A publication of Appalachian Voices


A publication of Appalachian Voices


Does the Bible justify mountaintop removal coal mining?

By Bill Kovarik
Does this mean that the Bible justifies mountaintop removal mining? Not at all.

Most translations of the Bible, including the the New American Standard and the King James Version, say “Every valley shall be exalted…” or “raised” -- and not “filled in.” This is because the NAS and KJV Bibles are translated from the original Hebrew and the verb in question normally means “raise up” or “exalt.” In the original Hebrew it does not have the sense of “fill” or “fill up.” However, the gospel of Luke 3:5 and the version of Isaiah 40:4 (quoted above) are from a Greek translation (the Septuagint version) and use the Greek word “pleroo” (long e, long second o). This word does in fact mean to fill or fulfill or complete, and does not have the sense of “exalt” or “raise up.” Thus it differs from the original Hebrew.
The true meaning of both Greek and Hebrew translations of Isaiah 40:4-5 is that we should prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. It would require the most cynical misreading of the Bible to assert that we would be adhering to the will of God by destroying a valley with fill, according to religious experts.

So many other verses from the Bible support the idea of stewardship and creation care that we felt compelled to share them. We talked with scholars and ministers around the country, and were drawn to some of the outstanding examples of the Biblical view of the environment:

Psalms 24:1-5
1 The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
2 For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
5 He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

Job 12:7-10

12:7 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:
12:8 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.
12:9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?
12:10 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.
.
Highly recommended: Jesus’ places to pray - Mark 1:35, Luke 4:42; The ‘Conservationist’s Psalm’ - Psalms 104; Wilderness tests us - Deuteronomy 8:2-10; Notice the ravens - Luke 12:24-28; A covenant with all living things, Genesis 9:8-18.

Stewardship Resources
Christians For The Mountains is an initiative to summons faithful Christians to act responsibly to God’s creation. The focus is on the southern Appalachian Mountains region and the first objective is the end of mountaintop removal mining. www.christiansforthemountains.org

Evangelical Environmental Network is an evangelical ministry whose purpose is to “declare the Lordship of Christ over all creation” (Col. 1:15-20). EEN was formed in recognition that many “environmental” problems are fundamentally spiritual problems. www.creationcare.org/
www.whatwouldjesusdrive.org/

Go Tell it on the Mountain offers prayers for the mountains and expressions of concern by people of faith all across America. Examples are in the box at left on this page. See www.ilovemountains.org/prayers

Forum on religion and ecology is an in-depth Harvard University site on the issue -- environment.harvard.edu/religion/

Is God Green? Bill Moyers PBS program with reflections about spirituality and environmental stewardship. www.pbs.org/moyers/moyersonamerica/green/

Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship -- Written in October 1999 by a group of theologians and others, the Cornwall group acknowledged that as “concerns about the environment have grown in recent decades, the moral necessity of ecological stewardship has become increasingly clear.” www.stewards.net/CornwallDeclaration.htm

Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA) is a coalition of religious leaders, clergy, theologians, scientists, academics, and other policy experts committed to bringing a proper and balanced Biblical view of stewardship. www.interfaithstewardship.org

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