Are We Polluting the Earth to Death?

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This post was originally published on January 3, and we are reposting it today to prepare for the Spring issue of the WCIDJ on “The Christian’s Responsibility to the Environment.” Like this post? Leave a comment, and sign up for our email list to be notified when there are new articles and blog posts.

In pulling my thoughts together for a contribution to a festschrift for Ken Gnanakan  (Indian international educator, theologian, philosopher, environmental engineer) I’ve been thinking about his interest in care for our environment as a responsibility of Christ-followers. I’m looking at the possibility that we could use the term “works of the devil” to describe the irresponsible and harmful treatment of creation that a Spanish-Indian theologian, Raimon Panikkar has termed, “polluting the earth to death.” (My dissertation examines the nature of “the works of the devil” in detail: A Socio-rhetorical Investigation of the Johannine Understanding of “the Works of the Devil” in 1 John 3:8)

What if we accept my thesis that the “works of the devil” are anything that leads to death, either spiritual or physical. Wouldn’t we then say that humankind is allowing the devil to get his works done through the way we actively and passively allow the environment to deteriorate to the point of being less life-giving in many ways?

In a chapter titled, “A War-Torn Creation” in a book I edited, The Global Progress of the Gospel, Greg Boyd says, “anything we do to reflect God’s ideal for creation is a form of spiritual warfare. By these and other means we are fighting back against the curse of death that is not God’s will. In fact, every positive thing we do for the earth, including recycling, is a form of spiritual warfare” (page 286).

What do you think? Do you think recycling could be an act of spiritual warfare? 

Beth Snodderly, D.Litt. et Phil.

Beth Snodderly is a past president of William Carey International University and is the editor for both the William Carey International Development Journal and the Ralph D. Winter Research Center. She holds the degree of Doctor of Literature and Philosophy in New Testament from the University of South Africa. She authored the book Chaos is Not God’s Will: The Origin of International Development and has edited several volumes including, First the Kingdom of God: Global Voices,The Goal of International Development, Evangelical and Frontier Perspectives on the Global Progress of the Gospel, Reflecting God’s Glory Together and Agents of International Development and Shalom.