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Creation Care as Discipleship

Although these efforts might seem insignificant in light of larger global problems, this example demonstrates the impact that even a small group of people doing something can have. Through this effort, the Seminary has recycled many tons per year. This story shows how individuals and communities can act upon the biblical principle that God made the earth and instructed His people to care for it as part of their love and service to Him and to the world.

Conclusion

During the 1990s when my husband and I lived in Vermont, we recycled and composted our trash. We never really thought about why we did it, except that it just seemed the right thing to do. Not until years later when studying biblical principles of creation care did my understanding more thoroughly align with my practice.

Through appreciating the why and how of creation care, perhaps you will feel emboldened to step out as the Spirit leads you. You can participate in loving and serving God and others by developing attitudes and behaviors worthy of a Christ follower obeying the stewardship mandate. We patiently care for creation for God’s glory, hoping for its ultimate redemption (Rom. 8:23), and we look forward to our renewed planet—to a “new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13).

 

PR

 

For Further Study:

Evangelical Creation Care Organizations—Articles, Books, and Web Sites on Creation Care: http://ltet.net/download/Creation-Care-Sep-2013.pdf

 

“Creation Care as Discipleship” by Lois E. Olena is chapter 12 in Stephen Lim, ed., Your Call to Work & Mission: Following Jesus 24/7 Whole-Life Discipleship, Book 1 (AGTS, 2015), reprinted here with permission. Copyright © 2015 Assemblies of God Theological Seminary at Evangel University.

To purchase Your Call to Work & Mission: Following Jesus 24/7, go to the AGTS bookstore webpage: https://www.agts.edu/book_order_form.html

 

Notes

  1. The last phrase of 2 Peter 3:10 says, “shall be burned up” (KJV, NASB). But the ESV translates it “will be exposed,” and in a lengthy note on this passage provides the reasoning behind that translation: “. . . the earliest and most reliable manuscripts have ‘will be found’ . . . indicating with this reading that the annihilation of the earth is not taught in this passage.” (The NRSV, “will be disclosed,” and REB, “will be brought to judgment” translations reflect the ESV wording). Christopher J. H. Wright says that the idea here is not the obliteration of the earth but its’ purging so that all that is sinful can not seek protection from God’s wrath and judgment; this purging will establish the way for the new creation, as in the example of Noah’s flood. There, water purged but did not destroy the earth. Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006), 408–409.
  2. See “Why Care?” Blessed Earth’s Seminary Stewardship Alliance, accessed September 18, 2013, http://seminaryalliance.org/why-care/.
  3. “If the entire world lived like the average American, we’d need 5 planets to provide enough resources.” Steph, “15 Mind-Boggling Green Facts & Enviro-Stats,” WebEcoist: Going Beyond Green, accessed September 10, 2013, http://webecoist.momtastic.com/2008/11/26/amazing-frightening-green-facts-environmental-statistics/. See also: Vital Signs, http://vitalsigns.worldwatch.org/trends/environment-climate?gclid=CLmXuvOzwbkCFbBDMgodXn8Akg; World Resources Institute, http://earthtrends.wri.org/?gclid=CO6D7420wbkCFYFhMgodjkkAxw; Evangelical Environmental Network, http://creationcare.org; “Creation Care,” Lausanne Movement, http://www.lausanne.org/?s=creation+care&lang=en
  4. Wright, 413.
  5. Matthew Farrelly, “A Covenant with the Earth: Why the Work of Christ Makes All the Difference in our Care of Creation,” October 14, 2010, accessed September 21, 2013, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2010/october/17.27.html.
  6. For more on how creation care permeates the biblical text, see The Green Bible (NRSV) published by HarperOne (2008) and its companion volume, The Green Bible Devotional: A Book of Daily Readings (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2009).
  7. David Gushee, “Environmental Ethics: Bringing Creation Care Down to Earth,” in Keeping God’s Earth: The Global Environment in Biblical Perspective, ed. Noah J. Toly and Daniel I. Block, 245–266 (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010), 265.
  8. For more on this topic, see: “Why Creation Care Matters,” Evangelical Environmental Network, accessed September 10, 2013, http://creationcare.org/blank.php?id=41.
  9. Calvin B. DeWitt, Earth-wise: A Biblical Response to Environmental Issues, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2007), 14–26. DeWitt’s book describes seven degradations of the creation that correspond to the seven provisions of the Creator. He says believers must choose life (Deut. 30:19–20) and find ways to enjoy the earth without destroying it.
  10. Ibid., 25.
  11. Wright, 398.
  12. Ibid., 416.
  13. Ibid., 393.
  14. “Mercury and The Unborn,” Evangelical Environmental Network, accessed September 18, 2013, http://creationcare.org/mercury-and-unborn/.
  15. “Addressing a Changing Environment,” Evangelical Environmental Network, accessed May 7, 2015, http://creationcare.org/2013/01/31/loving-the-least-of-these-addressing-a-changing-environment/. (This document introduces a 56-page discussion paper, “Loving the Least of These: Addressing a Changing Environment,” which discusses the impact of climate changes on the poor. The book is available from the National Association of Evangelicals, http://www.nae.net/images/content/Loving_the_Least_of_These.pdf.
  16. “Climate and the Vulnerable,” Evangelical Environmental Network, June 19, 2012, accessed September 18, 2013, http://creationcare.org/blog.php?blog=43.
  17. Noah J. Toly and Daniel I. Block, eds. Keeping God’s Earth: The Global Environment in Biblical Perspective (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010), 20–21.
  18. Christina Quick, “Bible Believers Join Environmentalism Discussion,” AG News, August 29, 2013, accessed September 21, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/qgpaqrm.
  19. Steven F. Hayward, in Mere Environmentalism: A Biblical Perspective on Humans and the Natural World (Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 2011), x, notes that academic Lynn White “famously blamed biblical teaching about God and man as the source of ‘environmental degradation’; and his argument has been repeated ad nauseam in environmental ethics courses ever since.” Steven Bouma-Prediger’s chapter, “Is Christianity to Blame? The Ecological Complaint against Christianity,” addresses this question in his book, For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001, 2010), 57–80.
  20. Blaine Harden, “The Greening of Evangelicals,” Washington Post, February 6, 2005, A01, accessed September 18, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A1491-2005Feb5.html.
  21. “Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation and The Sandy Cove Covenant” (1994); “For the Health of the Nation: An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility” (2004); “The Evangelical Climate Initiative, Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action” (2006); “The Cape Town Commitment” (2011), specifically Part I: 7, accessed September 21, 2013, http://www.lausanne.org/en/documents/ctcommitment.html#p1-7. See also, Christina Quick, “Bible Believers Join Environmentalism Discussion,” AG News, August 29, 2013, accessed September 21, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/qgpaqrm.
  22. To name a few: Evangelicals for Social Action (1973), A Rocha (1983), Christians for Environmental Stewardship (early 1990s, now Restoring Eden, 2001), Evangelical Environmental Network (1993) and Creation Care magazine, Care of Creation (2005), Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming (2009), Lausanne-WEA Global Creation Care Consultation in Jamaica (2012), and Seminary Stewardship Alliance (2012).
  23. Hayward, xv, xviii. See also: Scott D. Allen and Darrow L. Miller, The Forest in the Seed (Phoenix, AZ: Disciple Nations Alliance, 2006) regarding the need for fresh perspectives about the world with the goal of personal, family, community, and even nation transformation, 9.
  24. Lisa Graham McMinn and Megan Anna Neff, Walking Gently on the Earth: Making Faithful Choices About Food, Energy, Shelter, and More (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010).
  25. On the graduate level, the Seminary Stewardship Alliance (SSA) is now taking the lead to connect Christians with their biblical call to creation care and advance scholarship in this area. Their hope is that member seminaries will “teach, preach, live, inspire, and hold each other accountable for good stewardship practices.” Blessed Earth’s Seminary Stewardship Alliance (SSA), accessed September 21, 2013, http://seminaryalliance.org/.
  26. “Renewal: Stories from America’s Religious-Environmental Movement.” Fine Cut Productions, 2007. Another significant Interfaith organization is the Cornwall Alliance, which in 2000 crafted the “Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship,” Cornwall Alliance, accessed September 21, 2013, http://www.cornwallalliance.org/articles/read/the-cornwall-declaration-on-environmental-stewardship/.
  27. “Mission: Environmental Stewardship,” A Rocha, accessed May 7, 2015, http://www.arocha.ca/about-us/. For ways to get involved, see http://arocha.org/en/get-involved/
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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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