Friday, July 11, 2008

Taking a Walk Part-2

Picking up where we left off last time

“Creation” implies a sense of value; that what is not only has a beginning but also a purpose. And where there is purpose, there’s meaning. I know that we can arbitrarily and even “scientifically” attribute value to anything we want. We value what helps us or what brings us enjoyment. Environmentalists (not a bad word, really) attribute varying degree of value to various aspects of Creation. They are aware of the issues of integration within the Created Order, but since most of them view this world in Darwinian and Naturalistic terms, they have no proper understanding of Creation (what they term "nature") and therefore have no right to determine value within it. Nature just is…and in good, consistent Darwinian logic, nature will always purge and cleanse itself—maybe even by (natural) Man’s own hands. If human beings, or the spotted owl or the Amazon Rain Forests go by the wayside in some distant (or not too distant) future, so be it. Mars is every bit as “natural” as is the earth in which we live. But Earth, Mars and the entire Cosmos is most definitely not the product of “nature”, but Creation; and Creation has inherent, intrinsic value because of its (Personal) Creator who made it. And He made it good. There's the value.

Only the "environmentalist” (which should be a euphemism for every Biblical Christian) that attributes God’s value to Creation can properly evaluate the problems and offer righteous and significant solutions (for every aspect of creation, including human beings). Only with the proper understanding of the meaning and purpose of Creation can we, as human beings, exist in harmony within the Created Order; and that’s because we are a part of this Creation (remember, we were formed from the dust of the ground). When God said (saw) of His Creation, “It is good”, He said it multiple times before Man was introduced; but then upon the creation of Man and God’s commissioning of Man to fill and care for (subdue) and manage (rule) the earth, God said, “…it is very good”. The goodness of Creation was made very good by the prospect of a righteous, Godly managing of Creation by Man—God’s supreme “creation” who was formed in His own Image.

As Image-Bearers, Man was responsible to exercise his intimate communion with God by expressing his relationship with God through his relationship to Creation. What I mean is this: As a personal Being, God created the universe and all that it contains for the purpose of relationship. He accomplishes this first and foremost through Man who bears His Image. Man enjoyed intimate communion with God as Father and was commissioned by his Father to “multiply, fill, subdue and rule” over the earth and all that it contains. In other words, as those ruling over God’s Kingdom (Creation) in subjection to Him as vice-regents, so-to-speak, Man was given a “…limited authority, privilege and responsibility to care for His creation, to carefully manage it” (Van Dyke, “Redeeming Creation”). Since Creation was "valued" by God as good, we know that every “relationship” within the Created Order was good because every part of Creation functioned properly in relation to itself and everything else. No single aspect of Creation was meant to exist by itself or for itself—including Man!

God has determined that there be a necessary interrelatedness or interdependence (relationship) within the Created Order that must be maintained for the “universal flourishing” of Creation. Steven Bouma-Prediger analyzes this creational-interrelatedness by describing seven of the “laws” that shows us how this world works (and why maintaining the “relationships” within the Created Order are so important). I’ll briefly mention the five of these that speak directly to the issue of interrelatedness. Taking his cue from Muir, Miller and especially Hardin, Prediger states these “laws” as:

1. The Law of Interrelatedness (the first law of ecology)—everything is connected to everything else.
2. The Law of Multiple Effects—we can never do only one thing. Our actions always have consequences.
3. The Law of the Conservation of Matter—there is no “away”. As I mentioned in part 1 of this
post, matter is conserved, it never gets “thrown away”.
4. The Law of the Conservation of Energy (the first law of thermodynamics)—similar to previous law, energy is conserved (it only changes form), though it can and does degrade in usefulness. This is the second law of thermodynamics: in the conversion of energy from one form to another, it becomes less useful; entropy increases.
5. The Law of Limits—the world is finite. There is only so much “natural” resources, which make points 3 & 4 especially important in how we live in this world.

These are "laws" that are obvious to the Christian and non-Christian alike, of course. Christianity doesn't own the corner of truth on how Creation "works". The point is that if we are to properly tend this "Garden-City" that is Creation, if we are to care for it and manage it properly, we need to see Creation as God sees it; we need to value it as God values it. And God values the work of His hands because in it He is glorified; as His Creation functions properly in relation to itself (meaning everything in the Created Order existing in true conformity to itself and its created function so that it relates with integrity, in truth with every other created thing), as this happens, the “goodness” of Creation is displayed and it praises its Creator!

"The Heavens (Created Order) are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals His knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth (for us to hear), their words to the ends of the world (for us to know)." (Psalm 19:1-4a)

Cornelius Plantinga understands this God-ordained, Creational interrelatedness as it exists in truth as the operation of Shalom:

The webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight is what the Hebrew prophets call shalom. We call it peace but it means far more than mere peace of mind or a cease-fire between enemies. In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs ar satisfied and natural gifts
fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights. Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be. (Plantinga, "Engaging God's World")

Plantinga goes on to show us how the Bible speaks of the reversal of the curse in terms of the "natural" relationships within the Created Order becoming "whole" again. Because of the Fall, all of Creation, not just Man, is subject to the curse; relationships have been broken and the world (including Man) struggles to function in its cursed state according to "the way it's supposed to be". Paul tells us that the rest of Creation groans with anxious longing for its own redemption at the revealing of the Sons of God at Christ’s return. The Bible tells us that there will be a restoration of Shalom over the entire Created Order. Tracking the prophets, Plantinga says:

These prophets kept dreaming of a time when God would put things right again. They dreamed of anew age in which human crookedness would be straightened out, rough places made plain. The foolish would be made wise and the wise, humble. They dreamed of a time when the deserts would flower, the mountains would run with wine, weeping would cease and people could go to sleep without weapons on their laps. People would work in peace and work to fruitful effect. Lambs could lie down with lions. All nature would be fruitful, benign, and filled with wonder upon wonder; all humans would be knit together in brotherhood and sisterhood; and all nature and all humans would look to God, walk with God, lean toward God and delight in God. (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. "Not the Way it's Supposed to Be")

As God’s Image-Bearers, commissioned with managing His Garden-City (Earth), we are responsible to God’s Creation: we’re responsible to live in the proper relation to it, in integrity and truth to promote “universal flourishing”. We do this by treating it (including each other since we are a part of Creation!) with the dignity and value that God has given it. Only with this understanding can we rightly understand the magnitude of our influence in the world: how we use (or abuse) this earth and all its creatures and all its “natural” resources. Again, quoting Plantinga (everyone should really read his material!):

In the Kingdom of God, to have dominion is to care for the well-being of others. To have dominion is to act like the mediator of Creation. This means that a human steward of God's good Creation will never exploit or pillage; instead, she will give Creation room to be itself. She will respect it, care for it, empower it. Her goal is to live in healthy interdependence with it. The person who practices good animal husbandry, forest management, and water conservation shows respect for God by showing respect for what God has made. (Plantinga, "Engaging God's Word").

The “naturalist” has no right to value this earth because he has no conception of its value—nature just is! Only the (Biblical) Christian understands the purpose and meaning of the Created Order and therefore, only she can truly appreciate the world and the importance of how we live in it.

Christians should be on the front lines of the battle to preserve and protect God’s “good” Creation. This shouldn’t even be an issue. The Fall doesn’t change our mandate…it only makes it more imperative that we know who we are in Christ and to live accordingly; not by a list of rules of “do this” and “don’t do that”, but according to the truth of our New Creation as it is in Christ. As those who belong to the New Creation, we’re empowered by the Spirit to live out the reality of this New Creation; which means we live in truth and integrity towards God’s Creation—all of it! We know its value…let’s live like we actually do value it! If we don’t, we don’t honor our God and Father who created it!

Now what does all of this have to do mine and Mrs. Googly Moogly’s walk? Other than being initially just being startled, seeing the fox walking down the street reminded me that we can still live in this world, in our cities and with our businesses and culture, in a way that not only doesn’t harm Creation, but can contribute to the “universal flourishing” of Creation. We may have to wait until the New Heavens and New Earth for the consummation of Shalom (in the “summing up of all things in Christ”), but we who are in Christ have the obligation as those who are the “first-fruits” of the restoration of Shalom to live out and promote “shalom” in the this world now. We do this by living out our relationships in and toward this world “…the Way it's Supposed to Be”, in conformity to how God created His world to operate. Living this way not only glorifies our Creator Father by agreeing with Him that it (Creation) is good, but it’s also our most persuasive apologetic for the “hope that lies within us”.

Do we want to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ? Then let’s live our lives toward God and His Creation in Truth. If we do this, people will see that the Creation speaks in agreement with the Scripture:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth,and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them
is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:1-11)

“The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works. All Thy works shall give thanks to Thee, O Lord, and Thy godly ones shall bless Thee. They shall speak of the glory of Thy kingdom and talk of Thy power; to make known to the sons of men Thy mighty acts, and the glory of the majesty of Thy kingdom. Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Thy dominion endures throughout all generations.” (Psalm 145:8-13)

1 comment:

thekingpin68 said...

Journaling For Growth

This link is not working properly, at least here in BC.:)

Happy Sunday!