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Is God Green?

Is God Green?
Is God Green? By Lionel Windsorby Lionel Windsor
Sydney: Matthias Media, 2018.

From the introduction:

Almost 50 years ago, in 1972, the crew of the Apollo 17 space mission took the first full-view photo of planet Earth as they made their way to the moon. For the first time ever, humanity saw an image of the whole planet from afar. They saw the clouds, the land, the oceans sitting there: whirling, powerful, innocent, vulnerable. This view from above was emblematic of a revolution taking place in the hearts and imaginations of millions around the planet. The world was no longer being regarded as an endless vista of untapped resources and infinite possibilities. Instead, we began to realize how small, how fragile, and how very delicate our home really is. No longer were environmental issues confined to a few marginal voices. Together, we started to become very anxious about what we were doing to this lonely globe. Since then, this anxiety has only increased. Fifty years on, our news feeds are full of stories relating to our environment and ecological concerns: sustainability, climate change, species diversity, air pollution, soil contamination, deforestation, landfill and radioactive waste, to name but a few.

How do you feel about these issues? Are you worried? Distracted? Anxious? Complacent? Resigned? Apathetic? Confident? Skeptical?

This is a book about how the Bible’s teaching relates to environmental issues. If you’re a Christian, I hope this book will encourage you to think and act even more in line with God’s word. If you’re not a Christian, I hope this book will help you to understand what the Bible teaches about God’s plan for our world. I pray that you will see that there is wonderful, good news for you and for our world—even in the midst of the bad news.

In the late 1990s, before I commenced my formal Christian ministry training, I worked as a solar energy engineer. I’ve preached on environmental issues several times over the years. Over that time, I’ve noticed that the general consensus on ecological issues has changed. In the 90s, people who cared about the environment were on the fringe, often seen by the majority as a bit weird and alternative. Not long after that, environmental issues became a little more fashionable. Now, it’s fair to say that ecological consciousness is part of the air we breathe. Everyone cares about the environment now— it’s not even fashionable any more; it’s just a given.

The way Christians have approached the issue seems to have reflected these general trends. Take, for example, The Green Bible. The preface states:

Many Bibles, called “red-letter editions,” have Jesus’ direct statements printed in red. We have adapted this practice to introduce the “green- letter edition.” In it we highlight the rich and varied ways the books of the Bible speak directly to how we should think and act as we confront the environmental crisis facing our planet… Essays from respected conservationists and theologians highlight important themes related to God’s care of creation and show how to read the Bible through a “green lens.” Cumulatively, the essays lay out an excellent and broad vision for the central calling on Christian lives to care for God’s creation.
(The Green Bible: New Revised Standard Version, HarperOne, San Francisco, 2008, I.15-16.)

But rather than approaching God’s word through the “green lens” of environmental concerns, let’s start the other way round: let’s approach environmental concerns through the lens of God’s word. Why? If we really want to come to grips with environmental concerns, we actually need to take a step back first. We need to see the true ‘view from above’. We need to get a firmer grasp on the Bible’s whole message—from beginning to end. We first need to understand God, his Son Jesus Christ, and his purposes for us and for our world. Once we do that, we can understand more clearly how best to think and act in regard to the ecological issues that are all around us. That’s what this book is all about.


  • Introduction (and clearing away the -isms)
  • 1. The view from above
  • 2. In the beginning: God, people and the world
  • 3. The broken image
  • 4. The restored image
  • 5. The future of the world
  • 6. While you wait
  • Postscript: What is a tree for?

How to purchase the book

Is God Green? By Lionel WindsorMatthias Media store


The material in this book has appeared in various forms over the years. I’d like to acknowledge and thank those who encouraged me and provided opportunities to preach or write on the topic: the organizers of the Mid-Year Conference of Campus Bible Study at the University of New South Wales; Sandy Grant at St Michael’s Anglican Church in Wollongong; the students of the Evangelical Christian Union at Wollongong University; Loren Becroft, editor of the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students webSalt magazine; and Ian Carmichael and the editorial team at Matthias Media who encouraged and assisted me in turning it all into a book.

I’d also like to give thanks for the life and influence of the late Professor Stuart Wenham, director of the Photovoltaics Centre of Excellence at the University of New South Wales. Stuart was a world leader in solar cell technology (‘photovoltaics’). He was one of the key figures in making photovoltaics what it is today: a leading source of power generation in the world. Stuart supervised my engineering thesis at UNSW in laser technology for solar cell processing, and I worked for several years at Pacific Solar, an innovative solar research company that he had co-founded.

Sadly, not long before this book was published, Stuart died from melanoma. His funeral, held in the largest public auditorium at UNSW on 8 January 2018, was remarkable. It was full of anecdotes about his larger-than-life character, and accolades for his incredible achievements. Yet the message that came through at the funeral, again and again, was that Stuart’s life was not defined by these achievements. Rather, his life was defined by his trust and hope in Jesus Christ. We heard, in Stuart’s own words, that his research motivation was “the challenge of using Science and Technology to try and make this world that God has given us a better place, not only for those less well off, but also for the sake of future generations through the preserv- ation of our environment”. The songs we sang, which were chosen by Stuart, constantly pointed us to Jesus. Long after the funeral, these words were still ringing in my ears:

I will not boast in anything, No gifts, no power, no wisdom,
But I will boast in Jesus Christ: His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from his reward? I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart: His wounds have paid my ransom.
(Stuart Townend, ‘How Deep the Father’s Love’, 1990)

Published inEnvironment

Publications by Lionel Windsor:

  • Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians

Recent blog posts

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    “God loves you”: if I say just those three words, you may not hear what I want you to hear. This is because of a communication problem that arises whenever Christians try to talk about biblical concept of God’s “love”. When we say “love” we mean one thing—something wonderful and life-changing. But the word means quite different things to many English speakers. For example, the word “love” often means “strong desire”. So if I say “God loves you” then it might sound like I’m saying “God has strong feelings for you”. Another, increasingly common, understanding of “love” is the idea of “unconditional approval”. In this view, the way to “love” somebody is to affirm and approve of everything they do. So if I don’t approve of your actions and actively affirm everything you do, then by definition I’m not “loving” you (in fact, by definition I’m “hating” you). On this common definition of “love”, if I say “God loves you” then it might sound like I’m saying “God affirms everything about you and your actions”. But that’s not what the Bible means by God’s “love” either. Given this communication problem, how can I best explain the idea of God’s “love”? Well, it’s not actually that hard. The best way is to see how the word works when the Bible uses it. In Ephesians 2:4–5, Paul uses the word “love”. But he doesn’t just say “God loves you”. He explains and spells out what that love means. And he helps us to see what God’s love really means, and how amazing it is.
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  • Photo by Daniel Lienert on UnsplashThe root of the problem (Ephesians 2:1–2)
    I hadn’t visited the dentist for years. Then I felt a tiny amount of pain in one of my teeth. But I ignored it. I didn’t want to bother with a dentist. Anyway, I had my own solution: I’d always brushed my teeth quite thoroughly, and was proud of it. So I just kept brushing. But after a while, the pain came back. This time, it was worse. So I finally visited the dentist. That was painful, too. The root had become so infected that I needed root canal surgery. That was a while ago. But last year, it flared up again, as these things apparently do. And yet I chose to visit the dentist again, even though I knew it might be painful. Why? Because I’d learnt something. I’ve learnt that if I have a problem that goes to the root, and if I know someone who has the solution to the problem, I shouldn’t ignore it or try to fix it myself. I should face up to the root problem, and get help. So I got help. Now, I don’t have a tooth in that spot at all. In Ephesians 2:1–2, Paul seeks to go deep, to the root of the problem. The problem Paul talks about here is incredibly serious. It can be very painful to admit. But Paul can and does admit it—because he also knows the person with the solution. According to Paul, this isn’t a problem to ignore or try to fix ourselves. It’s not something we can educate ourselves out of. This is a problem to face up to, and get help.
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    What do we do when we feel weak in the face of the powers that be? One response might be just to shut down, close ranks and find a bitter satisfaction in our identity as victims. Another response might be to try to fight as hard as we can to exert our power and dominance over others, seeking to turn the tables so that we become the conquerors instead of the oppressors. Both of these responses involve seeking strength and power in ourselves. They are often the way that oppressed individuals and groups in our world respond to the powers that are oppressing them. But is that the way God wants his people to respond to our weakness in the face of power? In Ephesians 1:19–21, the apostle Paul gives us a far better way to respond. Paul’s response involves looking for strength. But it’s not a strength that comes from within ourselves. It’s a strength that comes from God himself.
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    The full name of the college I teach at is “Moore Theological College”. That word “Theological” says something important about who we are. It reminds us about what we're on about. Yes, the Bible is at the centre of everything we do. Yes, we seek to train people for ministry. Yes, we're driven by the worldwide mission of Jesus Christ. Yes, we're committed to learning together, and having our characters formed in loving Christian community. But our careful study of the Bible, and our pastorally-motivated ministry and mission training, and our encouragement of one another in our community, all matter because of something more basic: theology. Unfortunately, the word "theology" can be misunderstood. It sometimes gets used to mean something like “technical details about spiritual things that experts argue about and isn’t much practical use to regular people”. But that's just a caricature. It's not what theology is. Theology is something far more profound, far more life-changing, and far more fundamental—not just for people at a college, but for everyone. In Ephesians 1:17–18, Paul prays for his readers—people who have come to believe in and live for Jesus Christ. It's a prayer for more theology.
  • Youth praying, Finchale PrioryPrayer: What are we actually doing? (Ephesians 1:15–16)
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