This new page has been created to reproduce or expand upon items which have appeared in 'Seasight', the parish magazine. The first of these from Mark Geldard now follows...
PARISH MAGAZINE: SEASIGHT (MARCH 2020)
Further reflections on some biblical principles that are important in shaping our attitudes to the environment:
RESPECT FOR THE CREATOR: THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S AND ALL THAT IS IN IT.
This is God’s creation.
In some sense (one that theologians define in different ways) all the great events and processes of creation – the big bang, the emergence and evolution of life – are God’s processes.
If we use a metaphor from the realm of art, we may say that the creation is God’s breathtaking masterpiece. To deface an artist’s paintings is to abuse the artist. So, to do damage to creation – to treat it carelessly, exploitatively – is to abuse its creator.
VICE REGENCY… STEWARDSHIP
The teaching of the Old Testament scriptures is that God made human beings in his own image so that they would be able to exercise ‘dominion over the earth’. However, we need to be careful with the linguistics at this point. Dominion here is not domination. Dominion is not a right for human beings to do what they like with the earth. Indeed, Old Testament commentators have shown that the ‘human dominion over the earth’ spoken of in the Old Testament is, given the cultural context of the ancient Near East, actually most accurately understood as vice regency. That is, God calls humanity to manage the earth ‘for him’ - on his behalf.
In this sense, dominion very much synchronises with the traditional Christian concept of ‘responsible stewardship’. God calls the members of humankind to be good stewards of the planet – a responsibility that entails respect for all other living creatures and a careful use of all the earth’s precious resources.
At the heart of the Christian faith is the belief that God loves and cares for every member of the human family – whatever their race, religion, class or circumstances.
Furthermore, God calls us to share in and reflect that love in our concern for every person and community.
If a proper response is not made to the climate emergency, the cost in human terms will be incalculable – extreme weather events, famine, displacement, political tensions and aggression driven by dwindling resources. In the first place, the brunt of this suffering will be borne by the poor – indeed this is already happening.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HUMAN CREATIVITY
We have already seen that the scriptural understanding is that God made human beings in his image so that they could manage and care for the earth on his behalf. Old Testament scholars have made the point that human creativity is actually inherent in the task of managing the earth and its resources. For God’s earth by its very nature presents humankind with an almost infinite array of possibilities and opportunities - agricultural, scientific and technological, organisational, artistic… Human creativity – in the broadest and truest sense that embraces everything from land management and engineering to arts and crafts – is part of our calling. God has created the world in such a manner that when air is pushed through a pipe in a certain way what comes out is music.
As the world faces a climate crisis, Christians should be in the forefront of those who are seeking to pioneer better ways of relating to the material world.
Our relationship to the material world needs, I believe, to embrace these four principles.
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