Friday, October 26, 2007

Eco-Theology 2

This problem reaches full strength in the second reason that ecology is not often taken seriously in churches today; a deficiency in a small number of doctrinal positions.

For many, this is the obvious problem. A deficient understanding of the doctrine of creation can very quickly turn someone into a hippie-hating conscienceless resource consumer. If one embraces a tradition where God’s call for humanity to exercise dominion over creation is seen as license to abuse the created order for our purposes regardless of the ecological consequences, then such abuse will occur regularly. This view is mistaken. God’s call for humans to cultivate and have dominion over the created over is a passing of responsibility to his imagers, who are now responsible to lovingly care for and yes, utilize for the good of the whole created order, not at its expense.

Not as obvious but every bit as dangerous to an ecological theology is a deficient understanding of eschatology (the doctrine of last things or "end times"). There are extremely popular eschatological frameworks (some popularized by fictional novels) which convey the eschaton as the destruction of the earth. The battle of Armageddon is emphasized on the earth, and the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21 and 22 are relegated to a heavenly, spiritual realm. The goal of this eschatological system is escape from this world. The purpose of living faithfully to Christ is that he can save us from the impending destruction of the earth.

A theology that locates the final resting place of Christ and humanity somewhere other than this earth almost has to lead to ecological apathy. What point is there in caring for a world that will face destruction soon, and as part of God’s perfect plan no less? Yet when we see the eschaton as the restoration of all things to Christ and the return of the Triune God to the earth he lovingly created and declared as good, we do no longer look at life as our only chance to use up the fruits of the earth. Rather, we see our lives as a great opportunity to plant the very trees of the New Jerusalem, where the sea is glassy and there are trees which are for the healing of the nations. We no longer spiritualize these words of Revelation, but see them as our duty to the world which God has entrusted to us.

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At 11:27 PM EDT , Blogger Marcus Anderson said...

Andrew, I have to say that this is a great call to heavy action. Almost overwhelming. In the style of CM Majors of TIU I'm interested in a TOOK you might have. :)


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