Friday, March 12, 2010

Calvin the Greenie

"The earth was given to man, with this condition, that he should occupy himself in its cultivation... The custody of the garden was given in charge to Adam, to show that we possess the things which God has committed to our hands, on the condition that, being content with the frugal and moderate use of them, we should take care of what shall remain. Let him who possesses a field, so partake of its yearly fruits, that he may not suffer the ground to be injured by his negligence, but let him endeavor to hand it down to posterity as he received it, or even better cultivated. Let him so feed on its fruits, that he neither dissipates it by luxury, nor permits it to be marred or ruined by neglect. Moreover, that this economy, and this diligence, with respect to those good things which God has given us to enjoy, may flourish among us; let everyone regard himself as the steward of God in all things which he possesses. Then he will neither conduct himself dissolutely, nor corrupt by abuse those things which God requires to be preserved."

- John Calvin on Genesis 2.15 in Commentary on Genesis (1554).

The earth was given to us. And, at the same time, we were given to the earth, to till it and keep it.

A recent study found that one quarter of the earth's arable land has been degraded through soil erosion, salinisation, desertification or nutrient exhaustion.


Anonymous said...

I lecture on the Reformation and always enjoy putting this quote to the class... all of a sudden they realise apparently there is more to Calvin than predestination...

Andrew Chirgwin said...

I am always stunned that people forget that one of the earliest instructions given to Adam is "take care of all that I have made"... and Eve was to be his assistant in that work. Oh and by the way, be fruitful and multiply.

Environmental Care (short of Enviro-ligion) is a good thing for us to do.

byron smith said...

Anonymous - Yes, I love seeing a-ha moments in a class.

Andrew - Indeed, though I sometimes wonder whether our ecological care ought to (in some ways) exceed that which is found in what you've called "enviro-ligion", as I suggested here. That is, treating something as idolatrous is not based on merely the degree of care we display for something. How and why we care, and how this care relates to others are all important too. So I don't think my message to Christians is "care for the creation, but not as much as some do", but would be more like "care deeply, richly, thoughtfully and with thankfulness to the Creator".