A Christmas Letter to Those Agonizing Over the Future of Our Planet

By Lael Arrington Published on December 13, 2016

Until this election, I didn’t fully appreciate your fears about climate change. About damaging our beautiful world beyond repair.

Now I’ve talked to enough friends and family to feel your frustration. Your deep concern. Even fear? And I am sorry.

For years I’ve heard many of you losing confidence in any larger story that explains how the world works and how we find hope for the future. I thought that meant that you had given up on any larger story. But I’m realizing you do have a larger story, at least many of you do.

I’m hearing so many voices united in real fear that our Earth is on its way to overheating and the end of civilization as we know it. It seems like you do believe in a larger story of saving the Earth, or at least our species. Working to reverse what you believe to be man-made climate change. Or finding a way to insure the survival of our species on Mars or another planet.

One voice driving this home is National Geographic’s new series, Mars. Half of it is a fictional story about the first manned mission to Mars, the other half is a documentary about Space-Ex, the company that Elon Musk is building to ultimately transport a million people to colonize Mars. As Mr. Musk has told the New York Times, he wants to “make humanity a ‘multiplanetary species’ in order to ensure survival in case some calamity like an asteroid strike befell Earth.” He really believes that Mars and exoplanets are our destiny if we are to survive the climate catastrophes ahead.

It’s helping me understand the desperation that many of you feel. And I don’t want to dismiss it.

Yet, this is where we realize again that we live in two radically different larger stories.

Just as we celebrate his first coming in a manger in Bethlehem, so we look forward to his second coming as King of Kings and Lord of Lords when he will make all things new and right.

It may shock you to know I’ve never had a serious thought that man-made climate catastrophe will destroy our planet. Which makes it difficult to empathize. It’s good to hear your concerns so I can understand your fears.

If you are wondering why … It’s not that many Bible-believing Christians don’t believe that climate catastrophes lie ahead. The biblical book of Revelation describes a future that will include famine, pestilence, and far greater calamities: “The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up. The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.” And it gets worse.

But we believe that the catastrophes that Revelation describes are part of God’s final judgment when he will ultimately defeat evil and death. A prelude to a new creation of beauty and hope: Revelation 21:3-5

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

It’s hard for many of us to imagine a future where ultimate hope is severely threatened. But we need to understand and give grace.

In this season of advent we look past the ancient predictions of calamity to celebrate that God will come for us. Just as Jesus came as Emanuel-God with us, dwelling among us, we believe he will return to create a new earth where he will dwell with us forever.

Just as we celebrate his first coming in a manger in Bethlehem, so we look forward to his second coming as King of Kings and Lord of Lords when he will make all things new and right. This is good news, “glad tidings for all people.” A story to live in that gives us a future and great hope.

It is a call to fear him more than the predictions of climate catastrophe. And love him because he gave his life to save us from our sin and rebellion. Honestly, we wish you could share that hope, but we respect your beliefs.

In the meantime, like you, we want to be careful about being manipulated by those who might use climate predictions for an agenda. We may not share the intensity of your fears, but we share concerns about caring for this planet because we embrace our calling to be good stewards of God’s beautifully created earth. We may not live as though everything depends on our efforts to sustain life here on Earth, but we care deeply about preserving life because all life is made in God’s image.

Even though we may live in two very different larger stories, and believe in very different futures, we can be intentional about understanding each other’s concerns and be sensitive to each other’s fears. Next time I’ll write about ours.

I welcome your response in the comment section below.

Print Friendly
Comments ()
The Stream encourages comments, whether in agreement with the article or not. However, comments that violate our commenting rules or terms of use will be removed. Any commenter who repeatedly violates these rules and terms of use will be blocked from commenting. Comments on The Stream are hosted by Disqus, with logins available through Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or G+ accounts. You must log in to comment. Please flag any comments you see breaking the rules. More detail is available here.
  • azsxdcf1

    Thank you. The arrogance of man’s argument of global warming is actually almost laughable. When God spoke to Job He made it clear who is in control. I will Rest in His Truth, and not be concerned about man’s follies.

  • galatians328

    Thank you for your sincere effort to understand others unlike yourself with regard to consideration of global climate change, etc but who are like you in devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.

    This is a lovely quote from you:

    We may not live as though everything depends on our efforts to sustain life here on Earth, but we care deeply about preserving life because all life is made in God’s image.

    It is wonderful to come together in Bible study, prayer, contemplation/reflection and insight. Of course a ‘blog’ can’t really do that very well but you have at least started the possibility for conversation among Christians. Thank you.

    But you have not understood those you disagree on matters of cosmology because you have failed to understand – or did you just ignore? – our Christian concerns to follow Jesus’s commandment. Your discussion is all about divergent or different cosmologies – study of the origins, development, and end of the cosmos/universe/universes – and you claim, properly from the Biblical teaching, the Jesus is the alpha and the omega of the cosmos.

    BUT, when you say this:

    [Jesus] is good news, “glad tidings for all people.” A story to live in that gives us a future and great hope. It is a call to fear him more than the predictions of climate catastrophe. And love him because he gave his life to save us from our sin and rebellion. Honestly, we wish you could share that hope, but we respect your beliefs.

    WOW, you are belittling and ridiculous … BECAUSE …

    in the time between the cosmological beginning and end Jesus declared in PLAIN, CLEAR, SIMPLE language what we are supposed to be doing!

    What was that PLAIN, CLEAR, AND SIMPLE instruction, DIRECTLY from Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega of the Cosmos:

    LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, with very specific example in Matthew 25.

    SO, what does that mean to Christians when they see global climate change, when they see wars and refugees, when they see natural disasters, when they see famine, when they see dictators who oppress human rights and religious liberty, etc:

    CHRISTIANS MUST CARE FOR ALL OF THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING AS WE WOULD CARE FOR JESUS ,,, AS IF JESUS WERE that refugee, AS IF JESUS were that one displaced by rising sea waters, AS IF JESUS were that one whose humanity is oppressed, etc.

    THIS is a vital, critical aspect of the conversation that you have – for some reason!? – failed to understand, intentionally ignored, or for whatever reason left out.

    So, how will you re-write your piece to include AUTHENTIC conversation with Christians who are following Jesus with these concerns?

    Remember, Proverbs 6:
    16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
    seven that are an abomination to him:
    17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
    and hands that shed innocent blood,
    18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that make haste to run to evil,
    19 a false witness who breathes out lies,
    and one who sows discord among brothers.

    DO NOT talk down to other Christians in a HAUGHTY way, please. USE the strength of reason – that God gave you a brain to develop! – rather than belittling arguments. DO NOT LIE/DECEIVE/BEAR FALSE WITNESS about the impacts of global climate change, wars, disasters, dictators, etc on human persons, human families, and human communities (we see a lot of Putin love in here and that is utterly shameful!, for example). DO NOT become compromised by any EVIL PLANS: be watchful because Satan may capture any or us in evil plans that look ok unless we look deeply. DO NOT BEAR FALSE FITNESS about climate science; speak accurately in scientific terms when you discuss science, just as you would speak accurately in medical terms or nursing terms when you discuss patients, etc. AND DO NOT HARM the INNOCENT! …. When you fail to understand and to care for the impacts on global climate change, war in Syria, bombing ISIS, Wall Street billionaires looking out for their own interests, etc … you are ACTUALLY HARMING THE INNOCENT by ignoring them.

    And, dear child of God, Matthew 25 tells us – PLAINLY, CLEARLY, SIMPLE, AND DIRECTLY FROM JESUS – exactly what God does with those who ignore the innocent, and all others whom God cares for.

    isn’t that correct?

    • galatians328

      Ms Arrington: you DO need to respond if you are sincere. Thank you.

      • Ryan

        There is no amount of sincerity in anything you have written, why should she respond to that?

        • galatians328

          God will decide who is sincere. I can assure you – in the power of the Holy Spirit – that I am reporting truly what the Bible says!

          • Ryan

            Yes, He will, and, no, you aren’t.

    • opinionated1945

      Aren’t you and the author basically saying the same thing?

      • galatians328

        Sorry, but NO! The writer makes the ‘cheap’ – but of course necessary and interesting argument – that God is Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End of the Cosmos

        AND UTTERLY FAILS to discuss the ‘costly’, necessary, and interesting arguments – about our duties, because we recognize God’s Sovereignty and because we LOVE all CREATION and all CREATED THINGS as God loves them.

        The ‘cheap’ argument leads us only the point, for example, of saying

        – God Created All Things, but in meantime, we can deplete resources, encroach on habitat, and hasten the extinction of countless species of plants and animals

        MINIMALLY the writer should have discussed EXTINCTION RATES:
        current extinction rate is approximately 100 extinctions per million species per year, or 1,000 times higher than natural background rates.
        SO, while the author need not BELIEVE in global climate change science – which begs the question of what science that writer DOES believe in (e.g. does the writer DIS-BELIEVE the science of pacemakers? does the writers want all pacemakers removed because she doesn’t believe in that science? What about the science of safe airplanes? Would the writer want all scientific research about safe air travel dismissed, discontinued, and abandoned?) – BUT the writer, in this topic of STEWARDSHIP of God’s Creation MUST – ABSOLUTELY MUST – discuss extinction rates.
        After all, extinctions propelled by human activity means that HUMANS are CONSIOUSLY KILLING OFF ENTIRE SPECIES that God created and that God love! UTTERLY IN DEFIANCE of God’s sovereignty!

        • opinionated1945

          Thank you for your reply. I think it’s a mistake to assert that climate science is as settled as the science that keeps an airplane safely in the air, or allows a pacemaker to work properly. I agree that wilful extinction of any species is morally wrong. However the fossil record shows us that even the Creator has permitted extinction of species long before man appeared on earth.

          • galatians328

            The Creator has – as you say – also ‘permitted’ heart attacks: Therefore with your logic shouldn’t we conclude that pacemakers are human vainglory? The Creator has – as you say – also ‘permitted tornadoes: Therefore with your logic shouldn’t we conclude that public spending to build tornado safety rooms in public schools contrary to God’s will? …. in fact, some so-called Evangelical science-deniers have argued that the public should NOT spend money on tornado shelters! because they are either deep believers that every death and injury from tornadoes are God’s will, or because … they are cheap selfish bastards. Same with people who refuse to spend money on sea rise remediation (like moving people out of flood plains, etc) and other programs related to saving lives in the face of global climate change. But, of course those Americans who don’t want any pubic money spent on CLIMATE CHANGE response are not foolish selfish bastards are they? It is surely God’s will that they spend $25 BILLION each year on video games!? So, what will God say about a ‘people’ who prefer video games to saving species – EACH OF WHICH God loves! – from extinction?

          • Ryan

            What God created in the beginning was perfect, it was man’s disobedience that changed that. That disobedience brought negative change to not only man, but the planet as well. After the flood man was given a chance to change, but the original sin of disobedience was now inherent in man. And the changes that took effect after the flood were what we see in the planet today. Those things man can’t do anything about will get worse as the world converges on the end time-frame of the Creator. His salvation is coming to those who change from unbelief to belief in the Creator and His Word.
            There is nothing you or anyone else can do to change what is happening, no amount of money can change the word of God. It has been written, it will happen.

          • galatians328

            HELLO!? … hello!?
            We have already endorsed the outline of salvation history that you describe!
            BUT YOU, have not even attempted to wrestle – in ‘fear and trembling’ as Apostle Paul describes of himself – with the requirements AS A FOLLOWER OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST to
            – love all that God loves! including each and every species! all humans! the entire creation.
            – participate with godly humankindness in the suffering of all things that suffer … as JESUS DID!
            WOW! You seem to have decided that Jesus’ commandments should make no different in your life, in community life of your church, in the life of others in the world!
            WOW! Jesus will be very interested to know that you like so little of Jesus life and commandments!

          • Ryan

            Jesus already knows everything there is to know about me, warts and all. In spite of all that, I have the assurance that He still loves me, He even died in my place on a cross.
            I live in a beautiful place on this planet and in spite of those who want to control everything man does, we live and work to do our part in dominating the earth and not having the idea that the earth is to dominate us. God is in control, who am I to say that He isn’t?

          • galatians328

            Jesus, who loved all things, all human persons, all species of animals and plants, and species not yet known to our senses and sciences, who used simple creatures – plants and animals – who used nature – wind, sea, water, sky, etc – to teach his followers … HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IDOLATRIES ABOUT DOMINATING NATURE, DOMINATING THE WORLD, DOMINATING OTHERS … IN FACT, THOU WHO ART DECEIVED! – SATAN – THE FATHER OF LIES/FAKE NEWS – TEMPTED THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WITH DIRECTY WITH DOMINATION, AND JESUS CAST THE DEVIL ASIDE. We implore that you cast Satan – who is near you! – aside!

          • Ryan

            Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have DOMINION over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
            Verse 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.
            Verse 28 And God blessed them and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and SUBDUE it, and have DOMINION over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

          • galatians328

            AND what do we see in the Biblical record about God’s idea of that ‘subdue’ and ‘dominion’ means?

            WE READ THAT TO GOD ‘subdue’ and ‘have dominion’ CLEARLY FROM THE TEXT means to observe and name all created things! God asked humanity – in Adam- to observe and name, and implied in that is to cherish and preserve!

            If you deny that you deny the record of WHAT GOD ASKED HUMANITY TO DO!

            Science observes and names and so we conclude that science is a gift from God. Abandonment of science is, therefore, apparently, abandonment of God’s DIRECT REQUEST to humanity, in Adam.


            But, to preserve EACH SPECIES!

            If you deny that you deny the record of WHAT GOD ASKED HUMANITY TO DO!

          • Ryan

            You have incorrectly interpreted what the word has said and twisted it to say what you want it to say.
            God was the creator of science, the modern scientists are even twisting that to say what they want it to say.
            Your environmental bible and science book was not written by the Holy Spirit.

          • galatians328

            You have presented NO EVIDENCE – from the Bible – to refute that

            – GOD ASKED humanity – in Adam – to observe and name all creation
            – GOD ASKED humanity – in Noah – to preserve EVERY SPECIES so that NONE WOULD BE DESTROYED
            – BECAUSE GOD LOVES GOD’s CREATION, all good created thing, large and small, known to humanity and not yet observed and named by humanity

            The moral teaching is that all humanity – under the Righteousness of God – is to respectfully observe and name all created things, and to preserve all created things, without destroying any, because God loves them all.

          • Ryan

            God destroyed the creation with a flood around 4,500 years ago. He said the next time it would be with fire, have you noticed how hot the environmentalists are saying that it is getting?
            God is sovereign, don’t you think He has the right to give and take at His will? Are species going extinct or are they being taken from this earth and placed on the new earth? You really need to get over your anger at God and blaming man for everything you don’t agree with.

        • Ryan

          In recognizing God’s sovereignty, you also have to recognize the fact that He can take away anything He creates as He wills. You also have to recognize that sin caused the decay of the planet. God cursed the ground and the curse still is in effect today. If the climate is deteriorating as you say, it is because He is allowing it to happen. Again I bring the fact that there is no amount of money that can bring an end to the false idea of climate change.
          Man’s continuing sin and unbelief in God, is more the culprit than man wants to admit too when it comes to problems of humanity. Humanism is not the cure man is looking for, God is.

          • galatians328

            Sorry, dude, but I would NOT want to be you standing before God the Creator of all things!


            You just said the same stupid, silly thing that the most immature, unrealistic kids say when they break things: “I didn’t do it” … but then you add the really really REALLY STUPID addendum: ‘I didn’t break Daddy’s watch …. but, if even if I did, … Daddy didn’t like that watch anyway!”

            WOW! What sort of spanking would you deserve!? SUCH a spanking.

            So, you’re gonna tell God:

            ‘I didn’t contribute to those species extinction and I didn’t try to save them by my personal choices and through public policy reflecting God’s love for all creation – but even if I did contribute to their extinction, God, YOU didn’t really like those species that YOU created, tended, and loved for vast time …. so its all ok, right? Where’s my allowance?’

          • Ryan

            You poor troll, I wanted to see if you were real, yep, you are a real troll. Bye

          • galatians328

            Santa has elves not trolls, and as Tolkien described, elves are especially long lived, to outlive, outlast, and outwit. Glad to be an elf.

    • Ryan

      It is interesting that you bring up Proverbs 6:16-19. It is also apparent you are still upset that the election didn’t go well for the true liberals, like the environmentalists. It sounds like you are one of them with a little bit of evolutionist and a lot of atheist as well.
      The scripture you brought up in Proverbs very deftly describes the candidate of the left in the last cycle. You brought that out very well.
      As far as climate change, the science is not settled when the environmental elites claim that money can fix the problem. As we have seen over the last 25 years, money allotted to the environmentalists has done more to elevate their standard of living far more than anything to stop climate change. They know they can’t change what is happening so they invest in themselves with all the government, tax payers, money.
      As far as climate change being brought on by humans, I have to believe that mocking God and denying His existence and persecuting any who believe in Him simply because you, don’t, contributes more to the decay of this planet than what man does by not believing the environmentalists and their corrupted science.
      You also touch on the harming of the innocents, I agree, there should not ever be any harming of the innocent by abortion. But as much as I disagree with that deplorable practice, I know that justice will be done by the Creator.
      You also mention the war in Syria, the people in the ME blame the Obama administration for the Arab spring that started that whole mess. The Arab nations in the ME could very easily absorb those, “refugees,” but don’t. It is the easiest way in the world to export jihad and begin the effort to place sharia into all nations. It is called, “Dawa.” Look at Europe, it works very well, especially in nations that practice PC and multiculturalism.
      The Wall Street billionaires, the lefts prime candidate was really thick with them. After all, she was one of the 1% she talked about. As far as the redistribution of wealth, the left has been redistributing the wealth of the people in this nation by borrowing against them heavily. She and her cohorts are part of the problem, but the media handled it very well to make it look like she wasn’t. Didn’t you think so? Bombing ISIS? This administration didn’t do even a tenth of what should have been done to take that cancer off the face of this planet. Instead, the plan to allow it to metastasis was very successful. Don’t you agree?

  • Thank you Lael for this nice article. This was very refreshing to read ! Expecting more from you. 🙂

  • FO

    Very nice article and a very sincere try.

    I find it hard to believe, but it is the fact of this world nowadays that Christians judges each other all too quickly for whatever topics that they differ in opinions. Without stating evidence or facts, many got too emotional way too quickly without considering that the other party is also a believer. And it has gotten ugly in the comments sections that I have seen. Quick to accuse and point out to other wrongs, but slow to reflect to their own wrongs.

  • Ms. Arrington has pointed out well the difference between secularists who fret over the fate of the earth and believers. Secularists believe (falsely) the fate of the earth is in the hands of man, while believers correctly believe the fate of the earth is in the hands of God as Azsxdcf1 also pointed out. The biblical history (and future) of the earth is very simple:

    Post flood – “Seed and Harvest” continue unabated (associated with the promise of the Rainbow)
    “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”
    (Gen 8.22) This is the period we’re in now

    The coming judgment and destruction of the earth
    “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. “(2 Pe 3.7)
    This is yet to come.

    The New Heavens and the New Earth and the Eternal State
    “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure. …” (Is 66.22) also Rev 21.3-5 Rev 22.5 among others.
    This is also yet to come.

    Thus the destiny of the earth is not in the hands of man, but in the hands of the Lord.
    Nevertheless as Ms. Arrington points out, we’re called to be good stewards. But as Christians, even as we don’t grieve as unbelievers who “have no hope” over the death of believers (1 Thess 4.13), neither do we fret over the fate of the earth as unbelievers who likewise have no hope for the future of the earth.

    So it’s good to try to empathize with unbelievers who believe the earth is in grave danger. As believers, we may not share their concerns, but we should listen to them – and if the opportunity arises – share why we don’t have the same concern. For, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” Ps 24.1
    As Mary, the mother of Jesus said, “may it be to me as you’ve said;” (Luke 1.38) Likewise I believe it will be to the earth as the Lord has said.

  • galatians328

    BEHOLD …. God has sent/is sending the fearsome polar vortex across Trumpland … the land of grievous unrighteousness, secret greed, lusts, selfishness, and other ungodliness, and manifold idolatries! BEHOLD. THE CLIMATE CHANGED, AND HUMAN WICKEDNESS CAUSED IT! On the eve of many Christians falling into the grasp of a Satanic Lordl The Angels who declared God’s glory at Jesus holy birth wail in travail at this vast unrighteousness, ungodliness, and idolatries. BEHOLD. THE CLIMATE CHANGED, AND HUMAN WICKEDNESS CAUSED IT!

Walking in God’s Wisdom: Psalm 5:8
The Stream
More from The Stream
Connect with Us