The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 24:5, RSV)
Christians have as their head, the one whose spirit moved over the waters of creation. Our God who when in human form owned only the clothes that He stood up in and had, in the words of the hymn, ‘stone as pillow, earth as bed.’ St Thomas Aquinas wrote that, ‘The variety of creation was so that His goodness might be communicated to them, and reflected by them,’ and St Francis words reminding us that we are but a part of God’s creation often appeared ignored as well.
Today the holistic theologies of St Paul, St Francis, Hildegarde of Bingen, Aquinas, Loyola, Benedict and the Celtic saints, based on the creation dimension in Jesus teachings, have been cherry picked in a movement away from the Theology of Creation. Theology, as taught today both in colleges and from the pulpit, is mainly concerned with the redemption of mankind from the present day natural world, with a near fixation upon the world that is to come.
God reminds all Christians of his ownership of creation through the words of Psalm 50. ‘For every animal in the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains and the creatures of the field are mine.’ We are but part of God’s creation and Christians should proclaim God’s Gospel message of love and concern to all of creation by way of their actions, by the way that they care for the work of His hands, because the earth, with everything that is in and on it was designed by, made by and belongs to God.
Isaiah wrote, of the sounds of ‘trees clapping their hands and mountain and hills bursting into song,’ and for many people, religious or not, they actually do, because their greatest spiritual experience is in the woods, forest, hills and mountains. You are most certainly not nearer to God on a mountaintop in a forest or in the hills; it is just that in these situations you can hardly ignore the fact of His all-pervading presence. The wilderness experience of an environment that is untamed and unsullied by man, sings to the glory of the God that created it.
We read in Genesis The Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground,’ humanity is then but a physical part of the Earth and so it obviously follows on that Earth is a part of us, and so the unavoidable fact is that in mankind’s wanton destruction of creation, mankind destroys itself.
There can be no doubt that God gave mankind the authority to rule over the Earth, but then God, in the form of Jesus, showed us the perfect example of how that authority should be exercised. Ignore it or not, (and lets face it, most people ignore it) there can also be no doubt about the scale of the environmental crisis that the world is facing due to mankind’s ignoring of Jesus example in the form of living lightly and of servanthood.
Examples of today’s societies strange order of priorities are not hard to find. One that springs to mind is the fact that while in the third world global warming and rising sea levels are bringing starvation, death and the threat of death to millions of people, millions of pounds have been spent in our country and America in trying to find signs of life on Mars, I wonder what Jesus will say about that?
In the Lord’s Prayer, we have Jesus order of priority. Immediately after the salutations to the God who gave us life, He talks of ‘our daily bread.’ The inescapable fact for the Church to come to terms with is that it is impossible to convert those who due to global warming and environmental degradation are starving to death.