I've heard it from more Christians than I'd care to count: anybody who stands up for the ecological issues is an "environmental wacko."
I think it is unfair rhetoric to call all who are concerned with the environment a "wacko."
I agree that secular environmentalists are often guilty of turning the environment into a god to worship--which is idolatry, and is certainly "wacko."
But I am an environmentalist not in that same vain as that. I am an environmentalist because my Christian Theology demands it. Humanity's original mandate is to be the Image of God, which means (among many nuances) that we are God's vice-regents, having dominion over the planet--we are to "take care of" God's creation (Genesis 2:5).
In redemption, God's purpose is to restore our original nature--the image of God in us is redeemed. We are to again be his vice-regents in the Kingdom of God, doing God's will on earth as it is done in heaven. We are to live as an eschatological people--we are to live in the here and now as the incarnation of our future hope, living out our mandate to reflect God as His Image (back to God in worship, and out into creation in "taking care of it” by reflecting God's love and care and compassion and grace).
Our Western Christianity does not take Romans 8:19-21 ("the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay") seriously, thinking that this created world is not part of the redemption of Christ, that our souls will be whisked away and this physical world will be destroyed and replaced. We have a tendency toward almost a Gnosticism (thinking that the physical world is evil because it is material, and the spiritual world is good because it is immaterial) instead of remembering the biblical teaching that God created a physical world that was “very good.” We forget that redemption (as found in the end of Revelation) includes a renewal of the entire cosmos. Redemption is the remaking of creation once evil, which has distorted and defaced creation, has been dealt with. As N. T. Wright says in his lecture Creation and New Creation in the New Testament, “If the second coming is about people being snatched away from this present world to live somewhere quite other, you probably don’t need to bother too much about transforming this world; if the second coming goes with the expectation that God is going to redeem creation, we have a mandate already.”
As we live out this mandate in the here and now, we are going about the work of pronouncing the GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. In our participating in doing God's will on earth, we are involved in God's Kingdom invading and taking over the evil Kingdoms of this world. Kingdom work is not only “saving souls from Hell and getting them into Heaven” but also participation in every way God’s will needs to be done on earth RIGHT NOW as it is done in heaven.
One of the "kingdoms" of this world (among many) that destroy lives which God wants to liberate people from is the Kingdom of Greed/Unfettered Capitalism/Economic Globalization (see Tom Sine's book Mustard Seed vs. McWorld).
Here is why I am offended with being called an environmental wacko:
When corporate greed (and our greed in wanting fat portfolios because of the stockholder economy we live in) overrides our mandate to care for God's creation, it is THEN that we are being idolatrous!
In our proper fear of being idolatrous of the environment, we are not taking seriously enough our idolatry of what causes ecological destruction. “Since the leaders of McWorld view economic growth and efficiency as the greatest good, creation is viewed as simply a resource to be used in the cause of accelerating economic growth. This has fostered a reductionistic view of God’s creation and has placed major areas of the environment in peril.” (Sine, p. 63)
Or, as the National Association of Evangelicals say in the new statement For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility, “Human beings have responsibility for creation in a variety of ways. We urge Christians to shape their personal lives in creation-friendly ways: practicing effective recycling, conserving resources, and experiencing the joy of contact with nature. We urge government to encourage fuel efficiency, reduce pollution, encourage sustainable use of natural resources, and provide for the proper care of wildlife and their natural habitats.”
This statement by the NAE is not “environmental wackoness.” It is sound theology applied to a desperate situation in our nation and world today.