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The Church and the Environmental Crisis: A Call to Respond

Author: Edward Brown
Date: 15.10.2010
Category: Creation Care, Social Justice, Science and Bioethics

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Originally Posted in English

I have been posting a Blog Series at called ’Countdown to Cape Town" in which I have been exploring the relationship of the environmental crisis, redemption and the church.  This is the final post in that series, and summarizes what I will be exploring in Tuesday’s dialogue session on How to Mobilize Your Church for Creation Care.

To recap the previous posts, I have been making the following case in this series:

  • the environmental crisis is a direct result of human sin;
  • God’s redemptive plan in Jesus Christ includes the restoration of all of our broken relationships, including our relationship to non-human creation;
  • The church – the people of God – can respond to the environmental crisis in ways that no one else can;

From this case, it is hard to escape the following conclusion:

  • Because we can respond, and because we have been commanded to respond, we must respond.

All that is left is to ask and answer the question, How? What should we then do?

There are three steps we need to take as individual christians and as churches to begin to move forward. Each one could be a full post or a full chapter in a book, but here are a few thoughts:

1. We begin by Repenting.

We have established that the problem is sin. Biblically, there is only one way to handle a sin problem: Repentance. Biblical repentance has a couple of important dimensions that go far beyond “I’m sorry!” -

Repentance means admitting we are wrong, acknowledging we are at fault. We have disobeyed. We have ignored God’s first command to us, to care for his creation. We have used the authority he gave us over his creation to satisfy our own selfish cravings rather than using it to govern his creation according to his purposes. We have sinned.

Repentance means, first, changing our minds. When we repent of sin, we are in effect changing our minds and agreeing with God that what we did, and how we thought about it, was sinful. In the present context, this mean changing how we think about God’s creation.

Repentance also means that we begin to stop sinning. In this setting, true repentance means that we start, to whatever extent is possible, to do no more harm to God’s creation. Changing lightbulbs, reducing our use of toxic chemicals in our homes, using public transportation all become acts of repentance.

None of these actions are by themselves sufficient – but they are necessary.

Repentance means making a start. Now.

2. We work to Restore God’s damaged creation.

It is not sufficient to stop harming creation. The world we now live in is a far cry from the bountiful and flourishing world God gave us. As stewards we are called to care for creation. Our mission should be to seek to do everything in our power to increase the value of the Master’s property in the little time we have on this earth before he asks for an accounting.

Keywords: environment, repentance, disaster response, climate change, creation care

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PhContributeBy Ed Brown
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Country: United States

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