In this fascinating historical account from the Hebrew Scriptures, Cyrus, a pagan king, heard the command of God and obeyed by releasing the captive Judeans to return, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah, and rebuild the temple and eventually resettle their homeland.  Dr. Richard Wright, emeritus professor of biology from Gordon College, coined the term “the Cyrus Principle” to indicate the process by which God often uses unbelievers to accomplish His purposes.  In his book Biology Through the Eyes of Faith, he speaks of this principle in reference to the many non-Christians who have worked diligently to preserve the wonder and integrity of God’s creation and have in essence done what God’s children could have and should have at least been actively involved in.

King Cyrus: The Cyrus Principle

Cyrus the Great helped the Jews return and rebuild Jerusalem

A prime example of this is the church’s almost universal hostile reaction to the protestation of “hippiedom” during the late sixties directed toward construction, mining, industrial, and agricultural operations that were polluting our waterways—such pollution eventually becoming so great that flammables on the surface of Ohio’s Cuyahoga River actually caught fire in 1969.  The very next year Tyndale House Publishers released the book written by the influential Christian pastor/theologian and pop philosopher Francis Schaeffer, aptly titled Pollution and the Death of Man in which he sided with the hippies and pointed out that the church was both complicit in its lack of care for God’s good creation and negligent in its teaching on the theology of nature.

These protests along with mounting evidence that we were killing the life of our rivers and lakes resulted in our Federal clean water acts of 1972, 1977, and 1987.  A visible and financially beneficial result of such protection for many major cities is that many of our urban rivers now provide great sport fishing and safe water recreation.  I recall as a kid in the fifties that our local Grand River was not grand: it was mostly an industrial, agricultural, and sewage drain that sent huge plumes of crud out into Lake Michigan immediately adjacent to a major swimming beach.  Today anglers fish below the high-rise buildings downtown and land large salmon and steelhead.

I love seeing that and knowing how much cleaner the river is; but I have to confess that for the first three decades of my adult life (sixties through the eighties) I was, as a political and social conservative, opposed to nearly all environmental regulation and scoffed at the claims of environmental scientists.  And though I was greatly influenced by Schaeffer’s earlier works, I refused to read his book on the Christian view of ecology.  That changed in 1989—a story I will tell later this week.

Now I am ashamed of both my attitude and my behavior and am glad God moved many “Cyrus’s” to do the work that I could have and should have been actively involved in.  I wonder how different things would be today with the Body of Christ if we had given heed to Francis Schaeffer:

On the basis of the fact that there is going to be total redemption in the future, not only of man but of all creation, the Christian who believes the Bible should be the man who—with God’s help and in the power of the Holy Spirit—is treating nature now in the direction of the way nature will be then.  It will not now be perfect, but it must be substantial, or we have missed our calling.  God’s calling to the Christian now, and to the Christian community, in the area of nature—just as it is in the area of personal Christian living in true spirituality—is that we should exhibit a substantial healing here and now between man and nature and nature and itself, as far as Christians can bring it to pass.

[Source: WonderOfCreation.org -Thanks to Dean Ohlman]

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