Great video from the Christian conservation charity A Rocha. It's a few years old (2006), but still has an excellent set of questions and an excellent line-up of contributors (two of whom are sadly no longer with us). See below for the video itself, or here's a summary:
First, John Stott (evangelical leader extraordinaire) commends the work of A Rocha. Then some questions are addressed...
Why should Christians care for creation?
- Alister McGrath (theologian extraordinaire): The world belongs to God, and has been entrusted to us by him, for us to care for it and to pass it on to those who follow us. "If God made the world, then it's something he cares for. ... If we love God, we must love what God has made. And that means other people, but it also means this environment in which we live right now."
- James Jones (Bishop of Liverpool): "Anybody who ever prays the Lord's Prayer and says to God, 'Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven,' has to be concerned about their environment. That prayer is about the 'earthing' of heaven. ... We should be as concerned as God is for his creation."
- John Stott: "Dominion" does not mean a licence to destroy: it is absurd to think that God first created the earth and then gave us an instruction to destroy it. We should care for creation as God does, exercising responsible stewardship. "Christians should be in the vanguard of those who are seeking to arrest climate change, and seeking also to protect habitats where wildlife lives." We share in God's care for the environment.
Isn't "Mission" all about evangelism and saving souls, rather than saving the earth?
- Alister McGrath: (1) The gospel is about conversion of us as people, but that means a changed lifestyle, and a changed attitude towards God and towards the world in which we live. Part of our discipleship as Christians is right behaviour towards the environment. (2) Caring for creation is an act of witness. "Every time we care for the creation we are proclaiming the Creator to the world."
- Rob Frost (Christian evangelist): "To be a true Christian in this day and age you need to be committed to saving the planet." God has made us stewards of all that he has made. When people see the transformation Christian organisations such as A Rocha are bringing about, they ask why, and begin to discover that "our ecology is based in our gospel". The link between ecology and mission is very strong.
With so many pressing needs such as poverty and AIDS, isn't creation care a luxury?
- Vinoth Ramachandra (Christian lecturer and author): War, poverty and ecological degradation often go hand in hand. We have to deal with them together.
- Stella Simiyu (conservationist): The rural poor depend directly on natural resources. We must invest in the environment, for the sake of the poor.
How serious is the environmental crisis?
- Ghillean Prance (ecologist extraordinaire): Really serious. As well as changes in patterns of migration of birds and flowering of plants, there are huge extinctions of animals and all over the world, and exceptional climate conditions are happening, just as predicted by the climate change modellers.
- Simon Stuart (conservationist): "The world is certainly facing the worst environmental crisis there ever has been." Huge numbers of species are facing extinction. There is increased pollution. We are moving into uncharted territory. It's an experiment that we should never have been conducting.
Isn't the world going to be 'destroyed' anyway? Why bother?
- Vinoth Ramachandra: The whole Bible is one story, from creation to new creation. "The new creation is the old creation renewed, restored, transformed, so that every part of this creation is now filled with the presence of God. And that's the goal to which God is taking human history. So he calls us as his redeemed people to live today as if the future is already present, to live as signs of that future kingdom, which is the restoration of all things. And because that restoration includes the non-human creation as well as the human creation, our care for the non-human creation is a sign of God's coming kingdom, and in that way we are witnessing to the Lord of all creation."
How does this theology shape the work of A Rocha?
- Ghillean Prance: Christians who practise conservation do so because they believe there is a Creator, and that they should combine their faith with positive action.
- Simon Stuart: "Christian theology is based on the premise that Jesus Christ reconciles all ... things to God. ... Human beings, cooperating with Christ, can be agents in the restoration of nature—of that nature that we humans have messed up."