Pope Francis has reopened the conversation on Christians and creation care. But that’s not a new topic for evangelicals, even if we’ve been a bit forgetful as of late.
I talk about the two Francises (make that three, when you count one from Assisi) up at Christianity Today.
I would find this *so* much more theologically compelling if Jesus, or Paul, or Moses, or any biblical author had made any observation on this theme. In the absence of such a comment, I chalk up the entire “creation care” theology to mere aesthetics. If the Bible is true, than nature “will pass away.”
Seems to me there is a lot in the Bible on this theme, starting on page 1. Humanity’s first job is the care of the earth (Gen. 1:28; 2:15) and the Israelites are given stewardship instructions (e.g. Deut 22:6). Prophets expressed concern about the impacts of sin on not just the people, but the land and animals as well. Jesus made clear that “not one sparrow” is outside the realm of the Kingdom of God, and Paul describes a Christ who reconciles “all things” (Col. 1) and a creation that waits in “eager expectation” for the full liberty that is coming through Christ and his followers (Rom. 8). That’s just for starters and off the top of my head. If you are not simply looking for an excuse to dismiss a topic you personally don’t find interesting or associate with people you don’t care for, there’s a lot more. N.T. Wright’s essay “Jesus is Coming, Plant a Tree” is not a bad place to start. http://www.plough.com/en/articles/2015/march/jesus-is-coming-plant-a-tree
And regarding the passage that I believe you are noting as your touchstone (II Peter 3:10), the Greek here is tricky. The ESV, following translators who describe the central idea as one of refinement rather than obliteration, puts it this way:
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies[a] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.[b]
2 Peter 3:10 Or elements; also verse 12
2 Peter 3:10 Greek found; some manuscripts will be burned up
Or, as many have put it, Jesus promises to make “all things new” and that’s different than making “all new things.” Given the centrality of the Colossians 1 and Romans 8 passages to Paul’s theology, it is difficult to support the idea of an utterly destroyed (rather than refined and redeemed) creation. Even if that dualistic vision is the correct one (and, to be sure, there are passages that for decades have been read to support it) that in and of itself is not a license to trash the planet. Indeed, from Adam to Noah to the Psalms and in many places since, the Bible describes the role of humanity as that of a steward who is tasked with safeguarding and appropriately using a creation that he did not create and never fully owns.