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Creation Care as Discipleship

Knowing why we should value creation care is just the first step. Knowing how to care for creation is the next.

Practical Steps to Care for Creation

The first decade of the twenty-first century has seen what some have called “the greening of Evangelicals,”20—a proliferation of creation care awareness through statements,21 organizations,22 conferences, initiatives, and the development of resources. Some view this upsurge as a fad, a means for political correctness, or even a diabolical distraction from the focus of the Great Commission.

However, I believe God has raised up individuals for such a time as this, to remind Christians of biblical principles that have existed in Scripture from the beginning. In 1970, decades before the current Evangelical involvement in creation care, Francis Shaffer wrote Pollution and the Death of Man: The Christian View of Ecology. It responded to the anti-Christian environmentalism that blamed believers for the state of the environment. Shaffer issued a prophetic call to see the biblical basis for caring about the earth’s crises and responding accordingly.

Discernment

Since then, we have witnessed an exponential multiplication of literature and resources. But Christians need more than exposure to resources; they need discernment from the Spirit regarding specific steps to take as obedient stewards of creation. Christians can easily feel overwhelmed with the massive needs of the world when faced with how to carry out God’s mission—whether that mission entails caring for suffering people or a suffering earth. Ministries abound that push and pull believers in multiple directions. For Pentecostal/Charismatic believers in particular, the how of creation care must begin with asking for spiritual discernment and direction regarding the way forward. Steven F. Hayward makes a clarion call for such discernment:

Still, creation care, if it is to be more than an appealing phrase, must do more than baptize conventional environmental opinion. . . . Am I saying that the discerning religious leader should distill the central principles of the biblical perspective, distinguish the signal from the noise in an increasingly fractious public debate, take account of subtle economic and scientific facts, and then carefully apply all of that to specific environmental questions? Well, yes, I suppose I am.23

Such discernment will help believers avoid feeling overwhelmed by the greatness of the task and instead find motivation to engage in this great opportunity.

Education

Education is key in following through on the Spirit’s direction in selecting a few practical steps to take and doing them well. The link at the end of this chapter provides extensive educational resources such as:

Education is a vital step to raise awareness within the Christian community about creation care principles and opportunities.25 You will also be excited to discover opportunities available in your own community. For example, a simple Internet search for “recycling” and your city’s name will provide you with ways to connect with local recycling centers, resources, and initiatives so you can take practical steps to walk out what you are learning.

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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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