NANFA-- Restoring Eden

Roselawn Museum (ichthos_at_charm.net)
Tue, 2 Apr 2002 19:05:05 GMT

I found this while perusing transcripts of the latest round of committee
meetings seeking to "reform" the Endangered Species Act. It was
especially interesting to see this after having read E.O. Wilson's latest
book, "The Future of Life," in which he makes the case that organized
religion must -- and will -- play a significant, if not leading, role in the
protection of the earth's biodiversity.

By the way, the organization described here as its own website:
http://www.restoringeden.org

-- Chris Scharpf

Testimony of Peter Illyn
Concerning the Endangered Species Act

Committee on Resources
Legislative Resources
Wed March 20, 2 PM

My name is Peter Illyn. I'm here today to testify about the biblical principles
of environmental stewardship and how these relate to the protection of
endangered species. I have read the bills that are being discussed here
today. I realize that I am not a scientist and cannot accurately testify about
the specific aspects concerning scientific analysis. I am, however, a
preacher. I would like to discuss the theology of creation care and how
this is becoming a growing movement within the church.

I spent 10 years as a minister and a preacher in the Foursquare Church,
a conservative evangelical denomination. I am now the Executive Director
for a ministry called Restoring Eden. I live in SW Washington, and spent
five years as a professional outfitter in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
I also do some networking with churches in the Klamath Basin. I am well
aware of the recent events in both places.

I am humbled to be here today as I recognize the difficulty of your task. The
protection of endangered species is a very complex and interwoven
problem. Most potential solutions have ecological, political and/or
economic ramifications. But as I travel through-out the country speaking
about the call to care for God's creation, I am amazed at what I see and
what I hear. Thousands upon thousands of Christians have recognized
that extinction of species is first and foremost a moral issue.

The Bible is clear on this subject. Humans have no right to wipe out that
which God called "good."

In Genesis we read:

That God made the different species (and called them good.)

That God blessed the different species (and told them to fill the earth.)

That God protected the different species.

And that God made a covenant with the different species.


In Psalms we read two more biblical and theological truths.

"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it. (Psalm 24:1).

"In wisdom you made them all, the earth is full of your creatures." (Psalm
104:24)

These scriptures reveal the heart and the will of God as it relates to the
protection of biodiversity. In wisdom and in goodness, Godcreated,
blessed, protected and made a covenant with the all the different species.
God called them to fruitfulness; to fill the earth. We are a part of creation,
but we are not the point of creation.

God entrusted us to tend and keep the garden. We are allowed, even
expected, to eat from the fruitful bounty of God's garden. But we have no
right to trample the garden; to destroy the fruitfulness, to blaspheme the
wisdom of God expressed in biodiversity.

Extinction isn't stewardship. It is sin caused by our arrogance, our
ignorance and our greed. I'm part of a grassroots Christian movement
that is taking place in churches and in college campuses through-out the
country. We are Bible-believing Christians who recognized that we have a
God-given responsibility; yea, a moral duty, to be stewards of the earth.

We are seeing the beginning of a new morality, one that will be used by
future generations to judge the environmental decisions made by this
committee and enacted by this Congress. We do not stand alone in this.
Almost every major denomination in the country has a position
condemning the human caused extinction of species.

Patriarch Bartholomew of the Orthodox Church writes, "To commit a crime
against the natural world is a sin. For humans to cause species to
become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God's
creation,.these things are sins."

And the Rev. Billy Graham is quoted as saying, "It is not right for us to
destroy the world God has given us. He has created everything; as the
Bible says, "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord
of heaven" (Acts 17:24) To drive to extinction something He created is
wrong. He has a purpose for everything. We Christians have a
responsibility to take the lead in caring for the earth. The Lord said we are
to look after his Garden," and he said "we are responsible for it."

In the past few years, our ministry, Restoring Eden, has developed
relationships at over 40 Christian colleges. We have members in
hundreds of churches through-out the country. Our call is simple. God is a
good God. God made a good earth. And God calls us to be good
stewards.

Thank you.

Peter Illyn
Restoring Eden

PO Box 877
La Center, WA 98629

360-608-3065

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