Creation care is for all Christians
Views 16 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 1 - 30 - 2019 | By: Nathan Tudor
Christians disagree about environmentalism--a lot. Some Christians fear that nature is being deified, that creation is being treated with reverence due to the Creator alone. On the other hand, there are Christians convinced we have an ethical obligation to care for creation--a responsibility given by the Creator.
I argue that common ground for Christian stewardship of nature is found in both the theology of creation and eschatology.
I’m basing my argument for a common Christian position in two of the most furiously debated areas of theology, because whether you take Genesis 1-3 literally or allegorically, you believe that God created the universe. Likewise whether you read Revelation as literal or allegorical, you anticipate the realization of the New Creation, when all is perfect.
Essential to creational theology is the idea that what God creates is good. It’s corrupted now, but, as St. Augustine famously reasoned, for something to be corrupted, it must still have existence, and therefore there is still goodness in it, since what exists gets its being from God.
Do we have an obligation to tend to the good or not?
God doesn’t really give us a choice. Genesis 1:26-31 paints a fascinating picture of humanity’s creation in God’s image, and the charging of humanity to “have dominion,” to “fill the earth and subdue it.” Those might sound like harsh words, but remember, Jesus Christ is the King of the Cosmos. How does the dominion of Jesus look? It looks like care, like justice; it is the New Creation we so desperately seek.
And how does the New Creation come about? Some who oppose my position may argue that 2 Peter 3:10 describes the world dissolving in fire (though this varies slightly depending on which ancient manuscript you follow), and therefore whatever is done to this world will be irrelevant.
However, I think Jesus must be our theological compass. Jesus is the “firstfruits” of the New Creation; when we look at Jesus, we see how the general Resurrection will work at the End.
Jesus looks different, but he’s still the one who was pierced--he still has his scars. We will still be ourselves, yet “changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51), as a seed dies and changes into a tree. There is continuity of identity, so it matters how we live in this life. Likewise, New Creation will still be creation. But then, “creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
Is this a creation thrown in the trash and replaced? Certainly not--it is a universe finally freed from the corruption inflicted when humanity fell. It is eager (Paul’s personification--not mine!) for the New to come. So, it is our duty as stewards to care for what God gave us, because Jesus says the King will check up on how his employees have managed things in his absence. Will he judge us as responsible stewards of the beautiful world he gave us, or will we be found wanting?