Author: Susan Drake Emmerich, Center for Law & Culture USA
Category: Creation Care
This is an INTEREST GROUP PRESENTATION ABSTRACT; the paper will be presented at the Jamaica Consultation on Creation Care and the Gospel in October, 2012. Comments are welcomed! View all abstracts.
According to Colossians 1:19-20, “Christ reconciled to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
This verse, so important to John Stott in his thinking over the years about the nature of Christian missions in our era, carries a very important implication in our period of personal, social, and environmental disruption: that integral missions today should seek not only to reconcile individuals to God, but also to one another and to the creation—in a way that addresses the world of sin, suffering, injustice, and creational disorder (Capetown Commitment I:10B). Essentially, a ministry of reconciliation should aim to transform the totality of people’s personal and social responsibilities (CC I:10B), thereby transforming society and the creation for the better.
Although the broader concept of reconciliation is becoming increasingly clear in terms of biblical studies and theology, the question remains: what does the broadened concept of reconciliation mean in actual practice?
My paper and presentation attempts to answer this question by taking up the story of how the destruction of the Chesapeake Bay and its fisheries began to reverse through a process of reconciliation between God, the watermen and farmers exploiting or polluting the bay, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, an environmental group concerned about the destruction of the bay and its fisheries.
It will briefly describe the biblical principles and methods and approaches for community engagement, creation care, peacemaking, and sustainability used to address: 1) sin (disobeying civil laws and God’s laws and principles such as discontentment or excessive consumption patterns, to which people repented); 2) suffering (conflict between environmentalists and communities and among people in each community); 3) injustice (threat to livelihoods from environmental regulations and threats to Christian fishermen from longstanding bases of power);4) creational disorder (destruction of the Chesapeake Bay and its blue crab fishery) and; 5) sustaining the culture and livelihoods of the fishermen and farmers.
It begins with the showing of an 11-minute Redemptive Film award-winning DVD trailer titled, “When Heaven Meets Earth: How a Faithful Few inspired Change,” and continues with an exposition of how the process worked on the ground through a clarification of the issues involved in the destruction of the Bay, the setting of the issues within a biblical framework, and the working out of a new and less destructive way of life on the bay on the part of the watermen, their families, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The paradigm shift in worldview led to dramatic individual and societal transformation in which people were reconciled to God through a renewed commitment to Christ and, in some cases, an acceptance of Christ, to reconciliation with their neighbors inside and outside their community; and, to a reconciliation with creation (a kind of “when heaven meets earth”) through a commitment to stewardship covenants.
Although situations vary around the world, the method developed and applied in the Chesapeake Bay project is universal, and can be applied, in a productive manner, on the mission field today, especially among those societies on the fringe who are struggling to sustain their livelihoods and cultures.