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Bringing Back the Good Life

New book helps Christians make environmentally friendly choices
Our Shared MInistry

The editor of a new book about environmental stewardship doesn’t just talk the talk. Last spring, he postponed an interview to get his vegetable garden planted.

Once all his asparagus were in a row, David S. Koetje explained how Living the Good Life on God’s Good Earth can help Christians connect their daily choices with the health of the earth and its residents.

“We North Americans are quick to look to government to solve problems like global trade issues or global warming,” says Koetje, a Calvin College biotechnology professor.

“But when you look at the nitty-gritty, presidents and governors just don’t have that power. Consumer power is the most effective means to make changes. Buying habits matter a great deal.”

In Living the Good Life, published by Faith Alive Christian Resources, a team of Christian environmental scholars offers biblically grounded advice on making responsible day-to-day choices in basics such as housing, transportation, clothing, food, and gardening. The book is designed for small-group study, with questions meant to focus attention on local opportunities for change.

Morning routines, for instance, raise dozens of questions. Was the cotton in my jeans chemically treated? Are these strawberries organic and locally grown? Is my shower taking too long, and is it too hot?

But Koetje warns about getting bogged down. A sense of being overwhelmed can kill the whole project, he says.

“Don’t be very legalistic about things,” he adds. “You shouldn’t feel guilty if you find alternatives (to the book’s suggestions) that are more efficient or more durable. You can only shop around so long, and after a while you have to say, ‘Well, this is as good as I can find or afford.’”

But not all believers see creation care as biblical. Some believe that God ordained human dominion over the earth and created it for our pleasure. Others believe we should turn back the clock on so-called “progress” to save the environment. Still others have a more apocalyptic view that using up the world’s resources will hasten the Lord’s return.

Koetje says the Reformed perspective offers a middle ground.

Living the Good Life on God’s Green Earth is available from Faith Alive Christian Resources. For more information, call 1-800-333-8300; log on to, or visit the bookstore at 2850 Kalamazoo SE in Grand Rapids, Mich., or 3475 Mainway in Burlington, Ontario.

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