Care for Creation
What is at Stake
Every year tens of thousands of species vanish as a result of pollution, overfishing, hunting, and habitat loss caused by humans. During the past several decades, millions of acres of tropical rain forest have been destroyed due to overpopulation and exploitation of the environment. Billions of tons of plastic waste are now floating in our oceans. Greenhouse gas emissions have contributed to global warming and, by overwhelming scientific consensus, to catastrophic climate change. Every day, countless animals are slaughtered for human consumption in brutal, toxic, and wasteful ways by profit-maximizing industrial-scale agribusinesses.
To their shame, Christians have not been at the forefront of efforts to halt this ongoing destruction of our planet or to prevent cruel and needless violence toward other creatures. “It is hardly too much to say that most Christian organizations are as happily indifferent as most industrial organizations to the ecological, cultural, and religious implications of industrial economics,” writes farmer and environmentalist Wendell Berry. “The certified Christian seems just as likely as anyone else to join the military-industrial conspiracy to murder Creation.”
Confronted by an ecological crisis of literally apocalyptic scale, the APF welcomes efforts by individuals, communities, governments, and international bodies to preserve the biosphere, to reduce consumption, and to protect the rights and welfare of animals. We believe that humans bear a heavy burden of moral responsibility as stewards—not owners—of the natural world. We advocate a vegetarian lifestyle wherever possible as an extension of nonviolent principles to animals that possess complex social and inner lives, including capacities for joy and for pain. We are creationists, not in the fundamentalist sense of treating Scripture as a scientific textbook, but in the sense of acknowledging that all of life—in all of its wild, mysterious, and free processes—is created, sustained, and blessed by God. (See Psalm 104 and Job 38-42.)
Early Adventists and Green Concerns
Although the Adventist pioneers were not sensitized to green concerns as we are today, they were not entirely silent about the destruction of creation, including violence toward animals. We are able to find the seeds of a more forthright environmentalism in their thought. “He who will abuse animals because he has them in his power is both a coward and a tyrant,” Adventist co-founder Ellen White declared with prophetic fire in 1890. A “day is coming when judgment will be pronounced against those who abuse God’s creatures.” In her 1905 work, Ministry of Healing, she wrote: “Think of the cruelty to animals that meat-eating involves, and its effect on those who inflict and those who behold it. How it destroys the tenderness with which we should regard these creatures of God! The intelligence displayed by many dumb animals approaches so closely to human intelligence that it is a mystery. The animals see and hear and love and fear and suffer.” In the 1930's and 1940's, Adventist environmentalist Sam Campbell published numerous best-selling books based on his keen observations of the natural world, sounding themes that in many ways recall the spirit of Henry David Thoreau.
The APF urges believers in the Christian tradition to reflect more carefully and deeply about what it means to be creationists in an age of environmental degradation, human violence toward other animals, and threat of ecological collapse. We encourage all persons in our network to explore practical ways of protecting our environment in partnership with other organizations such as the following groups already working at the front lines of advocacy, education, public policy, for a sustainable planet: