Special Report: Creation Care at the 2012 Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (Part 3 of 3)

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The conversation at ETS at points became heated, a reflection of the reality that we as Christians, and especially American Evangelicals, should have something to say about the raging environmental cultural war, even if we forget to listen to other voices, from the global south, for example. When we enter into that war, are we equipped with a biblical worldview? Will we succumb to the demands of worldviews that are not our own? Will we have the type of self-awareness that can humbly admit that our worldviews have been compromised by pagan or modern ways of thinking? Or is the matter even more complex than simply pitting one worldview against the other? Maybe our moment, for Christian mission today, is one where the task is calling us to slow down and reabsorb our foundations again.

How can we develop a robust Christian mission that responds to a groaning creation as well as the cries of those impoverished today, a position which is fueled by biblical thinking at its deepest?

Basically our challenge begins at the training ground of the scriptures. We must think carefully through the worldviews offered therein. What does the Bible say about creation and the place of God and humanity within it? What is wrong with the world, and what is the solution? What kind of time do we see ourselves in? Our easy answers to these questions, which reflect little awareness of what the Bible actually says, reveals to us that modern and pagan ways of thinking have greatly shaped the lenses through which we read the Bible and experience the world.

We must reclaim our own narrative in order to address this modern environmental epidemic. We have to chart a vision of a sacred earth based upon the limits of creation order that also avoids the objectification of creation. When we do so, many of our actions will follow suit. Our church will agree that each congregation needs a creation care group, as Bauckham suggested, that the whole church supports, which keeps us consistently thinking about creation care. We will develop a localism, as Moo suggested, that fosters a perspective of affinity for land but never looses sight of our responsibility in a global community. We will see afresh, as Moore suggested, that one of the biggest gifts we can give our children in an age of materialism and excess is to bring them out of our doors and into the wild places of our land where they can begin again to experience the beauty of creation and survive its harshness as well. Or we will get busy with highway cleanups or insulating the houses of our poorest neighbors, as Beisner suggested.

I’ll finish here with a challenge from Douglas Moo: “We must never simply use the Bible to fight our cultural wars.” When we do so, we will always bend it to do our own will. We must continually form a Christian worldview within the Body. And when we do so together, we will be able to join in with the worldwide environmental movement while at the same time challenging it at its very real points of error. We must stand up against every attack against human worth, while resisting the tsunami wave of materialism that drowns our people today. Such a challenge might just force us to change everything about the way we live our lives. We might have to give over our shortsighted lifestyles to a limitless God, and enter fully into his story. But let’s make sure as we do so, that it is the right story.

Keith Jagger first met the Sleeths when they were neighbors in Wilmore, Kentucky, and were brought together by their shared passion for creation care. After completing his studies at Asbury Seminary, Keith moved to Scotland to study with N.T. Wright. As Blessed Earth’s “Anglo Correspondent.” Keith writes both from the perspective a PhD student studying creation care and a husband/father/follower of Jesus struggling to incorporate creation care principles in his daily life. You can read more of his writing at keithjagger.com or urban-abbey.com.