Author: Jonathan Moo, Whitworth University USA
Category: Creation Care
This is a THEME PAPER 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.
When we turn to the Christian Scriptures to learn about ‘environmental issues’, we often find ourselves asking questions that these ancient texts were not written to address. Yet when we take seriously what the Bible reveals about God, what it is to be human, the value of non-human creation, and God’s purposes for creation in Christ, we find that God’s people are called to active, faithful witness in caring wisely and well for the earth. This calling challenges the church, given what we know today about the challenges facing the planet and its ecosystems, to adopt as integral to its mission a radical, counter-cultural ethos of creation care that is centred in Christ and the gospel.
The Bible portrays a richly diverse creation, full of life that is valued by God and exists for his glory. Within the community of creation, human beings are one creature among others and yet are also set apart as God’s image bearers, servant-rulers whose role is defined ultimately in Christ. Called to join in the praise that all of creation offers to the Creator, humankind is also given a profound and distinct responsibility within and for creation. If we are to love God and neighbour, we must care for all that God has made and values, including the non-human creation; and, as has become increasingly clear, we cannot in any case love our human neighbours without caring for the earth too.
Scripture portrays vividly the negative results that humankind’s rebellion and sin have for the land and the rest of creation, but it also holds out the sure and certain hope that all of creation will share in the results of humankind’s redemption wrought by Christ. The future of the earth lies finally in the hands of God, who in Christ renews and reconciles to himself all things. We are not the saviours of the planet. Yet, as the Holy Spirit enables us to live even now as the children of God, our orientation towards creation in the present must reflect God’s purposes in Christ for its ultimate liberation from the ruin that it so often suffers at our hands. We are intended to become instantiations of the kingdom of God inaugurated in Christ, reconciled to each other and the rest of creation, signposts to the new creation to come and members of a resistance movement against the powers that would destroy God’s earth. Our lives and our work to care for the earth will be marked by joy in our fellowship together, joy in a created world that yet bears witness to the glory of God, joy in the Spirit who binds us to Christ and gives new life now and in the future, and joy in the risen Christ in whom all our labour is not vain. With such joy and hope, we reject the greed, selfishness and consumerism that so often prevent us from caring appropriately for the creation, and by God’s grace we are enabled to display the love of God for all the earth revealed in the gospel of Christ.