I thought I had a big essay due in today, but I got my dates totally mixed up and in fact I had a smaller assessment due in.  The assessment was to write a ‘Personal Theology of Care of Creation’ in 500 words.  I actually enjoyed doing this, I liked thinking it through and deciphering what I considered essential enough to be apart of a statement of my personal theology.   Because I had only limited time to do this in (my fault) it feels a little bit like a work in progress, but I think all theology (or understanding thereof) is a work in progress to some degree or another.  So this is it…

We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.

He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.   

 (Colossians 1: 15-20, The Message) 


Personal Theology of Care of Creation

I recognise and acknowledge God as the Creator. God has a constant and intimate involvement with the earth (Psalm 104).  God has concern for all creation and has made a lasting covenant with the whole earth (Gen. 9:9-17). God loves the world (John 3:16-17).

All living creatures have inherent value for they have been created by God.

My concern for the environment is founded on my relationship with God the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer of the earth and His mandate to humanity to care for creation (Gen 2:15; Psalm 24:1-2).

I believe that a biblical understanding of care of creation leads to an active involvement regarding environmental concerns.

Sin has damaged not only the relationship between humanity and non-human creation, but has injured creation itself (Romans 8:19-23).

The bible describes God’s plan of salvation to include the whole of creation, not humanity alone.  Christ will return to restore the whole of creation to God (Col 1:20).  Salvation includes the social, political, economic and ecological state of the earth. 

Through the Holy Spirit we are ambassadors of Christ’s redemption to all of creation.

Care of creation has its foundation in soteriology, which clearly proclaims Christs cosmic salvation work on the cross.

Considering the Scriptures, I believe that Christ’s universal work of redemption affirms that any care of creation activity has salvation consequences. 

I believe humanity is the imago Dei and therefore God’s ‘vice-regents’ on earth to care and nurture the earth as God does (Gen. 1:27).

I believe stewardship is the responsibility to care for the world wisely and conscientiously (Gen 1:26-30). Stewardship is a response to the biblical mandate to care for, cultivate and govern the earth on behalf of God.   

Humanity is not the pivotal focus of creation: God the Creator is.  All creation, including humanity, is called to worship the Creator (Psalm 148). 

The current environmental crisis suggests that Christianity has neglected their stewardship role, partly due to an anthropocentric reading of the Scriptures and understanding of salvation.  We have wrongfully assumed that creation exists for our own consumption rather than for God’s glory.

I believe Christians must repent of neglecting our biblical mandate to care for the earth.

I believe that Christian mission must declare and acknowledge God’s cosmic salvation purposes. 

We must care about environmental issues because we are called to love our neighbours and to protect and care for the poor and oppressed (Matt. 7:12, Matt. 22:34-40, Matt. 25:31-46).

I believe in proactively supporting fair-trade and environmental sustainable products and resources. 

I believe in using my ‘vote’ to influence governing bodies to address poverty and injustice, and to implement environmentally sustainable policies.

I believe that reconciliation is central to the call of the church and this must include the relationship of humanity with the non-human creation.

Care of creation must become central to Christian identity and experience, and ecclesial practise.

The current environmental crisis may require local church’s to change the manner and content of their salvation stories to include the biblical mandate to care for the earth.  Christians have a mission to the earth. 

The church must move away from consumerism and be an example of sustainability and environmental concern.


4 responses to “oops

  • Geoff

    I like it Catherine, and I think that in lots of ways your theological statement here is an echo of a greater switch in the way that lots of churches and theologians think about the environment (and certainly in the AMOUNT that we think about the environment. Chuck Colson recently endorsed a pro-green book, so the landscape has changed.

    Here’s my thing though: I’m interested in exactly how this plays out. Because all of these things quickly become not so much about “do we care about the environment y/n?” but instead about “how much do we give up to care about the environment?”. How do you let a theological statement like this effect your choices, without pushing things to the point of extremism at one end, and no practical implication at the other. When everyone accepts that we need to look after creation – the big question becomes how much?

    • catjohnstone

      I think that is the crux of the issue Geoff – for Western Christians – how do we live a life of ‘care of creation’ while still living in the context we are in? We are the by-products of consumerism, materialism and individualism. For me it comes down to choices (one of the beauty’s of our context). Where and what food I buy, who my energy provider is, who my superannuation is with, buying fair-trade coffee, planting a veggie garden, using cloth nappies…the list goes on.
      Interesting that you phrase it in terms of ‘how much do we give up’…my question is, ‘how much have we taken that wasn’t ours to take?’
      It is confronting. But I don’t think it is about deprivation, I think it’s about balance and appreciating the reality of God’s created order above our own needs/wants. And I also think a little extremism is not a bad thing! Especially if it pushes some of these ideas out into the mainstream. It would not be such a bad thing to hear more Christian grappling with some of these issues. How many church’s are still not using fair-trade coffee?
      What do you think? Where do see the balance lying in terms of care of creation? Would love to hear more of your thoughts.

      • Geoff

        I think that the “how much do we give up?” comment was a recognition that in lots of ways I’m entrenched in an unsustainable lifestyle – so the choice has very much become a case of “This is where I am – how much of this picture am I willing to give up to make myself more sustainable”. The really scary part is I didn’t really even realise I was doing that. And the bigger challenge is to engage in more than just a “green-washing” exercise: to change the heart rather than just changing the appearance.

        I know that the balance must look a lot more radical than it does in my life. We’ve made some deliberate choices: only having one car and using public transport where we can has been a valuable starting point – as well as trying to make better purchasing decisions, but I know that lots of that has been more about dissuading guilt than participating in anything more positive.

        So there you are – no answers, only flagellation. 😛

  • notes « measured words

    […] Finished by looking at my ‘Personal Theology of Care of Creation’ that I had to write for a class last semester which can be found here https://measuredwords2.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/oops/. […]

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