Christian or secular response to climate change?

I’ve heard a few Christians speak on climate change recently, and I’m left with some particular questions that always seem unanswered. I’m no expert on climate change and don’t spend time studying the data, but I try to live as naturally as possible, using what God made to feed and nourish my family, and minimising man made products and waste in our home, simply because it just seems nicer. I’d be grateful for people’s thoughts on my questions below.

Christians’ motives to save the earth

When I hear Christians speak or write about Climate Change, it is often entitled “The Christian Response to climate change”. Sermons, online articles and blogs from well respected Christian individuals or organisations seem to make this their starting point: a response to the secular scientific data and studies. The Christian speakers/writers then often turn to Genesis 1 & 2 as a Biblical basis for stewarding the earth. However, it seems to me (forgive me if this sounds cynical) that all these Christian responses to climate change are responding to secular voices and predictions that are portrayed in the media and various studies and sticking the Genesis passage on it to Christianise it. Their response is the same as anyone else: reduce carbon emissions, minimise plastic, turn off lights, eat less meat etc. I agree with all these practices as appropriate for stewarding the earth but I’m worried that they’re too often preached from a secular worldview despite being Christian settings.

What are our goals?

This leads me to consider the goals to which the human race is striving. The secular media and published science suggests that the earth has a finite existence, that we’re using more energy than is sustainable, and that humanity is in danger of destruction. They say we’ve reached emergency point. This is the motivation for secular organisations to kick into action such as Extinction Rebellion. I’m concerned that if our ‘Christian Response’ is being fuelled by secular arguments, then our preventive actions might also be fuelled by fear based on secular predictions.

So my overarching questions are:

  1. What is the theology of climate change regarding end times? How does the destruction of humanity, and the ticking time bomb of earth work with Biblical teachings on the end days? I have seen articles online use Psalm 46:2 as a Scripture referring to climate change but I think this is a wrong interpretation of the symbolism in that passage. I’m looking for anything in scripture that shows a sound correspondence to climate change that we should take seriously.
  2. Is the church responding because the secular voices are throwing around ‘the end is nigh’ stories? Are we as Christians taking a faith filled approach to stewarding the earth according to God’s commands or are we being reactive to secular worldview statements?
  3. Is there a danger that by being so influenced by the secular world view on climate change, that we’re all in danger of trying to make ourselves the saviours of the earth? God will renew the earth one day and I believe he wants to work with us on this, as he has done through scripture. However the secular worldview doesn’t allow for God’s role in this, which understandably means there’s a greater level of pressure on humanity and fear behind its motivations. Are many Christians and churches adopting this stance without realising it?

Hi @alison,

This is an interesting question with many complexities and angles to it. Thank you for raising it!

I would break this into at least a few separate questions:

  1. What is the Biblical basis for creation care?

  2. What is the evidence for climate change? What are the best projections for the harm that climate change may cause in the next 10, 20, and 50 years?

  3. In our particular context, what are some wise responses to climate change?

  4. How does our Christian hope motivate us to care for God’s creation?

  5. How does our Christian hope provide peace in the midst of fear and anxiety?

  6. What does it look like to mobilize our communities to engage in global issues - like climate change - in a humble manner?

  7. What are some specific ways we see advocacy for responding to climate change that don’t line up with these answers?

What do you think? Would these questions, together, get at the heart of what you are asking?

As an initial pass, it seems to me that Christians do have a robust basis for caring about God’s creation. And there is strong evidence, from many disciplines, that climate change is a real and growing problem. And there are a variety of strategies we can adopt, both as individuals and as communities, to fulfill our obligations to steward the earth. Yet, we do so without seeking to cause fear. We trust in God’s sovereignty in such a way that we are motivated to act righteously (not passively sit back and wait for the Second Return). Yet, even as we act, we do so knowing that God is in charge.

I look forward to learning from others on this complex subject!


Hi @Carson thank you for putting those questions together - that’s a great summary of some of the issues I was trying to get at.

There certainly seems to be a couple of extreme responses to climate change. Sitting back and waiting for the second coming is one of them. I read an interesting conversation between William Lane Craig and Kevin Harris (End-Times Paralysis | Podcast | Reasonable Faith) as a response to atheist accusations that this was a common Christian attitude.

Dr Craig says this is:

a baseless opinion that Christians’ belief in the second coming of Christ leads to social inaction, a lack of concern with one’s fellow man, ignoring the problems of society and seeking to help the poor and the disadvantaged. And that is simply not borne out by the facts. You’ll notice that Poulsen didn’t cite any sociological surveys, any statistics to bear out his view. And it’s very easy, in fact, to prove the contrary. For example, take Alvin Schmidt’s book which is called How Christianity Changed the World . Schmidt is a professor of sociology at Illinois College. In this book he shows the central role of Christianity in the development of hospitals, education, science, music, literature, family values, women’s rights, and much, much more. Christianity has been the single most powerful force in human history for improving the social welfare of mankind.

He concludes:

Nobody can read the Sermon on the Mount and the ethics of Jesus and be lethargic about loving one’s fellow man and being engaged. I love it when Jesus says to the disciples, “ Let us work while it is day, for night is coming when no man can work.

I think this is a really healthy attitude that we should all be taking to obey the commands to love God and love our neighbours as ourselves (Matt 22:37-39). I haven’t personally experienced Christians leaning towards passivity until Christ’s return. However, I have experienced Christians going towards heavily focussing on scientific predictions (which is understandably scary if the Gospel isn’t part of the picture) and not really taking it beyond the secular warnings.

This is usually covered pretty well by most christian discussions on climate change. I’m comfortable with their views on our mandate to steward the earth.

This is possibly the crux of the issue - with the various eschatological theologies aside, what is the general hope that we hold that can be spoken of with confidence? I know that even church leaders like to shy away from speaking too specifically on a particular eschatological belief because the argument is vast. However, there must be a way to understand climate change within the framework of our hope and still convey hope to others. I believe we must take responsibility and it is right for church leaders to increase local awareness of the issues, but it must go beyond that, there must be a bigger context shared as well, and that’s not always as obvious as it could be, in my experience. I’m curious as to how we can be more specific in understanding and communicating this without just saying “Jesus will return soon”.

The Christian starting point is different to the secular one when it comes to creation; our goals are probably similar (at least now Climate Change is understood) when it comes to protecting the earth; but then our end point differs again. What might the Bible indicate in terms of how far along destruction we’ll get before Christ’s return? Or how much recreating God will have to do? How does climate change fit in with Rev 21:1 for example?

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.


I was recommended this podcast by someone a couple of days ago. The podcast comes on the back of Cop26 and the address that the Archbishop of Canterbury made at the event in Glasgow, Scotland. Whilst they raise a few more controversial issues along the way, I’m really pleased to hear some Christians addressing some of the issues I was trying to convey in my original question.

(Cop 26 – The Conference of the Parties is an annual event that brings governments together to discuss and review how climate change is being managed domestically and internationally. It’s explained here in more detail: )

The Youtube podcast video (linked below) says:

Responding to the COP26 event in Glasgow this November, Irreverend hosts and Church of England vicars Revd Dr Jamie Franklin and Revd Daniel French are joined by Senior Minister of the Tron Church, Glasgow, Revd Dr William Phillip to discuss the climate change.

Their discussion includes:

  • When Christians preach about climate change, do they miss out on preaching Christ crucified? Is the discussion too secular or is it Bible based? These stories seem to be competing with each other, even in the church. Have we bought into the worldly story at the peril of the Gospel message?

  • One of the Reverends suggests that the world wants us to resolve the global problems morally (i.e. all of us partnering with each other to save the planet and agree with the story) rather than metaphysically (i.e. through the crucifixion, salvation and consummation of the Gospel).

  • They go so far as to call it a ‘Climate Change Religion’ that is competing with the Gospel.

They take a look at scripture, to understand the theological and philosophical questions we need to ask about Climate Change, first looking at Luke 12:54-13:9.

  • They outline the meaning behind this passage of scripture: let’s not be ignorant about what’s really important here – heaven, hell, and judgement. We’re on the countdown to God’s judgement, and Climate Change is one of the signs of that.

  • This passage also shows the grace of God before judgement by the parable of the barren fig tree in Luke 13:6-9. We don’t see the tenderness of Almighty God in the climate discussion.

  • Regarding the mandate to steward the earth, the Reverends highlight a confusion that is common amongst Christians: we are to be stewards of the earth, not saviours of creation. We are not it’s creator, and we should be looking to The Creator for his will and purpose.

  • ‘Care for creation’ is very different to ‘climate alarmism’.

After listening to some of this, I’d be interested to hear if others think the church should be more discerning and Biblically literate when entering the Climate Change discussion?

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Hi @alison,

I’m really not much of an expert on this particular subject, and I want to highlight that from the very start!

Your post does highlight one interesting consideration for me. That is, the power of fear. When there’s a crisis, a panic, a catastrophe, then the normal rules no longer apply. When we’re in a war for our lives and our future — do whatever it takes to keep us alive and safe!

But as Christians, we have a confidence for our own lives: when we die, we experience reunion with God.

And we have a confidence for the future of the cosmos: God will redeem it all!

With God’s grace, and the work of the Holy Spirit, and the encouragement of brothers and sisters in Christ, we ought to be the most grounded, stable, and steadfast people around.

And that could help us avoid either extreme:

On the one hand, burying our heads in the sand and resisting unwelcome news about the problems of climate change, and avoiding the unpleasantness of changing our lifestyles and societies to mitigate the risks.

Or on the other hand, panicking and attempting to turn the world upside down. It isn’t even a realistic option. Consider the immediate and dire threat of COVID. As I write, over five million dead. But at least in my context, people’s willingness to stay at home, wear masks, and live on a ‘war-time’ footing is declining. Right or wrong, there’s a limit to how long that (at least some) human societies will accept significant restrictions.

We need the most accurate picture we can get of the magnitude of climate change, as well as the implications that has for the earth, human life, and animal and vegetative life. And we need to be grounded in the Christian story and community so that we will have enduring motivation to act responsibly, in love, in light of this information.

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Hi Alison, I think you’ve brought up a very interesting topic. I’ve read through yours and Carson’s posts and really agree with the pointa you guys have made. Facing this very issue while being guided by the hope of Christ, balancing taking action while addressing the biblical aspect of this issue.

From my personal experience, I think many churches neglect climate change (or issues outside spiritual life) as a whole, perhaps due to not being well versed in that area and not knowing how to deal with it. Therefore when they do address it, they end up addressing more secular responses.

More so than climate change, the usage of food sources and pollution also comes into play. Becoming vegan, reducing the usage of plastic and what not have been of trend lately, basically being sustainable. Thus, I can see why churches would end up addressing these issues as their to go methodology, as it is what the public is attending to. - Going with the flow I would say. Even clothing brands have been emphasizing on this lifestyle to appeal to the public. (It seems to become something the secular society prioritizes and worship so I can also see why it is as if being sustainable is in competition with the Christian faith.)

This topic was also brought up in class when we were discussing the church’s role and influence on society. Should the church be influenced by societal views on climate change or should the church play it’s part in influencing the secular perspective on it. What say does the church have in this and what sphere of influence do we actually possess?

Our lecturer suggested we started small with ourselves by managing the use of our daily resource when buying things and dining out. With the right heart, while modelling the practical implications on our part, perhaps we are able to open more doors and opportunities for others to understand climate change according to the biblical worldview.
Rather than it competing with the Gospel, with the right mindset and measures, it could be used to further the impact of the Gospel. Afterall God created both the physical and spiritual aspects of our reality. Most importantly I don’t think we are fully capable of changing or even controlling this issue as what Alison mentioned, we aren’t saviours. We can only do our part and trust God to work on the rest.

I’m not sure if this added much as a response to above, but I’ve really learnt a lot, as Christians it could be good to educate ourselves on various subject matters and I’m grateful to be able to learn from you guys regarding this :blush: Do correct me if I’ve made a mistake, these were just my thoughts​:pray:


Hi @kiko thanks for your your thoughts on this. It’s good that they’re talking about this at the seminary you’re attending. That means that Christians are trying to come at this from a biblical point of view.

I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said:

This is so true. And therefore, we must commend the church leaders who decide to bring this topic to the table. I know their hearts are in the right place. Yet I don’t want to hear them speak words that I could go to any secular speaker to hear.

I’m going to take time to consider how this topic can be used to further the gospel. I really appreciate your thoughts, I’ve found them really encouraging.