends upon the health of the entire biosphere. The environment is being used and abused on a global scale, creating an unprecedented change with unknown consequences. The action groups that adhere to this philosophy therefore see themselves as defenders of the earth, willing to use passive as well as violent action to accomplish their goals. These organizations, such as Earth First! and the more extreme Earth Liberation Front, are loosely organized with members acting alone or in small groups at specific sites. They participate in activities such as logging road blockades, peace marches, chaining themselves to trees and construction equipment, and in some cases tree spiking and equipment sabotage.

The adherents to this environmental perspective are by far the most active group in terms of physically working towards their immediate goal. Unlike other action groups who try to make deals with politicians and bargain for improved conditions, these people are committed to defending the earth against human attack one site at a time. Their radical approach often attracts media attention, which is one of the most important aspects of their cause. They want to show the world that humans ought to take action against the status quo and defend the earth against the destructive habits of our anthropocentric culture.

While the radical ecologist position has its strength in dedication towards physically protecting the environment, it lacks effectiveness by distancing itself from other environmental groups and giving a bad name to environmentalism. Some of the actions these groups take bring negative publicity to the environmental movement, which is too often considered one large, unified movement. In addition, their unorganized and small scale approach is unlikely to bring about any sort of real change. In short, their intentions are good but their approach is ineffective.


Social ecology is the perspective that identifies the underlying hierarchical social order as the cause of the current environmental crisis. This concept arises from the historical domination of humans by other humans for economic benefit. Once domination other human beings became acceptable, human domination of the environment followed. This social order has manifested itself in the form of the free market system, which values the natural world only for its instrumental value as a resource for mankind, who possesses individual economic rights for its exploitation. The result has been the formation of a culture dependent upon sustained economic growth provided by excessive consumerism. This system is beyond reform because its underlying social order is the cause of the mindset that leads to exploitation; the system itself is at fault. The entire system itself must be transformed.

The strength of social ecology is that it tries to get at the heart of the ecological crisis. When one looks at why farmers continue to use destructive practices on poor lands, it is clear that the economic system drives them to do so. In Social Ecology, the cause of the problem becomes the target for change, rather than only trying to treat the symptoms. Social ecologists want to set up a proper, non-domineering relationship among humans, which will in turn lead to the proper relationship between humans and the natural world.

The two major problems with the social ecology perspective are its failure to have an effective plan for the transformation it deems necessary, and its distance from the mainstream environmental movement. Social ecologists want to transform the current economic system. However, there is no clear goal towards which to work, nor is there any sort of proposed plan to achieve such change. Social Ecologists have also separated themselves from the work of other environmental groups that are trying to work within the system to bring about important reforms such as wilderness preservation and tougher pollution laws. The social ecology perspective is not much more than an excellent critique of the ecological changes occurring as a result of the form our modern society has taken.


Bioregionalism is a reaction against the dominant social paradigm in which human needs are fulfilled without regard to the ecological health of the land. This movement emphasizes a heightened awareness of the ecological needs of the local region where one lives. Bioregionalism challenges the concept of land as a politically defined nation, suggesting as an alternative that the land be divided into regions based on distinct ecological characteristics. These bioregions then become the basis for a distinctly different economic and social system. The human citizens of each bioregion must become attuned to the ecological needs of the region, must rediscover the indigenous knowledge of the land, and seek to meet their needs within the boundaries defined by the local ecology. This implies a self-sufficient economy based on sustainable agriculture, conservation practices, and cooperation within the region. This in turn leads to a decentralization and diversification of governmental structures; each bioregion controls its own economy and government as dictated by the ecological needs of the region. Society also becomes diversified across bioregions as cultures develop symbiotic relationships with their distinctive ecological systems. Each citizen is challenged to develop a relationship with the land, to simplify his or her lifestyle, and to contribute to the restructuring of social, economic and political institutions to maintain the integrity of the local ecosystems.

The Bioregionalism movement has a clearly defined vision of the future that includes a broad spectrum of issues – politics, society, economics and ecology. It promotes a questioning of the anthropocentric dominant social paradigm and attempts to integrate human needs with ecological needs. It encourages an increased awareness of and attentiveness to local surroundings and humanity’s effect upon them.

While Bioregionalism has a clearly defined vision of the future, it does not suggest a program for how to bring about this change. It does not suggest how to start the change, nor what to do in the interim while change is taking place. It would also be nice to know if their vision for the future is only feasible with a decrease in population, and how they envision this happening.

Bioregionalism’s other limitation is that it does not have philosophically coherent view of man and nature. It cannot adequately explain where the source of the intrinsic value of nature lies, nor does it address the problem of sinful human nature i.e. how much can be expected to change for the better if humans are innately perverse.


Sustainable agriculture focuses on challenging the conventional agricultural system. The conventional agricultural system is based on a utilitarian, adversarial view of nature: nature exists to serve humanity, and humanity’s role is to subdue and dominate the land. This is evident through conventional agriculture’s dependence on technology to produce as much as can be squeezed out of the land while disregarding its long-term health.

Sustainable agriculture offers itself as an alternative to conventional agriculture. Sustainable agriculture is based on the view that humans are part of nature and must work with it to satisfy human needs. Thus, agricultural systems need to follow the model found in natural systems (input=output) and promote long-term environmental health. To satisfy both human needs and protect the integrity of the environment, sustainable agriculture must integrate the following guidelines: conserve and create healthy soil, conserve water and protect its quality, manage organic wastes and farm chemicals so they don’t pollute, select plants and animals adapted to the natural environment, encourage biodiversity of domesticated animals, plants, wildlife, microbiotic and aquatic life, manage pests, weeds, disease, and insects with minimal environmental impact, conserve non-renewable energy resources, and increase profitability and reduce risk.

These guidelines have clear implications for how farmers run their farms. It requires the farmer to pay very close attention to the land, which cannot be done on a large, mechanized, corporate farm or with the work of hired hands and migrant workers. The ideal farm is small and family-owned with a diversity of crops and animals. It uses appropriate technology and is part of a small rural community. Thus, sustainable agriculture also integrates issues of societal structure and justice.

Finally, in order for sustainable agriculture to be successful, the proper economic systems must be in place. The American cheap food policy may not be the proper system, since it does not properly reflect the cost of producing food. The Federal farm subsidy structure must not penalize farmers who use sustainable practices, and there must be a market, preferably local, for the goods that come from these farms. This last requirement extends the responsibility to live sustainably to the consumer. Consumers must understand the differences between conventional and sustainable agriculture, and reflect that in their consumption patterns. Ultimately, the whole food chain is responsible for living a sustainable lifestyle, promoting environmental health, economic profitability, and social justice.

The strength of this movement lies in its direct confrontation of the problem of practically integrating the satisfaction of vital human needs with the maintenance of environmental health. It is realistic in that it recognizes that humans are part of nature, and yet they have the power to change the ecosystem to meet their needs and desires. Sustainable agriculture also uses a broad scope approach, considering economic, environmental, and social issues. The idea of proper agriculture expands to assign responsibility to the consumer to make choices that will provide a framework in which sustainable agriculture can thrive.

The strength of sustainable agriculture is also its weakness. By focusing on a specific problem, it addresses only one aspect of the ecological crisis at the expense of others. In addition, practical considerations are promoted without a philosophical underpinning.

The future vision is clear, but like bioregionalism, there is no specific program to reach to goals of a restructured agricultural system and an educated consumer class. The future vision is limited to agriculture and the behavior of the consuming public; one wonders how they expect this perspective to diffuse into other areas of life.

Similar to bioregionalism, sustainable agriculture does not address the issue of why nature should be valued beyond its use to humans, or from whence this intrinsic value comes. By using nature primarily as a model for agriculture, it is still serving human purposes. Sustainable agriculture also does not take into consideration the effects of humanity’s innate sinfulness on their vision.


Deep ecology challenges the dominant social paradigm’s emphasis on consumerism, individuality, and anthropocentrism. Deep ecology questions man’s relationship with nature in a deeply philosophical way. Following the ecological pattern found in nature that all things are interrelated and interdependent, deep ecology recognizes humanity’s integral place within the ecological system. Humans are an inherent part of nature and must realize their place in the interrelationship among all things, as a part of the greater ecological Self. This is the concept deep ecologists call "self-realization." All elements of nature are striving to be self-realized, that is, to have the full amount of interaction possible with all others in the ecological Self. Since all are an equally important part of the ecological Self, all elements of nature have an equal intrinsic worth. Likewise, because all parts of nature are important to self-realization, when humans harm other parts of nature, they are harming themselves and their own potential to be fully self-realized. This focus on the worth of all parts of nature, not just humans, is called biocentrism.

Other principles of Deep Ecology are summarized in the following: All life on Earth has intrinsic value, which is independent of its usefulness to humans. Life on earth is more intrinsically valuable when it is rich and diverse (this enables more interaction). Humans have no right to reduce richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs which will be different in different ecosystems. Presently, humans are satisfying more than their vital needs. Coupled with an overpopulated planet, this interferes with the nonhuman world in excessive amounts. In order for human life, human culture, and nonhuman life to flourish, consumption and population must be cut back dramatically in the long term. To accomplish this, ideology must change so that life quality--living in an environment of inherent value-- is valued more than high standards of living as exemplified by the high consumerism of the dominant social paradigm. Policies affecting economic, technological and ideological structures must be changed. All those who agree with these principles have the obligation to try to bring about changes in public policy and in their own lifestyles.

As seen in these principles, the deep ecology worldview has implications for how humans live on Earth and relate to the other organisms with which they co-habitate. The first implication is that humans must develop an ecological consciousness. Humans cannot live harmoniously with nonhumans following the dominant social paradigm; they must change their worldview. Once the deep ecology worldview becomes widespread, the structure of society will change to reflect this new worldview. Notice that deep ecology is not a program to first change social structures--that would be working within the dominant social paradigm and would not bring about the necessary fundamental changes in human thinking. Instead, deep ecology seeks to teach its philosophy through example; people are to live simply and tell others about their views. Deep ecologists intend to be non-confrontational in their approach to avoid counter-productive reactions of defensiveness.

Change will be slow, but meanwhile, deep ecologists call for living contrary to the dominant social paradigm: living an exemplary life by adopting only appropriate technology, living in small communities, and teaching children how to live well and find joy in nature. The second interim activity is preserving life by setting aside wilderness so that when the worldview has changed, there will be something to re-inhabit. This may include getting involved in policy decisions about wilderness preservation, which should be done through grassroots environmental organizations, not professional ones. However, the focus remains on changing the dominant worldview, assuming that social structure will be restructured once everyone thinks the same way.

The deep ecology movement promotes an awareness of nature, and challenges the dominant anthropocentrism that plays a large role in today’s environmental problems. Deep ecology also has a well thought-out philosophical foundation that many other movements lack.

An example of this is how deep ecology acknowledges humanity’s inborn evil and strives to bring that under control through self-realization.

Deep ecology is a very philosophical movement that may be hard to truly understand without delving into Eastern thought, which may distance many westerners. It also distances the average person by being so philosophical and out of the ordinary.

Another factor which may repel people is the complete replacement of anthropocentrism by biocentrism. This view does not recognize human distinctiveness; instead it assigns equal intrinsic worth to all things. People may find it hard to accept that roaches have the same intrinsic value as themselves.

Deep ecology does not appear to have a clear vision of future society. Deep ecologists have a good idea of what sorts of things to do, but is itself a rather passive pastime—waiting for others to change their worldview. A focus on directing structural change is also needed.


Ecofeminism combines principles from both ecology and feminism establishing a social movement that is all encompassing. The basic premise of Ecofeminism is- there are connections between the oppression of women and that of nature, and that both must be liberated from male domination. Ecofeminism sees a connection between all systems of oppression, and that failure to recognize these connections will result in an inaccurate account of history. The goal of this movement is to "reform human interactions with non-human nature and recast society along pluralistic lines" (Norwood, 272).

Ecofeminism contains within its philosophy aspects that we would agree with as well as aspect that we feel fall short of the entire picture. The aspects of Ecofeminism that we would consider beneficial to our approach to an environmental ethic include: a heightened awareness of our surroundings, the connections between human relational issues and environmental relational issues, and the recognition that all parts of the system have equal value. In establishing an environmental ethic it is important to have a good understanding of your surroundings. Ecofeminism does well in pointing out aspects of our surroundings that need to be considered. The two aspects Ecofeminism points out that are crucial to an environmental ethic are- the connections between human relationships and human action toward the environment and the equality of all parts to a system.

Let us consider how human relationships effect their action toward the environment. Ecofeminism suggests that the pattern of male domination establishes a pattern of domination that carries over into the way a person responds to the environment. Humans instinctively value humans over nature (whether this is considered good or bad, it is no the less true). Therefore, if a human establishes a pattern of domination over other human beings, then it is a logical conclusion that this pattern of domination will carry over into nature. When establishing an ethic for the environment it is crucial to address this principle of domination, which is the crux of the Ecofeminism argument.

The other aspect of Ecofeminism that is important to consider is the equality of all parts of a system. This is a basic principle ecosystem integrity; all parts of an ecosystem are crucial in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. This interdependence of all parts of an ecosystem gives equal value to all parts of that system. As Christians searching for an environmental ethic, we realize that the value of the individual parts of that system not only stems from its interconnectedness to itself, but also to its relationship to God. Understanding that God is the creator of all things places value on all things. We believe that the devaluation of nature is a result of sin and a misunderstanding of God’s intended plan for the relationship between humanity and creation.

The Ecofeminism argument falls short in several areas as well. The push to blame men for all environmental problems is problematic. Again as Christians seeking to find an environmental ethic, we believe that the source of the environmental problem is found in the fall of humanity. This fall resulted in distorted relationships between all parts of life (human to human relationships, as well as, human to creation relationships and creation to creation relationships). Another aspect of Ecofeminism that is problematic is the tendency to blame Christianity for being the root of the problems. This comes from a misunderstanding of scripture, primarily in the concepts of a patriarchal society being established in the Bible. Ecofeminism also lacks in setting forth real, obtainable goals for the future.


Creation spirituality is another modern movement that needs to be considered when establishing an environmental ethic. The primary drive in creation spirituality is to establish an environmental worldview that includes a spiritual side. Subscribers to creation spirituality see all other environmental movements falling short in this area. Since they endorse a heightened emphasis on creation and a devaluation of redemption, creation spiritualists also see traditional Christianity as falling short. This increased focus on creation, according to creation spirituality, comes from mystical experience. Mystical experience can be found anywhere. It is a firsthand experience of the divine- the mysterious and sacred universe. An individual must embrace this worldview in order for any real change to occur in a human’s relationship to the environment.

This worldview too has aspects that are beneficial for us to consider when determining our own environmental ethic, but it also has severe limitation when approached from a Christian perspective. Creation spirituality does bring up an important question: Have we as Christians lost a passion for creation in exchange for an overemphasis on redemption? There is some truth to this critique of Christianity, but it also misses the point. It is not an overemphasis on redemption that is the problem, but rather a lack of emphasis on creation. God created all things and in this all things are valuable and have a proper place. As a result of sin the relationships that hold each part in its proper place have been distorted. This includes the natural environment and as Christians, we do need to include the environment in our redemptive efforts.

This worldview is also lacking in that it takes sin out of the equation, which makes all things inherently good. We, as Christians, believe that sin is the ultimate cause for all environmental and social problems. It is only through the redemptive work of Christ that the distortions established by the fall can be set right.

Chapter 2

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.

Biblical Foundations for Creation Stewardship

  • In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

  • God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. Genesis 1:31-2:1

  • How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Psalm 104:24

  • For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4:4-5

God created the earth ex nihilo, or out of nothing. He did not just create humans and set them in a ready-made earth, but he fabricated everything, everything that we touch and taste and see and hear and smell. Not only did he create it, but he created it perfect and found delight in his work. God deemed creation "good" after each day, even before humans were present. The very act of creation should give us, as Christians, an attitude of respect toward the earth. We should treat God’s handiwork with awe and wonder.

  • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, aod. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:1-3

  • He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. Colossians 1:15-16

  • Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.1 Corinthians 8:6

All things were made through Christ. The earth belongs to him. We should treat it as a borrowed item, using it wisely while given the chance, striving to make it better, and then returning it with joy. God has not forgotten about his creation. While he continues to work on it, so should we. Just as Christ was an active agent in creation and Christ will be part of the re-creation.

  • But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Leviticus 25:4

God did not create the earth and then leave it to its own devices. He continues to care for it, providing rain, sun, food, and life. In the Old Testament law God created a Sabbath day to provide rest for the people and the animals and a Year of Jubilee to help the poor and promote social justice, but he also provided a rest for the earth itself. Every seventh year the land was to remain fallow, allowing nutrients to be replenished and the earth to recover from six years of farming. Allowing the earth to rest ensures productivity for years to come.

  • He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work…The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted…The lions roar for their prey and seed their food from God. Psalm 104:13,16, 21

  • Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. Matthew 10:29

  • See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Matthew 6:28-29

God is in love with his creation. He knows the intimate details of each bird and clothes his flowers in splendor greater than that bestowed upon Solomon. He is responsible for every flower that blooms and provides the animals with their food. God cares for creation and asks his people to do the same. God has set the example. It is our obligation to follow.

  • The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4

  • You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the filed will clap their hands. Isaiah 55: 12

  • Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all the earth. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy. Psalm 96:1, 11-12

The Psalms are full of references to the greatness of God and in these references creation plays a part in praising God. From the sun, moon, and stars to the trees and creatures, creation shouts and sings God’s glory. Isaiah too tells of the earth rejoicing. Our special place in creation does not give us the right to interfere with this praise. Instead we should join with the earth rejoicing in God’s goodness and praising him.

  • Since what may be known about God is plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:19

Creation is one of two tools, along with the Bible, that we were given in order to understand God. The revelation of God is imminent in all of creation and eternally available for humans to see and understand. With God, the word and the work are halves of the same whole, both revealing God’s character to us. We cringe when bibles are burned. Shouldn’t we wince at the burning of the rainforest? It is our responsibility to see God in his created world too. Once we seek to learn about God in the trees and the streams, stewardship will come naturally.

  • The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15

  • You made him [man] a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet. Psalm 8:5-6

God did not simply turn humans loose in his creation, to do as they please. God commanded us to care for his creation. He also calls us to rule over the creation as his image bearers. This rule, then, should be modeled after God’s own rule of the Creation, a rule by mercy and love, a caring rule. As humans, we have been placed above the rest of creation, we alone were created in the image of God, yet with this privilege comes a responsibility to reflect God by respecting and caring for his creation. We need to allow creation to fulfill its purpose, giving glory to God, while we do the same.

  • Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet. John 13:14

  • Who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross. Philippians 2:6-9

  • So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2

Jesus came to earth as a servant. Using him as our example, we should be servants to the earth around us. As you begin to grasp the awesomeness of God’s creation, stewardship of the earth becomes a very humbling experience. We have been given a responsibility. As the image of God on earth, we should wash the feet of creation.


  • "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. it will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Genesis 3:17-19

  • The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Isaiah 24:5-6

With the bite of an apple, sin entered the world. On that day, relationships were broken. Daily we can sense the brokenness between man and God, man and man, and man and self. It is important to realize too, that the relationship between man and the earth was also defiled. Since the fall, we have been pitted against creation in a struggle for food and shelter. Instead of embracing the natural world, we fight it. To some, it may appear that the human race is winning. Yet, we have overstepped the boundaries of creation. Sin causes us to use too much and return too little. We need the earth. We need to work toward restoring that relationship.

  • I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable.
    Jeremiah 2: 7

  • Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. Isaiah 5:8

  • Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture: Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? Ezekiel 34:18

The Bible also gives us a glimpse of God's frustration when humans do not care for the earth. The Old Testament prophets rebuked the Israelites for their rejection of God and idolatry. These verses, however, also acknowledge God's disgust with the Israelites blatant disregard for their land, the land that God gave them as a blessing. Principles of conservation and preservation emerge from these prophecies. God wants us to live in the world, but not to waste and destroy the gifts he has given us, gifts that include creation. He gives us good land and clean water. We should work to keep them that way. "Woe" to those who leave nothing left. We must remember that God has given us the use of his earth; we do not own it therefore we shouldn’t be surprised when his wrath descends on those who destroy the earth.

  • The time has now come for destroying those who destroy the earth. Revelation 11:18

When Christ returns, we will all be judged for our sins. Degrading the earth is a sin. We will be held responsible.

  • And God, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9:12-13

Covenants throughout the Bible express God's commitment to his undeserving people. In the Noahic Covenant, God makes a promise to both Noah and the creation to never again destroy the earth with a flood. The sign of this covenant, the rainbow, serves as an everlasting symbol of preservation.

  • For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:19

  • I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Romans 8:18-22

  • For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross...This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. Colossians 1:19-20, 23

Redemption is not limited to the personal salvation of humans. Human redemption can be understood only as an integral part of the redemption of the whole creation. What was started with the death of Christ will be fully realized when he comes again. It is a promise for all creation, as well as humans.


  • But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. 2 Peter 3:13

  • But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 2 Peter 3:10

2 Peter 3:10 claims that the earth will be destroyed with the second coming of Christ. A direct translation from the Greek determines that the earth will instead be found. The fire will be used to purify. To say that the environmental degradation we see around us will bring about the end of time is an invalid excuse. Even if this earth will come to an end, it is our responsibility to restore it to the closest form of its redemptive framework that is possible. This is what we attempt to do with our own lives. We should carry this idea over to creation.

  • But ask the animals and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Job 12: 7-10

  • He spreads out the northern skies over empty space; he suspends the earth over nothing…The pillars of heaven quake, aghast at his rebuke…And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power? Job 26:7-14

  • Where were you when I laid the earth's foundations? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimension? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?…while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Job 38: 4-7

In all of life it is important to remember that we do not and cannot understand God. We should not be so bold as to claim a complete understanding of how the world works because only God has the ability to understand. After all, he created it. He holds everything in the palm of his almighty hand. Who are we to defile, overuse, and waste something that was not created by us, that we do not understand, and that is loved by our Creator?

Chapter 3

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

Accusations and Assumptions

Christianity is often accused of being the worldview at the root of today’s environmental problems. These accusations are usually due to a lack of knowledge about the Christian faith and the associated environmental movement. By becoming familiar with these accusations and the statements made by fellow Christians, one can better discern where the inconsistencies lie and where a common ground might be achieved.

Lynn White Jr., the author of "The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis," accused Western Christian religion for providing the ideas and the motivation for the destruction of the earth. Ian McHarg echoes the sentiments of White in his book Design with Nature. Both authors agree that Christian teachings promote anthropocentrism. The Biblical creation presents humans as the pinnacle of creation and the image of God. This allows people to claim that their divine status gives them the right to use nature for their own purposes. The divine status also creates a dualism between man and nature, allowing for a depreciation of the rest of creation. Secondly, McHarg and White agree that the Bible gives people the right to dominate nature by using phrases such as "fill the earth and subdue it" and "rule over all creation". McHarg adds that although the Christian community rejects the literal interpretation of this view, the literal belief has and does permeate western societal view on man and nature (25). Lynn White also includes that Christianity gave unqualified blessing to the development of science and its application in technology. The encouragement of perpetual progress has allowed our society to become infatuated with the notion that the world must always be making more money and discovering new technology. The unfortunate result of this mindset is the abandonment of the environment. Finally, Christians are also charged with having an escapist theology. Instead of encouraging the care of the present creation, Christian teachings imply that the earth is not worth saving since God will present us with a new heaven and a new earth.

Not only are Christians accused of being the cause of the present environmental thinking, but Christians themselves also make assumptions about the existing environmental crisis and fellow Christians who are environmentalists. These statements only confuse others who may not fully understand the Christian faith or the Christian position on environmentalism. Many times the remarks are made with little information about the subject or by people who have become too absorbed in contemporary culture to make accurate assertions about the present crisis.

The label that sometimes given to Christian environmentalists is "romantic." People believe that the Christian environmentalist strives to return the earth to its original status, like the Garden of Eden. Fellow Christians feel that Christian environmentalists do not understand that the earth can not be returned to a Garden-like state. To buy pristine rainforest, to attempt to restore land to its original status, and to preserve the diversity of the earth is part of a romantic notion and a futile task (Aeschliman 1). The task is futile because something will always have to lose out and it will have to be nature not people. Besides the Bible concludes its story in a city, not in a forest.

Christians may accuse Christian environmentalists of being romantic, but some even claim the earth is not in an environmental crisis. The book Facts Not Fear provides ways for parents to show their children that the environment is not being destroyed. The book tells parents to show their children a picture of the dinosaurs and then tell them that large amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere contributed to their lush green world. Therefore, if CO2 really is increasing the earth will be fine (Johnson 17). Graphs showing the increase in CO2 in our atmosphere are left out of the book. The book also completely ignores the problems associated with non-point source pollution (Johnson 17). The book also informs parents that population growth rates have stabilized and the world can sustain a very large population thereby implying that people are not the problem. Another prominent Christian voice, Cal Beisner, agrees and states that population growth and the problems that follow are not occurring on the earth.

Christians are drawn into the consumerism and progress that our culture encourages, and consequently their views on how Christians should treat the environment become skewed. Evangelical authors such as Calvin Beisner and Larry Burkett argue that "environmentalists’ concern for creation often denies the rich resources of creation and rejects our responsibility to use creation for the good of humanity" (Wilson 301). Burkett continues by stating that the biblical teaching about the creation of wealth "argues our concern should not be the preservation or protection of creation, but the use of creation by humanity for the good of humanity, perceived as economic development free of environmental constraints" (Wilson 301).

Jay Van Andel, a prominent figure in the Grand Rapids community, agreed with Christian environmentalists that we should be stewards and have reverence for God’s creation. But, Van Andel also stated that we do not have anything to worry about because God will provide for all our needs. Van Andel believed that after we use the earth’s resources they will not disappear, but instead remain, by God’s provision, to be rediscovered. He justifies the right humans have to dominate and use up all resources. According to Van Andel, man "does not disrupt the natural order of things, but he is the natural order of things." Although he believes that humans need to be stewards, Van Andel also believed that God will provide new resources for us to use. Therefore, he uses the hope presented in the Bible as a way to justify consumerism and overuse of resources.

Recently, James Dobson had a radio program to promote his views on environmental education and the book Facts Not Fear. Throughout the program, Dobson repeatedly stated that people were not the problem and environmental education was a political agenda to scare our children into believing things that are not true. He did assert the need for Christians to be stewards, but he also confused this idea with the notion that people are not the problem and there really is not an environmental crisis. The Christian worldview that Dobson presented was one of consumption, anti-communism, pro-technology, pro population growth, and one where people are the solution to the world’s problems. Environmental education is not teaching children the ‘correct’ way to view the environment, which is instead the one promoted by Dobson himself. The Christian faith that Dobson is advertising is one that has been influenced by the consumerism and need for progress found in today’s society.

Christians have been accused of being the root of the ecological crisis. Christians themselves have become too accepting of the pro-progress culture endorsed by Western society and have accused Christian environmentalists of being wrong in their thinking. The Christian who wishes to become more aware of environmental issues needs to be mindful of the accusations made by society and by fellow Christians. One must see the truth in the accusations, but also know when to step back and realize that they have been influenced by a progress inspired culture and that Christian environmentalism does not endorse those views.

Chapter 4

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.

A Vision of Calvin

Welcome prospective students, and parents! Right now you are standing in front of the security office. We are about to take a tour of the campus, so please, make sure that your safety suit is secure, and no part of your body is in contact with the outside environment. Also ,if you are having problems with your gas mask, please ask for assistance. Don't try to fix them yourself, they’re tricky. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them. Sorry about the stench, ever since we were mandated to keep and take care of all our trash, we started a landfill over yonder (points to the east), and when the wind is from the can tell. I guess that would be an advantage, wouldn't it? You always know which way the wind is blowing! If you look in front of you, parking spaces, parking spaces, parking spaces, as far as the eye can see. What a beautiful sight! Ever since that parking problem, these things have become as valuable as gold, and now we are the Fort Knox of parking spaces. If you look to the left, you can almost see the dormitories. Don't worry, that white stuff over there is actually from the sea gulls, they feed from the landfill. Hey! That's another benefit, we are looking out for God’s creatures! Anyway, if you can see the dorms, you will notice that there are no open areas between them. That is because of the landfill, it took us by surprise when it overtook all of the land on the east side of the Beltline. The down side is that we lost many parking spaces. Don't worry though, we found more area to use. All that grass that was in the middle of campus...well it was costing too much to maintain, so we thought that this would be more cost-effective change. Back to my point, there are no open passageways in between the dorms or any buildings on campus because the landfill is festering with bacteria, and the stench is absolutely horrendous. This way no one has to go outside at all.

"What happened to the East Beltline? When my brother was here, it used to cross campus over there?"

That is actually a good question. We had so many olfactory and bacterial problems with the landfill, that the EPA would not let humans be within 500 feet of it, therefore we had to have it moved past East Paris...which come to think of it...also had to be moved. That project was so expensive that we had to import trash from other areas in order to help fund it. You'd be surprised how much money one can make from importing waste...especially hazardous wastes!

You will notice that there are no ponds or streams anymore. They were causing huge problems, you can't park on a pond without serious car problems resulting.

Now many of you may need to be reminded of why you want to come here. Because you are not allowed outside unless the temperature is colder than -30° Celsius [wind chill not included], there is no temptation of outdoor recreation and more time for you to do study.

Follow me please, and be careful entering the building, please try not to touch anything until you have been sprayed. Welcome to the academic buildings! If you will, please look up and admire the lights. We used to have fluorescent lights in here, but we have completely moved to incandescent lights because, as you all know, sometimes the fluorescent lights would flicker and emit that buzzing that is almost a trance like hum. Seriously, how many of you can say that you have never been distracted by that hum? Class would be bit prosaic because the hum takes precedence over the lecture, much like watching the paint dry. Well, we could not, and did not stand for that, so we got rid of them.

"Is there any threat of my child catching some disease or other health related problems from the landfill while she is a student here?"

Not as long as she stays indoors at all times. We have doubled the walls and foundations of all the buildings in order to insure the students safety. Any other questions?

No? Well, that concludes our tour! Thanks for paying attention. Lunch will be provided for you in the dining hall Don't get too excited it is just you basic institutional food...who knows what, from who knows where.

An Alternate Vision of Calvin

Welcome prospective students, and parents! We are about to begin the tour of the campus. If you look carefully, you will notice that there are many different species of plant life here on campus. The best thing about them is that they are all native! We have prided ourselves on that. Our goal was to make this place a very diverse ecosystem. If you look to your left, chances are that you will not see the dorms. We specially painted them to blend in with the natural surroundings!

"What happened to the East Beltline? When my brother was here, it used to cross campus over there?"

That is a good question. We thought that it would be more peaceful around here if the East Beltline were to be a tunnel under the campus instead of running through it. This change reduced noise pollution, incidences of pedestrian-car related accidents, and made the overall feeling more serene.

"When I was a student here, Calvin had a nature preserve. Where is that today? I did not see it when we got here."

The whole campus has become the nature preserve! Not enough students were able to take time to visit the preserve, so we brought the nature preserve to them! The paved sidewalks however are still here because too many students were slipping and falling in the mud when it rained.

Follow me please and watch your step entering the building. We are now inside one of the academic buildings. If you look up, you will notice that we use halogen/fluorescent lights. These are the most efficient on the market. They were more expensive to buy, but with the money saved by generating our own power, it was more than enough. The many windows are great for air circulation and aesthetic views. Also you may notice that there are no copy machines. All assignments and handouts are all distributed on computer disks, electronic mail, or via the internet. All papers and assignments are also handed in on computer disk, or via electronic mail. This saves Calvin money and helps protect the environment.

The decor inside the buildings is meant to give the student the sense of still being out doors, thus the many windows, and the "woodsy," picturesque scenes on the walls.

Thanks for your attentiveness, lunch will be served to you in the dining hall. Don't worry, it is not institutional food, all our food comes from local farmers, so enjoy.

The choice between these two visions is ours. Which would you rather see?

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?

What Really Happens at Calvin

Some of these statistics, taken directly from Calvin College’s campus, create some concern among the staff and student body. Some, however, show that Calvin is not oblivious to concerns for the environment. The areas of focus include: garbage and recycling, plant life, air and water pollution, and water use.

Garbage at Calvin is produced from a variety of areas; the most significant areas are the meal halls and campus residences. The waste produced by the meal halls consists of mostly food waste, approximately 95% by weight. The Knollcrest East apartments and the Seminary apartments also generate a large quantity of food waste. On average, waste from these areas consists of an estimated 30% food waste and 50% recyclable material, the remainder being non-recyclable material. In general, the waste produced by the dorms consists of 70%-80% recyclable material. The Academic buildings also produce high volumes of waste, an estimated 90% of this waste could be considered recyclable. Unfortunately, there is not a breakdown of waste production from each area because all trash from the academics, apartments and dorms is transported back to the Physical Plant for compaction. The approximate waste production (excluding the seminary apartments or the Knollcrest dining hall, no data available) by the Calvin College Campus for fiscal year 1998 was 949,600 lbs., or 474.8 tons (from 1998 invoices, courtesy of Calvin College Grounds department). That is about 1.3 tons of garbage produced by Calvin for every day of the year.

While we could do more, Calvin’s recycling program has already achieved positive results. Calvin's recycling program has rapidly grown and improved since its conception. The paper-recycling program shows yearly improvements. In 1995 Calvin recycled 65 tons of paper and corrugated cardboard (1995 year end summary from Waldorf Corporation). The figures for 1998 came in at 145.61 tons. Calvin’s recycling handler, Padnos, includes with the yearly statement a summary of the environmental effects of the recycling efforts. Based on the amount of paper products recycled in 1998 they determined that Calvin College saved 2,475 trees, 1,019,242 gallons of water, more than 436 cubic yards of landfill space, and kept more than 8,736 lbs. of pollution effluents out of the atmosphere (from 1998 year end summary courtesy of Padnos Recycling).

Lately there has been frequent discussion about cars on Calvin’s campus, including issues of available parking, wanting to expand parking, and encouraging carpooling and using the bus system. It is important when looking at these concerns to evaluate our present car pollution status. For the 1998-99 school year, there are 5,531 vehicles registered including students, faculty, food service employees, temporary and special registrations. As a comparison, there were 5,849 vehicles registered in the 1997-98 school year and 5,058 in the 1996-97 school year (Based on Calvin College Campus Safety report).

As a rough example, the 1999 Chevrolet Malibu ( will emit 100 pounds of pollution in its lifetime. If we all drove cars as efficient as the Malibu our cars would still emit over half a million pounds of pollution in their lifetimes. Moreover, the actual amount is probably much higher considering that most Calvin students do not drive brand new cars.

Most people no not see plant life at Calvin College as a potential environmental problem but there is evidence that suggests danger to the native plant species. Professor Warners of the Biology department had one of his classes conduct a study of the plant inventory in Calvin College’s natural areas not including the nature preserve. The results were a total of 307 species with 207 native species and 100 non-native species. Included in these non-native species were several highly invasive plants: *Purple Loosestrife, Glossy Buckthorn, Garlic Mustard, Honeysuckle, Reed Canary Grass, and *Spotted Knapweed.

(* These species are legally restricted in some states because of their ability to overtake an area.)

The groundwater within Calvin’s campus is heavily affected by fertilizing done on campus and in surrounding neighborhoods that runoff into Calvin. Professor Sinniah of the Chemistry department tested the groundwater for Nitrate Ion Levels at each of the four wells located on campus. The Chapel, PE Building, Tennis Court, and Library wells all contained between 13 and 16 parts per million of Nitrate Ion concentration. Professor Sinniah compared the well water to drinkable water including Spring Water (Meijers), tap water (Science Building – 3rd floor), and deionized water that had 1.8 ppm, 1.6 ppm, and 0.35 ppm respectively. The Environmental Protection Agency standard for Nitrate concentration is 10 ppm. This is an indication that Calvin College is over fertilizing the lawns on campus. High levels of Nitrates are hazardous to plant health as well as to humans, specifically with increased chances of Methemoglobinemia commonly known as "Blue-Baby Syndrome."

Fertilizers also had detrimental effects on the aquatic life in the ponds on campus. In 1998, due to runoff from Calvin’s and surrounding neighbor’s lawns, 5,000 fish died. This tragedy occurred in the ponds located near the baseball diamonds on the north end of campus. The ponds experienced a large algae boom in the warm summer months and the algae died suddenly causing decomposition that increased the bacteria level. When this occurred, the oxygen level dropped which caused the fish to die. The unexpected death of the algae is associated with a high level of phosphorus. Phosphorus is typically found in fertilizers such as the ones that are used on Calvin's lawns (Chimes-September 25, 1998).

The amount of water used on Calvin’s campus should also cause some alarm. Campus water use, not including the Knollcrest East apartments or the Physical Plant, was 5 million gallons from February 15 to March 15 in 1999. In the entire last fiscal year, over 50 million gallons were used and two years ago over 46 million gallons were used. Calvin’s swimming pool holds 250,000 gallons of water, and could have been filled 200 times with the amount of water used last year.

Chapter 6

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.

Environmental Ethics in Our Mission Statement

We have incorporated a Christian environmental ethic into the mission of Calvin College by taking existing documents and responding to specific passages. The documents we have used are An Expanded Statement of the Mission of Calvin College: Vision, Purpose, Commitment, which was produced by the Provost Office in April of 1996; and Calvin College: Distinctively Christian, Academically Excellent, Always Reforming; A Five Year Plan, 1997-2002, which was drafted in May 1997 by the President’s Office.

We have kept only selected passages which pertained to our issue. We did not change any of the original wording of the texts in order not to lose the integrity and credibility of our responses. Our goal is not to change the mission of Calvin College, but to point out the existing foundation for an environmental ethic for the Calvin community. We have included the original page numbers for the specific passages, and we have added our own responses.

The original text is italicized and marked with a check. Boldface type signifies our added emphasis to the original text. Our responses are in normal type and marked with an arrow.

We have outlined the texts for organizational purposes. Parts I and II of this paper are kept from the original expanded mission statement. Part III of this paper is the text from the five year plan. We inserted our responses throughout parts I, II, and III.

We hope to prove that a Christian environmental ethic is conducive to the mission and plan of Calvin College.

"An Expanded Statement of the Mission of Calvin College: Vision, Purpose, Commitment"



-Introduction: Bridging Traditions

Calvin College's mission originates in the commitments that have shaped the college's identity since its beginning. These commitments are well expressed in the quotation from John Calvin inscribed on the college seal: "I offer my heart to you, Lord, promptly and sincerely." Our mission begins with faith and the call to serve God.

At Calvin, the Reformed tradition of Christian faith has been and continues to be our guide to hear God's voice and to respond obediently to God's call. It is a living tradition of Christian faith that draws upon historic confessional statements of the Church, both past and present, in a continuing effort to understand God's redeeming purposes toward creation. This confessional identity informs all that we seek to do. It shapes our vision of education, scholarship, and community.

Enduring confessional traditions are realized in the faith and practice of specific communities of God's people. The Christian Reformed Church is the community that gave birth to Calvin College. It continues to be the confessing community that immediately supports the college as its covenantal partner in mission. The college and church draw strength from one another as we engage in the work that God has given us to do.

These two interconnected aspects of the college's identity, our confessional identity as a Reformed Christian college and our covenantal identity as a partner with the Christian Reformed Church, provide a framework within which decisions about the implementation of mission can be made. Our confessional identity encourages and directs us as we reach out to form ties with those who share the substance of our commitments and vision. Our covenantal relationship with the church secures our commitments and vision and reminds us to nurture, challenge, and draw wisdom from the family whose history we share.

A. Characteristics of a Reformed Christian Confession (p.15)

Ö It is difficult to try to organize Reformed belief around any single concept or motif. Nevertheless, there are distinctive themes that characterize the Reformed expression of the Christian faith. These include the following. God is sovereign over all of creation. The scope of humanity's rebellion against God is total, affecting every aspect of creation, including every area of human life. In divine grace God acted unconditionally in Jesus Christ to redeem humanity and all creation from sin and evil. We receive God's salvation through faith alone, which is a product of divine grace. The Bible is our only infallible guide for faith and practice in the Christian life. All believers stand in direct relationship and communion with God through the Holy Spirit. We are called to experience God's grace regularly conveyed in the preaching of the Word and administration of the sacraments. All believers are called to serve the Lord as witnesses to Christ's love in every area of life and as agents of renewal in the creation.

These confessional elements may be brought together in the affirmation that we live in a covenantal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The concept of covenant implies an agreement between consenting parties. But God's covenant with us has a special character, being initiated by God alone in sovereign grace. We have been formed in relationship with God and this intimate relationship is upheld by God's promise. Although divinely initiated and upheld, God's covenant requires our grateful response in lives of faith expressed in service to the Lord. Thereby the covenant establishes our relationships with other persons, forming us into a people who practice God's covenantal love with one another.

The Reformed confessional vision identifies this covenant pattern through the four great moments of human history: creation, fall, redemption, and fulfillment. In creation God initiated a relationship of love with everything created, manifested in the very order and pattern of what God made.

Yet humanity is unique among the objects of God's love, having been created to represent God on the earth. We are the stewards of God's whole creation with the responsibility to help the creation flourish while we also respect and preserve what God declared good.

Created to acknowledge God's claims and enact God's purposes in created reality, human beings have an innately religious character. Life cannot be divided into sacred and secular realms. Right human action begins in worship of our covenant Creator; wrong human action begins in ignoring or rejecting God's authority.

The tragedy of our human existence is that men and women, created to live in responsible freedom as God's children, exchanged God's truth for a lie, and served created things rather than the creator. Humanity replaced its worship of God with the worship of idols, setting personal desire over devotion to God's revealed will. The effects of this disobedience are total in scope. Since we are covenantally bound to acknowledge God's rule in all areas of life, all of human life suffers the effects of denying this worship. Sin penetrates the deepest desires of our hearts, affecting the way we believe and the things we believe. Because our covenantal responsibilities extend to the physical as well as the human creation, scripture teaches that the entire creation has come under a curse. A universal illness has been unleashed and is directed toward undoing our covenant life. The relationship between creation and the Creator was marred, but God's covenant promises were not broken. Throughout history God intervened in human life to redeem it. Finally, God became one with us in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived in obedient covenant love with God, fully revealing the design of God's image in human life. He fulfilled God's covenant promises in his death, liberating humanity and all of creation from its enslavement to sin. He restored creation's relationship with God in a new covenant by his resurrection victory over death.

Through the Holy Spirit, God in Christ continues this covenant relationship today. In the midst of all creation's brokenness, God continues to uphold the order and pattern of creation, which reveals the divine claims to all humanity. At the same time God chooses a people to receive Christ's forgiveness by faith, live in renewed covenant relationship, and enter into eternal life. God's people are to live as the visible embodiment of the covenant promises. They manifest the universal scope of divine love; drawn from every tribe and language and people and nation, they become one body, one priesthood, one church.

Through this people God declares the restoration and completion of the creation. The church calls men and women to faith in Jesus Christ, and as agents of covenant renewal the people of God work to see God's reign over the whole creation. We are called to correct the exploitation and oppression of people, to alleviate pain in the world, and expunge evil from ourselves. The confessing community forms the principal witness to the awakening reign of God, and provides a vision of spiritual liberation that also requires liberation from injustice and bondage.

® Since Jesus Christ will redeem all of creation which has been affected by sin and evil, and since humans have been created as image bearers and representatives of God, we must be stewards of creation and act in the direction of God’s redemptive plans. Christians have been called to be agents of covenant renewal so that God’s reign can be seen over all of creation. For example, when we disrupt ecosystems on campus, we are degrading the order and pattern of creation that God intended. When we cut down an area of native forest, we are causing part of God’s creation to stop praising their Creator. Calvin College must respond in lives of faith in which it carries out its responsibility to the physical creation

B. Confessional Themes and Calvin's Present Mission (p. 18)

Ö If the preceding is taken as a summary of the major elements of a Reformed confessional vision, then certain themes may be singled out to guide our consideration of Calvin's mission. Remembering that we are called to obey God as whole persons in every area of life, we believe that education should explicitly connect the way we think with the way we live. We recognize the importance of leading students to identify their own idols, whether materialistic values or selfish individualism or secular ideologies. We encourage them to see the actual faces of human suffering and need.

We view the challenges and opportunities of scholarship confessionally. Remembering that God preserves a creational order which may be witnessed in theories that are not explicitly Christian, we also remember how this is God's world, upheld by divine grace, and revealing of God's will. Therefore, we also recognize the importance of developing theories and programs of research based upon a clear acknowledgment of God's covenantal claims.

We view the challenges and opportunities to develop community relationships at Calvin confessionally. Our life together as students, staff, and faculty should be organized to promote mutual trust and accountability, responsible freedom, friendship, and Christian love. Christ's church is characterized by the unity of diverse persons, who contribute different formative experiences to our understanding of the faith. We affirm the goal of seeking, nurturing, and celebrating cultural and ethnic diversity at the college. Remembering that the church of Jesus Christ is to live as one people by his power and command, we also encourage the development of greater dialogue and cooperation with individuals and institutions of various Christian denominations.

To place oneself confessionally in the Reformed tradition is far more than to place oneself in a particular church or denomination or even a mode of worship. The uniqueness of the Reformed understanding of the institutional church inheres in its assertion that the church is a living organism comprised of believers with Christ as their head. As we form alliances with other expressions of the Christian faith, we do so as a living body of God's agency, knit together with other believers on the basis of our common confession.

® Although the environmental movement has been embraced by many secular disciplines and theories, the environment is the Lord’s, and its issues must be embraced by Christians, as well. Since Calvin College recognizes the importance of developing scholarship based upon God’s covenantal claims, Calvin College must remember God’s covenant to the earth, humans’ role in that covenant, and develop an environmental ethic to integrate with theories and programs of research.

C. Why the Church Needs the College (p. 21)

To state that the Christian Reformed Church and Calvin College hold a covenantal relationship is not to suggest that the relationship is therefore always harmonious. Church and college are both, after all, human institutions, and have at times exhibited the fallenness of their humanity in uncongenial ways. While it seems inevitable that tensions might arise between two closely allied parties, pursuing different means to a common end, such tensions are not necessarily bad. Indeed, tensions often provide opportunity for reassessment and growth; a lack of tension may simply signal decay.

In an arena of potential conflicts, the questions of why the college needs the church and why the church needs the college acquire renewed urgency. Either for principial or for pragmatic reasons, it would appear to some to be a fairly painless procedure to sever the church from the business of ownership and the college from ecclesiastical control. To do so, however, would also risk stripping the college of a vital tradition and the church of an agency of mission. The benefits of maintaining the relationship may be understood by asking why the church needs the college and why the college needs the church.

1. Reformed Higher Education

Ö The Christian Reformed denomination does not locate itself in a posture of separation from the world, but seeks to be an agent of change in the world. This world belongs to God, so Reformed people confess, and, although fraught with evil, this world may be reclaimed under the dominion of Christ. Thus the task of Reformed believers is to bring a redemptive message to bear everywhere and in all things of this world.

Under this principle of a vigorous redemptive mission, the Christian Reformed Church has committed itself to Christian education, believing that in all areas of education the task of God's people is to engage the world in order to change and redeem it. Thus, Reformed believers see education as a ministry, a means through one particular channel of appropriating, forming, and redeeming knowledge and culture. Out of such a vision Calvin College was born.

Calvin College continues to be the capstone in the denomination's commitment to higher education. Here the denomination says that Christian higher education is important to us. It accords with our tradition and our faith. It is a living organism effecting a historically tested vision.

In founding the college, the church declared that it was to be a training ground in doctrine and faith. Such was not to abrogate the task of the church to train in doctrine and faith, but to expand the task that the church begins. The college trains in doctrine and faith by engaging the world, by educating Christians beyond simple belief to effective belief, by equipping Christians to transform the world in their individual areas of calling.

Intrinsic to the Reformed tradition has been the sense of the significance of each calling--Christians called to serve God in their vocations. The college shapes that calling by finding areas of integration between faith and vocation, an effort that remains a primary educational objective of the college. Through the college the church demonstrates that the life of the mind is important to Christian living.

® If Reformed believers are to bring to bear the redemptive message everywhere, this includes the physical environment. Since Christians are to be agents of change in the world, the church needs Christians who will go out into the world with an environmental ethic. Since all callings are significant, Christians in many different areas can take this message with them as an important part of the Christian faith. The church needs Calvin College to train students and to instill in them a Christian environmental ethic.

2. Christian Leadership in Culture

Ö Calvin College also provides a training ground where believers are becoming Christian leaders of society. The college serves the church by developing the Christian mind, one that investigates freely, analyzes carefully, and judges by biblical standards. The Christian mind grapples with the world at large; the Christian college trains that mind to do so.

Especially important in this regard, for example, is training students to engage modern cultures. The classroom is a context for looking outward, for equipping students with an understanding of the world in which they live and for bringing a redemptive message to that world. The college thereby serves as a mission by the church to modern culture.

That training also, however, informs the church itself. If the college is a bridge between the church and culture, the traffic on the bridge is two-way. In the classroom, students also achieve an understanding of the way God is at work in the world generally. Through the college's interims abroad, for example, students may experience first-hand the religious activity in other cultures and various expressions of faith. As they bring these different expressions from a world community of believers to bear upon their own religious experience, the effect is often a revitalizing one for the local congregation.

The college serves as a kind of window both to modern culture and to the larger Christian church. Through this window, the denomination may observe an entire dimension of life not readily observable simply in the context of the local church. Thereby the denomination itself can grow spiritually in its understanding of the modern age, its mission to modern culture, and its partnerships with other Christian communities which share in the task.

The college, then, remains a necessary and effective instrument of mission for the Christian Reformed Church. To the church the college represents not merely support for, but a deeply-rooted commitment to, Christian higher education. By means of the college, the church reaches out to other academic communities, establishing relationships impossible apart from the college. Moreover, as it values its own heritage, so too should the church value its college, for the college functions significantly as a curator of that heritage. Finally, the church needs the college for its important role in forming leaders, inspired by Christian belief, nurtured in a Reformed world and life view, tutored in intellectual practices, both for the church and for our larger culture.

® The relationship between humans and their environment is a part of culture. If Calvin is training students how to engage modern cultures, the college needs to address the issue of environmentalism. If Calvin has an environmental ethic, it is sending the message to the church that Christians should care about this issue.

D. Why the College Needs the Church (p. 26)

The close relationship historically maintained between the college and the church has bestowed a sense of special identity upon the college that is enjoyed by few other Christian colleges. Calvin College is not simply one more Christian college. While Calvin College maintains a leadership position in the Christian College Coalition, and while the college maintains ties with a larger network of Christian colleges, the college also cherishes a distinctiveness based to a large degree upon its being the college of the Christian Reformed Church. This relationship with the church provides specific benefits to the college.

-Conclusion (p. 28)

Ö While noting the benefits of covenantal relationship between church and college, the college also bears a responsibility to its broadened constituency and its changing educational mandate. In this case, the sense of tradition upheld and valued must also be flexible enough to permit the college a certain latitude in meeting the challenges of the future. Calvin College now draws a substantial proportion of its student body and faculty from various Christian constituencies. Similarly, its sphere of influence extends far beyond the parameters of the Christian Reformed Church to other Christian and educational communities. Having a well-defined place to stand in its own religious tradition, Calvin College bears the responsibility to join with these allied communities to achieve its primary objective of reclaiming and transforming all creation in service to Christ and under the guidance of scripture. Our task is not to transform the world to our view, but to engage partners to transform the world to God's intent.

In a history of higher education in America replete with dissolved church-college relationships, the legacy of the Christian Reformed Church and Calvin College is a powerful and enviable one. That unity has served, and will continue to serve, both parties well.

® With bold statements such as these, Calvin College cannot ignore the obvious need for training in creation care. If we are to transform the world to God’s intent, according to the guidance of scripture, than Calvin must ebrace an environmental ethic with studies what the Bible tells us concerning our relationship to the environment. There seems to be no dispute that all of creation (human and non-human) must be reclaimed and transformed in service to God. However, in order for this to be in deed as well as word, Calvin must apply an ethic of environmentalism to its vision, purpose, and commitment.




In the coming years, Calvin College must continue to live by the best features that have marked it from the start. Maintaining its character in changing times might require altering various policies, but its salient ends and means continue. Several such traits have characterized the college from the outset and remain guiding principles for engaging the future.

From the start, Calvin has aspired to provide formal education marked by rigor and excellence, infused in whole and in every part by a vital Reformed Christian vision. The guiding commitment and the quality of education are not regarded as options, as separate, or as being subordinated one to the other. Calvin's religious commitment undergirds its dedication to uncompromising quality of teaching, learning, and scholarship.

From the start, Calvin College has combined liberal arts and pre-professional education. It has not layered these two nor run them along parallel tracks, but so thoroughly intertwined them that education in the broader, fundamental issues of human endeavor culminates in an enriched, responsible, Christian understanding of work and vocation. Education at Calvin College aims at developing that Christian wisdom which envelops knowing and doing, which compels perspective and praxis to enrich each other.

Calvin College has long been egalitarian in culture, faculty-run in governance, and communal in sociology. Calvin promotes a structure and atmosphere which equitably divide burdens and opportunities, which encourage the development of gifts of individuals and groups, and which make mutuality in service of God and to neighbor the means as well as the end of its education.

Calvin College has always participated in broader trends in higher education, yet has also served a community that for much of its history felt alien or separate in North American society. For its own well-being and the fulfillment of its calling, Calvin maintains both sides of this tension. It genuinely responds to--also learns from--cultural demands and social needs but out of its own set of loyalties. It maintains a critical distance that arises from a clear identity, kindles keen education, and empowers true Christian service.

While different constituencies expect different qualities from the same college, and while different cultural pressures place their demands upon the college, Calvin College continues to testify particularly to Christian education based upon a liberal arts curriculum, to scholarship that shapes the Christian mind and that demonstrates the engagement of that mind with the world, and to a life of community that acknowledges each person as made in the image of God.

A. The Mission of Calvin College in Education (p. 32)

Firm convictions about the task of Christian education lie at the heart of learning and teaching at Calvin College. As stated in CLAE (pp. 27-38) and reaffirmed in this report, three convictions have special status among us. First, the aim of Christian education is to let faith find expression throughout culture and society. Second, the life of faith, and education as part of that life, find their fulfillment only in a genuine community. Third, the Christian community, including its schools, is called to engage, transform, and redeem contemporary society and culture.

Accordingly, the college sees higher education as a God-given vocation, to be enacted on behalf of the Christian community, for the benefit of contemporary society, and to the praise of God's name. Christian learning and teaching at the college level are not optional frills but essential contributions to Christ's work in the world. Without Christian higher education, the body of Christ would lack much of the careful reflection it needs to be a thoughtful and effective agent of renewal.

Calvin College seeks to engage in vigorous liberal arts education that promotes lives of Christian service. This mission in education affects the goals that the college sets for its programs, the contexts in which various fields are studied, and the pedagogical techniques used to fulfill those goals and to examine those fields.

1. Educational Goals

Ö To ask what are the goals of education is also to ask how we should live. As Christians we offer our hearts to the Lord. In so doing, we recognize purposes and goals for education that go beyond simply knowing about reality or simply acquiring competence in some academic or professional field. Knowing entails responsibility and competence includes caring. Accordingly, we acknowledge several, interlocking, educational goals at Calvin College.

At the heart of our programs lies the pursuit of knowledge of our triune God as revealed in scripture and creation, and as expressed through religious traditions in general and the Reformed Christian tradition in particular. Along with such knowledge come an understanding of God's world and critical inquiry into its problems and potential. We need to understand the structure and integrity of nature, discern the cultural and social forces that shape our world, and address the needs and issues of contemporary life. We also need to know ourselves--our nature, gifts, and callings--as we engage this world.

So that such knowledge responsibly guides Christian living, we encourage insightful and creative participation in society. Our programs aim to foster sensitivity to the working of God and creation and respect for the variety of gifts that are offered by people of different gender, race, age, and ability. We strive to learn an appreciation for diverse cultures, an attentiveness to the religious meaning of life's events, and an awareness of ways to renew the world for God's glory.

Our educational goals include the development of abilities and competencies that enable people to be effective in the tasks of knowing and caring. Gaining competencies, however, is not enough; they should be used in ways that honor God in the tasks for which they are intended. Competence is not only a skill; there is a moral purpose as well as a technical purpose for the competence. Competencies that are emphasized at Calvin College include reading and writing standard English well, listening and speaking effectively, employing graphic and numeric forms of communication, exercising valid and sound reasoning, making discerning use of technology and popular culture, and maintaining personal health.

In order for knowing to include responsibility and for competence to include caring, the mind and heart must be one. To do this in a way that is faithful to Jesus Christ, we need to foster commitments. A goal, then, of education at Calvin College is to foster a thoughtful and compassionate commitment to Christian faith and to such values as stewardship, justice, truth, and gratitude. These commitments include a joyful trust in the triune God, an attachment to a Christian worldview, a strong desire to connect theoretical understanding with Christian conduct, a willingness to contribute to the church and society in various careers, and a dedication to the cause of Christ's renewal of the earth and human life.

Christian education at the college level needs to be seen as a dynamic process in which all of us continually try to get our deepest commitments, educational activities, and life practices headed in the same direction. Goals, however, remain abstractions until fulfilled by someone, and fulfilled in a particular program rather than by educational accident. Our educational goals carry certain implications about students at Calvin College, about the academic programs offered to them, and about pedagogical methods used to educate them.

® The heart of education at Calvin College is to pursue knowledge of God that He reveals in scripture and creation. Both of these revelations are of equal importance in this pursuit of knowledge of God. Not only are we to understand God’s revelations, but we are to be active participants in bringing these insights into the community. Environmental education is an important way to bring insights of God’s creation to the community around us. Calvin College’s goal of education is greatly enhanced by studying the environment.

2. Students at Calvin

Ö Students at Calvin College are engaged in the mission of the college. They participate in the mission of pursuing vigorous liberal arts education for lives of Christian service, producing solid works of art and scholarship, and caring for one another in the performance of tasks. For this reason the college seeks students who are eager to learn, value learning as a gift of God, are curious about creation and culture, and strive to develop individual and communal gifts for leadership and service. Given its mission, the college seeks to serve any student interested in higher education that is shaped by the Christian faith.

While the qualities common to all students at Calvin College are important, both the nature of the church and the nature of education require that the college serve an increasingly diverse student body. Diversity, however, is not only an accident of birth, nor simply a matter of gender, race, or ethnic heritage. Diversity also occurs in ways of thinking and worshiping. The challenge for Calvin College in education is to inform, encourage, and affirm these diversities. The guiding premise for such education is that God's revelation is not restricted to one mindset or worship form, nor indeed to one curriculum or pedagogical method.

The college wishes to serve persons from Christian traditions different from the college's own. This affirms our commitment to being a confessional college and recognizes that Christian traditions are gifts to be strengthened through sharing. Students from other Christian traditions will enrich the community and through their contributions enhance the education.

Moreover, the college strives for ethnic diversity, while also acknowledging its own ethnic roots. The goal of an ethnically diverse college community recognizes that the Christian community transcends cultural and geographical boundaries and we live in a world community. Moreover, a multicultural community will assist in the educational goals of understanding different cultures and promoting understanding between people.

Similarly, the college also seeks to serve students from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, from a range of intellectual abilities, and those with disabilities that do not prevent them from the task of learning. Not only does this honor our commitment to being a diverse community, it also recognizes the diverse educational needs that the body of Christ must meet and the diverse ways in which leadership in society occurs. Our academic programs should enable people with different intellectual abilities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and gifts to prepare for positions of leadership and lives of service.

Finally, because of its strategic position among Christian institutions of higher education, the college wishes to serve students of diverse ages and walks of life. It does not restrict its mission to undergraduate students of traditional college age, but seeks to attract and benefit adult learners and graduate students.

The challenge to cultural, social, and academic diversity constitutes an important part of the future mission of the college. The college is not content simply to confirm students in their traditions and prejudices. In order to achieve its goal of leadership the college desires graduates who make a difference in their cities, countries, churches, and places of work. This challenge, moreover, bears implications for the academic programs and curriculum of the college.

® Students at Calvin College have expectations to maintain throughout their educational careers. Listed in these qualities of a student is that of a curiosity about creation. Environmental education allows students to develop this curiosity throughout his or her educational career. This education will give the student an environmental ethic that he or she can use in general.

3. Contextual Education

Ö The fundamental premise of a contextual view of education is that objects and events do not appear randomly or independently, but rather that they exist and occur within such contexts as the natural, cultural, societal, and spiritual. Moreover, information and ideas about objects and events should be understood within their larger contexts. The aim of such education is to capture a living heritage of information and ideas, rather than seeing them as isolated events stripped of contextual implications and ultimately of contextual reference.

Contextual education seems particularly well-suited for a Christian college. Such education helps one see the working out of God's revelation and redemptive plan in creation, in culture and in the patterns of society. Furthermore, the contextual approach provides a practical means of integrating faith and learning as one discerns the revelation of God in all areas of life and learning and begins to employ Christian beliefs in the relevant contexts of one's own time.

To call attention to contexts requires both an appropriate curriculum and effective pedagogy. The contextual approach should not be relegated to certain disciplines or courses, but should permeate the entire curriculum, at every level, whether undergraduate, graduate, or continuing education, and in every type of program, whether disciplinary, professional, or practical. At the same time, the core courses in Calvin's academic programs should be those which best enable all students to study and understand the wider contexts of their lives and learning.

With the adoption of CLAE in the 1960s, Calvin's curriculum focussed especially on religious, historical, and cultural contexts. To be more precise, it has emphasized Reformed Christianity, Western civilization, and the academic disciplines. Since the 1980s the college has also directed attention to the study of world religions and other Christian traditions, internationalizing the curriculum, and addressing additional areas of culture such as popular art and entertainment. Furthermore, the societal context requires greater attention, along with issues such as poverty, sexism, racism, and the destruction of the environment. Such emphases affect both the core curriculum and the design of majors.

® Since Calvin College employs a contextual view of education, the natural must be as important as the cultural, societal, and spiritual contexts. God’s working in nature cannot be overlooked, just as any other context cannot be overlooked. Environmental education allows the student to understand this context of how God works in nature. Without environmental education, a large part of God’s revelation and redemptive plan in creation is missing from a Calvin College education.

B. The Mission of Calvin College in Scholarship (p. 43)

-Purposes of Scholarship (p. 47)

Ö Within the Christian community, scholarship may be considered to serve three purposes: conserving, transforming, and enriching.

Conserving scholarship promotes understanding of the various Christian traditions in order to provide the Christian community with the integrity, vision, and wisdom needed both to frame and to energize its ongoing work. An example of such would be the college's role of curator of historic church documents. Fundamental to conserving scholarship are the research skills of ordering materials, observing significant patterns, and interpreting patterns for the community.

Transforming scholarship may establish Christian criteria for knowledge or for its application, or may implement those criteria in a particular field in such a way as to challenge the wisdom prevailing there or to show the critical, redemptive, or reconciling power of the Christian faith. Transforming scholarship brings to research materials a method for applying analytic skills to a given body of material and theorizing about the significance of that material.

Enriching scholarship brings the insights or methods of the arts and sciences to bear on Christian thought and the understanding of creation and culture. Such scholarship can enhance appreciation for God's creation and human experience, expand the fund of human knowledge and wisdom, help Christians engage in proper self-criticism or self-understanding, and enrich the testimony of the Christian message. The primary focus here is the scholar's engagement of materials of his or her discipline, or the expression of a creative gift. It includes a range of scholarly endeavor from scientific work in the laboratory, to the writing of a book on a literary figure, to the presentation of a creative performance. Such work is marked by its originality and by its contribution and significance to a field of study.

® One of the three basic means of scholarship that is employed by Calvin College is enriching scholarship. As defined by the college, this scholarship is to bring insight to bear on Christian thought and the understanding of creation. Studying the environment is a highly effective way to gain insight and understanding of God’s creation. Without studying the environment, Christians will be ignorant of God’s revelations through His creation.

C. The Mission of Calvin College in Community (p. 51)

Ö To have a sense of community is a laudable goal for nearly all groups of people working and living together; to state precisely what constitutes a particular community, however, may well be the most challenging and divisive task for the members of any community. The very elusiveness of the term poses dangers for including the building of community as a mission of the college. The danger is heightened by the dramatic transformation of Calvin College from a small institution serving almost exclusively the sons and daughters of the Christian Reformed denomination to a large and complex institution involving a diverse student population, an increasingly diverse faculty, and also a multiplicity of concerns extending beyond the classroom. Because of that very diversity, earlier assumptions about community have proven inadequate.

At Calvin College we seek a specific kind of community--a learning community. The nature of community should grow out of our educational tasks as well as the principle that learning is done communally. Students and faculty together acquire knowledge and insight. Members should help one another cultivate aspirations, nurture commitments, and practice what we profess. In this community learning goes well beyond the classroom, making it possible and necessary that all campus life promote the educational tasks.

Together, the Calvin Community can try to live by an ethic of Christian environmentalism.

1. The Making of Communities

Ö The college's commitment to community affects its internal life--the way in which students, staff, and faculty work together--and its external relationships with other institutions--the way in which it forms partnerships to work with others toward common goals.

The making of an internal community appears, at least superficially, an easy task. People gather in different capacities at Calvin College because of a common commitment to educational aims, spiritual values, and religious beliefs. Bound by these things we hold in common, we have, perforce, a community: a gathering of like-minded people. This view may serve as a basis for a mission statement of community. It begins, for example, to define the needs of community as larger than any one individual's personal satisfaction of needs. It suggests that community consists of more than just being together or knowing everyone, more than simply harmonious co-existence, more than gratification of individual needs for companionship. Similarly, community is more than simple like-mindedness on issues of moral values, more than spiritual gratification through modes of worship that the individual finds personally satisfying. All of these items may remain important qualities for the individual in a community, and they may even constitute the reasons why an individual joins a community. But they do not fully inform the shaping of a community.

® This definition of community is essential to an environmental ethic, which goes far beyond satisfying the needs of individuals.

2. A Purposeful Community

Ö The fundamental principle for community resides first of all in a cohesive purpose. However like-minded or diverse its members may be, the community exists to enact a purpose; in the case of Calvin College that purpose is to shape hearts and minds through higher learning for Christian living. Therefore, the end of individuals working in community is always larger than any individual self-interest. Purpose, moreover, consists of more than tasks; purpose entails the mutual holding of common confessions that direct individual tasks. In this sense, the purpose of all participants in Calvin College's mission arises from our sense of being agents of God's plan. The particular expression of that agency is the individual task to which we are called. Purpose, then, consists of being called to a task: to realize God's reign as we implement the mission of the college.

® As agents of God’s plan who do not act out of self-interest, but in the interest of the greater good of the community, the Calvin community must also consider God’s plan for the non-human members of our communities.

3. A Just Community

Ö This purposeful community, moreover, will be a just community. The community recognizes the worth of each member, because each person is made in the image of God. The college has affirmed that "we must try to make the student aware both of the Christian tradition and of contemporary Christian thought and activity. But also we shall seek to develop that which is unique in each student. We shall not seek to turn out every student from a common mold" (CLAE 35). This commitment to the unique individuality and giftedness in persons unified by a common purpose remains foundational to our sense of community.

This model, moreover, shows each image-bearer as one who has specific responsibilities to employ God-given gifts and talents in the larger community and to fulfill the purposes of that community. Such a task-oriented vision of community insists that these gifted members employ their gifts in responsible service. Guided by God's grace, community arises from the individual's engagement with tasks and responsibilities essential to the life of the larger college community.® If we are to bear the image of Christ, we are to bear the image of a servant. We have the responsibility to serve God by serving the rest of creation. The larger community to which Calvin College is responsible includes the non-human parts of creation. All parts of creation are touched and guided by God’s grace. Just as our Lord recognized the worth of the lilies of the field, so must we. The task of earth-keeping is essential to the life of the larger college community.

4. A Compassionate Community

Ö Purposeful in its commitment to mission, and just in its recognition of the worth of each person required in fulfilling that mission, the kingdom community will also be compassionate. Community depends on each individual being in concerted sympathy with the tasks and gifts of others, mutually supporting and encouraging one another, and recognizing the worth, dignity, and needs of others engaged in communal tasks.

Properly understood, compassion is a liberating force, for it consists of how we see ourselves in relation to others. Compassion enables one admit to individual limitations; to confess the need for support, and to acknowledge that, no matter how stellar the contributions of one individual, such achievement could not occur without the labor and caring support of others. Moreover, compassion allows us to recognize that we are, finally, fallen and fragile creatures, and that even in our inability to achieve desired tasks or goals we are nonetheless worthy as image-bearers of God.

® We must be aware of how the satisfaction of our own needs affects the larger community. We must satisfy our needs only if it is not at the expense of other members of our smaller and greater community.

5. A Disciplined Community

Ö Finally, compassion is tempered by discipline. The Christian community will be an orderly community. Genuine compassion requires discipline, including the orderly pursuit of the college's mission. A sense of disciplined order bears profound implications for the very governance of the college and the manner in which we conduct our daily affairs. At no time may the community permit a tyrannical exercise of will in lieu of leadership, nor may it tolerate imposition in lieu of the informed discussion and decision of all members of that community.

Having described these elements of community, we must identify what keeps a community centered on its purpose and vitally committed to its principles of justice, compassion, and discipline. Clearly, working and learning together keep us focused. But it is more than that. Maintaining community requires rituals, celebrations, worship, traditions, and experiences in which the members of the community remember the past, honor the present, and give promise to the future. They will be a people both of memory and hope, learning and living in community.

The college's mission to community must be true to its Reformed tradition and mindful of its rich heritage, but must also embrace the diverse challenges of new partnerships that the college has set for itself. Therefore, community must be understood both internally--that is, who we are and what we are about as a body of people upon this one campus--and also externally--that is, how we apply that sense of who and what we are to forge relationships with other communities.

® If we apply our identity of image-bearers to our relationship with the community of non-human creation, we will treat the rest of creation with love, respect, and service. This is the basis of an environmental ethic.

6. The Qualities of Internal Community

Ö Our common calling at Calvin College is to do our Lord's work. Our roles vary widely, but each person fills an important and necessary role in the mosaic of people that form Calvin's community. Despite the complexity and multiplicity of tasks in the college, despite what seems at times to be fragmentation into departments for teachers, majors for students, specialties for staff, the intrinsic and irreducible unity of the Calvin College community inheres in the fact that all these diverse tasks are directed to one fundamental mission of the college.

The tasks of our daily life together are guided by faithfulness to the Word. We aim to be conformed more and more to the likeness of God incarnate, willing to receive the mind and heart of Jesus. We also aim to be agents of reclamation, reconciliation, and renewal. We believe that we are individually gifted by God to be such agents of a common aim.

Most in our community readily affirm these givens about ourselves and our community. Yet, because we are also a community of broken, not-yet-completely-whole human beings, we are vulnerable to forces that erode our community's strength and stability.

Threats to community are manifold; none of us escapes them. In a college community, moreover, certain unique pressures appear, from the secular values that permeate higher education generally to the pressures of the academic calendar with its swings between teaching, advising, and grading demands.

Nonetheless, there appears much to encourage one in the college's commitmencommunity, even as that communal life is being redefined. First of all, the communal effects of scholarship and teaching have been in evidence through seminars and colloquia, as well as such student groups as the Writers and Dance Guilds. Communal life is also promoted, for example, through such organizations as Student Volunteer Services and Habitat for Humanity have increased dramatically in participation and range of activities. Here the different members of the Calvin community join to address the needs of those in a larger community. Furthermore, informal Bible studies and prayer support groups, and such organized groups as Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, have grown in numbers and presence on the campus. Cultural, religious, and athletic events extend our campus community into the surrounding community, and provide opportunity for members within the college community to cooperate with and support one another in common projects. Increasingly, then, members of the college have seized opportunities to serve, learn, and worship together in varying forms.

® When Calvin College does not recycle, when we are wasteful with food and paper, when we leave our dorm stereos and lights on, when we trash our campus; we are not renewing or reclaiming creation to God’s intent. Our daily habits and practices need to reflect our desire to be agents of reconciliation. We must try to repair the broken relationship between humans and the earth.

7. Mission to Community Beyond the College

Ö Particularly important to our internal community is the way college members work together to serve communities beyond the college. The Reformed vision of the Christian faith ever moves outward to engage, to learn, to transform, and to redeem. Community at Calvin College is not an end in itself, but a threshold for enacting in the world the purpose, justice, sympathy, and discipline that serve as the basis for our community. Christian Liberal Arts Education forthrightly asserts this fundamental conviction of Christian community: "Christian education . . . must not be based on those withdrawal tendencies which have so often invaded the church. Equally, it must not be based on accommodation tendencies. Rather, it must be of service to the community of believers as it seeks to implement its Christian vision in the midst of society. It must aim at preparing the student to live a life of faith in contemporary society" (p. 37). The college, then, does not see the world as a malevolent structure to be avoided; rather, it sees the world as God's creation and as a community of which we are a part even as we work to reclaim it for Christ. By so doing, the college has both benefitted its geographical community and benefitted from its involvement with other, external organizations.

The college has established significant academic relationships with both geographical and professional communities. A commitment to offering evening courses and a Continuing Education program brings the primary purpose in the mission of our college--shaping the hearts and minds of people for Christian living---to bear upon the greater Grand Rapids community. The work of educating, however, extends far beyond course work available in a limited geographical area. In recent decades the college has, through education and scholarship, forged partnerships whose scope is international.

The outreach to an external community, moreover, will be marked by an insistence upon justice, identifying clearly the injustice in this world, refusing to tolerate it, and working to eradicate it. The college has engaged remarkable efforts to effect this transformation, to let justice roll down like a river upon a needy world. In the face of spiritual relativism or the rejection of the spiritual, we proclaim the authority of scripture as the foundation for justice itself.

The college's involvement in society will not be motivated by solipsistic concerns, but out of a genuine compassion toward a needy world, even toward those who profess to have no need. Here, perhaps, lies one of the greatest challenges to the college's mission in the future, to shape in all its members hearts of servanthood. Concerted efforts must be made to inform this community of need and to work to redress that need.

Finally, the college's mission to the communities beyond the campus will be marked by discipline. On the one hand, that discipline will be an internal one as we discipline our hearts to move away from personal satisfactions and to the needs of others. Such discipline requires a spiritual reordering, an evaluation of who we are as God's people and what we do as Christ's disciples. On the other hand, that discipline will require the commitment to go out into the world to engage and to rectify the errors marring it.

® These statements show that the already existing vision, purpose, and commitment of Calvin College has established the foundation for an environmental ethic. Calvin College already shapes its students for servanthood. Calvin College already sees itself as part of the world, with the role of redeeming and reclaiming the world. We need to extend our understanding so that the physical environment is included.

"Calvin College: Distinctively Christian, Academically Excellent, Always Reforming, A Five-Year Plan, 1997-2002"

Part III

A. Introduction (p. 1)

The opportunity to look at what Calvin College has accomplished in the past, what it is today and what we believe God calls this community to become has given us renewed gratitude for God's blessings and guidance. A strong common commitment to Christian liberal arts education and to professional education taught from a Christian liberal arts perspective, as expressed in the Expanded Statement of Mission, adopted in 1992, has pervaded the planning process.

This statement of goals, and our strategies and plans for accomplishing them, are based on our belief that God calls us to be good stewards of the talents and resources he has entrusted to us. We are confident that we will continue to experience his blessings and guidance even if we encounter unexpected challenges and opportunities.

The process of developing this plan has helped to ensure a common understanding of the mission and purpose of the institution in all its members in such a way that, it will shape, guide, harmonize, and-indeed-control our activities by inner motivation. Successful colleges have strong leaders, but more important in moving Calvin College forward will be a well-understood and effective sense of our collective mission and purpose. (Paraphrase of a statement by Robert Peck, former President of NAICU)

Our plan is based on the following statements of Vision, Purpose, and Commitment

A. Our Vision (p. 2)

Ö Calvin College is a comprehensive liberal arts college in the Reformed tradition of historic Christianity. Through our learning, we seek to be agents of renewal in the academy, church, and society. We pledge fidelity to Jesus Christ, offering our hearts and lives to do God's work in God's world.

® Christians not only have a responsibility to be agents of renewal in the academy, church, and society, but they also have a responsibility toward God’s world. God’s work includes environmental stewardship of the world that He has made. An environmental ethic is important for this vision of Calvin College.

B. Our Purpose (p. 2)

Ö To engage in vigorous liberal arts education and professional programs with a liberal arts emphasisthat promotes lifelong Christian service

We offer education that is shaped by Christian faith, thought, and practice. We study and address a world made good by God, distorted by sin, redeemed in Christ, and awaiting the fullness of God's reign.

We aim to develop knowledge, understanding, and critical inquiry; encourage

insightful and creative participation in society; and foster thoughtful, passionate

Christian commitments.

Our curriculum emphasizes the natural, cultural, societal, and spiritual contexts in which we live; our teaching respects diverse levels, gifts, and styles of learning; and our learning proceeds as a shared intellectual task.

Ö To produce substantial and challenging art and scholarship

We pursue intellectual efforts to explore our world's beauty, speak to its pain, uncover our own faithlessness, and proclaim the healing that God offers in Jesus Christ.

We strive to- embrace the best insights of Christian life and reflection; engage issues in the intellectual and public spheres; and enrich faith by the heritage of the past and the discoveries of today.

Our faculty and staff are committed to keen and lively work in their chosen fields and to sharing its fruits with others.

Ö To perform all our tasks as a caring and diverse educational community

We undertake our tasks in response to a divine calling. Together we challenge ourselves to excellence as we acquire knowledge, cultivate aspirations, and practice lives of service.

We seek to gather diverse people and gifts around a common pledge and purpose; pursue justice, compassion, and discipline; and provide a training ground for the life of Christian virtue.

Our classrooms embody a community of faith and learning extended across campus and beyond.

® The natural context in which we live is listed just as important as the cultural, societal, and spiritual contexts. The curriculum of Calvin College is to incorporate all of these contexts in order to allow students to develop their worldview. Environmental education is important for completing this purpose of allowing students to expand in their intellectual efforts.

C. Our Commitment (p. 3)

Ö We profess the authority of Scripture and the witness of the ecumenical creeds. We affirm the confessions and respect the rich traditions of Reformed believers worldwide and, in particular, those of the Christian Reformed Church. We aim to enhance the culture about us and to address the needs of those around us. In all we say and do, wherever we may be, we hope to follow and further the ways of God on earth.

® A commitment to following and furthering the ways of God on earth include environmental stewardship. Since there is a need for environmental consciousness in the culture about us, gaining an environmental ethic is a way that students can enhance their surroundings.

D. Strengths and Opportunities (p. 7)

  1. Appropriate Campus. The Calvin College grounds and physical facilities are attractive,, efficient, and well-maintained. They are important contributors to a pleasant learning and working environment and significant factors in the recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and donors.

® The environment on a campus is a factor in education quality and enjoyment of the education gained at a college. Calvin College has a nice campus that allows students to have the opportunity to study in a pleasing environment. An environmental ethic can allow students to realize this opportunity that is often overlooked. In addition, an environmental ethic will help maintain the attractiveness of the campus by increasing student awareness of their surroundings.

E. Goals and Strategies (p. 9)

The Calvin College community has agreed on four major goals for the next five years. It has also reached a consensus on the initial strategies that it will use to pursue these goals. The goals and strategies, when finally approved, will be used to develop a work plan that will include the details of implementation, allocation of responsibilities, budgeting mechanisms, and evaluation of results.

3. Strengthen Calvin College’s performance as a partner in ministry and community service and deepen the practice of community on its own campus. (p. 12)

3.4 Improve Calvin's efforts to be an educational community that is spiritual, creative, purposeful, disciplined, just and compassionate. (p. 14)

3.4.1 Expand and improve practices and programs that, foster the spiritual development of students, faculty and staff.

3.4.2 Strengthen communal life among students staff and faculty by developing programs and events that affirm Calvin's core values and highlight important moments in students' college careers.

3.4.3 Develop programs and events to affirm community among Calvin faculty and enlist their participation in a communal life that transcends the boundaries of department and division.

3.4.4 Conduct regular audits of the values, habits and concerns of students, staff and faculty.

3.4.5 Have the Dean of the Chapel produce an annual "state of campus life" report to celebrate achievements and identify shortcomings.

3.4.6 Assess and improve the work environment on campus in areas such as staff development and the impact- of campus facilities and technology on community life.

® A healthy educational community needs a healthy environment in which to live.

Ö 4. Improve Calvin College's competitive position as a provider of high quality education at a reasonable cost. (p. 14)

4.2 Find ways to maintain high levels of service and the attractiveness of the campus and still remain cost-efficient. (p. 15)

4.2.1 Design, fund and administer a plan for the continued maintenance and renewal of campus facilities and infrastructure.

4.2.2 Institute regular audits of each type of facility and service in an effort to efficiently meet campus needs while containing costs.

  • Develop a program of institutional research to stay informed of trends, needs and concerns arising within the College, among prospective students, and in higher education more generally.

® Plans for the continued maintenance of the campus should include environmental education for the students. A clean and attractive campus goes hand in hand with a well-established environmental ethic. Students are the main users of the resources on the campus, and much of the degradation of the campus comes from the students. If students were to have a feeling of responsibility toward the campus, the degradation would be less. Prevention by many students is easier than having a few hired people try to keep up with the maintenance.

Chapter 7

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.

The Implementation of an Ethic

The most effective way that true progress on campus can be realized is through small realistic steps that will show results. With results will come recognition of progress, and hopefully an increased effort for constant improvement.

The implementation plan is broken down into four general categorize. These four are as follows, Waste and Recycling, Energy usage, Landscaping, and Parking.

In regards to Waste and Recycling, six main easy steps have been drawn up.

  • First is the removal of all disposable cups from Johnny’s. Students would not be able to buy fountain drinks with out their CUPPS mugs. While inconvenient at first, students would quickly adjust, and a large source of waste would be eliminated. Recyclable glass and aluminum container beverages would still be sold for those who had forgotten, or for those who are visiting campus and don’t own a CUPPS mug.

  • The Information Technology Center will be set up with three different printers. The first printer would be used for final draft printing, and print on the same high quality paper that is used now. The second printer would print on lower quality 100 percent post consumer recycled paper; this would be both cost and environmentally friendly. The third printer would be set up to print on used paper. The used paper from the first two papers would be feed into this printer, as well as the used paper from the dorm computer systems. This paper would need to be sorted to allow consistent printing on the blank sides. This third printer would be the default printer, and students would have to select these other printers as necessary, dependent upon their needs. This would cut down on waste paper, and paper cost. (Students would also be encouraged to hand in their papers on disk.)

  • Garbage cans would be moved at least 30 feet away from printers on campus to reduce the amount of recyclable paper that is thrown away.

  • The two dining halls would set up scraping stations for students to dispose of their leftover food after each meal. At each tray return there would be a bin or container that student’s plates would be scraped into. This would create an easier work environment for the dish room workers, encourage students to take smaller portions, and allow recycling and composting of the leftover food. (At present leftover food is run into a garbage disposal, and flushed into the sewer system.)

  • Recycling stations would be placed in more accessible areas and in greater numbers around campus. Each garbage can would be accompanied by a matching paper, glass and plastic recycling can.

  • All Calvin employees would be educated on environmental consciousness in their specific job. Maintenance workers would be trained regarding safe and proper use of cleaning agents, and of the proper recycling methods. Food service employees would be encouraged to give small portions, and have students return for seconds. All employees would be trained on how they could reduce reuse and recycle in their specific job
  • In Regards to Energy use, four easily achievable steps have been drawn up.
  • Motion sensors would be installed in all bathrooms and classrooms. This would decrease the amount of energy used, and the amount of energy Calvin would need to produce. The savings on energy costs would be more than enough to pay for this relatively inexpensive installation.

  • Notes asking students to turn lights of would be placed in classrooms and washrooms by the doorways. The switching of lights off manually would prevent students from becoming dependent upon the motion sensors and wasting power outside of Calvin. In cases of hard to find light switches, switch locations would be given on the sign.

  • Low watt bulbs would be installed in all possible areas. These would also pay for themselves in the long run.

  • Air lock doors would be installed in entrances that are not yet equipped with them, and building temperatures would be lowered in the afternoon to prevent the heating of empty buildings.

In regards to Landscaping, two simple steps have been designed.

  • More shrubs and trees would be planted in entrances to Calvin. Specifically the Lake drive entrance would have more growth and less unused open space. This would serve to lower maintenance cost, and would improve aesthetics, while providing the opportunity for more native species to be planted around campus.

  • Unnecessary non-green space would be eliminated. Areas with little or no traffic would be allowed to grow.

In regards to Parking, two simple ideas have been formulated.

  • The first implementation will be to place more bike racks on campus. When students see others riding their bikes, students will be encouraged to ride themselves. This will solve parking problems, and prevent unnecessary pollution due to excess car travel.

  • Car pool parking lots will be constructed on Campus. These lots would be located throughout campus, and would be composed of the best parking spots on campus. These lots would be separate from the traditional lots, and would need to be staffed. Students would only be able to use the preferred commuter lots if two students rode to school together.

These plans are only the beginning of what Calvin can accomplish. These steps will start the proverbial ball rolling, and lead Calvin to an environmentally clean campus in the near future. In order to make Calvin College environmentally friendly on a larger scale, we must abide by basic principles of environmental ethics. Some of these principles, taken from Holmes Rolston’s book Environmental Ethics, include:

  • Morality often exceeds legality. Laws cannot provide for complete morality. They are often compromises and must take into account the opinions of many kinds of people. As Christians we should follow God’s law which often goes beyond civic law. In addition, much damage can be done before laws are passed and implemented to prevent it.

  • Steaming rolling should not be allowed. Just because something is already happening does not mean that it must continue to happen. We must have the courage to stop practices that harm the environment despite the momentum that these practices have gained.

  • We should optimize natural diversity. God has created a world full of diversity and it should be preserved to give Him glory and to protect the values diversity provides. Of course development is necessary, but we should proceed with development in a way that preserves and incorporates natural diversity.

  • We should avoid irreversible change. Many things once gone are gone forever. We may destroy something now only to realize further down the road that we have destroyed something invaluable. Therefore, we should take more time in deciding things that will have greater impact on the environment or are irreversible.

  • Economic growth should not determine environmental decisions. This, of course, goes against the dominant social paradigm. However, it is not saying that all growth is bad, but only that economic growth comes at too great a cost to some areas. Unlimited growth can be a bad thing. While our bodies must grow, an unchecked proliferation of cells leads to cancer.

  • Numbers can lie. Putting a dollar value on things is not always an accurate reflection of value. Number values can only be as accurate as the theory behind them and can easily be taken out of context. Such numbers are often collected simply to support our preconceived ideas rather than to actually determine worth.

  • Environmental decisions will awaken latent values. Everything seems clearer in retrospect, and we are prone to taking things for granted. We often do not realize the value something has until it is gone. Because of this, environmental decisions can bring to light values we never knew we had. We must not be afraid to try new things and new environmental policies simply because some people do not see their value. We must set the standard.


We have now completed our journey. We have discussed many different environmental worldviews including our Christian call to stewardship, and we have looked at the role of environmental ethics at Calvin College. The next step is action, coming together as a community and perhaps making some sacrifices so that we might fulfill our call to stewardship and join with the rest of Creation in praising our Lord and Savior.

The following is a bibliography including many books and articles that address, in more depth, some the topics found in this paper. If you want more information, we suggest that you start here.



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Byerly, Radford Jr. and Roger A. Pielke, Jr. "The Changing Ecology of United States Science." Science 269 (1995): 1531-1532.

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Faeth, Paul. Agricultural Policy and Sustainability: Case Studies form India, Chile, the Philippines, and the United States. Washington D.C.: World Resources Institute, 1993.

Feenstra, Gail. "What is Sustainable Agriculture?" University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program,, 1998.

Fox, Matthew. Creation Spirituality. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1991.

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Rosen, Mike. "Eco-Terrorists Defy Society." The Denver Post. 20 Nov. 1998.

Rothenburg, David. "No World but in Things: The Poetry of Naess’s Concrete Contents." Inquiry 39 (1996): 255-272.

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---. "How-to Bioregional." The Nation 243 (1986): 269.

Sessions, George and Bill DeVall. Deep Ecology. Salt Lake City: Gibbs M. Smith, Inc., 1985.

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Soule, Judith D. and Jon K. Piper. Farming in Nature's Image: An Ecological Approach to Agriculture. Washington D.C.: Island Press, 1992.

"What is Earth First!?"

Zimmerman, Micheal E. Contesting Earth’s Future: Radical Ecology and Postmodernity. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1994.


Bouma-Prediger, Steven, and Virginia Vroblesky. Assessing the Ark: A Christian Perspective on Non-Human Creatures and the Endangered Species Act. Philadelphia: Crossroads, 1997.

Bouma-Prediger, Steven. The Greening of Theology. Atlanta, Ga.: Scholar’s Press, 1995.

DeWitt, Calvin. Earth-Wise: A Biblical Response to Enviromental Issues.

McKibben, Bill. The Comforting Whirlwind: God, Job, and the Scale of Creation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.

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Oelschlaeger, Max. Caring for Creation: An Ecumenical Approach to the Environmental Crisis. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.

Van Dyke, Fred, et al. Redeeming Creation: The Biblical Basis from Environmentaly Stewardship. Downers Grove, Ill.: University Press, 1996.

Wilkinson, Loren, ed. Earth Keeping in the ‘90’s: Stewardship of Creation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991.


Aeschliman, Gordon. "Romantic Visions?" Target Earth. 2(1) (April 1999).

Dobson, James. "What to Teach Children about the Environment." Focus on the Family Radio Broadcast. 1998.

Johnson, Greg. "Facts Not Fear: A parent’s guide to teaching children about the environment."

Target Earth. Jan/Feb 1998: 16-17.

McHarg, Ian. Design with Nature. New York: John Wiley & Sons Inc., 1967.

White, Lynn Jr. "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis." Science. 10 March 1967: 97-115.

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Rolston, Holmes III. Environmental Ethics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988.