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IT’S GOD’S EARTH HE CARES HOW SHOULD WE? Shrewsbury Baptist Church 22nd November 2014.

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Presentation on theme: "IT’S GOD’S EARTH HE CARES HOW SHOULD WE? Shrewsbury Baptist Church 22nd November 2014."— Presentation transcript:

1 IT’S GOD’S EARTH HE CARES HOW SHOULD WE? Shrewsbury Baptist Church 22nd November 2014

2 The Earth is the Lord’s (Ps 24:1)

3 The Earth is the Lord’s (Psalm 24:1) The heavens belong to God, but the earth he has given to mankind (Psalm 115:16)

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5 The ancient universe is firmly biblical

6 Nicolaus Copernicus De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (1543) Galileo Galilei Galileo Galilei ( ) “It was Galileo’s telescope that conclusively refuted the interpretation of Ps 96:10” [“The world is fixed immovably”]

7 Isaac Newton ( ) Established the universality of mechanical causation (a clockwork universe) - on earth and in the heavens

8 Changes in Perception of Time and Space in the early 1800s “Deep time” - from the deposition and erosion of rocks (Smith, Hutton, Lyell) “Deep space” - from the astronomical explorations of John Herschel Voyages of discovery [multiple “centres of creation”?] - Cook, Humboldt, Darwin

9 The Earth belongs to God (Ps 24:1): By creation (Gen 1:1; Ps 104:24; Heb 1:2; Rev 4:11) By redemption (Eph 1:10; Col 1:20) By ordering (Gen 2:1-3; Ps 132) and sustaining (Ps 65:9f; Mt 6:26,30; Mk 4:41; Col 1:17) God has committed his world to us (Gen 1:28): To be cared for (Gen 2:15) With his covenantal support (Gen 9:8f; Ps 111: 5f; Jer 33:25)

10 Bible Purpose God’s purpose is that all creation should praise him: Pss 96:9-13, 103:22, 148, 150:6 Christ’s redeeming work reconciled all things to the Father: Col 1:15-20 – all things repeated six times Humankind is given dominion (Gen 1:28) as those in God’s image, to rule as servants (Ps 72) God holds us responsible for this task

11 John Calvin on Genesis 2:15: “The earth was given to man, “The earth was given to man, with this condition, that he with this condition, that he should occupy himself in its cultivation... The custody of the garden was given in charge to Adam to show that we possess the things that God has committed to our hands, on the condition, that being content with a frugal and moderate use of them, we should take care of what shall remain... Let everyone regard himself as the steward of God in all he possesses” should occupy himself in its cultivation... The custody of the garden was given in charge to Adam to show that we possess the things that God has committed to our hands, on the condition, that being content with a frugal and moderate use of them, we should take care of what shall remain... Let everyone regard himself as the steward of God in all he possesses”

12 One simple message: We all without exception have a God-given privilege/trust/mandate/responsibility/ obligation for Environmental (= Creation) Care This is not simply one choice among many for enthusiasts or an option for a minority of committed greens

13 PAUSE!!!

14 CREATION CARE IS GOSPEL The very first command given to our ancestors “made in God’s image” was to have dominion (= take responsibility) for God’s creation; we are appointed God’s agents, trustees, stewards, care-takers We have made a mess of the world We have ignored and spurned [= disobeyed] God Rightly and righteously God has examined and judged us, and banished us from his presence; all else in history follows BUTcosmos all things (which includes us, but not only us) BUT God so loved the cosmos [= creation] that He gave His dearly beloved Son, who reconciled all things (which includes us, but not only us) to the Father

15 How often is this good news (gospel) preached?!

16 Is the Earth REALLY the Lord’s?

17 One very simple message: We all without exception have a God-given privilege/trust/mandate/responsibility/ obligation for Environmental (= Creation) Care This is not simply one choice among many for enthusiasts or an option for a minority of committed greens

18 Digression: Double Listening “It is comparatively easy to be faithful if we do not care about being contemporary, and easy also to be contemporary if we do not bother to be faithful. There is only one gospel and we are not at liberty to alter this. Nevertheless, we must acknowledge a solemn responsibility to reinterpret it in terms meaningful to our own culture”

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20 STEWARD Criticized as implying an absent landlord and a hierarchy of control Dangers: Hubris: it can be very dangerous to over-estimate one’s powers to achieve or control Lack of focus: we are not ‘co-redeemers’ or ‘co- creators’ with God. All creatures have a relationship to God independent of humankind Humility: we need the humility to know ourselves as creatures within creation, not as Gods over creation

21 21 RachelCarson Silent Spring, 1962

22 First image of Earth from space August 1966

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26 Genesis 1: 27,28 God created human beings in his own image; male and female he created them. fruitful God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase, fill the earth and subdue it, have dominion over the fish in the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves on the earth’ 26

27 Lynn White: The historical roots of our ecologic crisis (Science, 155:1203, 1967)

28 The historical roots of our ecologic crisis The historical roots of our ecologic crisis (Science, 155:1203, 1967) BUT “since the root of our trouble are so essentially religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not. We must rethink and refeel our nature and destiny”

29 29 THE THEOLOGY IS WRONG 1.The Old Testament ideal of kingly rule was humble servanthood (Psalm 72) 2.The command was given in the context of humanity ‘made in God’s image’, i.e. trustworthy in all things The Christian doctrine is that: The Earth is the Lord’s (Psalm 24:1) We are to be responsible stewards [Qu’ran kalifah or steward]

30 Max Oelschaeger (U. North Texas): Caring for Creation “For most of my adult life I believed, as many environmentalists do, that religion was the primary cause of environmental crisis. I was a true believer. If only people would listen to the ecologists, economists and others who made claims that they could ‘manage planet Earth’, we would all be saved”

31 Max Oelschaeger (U. North Texas): Caring for Creation “I lost that faith through the demystification of two ecological problems – climate heating and extinction of species – and by discovering the roots of my prejudice against religion. That bias grew out of my reading of Lynn White’s famous essay blaming Judeo- Christianity for the environmental crisis”

32 32 Climate Change 1827 Predicted by Fourier 1890 CO 2 would give 5ºC rise (Arrhenius) 1958 on Mauna Loa data 1988 IPCC set up by WMO and UNEP

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35 BUT We have not only failed as stewards We have Ignored any idea that we are stewards We have disregarded God’s charge to us We have only allowed God into our religious lives, not our everyday existence We have disobeyed God’s first command to care for creation

36 BUT we live in a fallen world What effect does this have? What is “the Fall”?

37 FALL

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39 FALL? Disobedience Resulted in death - but not physical death [“You once were dead…” Ephesians 2:1] Our relationship with God, with ourselves, with other humans and with the rest of creation was broken The Christian gospel is restoration of broken relationships: “[The son] reconciled all things to the Father, making peace through the shedding of his blood on the cross - all things” Paul’s letter to the Colossians 1: 20 Christ’s reconciling work distinguishes Christianity from all other religions – including Islam and Judaism, which share the same background

40 Paul on the ‘Fall’ “It was through one man that sin entered the world, and through sin death, and this death pervaded the whole human race.... The wrongdoing of that one man brought death upon so many, but its effect is vastly exceeded by the grace of God and the gift of the one man, Jesus Christ... As the result of one misdeed was condemnation for all, so the result of one righteous act is acquittal and life for all” (Romans 5: 5-19)

41 Paul on the ‘Fall’ “The sufferings we now endure bear no comparison with the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is in store for us. The created universe is waiting with eager expectation for God’s sons to be revealed. It was made subject to frustration [or futility]... with the hope that the universe itself is to be freed from the shackles of mortality and is to enter into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Up to the present, as we know, the whole created universe in all its parts groans as if in the pangs of childbirth” (Romans 8:18- 22)

42 The created universe.... was made subject to frustration, not of its own choice “What sense can there be in saying that the subhuman creation suffers frustration by being prevented from properly fulfilling the purpose of its existence? The answer must be that the whole magnificent theatre of the universe, created for God’s glory, is cheated of its true fulfilment so long as man, the chief actor in God’s praise, fails to contribute his rational part” Charles Cranfield, 1974

43 Paul on the ‘Fall’ “The sufferings we now endure bear no comparison with the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is in store for us. The created universe is waiting with eager expectation for God’s sons to be revealed. It was made subject to frustration [or futility]... with the hope that the universe itself is to be freed from the shackles of mortality and is to enter into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Up to the present, as we know, the whole created universe in all its parts groans as if in the pangs of childbirth ” (Romans 8:18-22)

44 “Paul is talking [in Rom 8:18-21] about the glory he says is to be revealed ‘to us’ (v.18)... ‘Glory’ is not simply a kind of luminescence... It means, among other things, rule and power and authority... Part of the point of God’s saving his people is that they are destined to be God’s stewards, ruling over the whole creation with healing and restorative justice and love”

45 Francis Schaeffer, Pollution and the Death of Man (1970) Schaeffer’s book was a pioneering enquiry by an evangelical on creation care. He regarded the future as returning redeemed humankind to Eden. He reprinted Lynn White’s essay. BUT BUT “the redemption of the world and of mankind does not serve to put us back in the Garden of Eden... The creation was given to us with its own goal and purpose, so that the outcome of the world’s story cannot be a cyclical return to its beginnings, but must fulfil that purpose in the freeing of creation from its ‘futility’ (Rom 8:20)” (Oliver O’Donovan)

46 Judgement

47 not “The present heavens are earth are being reserved for burning; they are being kept until the day of judgement when the godless will be destroyed... On that day the heavens will disappear with a great rushing sound, the elements will be dissolved in flames, and the earth and all that is in it will be brought to judgement (or ‘disclosed’, not ‘burnt up’).... Look forward to the coming of the day of God and work to hasten it on” 2 Peter 3:10-12

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49 Many Christians feel that concern for the future of the planet is irrelevant, because it has no future. They believe we are living in the End Time when the son of God will return, the righteous will enter heaven, and sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire. They may also believe that environmental destruction is not only to be welcomed but actually welcomed – even hastened – as a sign of the coming Apocalypse. “All over the world graves will explode as the occupants soar into the heavens” John Hagee, Cornerstone Church, San Antonio, Texas

50 are all things We are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17); the Lamb has made all things ‘new’ (Rev 21:5) Fire will ‘test’ our work (1 Cor 3:13; 1 Pet 1:7) not The ‘first world’ was purged by the water of the water, not ‘destroyed’ (2 Pet 3:6) not The earth will ‘be brought to judgement’, not ‘destroyed’ (2 Pet 3:10) re We look forward to a re-newed earth (kainos), not a brand new (neos) one (2 Pet 3:10) According to Rev 21, heaven will come down to earth; heaven and earth will be united

51 The Church’s four-fold failure Failing to accept scientific understandings, inadvertently squeezing God out of his creation Misunderstanding Genesis 1 (especially the nature of ‘dominion’) Over-speculation about the apocalypse Lacking a robust doctrine of creation

52 Theological rethink needed

53 WWF 25 th Anniversary Assisi 1986 Declarations on Nature by the World’s Religions

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56 GOD WROTE TWO BOOKS “Let no one think or maintain that they can search too far or be too well studied in the book of God’s words or in the book of God’s works... Rather let all endeavour an endless progress or proficiency in both” Francis Bacon (1605), cited by Charles Darwin on the title page of the Origin of Species

57 GOD is immanent AND transcendent You keep close guard before me and behind me.... Where can I escape from your spirit, where flee from your presence? Psalm 139 All things hold together in Christ...and through him all things are reconciled to God – all things, whether on earth or in heaven Colossians 1 Christ sustains the universe by his word of power Hebrews 1 57

58 Footnote to Psalm 19: How could they hear without someone to spread the news?..... Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.... Can it be that they never heard? Of course they did: ‘Their voice has sounded all over the world, and their words to the end of the earth’ Romans 10:13-18

59 John Stott John Stott: “I “I long believed that the Great Commission [‘Go and make disciples’] was solely a command to preach and teach and make disciples, but gradually and through my reflection on the New Testament, I came to see this view as very narrow and unbiblical. In the early 1960s, I began to travel in the Third World, and I saw poverty in Latin America, Africa, and Asia as I had not seen it before. It became clear to me that it was impossible to take that old view. Since then I have come to a much more holistic position”

60 John Stott John Stott: “I “There are two instructions, ‘love your neighbour’ and ‘go and make disciples’. Some of us behave as if they were identical. But no. The Great Commission neither explains nor supersedes the Great Commandment. What it does is to add to the command of neighbour-love and neighbour- service a new and urgent Christian dimension. If we truly love our neighbour, we shall not stop there... Love does not need to justify itself. It just expresses itself in service wherever is sees need”

61 CREATION CARE AS MISSION The Lausanne Movement is dedicated to “taking the whole gospel to the whole world” The third Congress (Capetown 2010) came to two ‘primary conclusions’: Creation Care is indeed a “gospel issue within the lordship of Christ” We are faced with a crisis that is pressing, urgent, and that must be resolved in our generation

62 “We love the world of God’s creation. This love is not mere sentimental affection for nature (which the Bible nowhere commands), still less is it pantheistic worship (which the Bible expressly forbids). Rather it is the logical outworking of our love for God by caring for what belongs to him. ‘The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it’ [Ps 24:1]. The earth is the property of the God we claim to love and obey. We care for the earth, most simply, because it belongs to the one whom we call Lord.” Capetown Commitment, Part I, Para 7

63 “All human beings are to be stewards of the rich abundance of God’s good creation. We are authorized to exercise godly dominion in using it for the sake of human welfare and needs, for example, in farming, fishing, mining, energy generation, construction, trade, medicine. As we do so, we are also commanded to care for the earth because the earth belongs to God and not to us. We do this for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer and Heir of all creation.” “All human beings are to be stewards of the rich abundance of God’s good creation. We are authorized to exercise godly dominion in using it for the sake of human welfare and needs, for example, in farming, fishing, mining, energy generation, construction, trade, medicine. As we do so, we are also commanded to care for the earth because the earth belongs to God and not to us. We do this for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer and Heir of all creation.” Capetown Commitment Part II, Para 5

64 Integral mission or holistic transformation is the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel. It is not simply that evangelism and social involvement are to be done alongside each other. Rather, in integral mission our proclamation has social consequences as we call people to love and repentance in all areas of life. And our social involvement has evangelistic consequences as we bear witness to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ Micah Declaration, 2001 Integral Mission is the work of the church in contributing to the positive physical, spiritual, economic, psychological and social transformation of people Tearfund

65 GOD’s purpose is for all creation to worship Him Ps 148:7f, “Praise the Lord from the Earth you sea monsters and ocean depths.. all fruit trees and cedars, wild animals and all cattle..”; Rom 8:19, “The created universe is waiting with eager expectation for God’s sons to be revealed”; Col 1:20, “God chose him [His dear Son] to reconcile all things to Himself, making peace through the shedding of his blood on the cross- all things, whether on Earth or in heaven”

66 God has Covenanted

67 OUR PART OUR PART: 1.We are made in God’s image (Gen 1:27), implying trustworthiness and responsibility [not physical traits or reasoning ability] 2.We share with animals the command to ‘fill the Earth’; but uniquely we are given the command to ‘have dominion’ over the rest of creation - a royal word implying to the ancient Israelites caring servanthood (Like David, Solomon or Jesus himself - Ps 72) 3.We are told to ‘till and look after the garden’; we are to be active cultivators, not museum keepers We are God’s appointed vice-regents (or agents or stewards or trustees or care-takers) on Earth

68 CONCLUSIONS Our response The World’s Response Convergence = Loving One’s Neighbour & Evangelistic Opportunity

69 WILD[ER]NESS IS PERSONAL and SUBJECTIVE After the flood subsided, the earth had become a gigantic and hideous ruin... A broken and confused heap of bodies (Thomas Burnet, 1684) The generality of people find wild country in its natural state totally unpleasing; there are few who do not prefer the busy scenes of cultivation to the greatest of nature’s rough productions (William Gilpin, 1791)

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73 There is no Paradise to be found on earth today. There are people living in great cities who are far happier than the majority of people in the South Seas. Happiness comes from within, we realise that now... It is in his mind and way of life that man may find his Paradise – the ability to perceive the true values of life, which are far removed from property and riches, or from power and renown. Thor Heyerdahl, after experiencing misery in an imagined utopia on a Marquesan island

74 74 Countryside in 1970 Conferences “There is a new sense that a ‘good’ or ‘high- quality’ or ‘healthy’ environment is not only more pleasant but may be essential to a sound and viable civilization. Closely linked with that sense is a new awareness that we now have it in our power to conserve or to destroy the countryside on a vast scale.”

75 Global Responses to the Environment 1972 Stockholm Conference 1972 Limits to Growth published 1981 World Conservation Strategy [development and environmental care not separable] 1987 Brundtland Report [‘Sustainable development’] 1991 Caring for the Earth ( = revised WCS) 1992 Earth Summit in Rio (IPCC, CBD, Agenda 21) 2000 Earth Charter formally launched 2002 Rio+10: World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002 Millennium Development Goals Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2011 Intergovernmental Science Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services 2012 Rio+20: UN Conference on Sustainable Development; SDGs to replace MDGs

76 76 STOCKHOLM DECLARATION Man is both creature and moulder of his environment 26 Principles, including: 3. The Earth’s capacity to produce renewable resources must be safeguarded 11. Environment policy must not hamper development

77 Global Responses to the Environment 1972 Stockholm Conference 1972 Limits to Growth published 1981 World Conservation Strategy [development and environmental care not separable] 1987 Brundtland Report [‘Sustainable development’] 1991 Caring for the Earth ( = revised WCS) 1992 Earth Summit in Rio (IPCC, CBD, Agenda 21) 2000 Earth Charter formally launched 2002 Rio+10: World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002 Millennium Development Goals Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2011 Intergovernmental Science Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services 2012 Rio+20: UN Conference on Sustainable Development; SDGs to replace MDGs

78 78 World Conservation Strategy [1980] 1.To maintain essential ecological processes and life-support systems 2.To preserve genetic diversity 3.To ensure the sustainable utilisation of species and ecosystems

79 Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generation to meet their own needs (Brundtland) Improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacities of supporting ecosystems (WCS II) Living today but expecting tomorrow will come Not cheating on our children/neighbours

80 80 “Mankind long believed that, whatever we did, the Earth would remain much the same. We now know that is untrue…. We have a moral duty to look after our planet and hand it on in good order to future generations. That does not mean trying to halt economic growth… But growth has to respect the environment. And it must be soundly based so that it can last.” This Common Inheritance, Cm1200, 1990

81 81 Caring for the Earth (1991): “An ethic is important because what people do depends on what they believe. Widely shared beliefs are often more powerful than government edicts. The transition to sustainable societies will require changes to how people perceive each other, other life and the Earth; how they evaluate their needs and priorities; and how they behave.”

82 82 UNCED (UN Conference on Environment & Development) Achievements: Framework Convention on Climate Change Convention on Biological Diversity Rio Declaration Agenda 21 Forest Principles

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84 84 EARTH CHARTER PRINCIPLES: 1.Respect and care for the community of life 2.Ecological integrity 3.Social and economic justice 4.Democracy, nonviolence and peace

85 Caring for the Earth (revised WCS) 1992 UNCED (Rio/Earth Summit) 2000 Millennium Summit (  MDG) 2002 Rio+10 - WSSD Johannesburg 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2007 IPPC-4: “Global GHG emissions due to human activities have grown since pre-industrial times, with an increase of 70% between 1970 and 2004” 2012 IPBES ( Intergovernmental Science-Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services) 2012 Rio+20 – SDGs proposed 2015 MDGs to be replaced by SDGs

86 The Marks of Mission The mission of the Church is defined as: 1.To proclaim the good new of the Kingdom 2.To teach, baptize & nurture new believers 3.To respond to human need by loving service 4.To seek to transform the unjust structures of society 5.To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth

87 Chris Wright on Creation Care and Mission: 1.A good creation can only be the work of a good God 2.This means the creation is intrinsically good and has intrinsic value 3.There is a sacredness about the nonhuman created order 4.The goal of creation is God’s glory, an aim we share with the whole creation 5.God has redeemed the whole creation

88 t GOD HUMANKIND CREATION

89 John Beddington (Government Chief Scientist) on the “Perfect Storm” approaching

90 “Let no one out of a weak conceit of sobriety or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain that they can be too well studied in the book of God’s words or in the book of God’s works... Rather let all endeavour an endless progress or proficiency in both” Francis Bacon (1605)

91 Double Listening II “We listen to the Word with humble reverence, anxious to understand it, and resolved to believe and obey what we come to understand. We listen to the world with critical alertness, anxious to understand it too, and resolved not necessarily to believe and obey it, but to sympathise with it and to seek grace to discover how the gospel relates to it”

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