Our Father’s World: Mobilizing the Church to Care for Creation
By Edward R Brown 2006, 2008
It seems a lot of times Christians aren’t interested in environmental issues. It’s like we believe that God made the earth for us, handed it over, and we can do what we like with it. As parents, do we give our kids a puppy and then not care if they take good care of the puppy or not? Of course we care.
Edward Brown is a rare breed: a Christian dedicated to restoring the natural world. In fact, he is the founder of a mission organization called Care of Creation, which is dedicated to pursuing a God-centered response to the environmental crisis.
These days there is a lot of talk about whether or not global warming is ‘real.’ Brown says that is not the heart of the issue. He believes that “even if the (apparently overwhelming) evidence for human-induced climate change turns out to be wrong, God’s creation is still in deep trouble. In fact, many of the thing that I personally am worried about–such as the availability of fresh water–will reach a critical stage before we feel the serious effects of climate change.”
In his book Our Father’s World Brown takes the reader back to the creation story in the first chapters of Genesis. God gave Adam the command to care for the earth, not to trash it for his own means.
Ever set up dominoes in a row, then bump one and watch them all fall? This is like the effect that Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden had on all of creation. Everything was affected. And just like you cannot return the dominoes to standing by starting in the middle, so too can creation only be righted by fixing one wrong at a time, starting from one end and working to the other. The natural culmination is that each person is right with God.
Further, he states: “a positive relationship here is a sign of growth and maturity–and a poor or negative relationship is a warning sign of problems. In fact, how I treat my dog and my lawn and how I dispose of my waste really is a measure of how well God’s redemption is working in my life.”
He talks about four relationships: our relationship with God, then being at peace with ourselves, joining with others in community, then dealing with the mess in the world. He believes that mobilizing the church is getting to the very heart of what the church was designed to do by God.
“In God’s wisdom, He seems to have decided that the creatures who caused the curse in the first place–you and me, the human race–should be those charged with the job of reversing its effects. It is as if he were saying to us, ‘You broke it, I’m going to let you help me fix it.'”
In short, Brown believes that the current ecological crisis is primarily a spiritual problem, and that the only full and real cure for it is for people to acknowledge it as such and correct the four relationships as denoted above.
“Creation damaged by our sin will be restored by our redemption.”
What do you think? Does this concept resonate with you in any way?
This sounds a whole lot closer to how I think than most writing out there, especially the part about dominoes and the effect of sin on the world.
While I don't think we will be able to fix what we have done before "then end" which is written to be made up of a series of multiplied effects, some of which we could never control, I do think we can consciously practice an awareness of how pride and selfishness affects the land and economy around us.
I like your serious attempts to buy local food and have been watching Hanna and Jen's choices also. Some I simply couldn't do at this time without threatening to starve my family, but some I can and I've been gradually increasing that list.
Thanks for the comment, Karen. I don't do 'everything' either. I think awareness and conscious thought is a valid first step. And while I also believe that 'the end' is inevitable, it doesn't mean we shouldn't care or hasten the demise!