'Creation Spirituality' is not a term I have heard before, but it speaks to me loudly and clearly. I have often said that I am more interested in doing what is right for the world, here and now, and that I wasn't going to worry about what came next. However, to try and get my head around the idea that we belong to 'The Priesthood of All Believers' I went back to the story of creation in Genesis, and some dictionary definitions.
In Genesis 1:27 we are told 'God created humankind in his image,' (NRSV). We are part of creation, but set apart at the same time. 'In his image' does not necessary imply we look like God, but we are part of God, and as such we are able to be in relationship with him. Then in Genesis 1:28 we are given a commission:
' Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and
over every living thing that moves upon the earth.'
God has made us his representatives on earth to manage and take care of all creation. As believers and disciples (of Jesus), this is what is expected of us. So how does this relate to the idea of 'priesthood'. A priest can be defined as a person who has been trained, or ordained, to perform religious duties. Note: this is my definition composed from several dictionaries. You could say that God has given us the religious duty to tend and care for creation, and 'ordained' us in our own creation, to fulfil this purpose. Where 'ordained' refers to a person in authority (God) ordering something to be done.
In Genesis 1:26 the bible says 'God said, 'Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness:.....' This verse in it's entirity tells us that our creation and purpose for being were part of God's plan. 'Image' and 'likeness' appear similar in meaning, but in our session materials there is a suggestion that these are different. 'Image' is about identity, and 'likeness' is about how we act. It furthermore suggests that we have failed to emulate God, failed to achive a likeness to Christ, and have not taken good care of creation. I'm sure most, if not all, Christians would agree that this is true. Why we are in this mess is linked to how humankind has used and abused free-will for it's own ends, and not listened and obeyed God. Not something I want to elaborate on here, but I would suggest it all starts with an apple and a snake!
What is important now, is what we do next.
In the video 'The Gospel and the Environment' when they asked Theology students what they thought about the environment and taking care of creation, they responded with 'The environment is important, but it shouldn't distract us from what really matters. What really matters...is sharing the Gospel.' I would argue that both are equally important. If we share the Gospel then hopefully more people will come to faith and want to take better care of creation, but there has to be a world left for them to take care of. Also, we know that already much of the damage we have done may be irreparable, if we don't do something now it may already be too late.
I found myself this week reflecting on the choices we (my family) make, and even wondering if we should be asking 'What would Jesus do?' This is a question that has become a bit of a cliche, but if we are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, perhaps sometimes, if not always, this is a valid question. However, whatever process we use to make decisions, our choices should be informed by our faith, and wherever possible, ensure that they do not result in undue harm to others or creation. Of course, this is an oversimplification. Our circumstances, resources, finances and legal duties, all affect the choices we make. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires industry to apply the principles of BATNEEC when making decisions that might affect the environment. That is: Best Available Technique Not Entailing Excessive Cost. If we define cost not just in monetary terms, it seems to me this could be a principle that we could all use to help us make informed decisions with the best outcomes.
We are struggling as humans aren't we to meet our commitment to God by acting as stewards for the world we live on. This is one of, if not our biggest, challenge in my opinion as Christians, why have we failed so far to do this? But I try to focus on what we can do as individuals, families, church congregations and have hope that each of us can make a small difference which all adds up. It links back into earlier discussions about the role of lay people and how we can all help as disciples in working with others in an area that traditionally the church may not have been seen as a natural leader - that of caring for our environment.
Thank you for the reference Martin. I willl certainly take a look.
Lots of thoughtful ideas in this. Last year I came across the concept of a "safe operating space for humanity" which goes beyond BATNEEC to something that really acknowledges the trade-offs and compromises involved in any set of choices. Article link - https://www.nature.com/articles/461472a