While it is hard to find a mainstream newspaper or magazine that does not have one, two or more stories on environmental topics these days. Out “in the world” the crisis enveloping God’s creation is apparent and people are concerned. Scanning the pages of Christian periodicals and journals yields the opposite result: Little or no coverage of anything remotely environmental. Which is why it is encouraging to find creation care appearing in two important magazines and journals in the last couple of weeks. Read on and click through – they are both worth your time.
My colleague in Kenya, Craig Sorley, has an important paper in the latest issue of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research. The entire issue is devoted to the topic of Creation Care, including topics like Mission and the Care of Creation by Jonathan J. Bonk [HTML or PDF] and Historical Trends in Missions and Earth Care by Dana L. Robert [HTML or PDF]. [All these papers require free registration to read.]
My Kenyan counterpart recently held a “God and Creation” workshop in a village called Mbau-ini, just a few kilometers from Rift Valley Academy and the Kijabe Medical Center, one of the largest mission complexes in the world. More than 150 missionaries live in the greater Kijabe area. The workshop that day focused on the acute problem of deforestation, and how Christians should be among the first to respond to such problems. Once carpeted by a lush cedar and African olive forest that fed streams out into the Rift Valley, many kilometers of the Kijabe escarpment now lie denuded of forest cover, and the streams have dried up. As my counterpart spoke with passion about the biblical foundations for creation stewardship and how we can honor Christ through caring for the environment, one member of the community, hearing this teaching for the first time, became obviously excited. With urgency he asked: “Why is it that for all these decades the missionaries right here have never told us that God was concerned about how we managed the forests? Why have they just watched this destruction taking place?”
Click through to read the rest of the piece.
At the opposite end of the academic spectrum, Christianity Today – too long silent on the topic of Creation Care, has been positively outdoing itself in the last few months. Their latest issue features an important interview with evangelical statesman Eugene Peterson and A Rocha founder Peter Harris titled, appropriately The Joyful Environmentalists. conducted by Andy Crouch. Peter is a colleague and friend with whom I have had frequent correspondence but have never met. Peterson will be well known to many as a prolific author, most recently of The Message, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible.
One sample question will give you a sense of what you’ll get reading the whole interview:
How do these themes connect with Americans, who mostly live in either suburban or urban environments?
Harris: That’s one distinction between a Christian take on creation and a secular romanticism about wilderness. Think about Psalm 104. In that psalm, which echoes Genesis, you don’t just have “the sea and everything in it”; you have ships on it, working. You don’t just have the land; you have people, working. There is a radical environmentalism that wishes people were not on the planet. That’s not the biblical view at all. A Rocha in the United Kingdom actually works in the most polluted, urban borough of the country, because creation isn’t absent just because people are there. The challenge is how to restore a right way of life, rather than escaping to some wilderness paradise. Fifty percent of the planet now lives in cities. That is where we live out our relationship with creation.
Other recent articles from Christianity Today:
Matthew Dickerson, Who Gets Left Behind? (a fascinating examination of the consequences of eschatological (end-times) points of view.)