Warning: The views expressed below are not the author's own. They merely approximate what the author imagines John MacArthur and those who hold to these type of views might say in defense of their views. You are right to be disturbed by this view. God clearly created humans in Genesis 1 as stewards tasked with caring for the earth and animals, and James tells us that care for vulnerable parties is the pure essence of religion.
I had a theology professor who once said something almost identical on the first day of our Systematic Theology I class. He now teaches at MacArthur's The Master's Seminary so I feel there must be some kinship between them on this an other points. Here are four thoughts on this perspective:
- If you asked John MacArthur if drowning and displacing 2 billion
people is okay, he most likely would not accept your premise. He
would say (a) that is not going to happen because of what a single
puny human does with his hair-spray and (b) if I was certain that my
actions would cause the death of anyone I would genuinely
reconsider my behavior. His behavior and words may be harmful, but
we don't have to assume socio-pathic intentions.
All such theology is grounded in a powerful Calvinistic emphasis on
the sovereignty of God. Not only did God create the world, but he is
the current ruler over it. Therefore (a) whatever I do will be of
not effect unless God's plan coincides with the outcome, (b) his
plan has always overpowered human effort (for good or ill) as the
flood and coming apocalypse indicate, and (c) the job of humans to
is use the resources and gifts God gives to produce wealth and enjoy
the earth and fund the spread of the gospel. As Macarthur prays at
the end of his message:
Lord, over the sins of those who have misunderstood Your power in creation and Your purpose in it...Do what You will with this earth. You always have and You always will.
For MacArthur, this plan includes the future destruction of the
earth by God in judging the earth, something which we can neither
prevent or cause. Environmentalism seems to him a pride-full attempt
by humans to escape judgement much as occurred at the Tower of
Christians have more important priorities than saving the
environment, and properly understood, even than saving human lives
or promoting better living standards. He might quote Luke 12:23 to
devalue the importance of 'well-being' at the expense of 'spiritual'
interests like the declaration of the gospel.
"For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes." We have no power to thwart God's plan which according to MacArthur
includes a system:
[with] divinely designed renewable resources and benefits.
He might say that Christians are not advocates of the social gospel,
or what is quickly becoming the 'environmental gospel' but the
gospel of Jesus Christ which saves sinful humans from death and
judgement. Although we are stewards of the earth, we should
emphasize not the Genesis 1 command to care for it, but the Genesis
8 command which permits us to kill animals and use up the resources
of the earth in pursuit of the real purpose of humanity.
Probably the strongest point in MacArthur's mind is that
pre-occupation with the environment and our effects on it is an
immense act of human pride. It is idolatrous-ly arrogant to think
that we, creatures made of dust, could do anything to destroy the
'good' world that God has made. Unless that damage was by his plan
and design as well. A properly worshipful attitude is expressed by
the belief that:
It is God’s responsibility to preserve it, not ours. Our responsibility is to exercise a good and reasonable stewardship,
which I think through the centuries man has done, so that we can
extract out of it everything that God has put into it for our
Echoes of this view can be found in the hyper-capitalist message of
Wayne Grudem's The Poverty of Nations.
Remember, this is not my view, just an attempt to read MacArthur charitably (in love).