being · Church of England · Parish · training · vicarage life

Holiday Blues

Well the summer is pretty much over, sure for many of us it feels like it never arrived. Certainly here in Britain it has hardly stopped raining since May. I guess we need to get used to the changing seasons these days it seems our ‘summer’ happens in April and May and the rest of the year is a washout.

Experts put this down to Climate Change and they may or may not have a point. Either way it is clear from the Bible that we DO have and environmental duty as Christians.

I know that many Christians get frustrated when we preachers talk about the environment, after all surely we should be preaching the word. But perhaps that is to miss the point. Our Faith is also about our lifestyle:

In 1966 Lynn White famously blamed the modern ecological crisis on ‘orthodox Christian arrogance’ and the way in which Christianity engaged with the natural world. Arguing that Christianity had developed an anthropocentric world view that demoted nature to the level of force to be subdued by mankind.

While I would like to strongly disagree with Prof. White’s proclamation and the conclusions he draws, his comments sadly have a ring of truth about them, there has been a western ambivalence to the natural world that has been borne out in some way by the attitude of Christians to the world around them. This view has been compacted by some Christian groups who even now, dismiss the ecological crisis despite the mounting evidence. Many right-wing evangelicals have been at the forefront of this environmental scepticism, and there is a history, particularly in the USA, of Christian denial of environmental issues. However in recent years support for this trend of environmental denial appears to be waning, and more evangelical Christians are becoming concerned and involved in tackling environmental issues. Organisations like the Evangelical Climate Initiative are challenging the Christian community to act on the environmental crisis facing the world.

The environmental ambivalence, described by White, perhaps stems from the Creation narrative we find in Genesis 1:26-31.2 In the passage God tells Adam that he is to rule over and subdue all the earth and living creatures (1:28). While this passage may give that impression at first reading it should also be considered that the passage is about stewardship rather than dominion.

The words for subdue though can also be translated as ‘lead’ or ‘direct’ or even ‘to rule supremely’ to have dominion in this context then means not that the earth is subject to man’s whims and for his prosperity alone but to tend it as God’s representative (Gen 1:26).

A biblical ethic of the environment should help to inform the ethos of our lives as Christians. To have an environmental ethos is part of the gospel, not an add-on for Christians of a certain mindset. God called us to be stewards of His creation from the very first. The attitude of stewardship should be something that is deeply ingrained in believers, a part of the gospel that we preach.

A number of organisations are now representing the Christian Worldview while acknowledging the biblical precedent to care for our world.

Why not check out these organisations:

The John Ray Institute
Arocha
Christians and Climate Change

We do have a responsibility to our world, if not for the sake of creation itself, for the sake and on behalf of the creator!

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