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Christians ought to love God’s creation too
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
November 20, 2009
6 MIN READ TIME

Christians ought to love God’s creation too

Christians ought to love God’s creation too
Norman Jameson, BR Editor
November 20, 2009

Christians set the table for creation care — centuries early

— but their submerging that call beneath other concerns allowed the stewardship

of God’s creation to be claimed by political interests and let it force

division in the family.

All for no good purpose, according to four internationally

recognized speakers at a Creation Care conference Oct. 30-31 at Southeastern

Baptist Theological Seminary.

Christians should be involved in creation care because we

live in the world God created and cares about, said philosopher David Cook, who

teaches at Wheaton College, Oxford, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

and is a fellow for the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture at

Southeastern.

Acts 17 shows that the environmental debate should begin

with the churches, said Cook. In that passage the Apostle Paul tells the

Athenians that “God who made the world and everything in it — He is Lord of

heaven and earth and … gives life and breath and all things.”

God did not separate creation into “humans” and the “rest of

creation” pulled together for human consumption, speakers explained. Humans are

a part of creation, the part given responsibility to serve and to keep the

garden.

Calvin DeWitt, a passionate professor at the University of

Wisconsin whose boundless delight in every part of creation, from bugs to weeds

to the marshes of his hometown, said humans disregard the cries of nature.

SEBTS photo

Calvin DeWitt, left, addresses a group at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Creation Care conference.

With 12 of the world’s 13 major fisheries in “collapse” we

still keep catching and eating spawning fish. “We can’t help ourselves,” he

said.

Speakers made frequent references to the Jesus of 1 Col.

1:15-17 which says in part “all things have been created through Him and for

Him. He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.”

“The history of environmentalism is to save and reconcile

all things,” DeWitt said. In his decades of creation care action he’s found

“most top environmentalists are passionate for creation care and are active

churchmen.”

Christians were active creation care advocates without even

using the terminology until the Industrial Revolution shifted values to

economic benefit at the expense of land, water and air quality, DeWitt said.

“We have come to presume that our industrial economy can and

must drive creation’s economy,” DeWitt said. “Meaning if the solution will cost

money, the science must be wrong … science isn’t about polls, but truth.”

We are on “dangerous theological ground” to act as if

we support “industrial Christianity” which says, “this is the way we operate

and creation better take heed to operate within our economy,” said DeWitt, who

paced the main floor while speaking.

Lest anyone question the importance of commitment to

creation care, DeWitt said, “Human activity is putting such strain on the

natural functions of earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to

sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.”

In other words, human activity that disregards its own

effect on creation is threatening the ability of humanity’s continued survival

on earth. Ultimately, the earth will be fine, the speakers agreed. It is humans

whose survival is threatened.

As biologist Paul Erlich said, “Nature bats last.”

DeWitt said global warming is “unequivocal…people will say

it’s not, but it is, and you’d better believe it.”

While even some who concede the earth is warming doubt human

influence on the rise of global temperatures, DeWitt the historical graphs rise

sharply when human influence is introduced. He asked, “What if humans are not

responsible or only partly responsible? Does that mean we should just call it

an act of God and take out an insurance policy and sing together ‘This is not

my home?’”

Human influence on warming

Steven Bouma-Prediger addressed that theme by looking at the

complaints that environmentalists typically bear against Christians who

disregard creation.

Bouma-Prediger, an active outdoorsman who led hiking,

canoeing and climbing adventures in the Nantahala National Park, is chair of

the religion department of theology and ethics at Hope College in Holland,

Mich.

He said some actually blame “the earth is not my home”

attitude of Christians for the ecological calamity lurking in the near future.

“This dualism keeps us from relating not only to the natural

world but to ourselves,” he said, calling for confession for the “various ways

Christians encourage exploitation of the earth.”

“We are indifferent to the rape and plunder of the world and

most of its cultures,” he said. “We’re as indifferent as most industrial

organizations.”

He outlined the ecological complaint against Christians

saying that the Gen. 1:26-28 verses that sanction “rule” and subjugation of

earth provide “sanction for ecological destruction” when misinterpreted.

Christian dualism that separates soul and body, spirit and

matter, culture and nature, male and female devalues one over the other, he

said.

“Escapist eschatology (view of end times)” justifies “exploitation”

of earth’s resources, because if “the world will be destroyed, why care for

it?” said Bouma-Prediger, explaining environmentalists’ frustration with

Christianity.

Then he asked if such theology is even accurate. “In God’s

good future will the earth be destroyed?” he asked.

He said historical interpretation of 2 Peter 3:10, which

says on the final day “…the earth also and the works that are therein shall be

burned up (KJV) is “an egregious misinterpretation, maybe the worst in the New

Testament.”

Other interpretations, including the Holman Christian

Standard Study Bible, say on that day the earth and its works “will be

disclosed.” The NIV says, “laid bare.” German interpretation of the passage

says the earth “will find its judgment” and the Dutch says “will be found.”

“After the refiner’s fire of purification, the earth will be

found, discovered, not burned up,” Bouma-Prediger said. “This text is not about

rapture or destruction, but about refinement and renewal of creation.”

He caused a bit of stir in the room when he said the idea of

“rapture” or being caught up into the air on the day of Christ’s return is a

misinterpretation, as well. He said creation is not “ephemeral and unimportant”

and that Christians will join Christ’s procession as He returns to earth.

“We are not raptured off the earth,” he said. “God loves the

world. He returns to the world and will not leave the world behind.”

The panelists encouraged Christians not to be “just takers,

but care takers.”