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Creation Care as Discipleship

Biblical Principles

Environmental plight, however, is not the only reason for believers to care for creation. Christ-followers must know the scriptural basis for doing so, which will guide our obedience to God. Caring for the earth and caring for the needs of the inhabitants of the earth both play a role in following Jesus in living out God’s missional plan of world redemption, since both the earth and its inhabitants—according to Romans 8—will experience that ultimate redemption one day. This section examines four key features of the biblical foundation for creation care.

God as Creator

Image: Andreas Rønningen

The biblical basis for creation care begins with God as Creator. The Psalmist writes that the earth and everything in it belongs to the Lord (Ps. 24:1). God—the Father (Gen. 1:1), Son (Col. 1:16), and Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:2)—created everything, and (even before the creation of humans) pronounced as good all that He had made (Gen. 1:4, 10, 13, 18, 21, 25). Its goodness was not simply because of its usefulness for humans, but because God, who is himself good, pronounced His work to be good. He then commanded Adam and Eve (and all humanity after them) to serve and care for what He had made (2:15). In this, the Supreme Ruler of the universe mandated that people, as His hands and feet on earth, would nurture what flows from His power, love, and creativity.

Command to Stewardship

God commanded fruitfulness not only of Adam and Eve but all creation. He called the waters to teem with living creatures, the skies to be full of birds, the creatures to increase in number, and the land to produce (Gen. 1:20–24). Adam was to enjoy creation for food (v. 29) and to “rule” over it (vv. 26, 28). The King James Version translates this word as “dominion,” which sadly many people have interpreted as domination, resulting in careless destruction of creation. Instead, it involves the “working and serving” and “keeping and caring” principles of Genesis 2:15. But this role given to humankind is not only that of a gardener; it also entails a priestly role. We “have been placed within the creation to mediate God’s presence, embody God’s posture, and enact God’s purposes in the earth.”5

Honoring God as Supreme over Creation

Creation care matters because it provides a means for loving and serving God and others.

A biblical view of creation care is not only founded on the goodness of God and His creation and His command to steward it, but also the call to honor God as supreme over creation. Psalm 8 proclaims God’s name as “majestic . . . in all the earth” and His glory as “above the heavens” (v. 1). He has ordained that all creation, the heavens, the work of His fingers, and the moon and stars that He has set in place (v. 3) would bring Him glory, pointing humanity toward Him. The Psalmist places everything in its proper place; God is supreme over creation, but He has made human beings, a little lower than the angels (v. 5), to rule over the works of God’s hands: “You put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas” (vv. 7–8).

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Category: Living the Faith, Winter 2016

About the Author: Lois E. Olena, D.Min. (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary), is Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Jewish Studies and the D.Min. Project Coordinator at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri. She also served as Executive Director of the Society for Pentecostal Studies (2011-2016). Her publications include Stanley M. Horton: Shaper of Pentecostal Theology (Gospel Publishing House, 2010), co-editor/co-author with Eric Newberg of Children of the Calling: Essays in Honor of Stanley M. Burgess and Ruth V. Burgess (Pickwick, 2014), and numerous book chapters, articles, and reviews. She is presently finalizing (with Margaret de Alminana) a co-edited/co-authored volume for Brill’s Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies series. AGTS Faculty page

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