Sally Shaw urges evangelicals to recognise the importance of creation care, pointing out some of the ways that some evangelicals are becoming more involved.
Sally Shaw is studying post-grad theology and is involved with A Rocha Australia
Now is the time for Evangelical Christians to get more involved in creation care. Now is the time to reflect on the implications of our theological interpretations when it comes to caring for God’s creation. The Paris Climate Change Agreement in December 2015 has shown us that significant action to curb climate change needs to happen not just with Governments but with each of us. Evangelical Christians in Australia are starting to recognise the importance of creation care, but there is still much to be done. In July 2015 Gospel, Society and Culture: Creation Care was published by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia in NSW. It is an important report that leaves no room for complacency. It quotes Beisner et al who argue “To reject environmental stewardship is to embrace, by default, no stewardship. The only proper alternative to selfish anthropocentrism is not biocentrism but theocentrism: a vision of earth care with God and his perfect moral law at the centre and human beings acting as his accountable stewards.” This paper complements the 2012 Lausanne Global Consultation on Creation Care and the Gospel, which built on the 2010 Lausanne Cape Town commitment, and is a significant voice from which we can learn.
I had the privilege of being invited to join this Consultation. It was a gathering of theologians, church leaders, scientists, and creation care practitioners from 26 countries, who met to develop a more deeply biblical understanding of creation care. Our aim was to create a document, ‘a call’, that the evangelical church around the world would be able to hear and respond urgently at the personal, community, national and international levels.
The final Statement made a number of specific calls for action, including the need for:
- an integrated theology of creation care that can engage seminaries, Bible colleges and others to equip pastors to disciple their congregations
- a theology that examines humanity’s identity as both embedded in creation and yet possessing a special role towards creation
- a theology that challenges current prevailing economic ideologies in relation to our biblical stewardship of creation and
- a theology of hope in Christ and his Second Coming that properly informs and inspires creation care.
Hearing these calls requires us to put aside our presuppositions and re-read God’s word through a new lens, recognising that it is the Christian worldview that gives the only viable basis for care of the natural environment. On this basis we should not withdraw from environmental concerns simply because we feel that other approaches to environmental care are flawed. Rather, we should be all the more concerned about the issue, just as other world-views give people reasons to be concerned about the environment. Like all genuine moral responses, these are signs of God’s common grace. We, as Beisner et al say “should be ready to enter the debate, to present and to act on the clear Christian reasons for creation care, since they can provide the metaphysical basis that ecologists are yearning for.”
Organisations such as A Rocha Australia and Hope for Creation are examples of evangelical Christians taking wholistic action to help curb the environmental injustices of this earth. In addition, the Seminary-Stewardship-Alliance, a consortium of evangelical seminaries and theological colleges in the USA and Australia, is seeking to take on this challenge, both in the curriculum, on campus and in other ways.
These calls and examples should compel us in our passion for justice and our love for God, our neighbours and the wider creation to urgent and prophetic ecological responsibility, seeing the biblical doctrine of creation as an essential part of the gospel story.