Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Serving the soil for the glory of God

1. God as creator has absolute sovereignty over the environment. We must use it only in accordance with His will; and we shall answer, collectively as well as individually, for all our decisions in this area.

2. Theologically, the primary function of the Creation is to serve as a revelation of God. To spoil the Creation is to disable it from performing this function.

3. In the Judaeo-Christian tradition there is an intimate link between man and the soil. He is taken from the ground; his food is derived from it; he is command to till and to keep it; and he returns to it. This implies a psychological as well as theological bond. Although such facts should not be used to endorse naked territorialism, they do raise the consideration that rape of the environment is rape of the community itself.

4. The precise responsibility of man to his environment is defined very precisely in the Judaeo-Christian tradition.

4.1 Man has to 'keep' it (Genesis 2.15). This is not simply an insistence on conservation. It designates man as guardian and protector of the ground.

4.2 Man is the servant of the ground (Genesis 2.15). This is the usual meaning of the Hebrew word popularly rendered to us as to till. Christian theology has largely failed to recognise this emphasis. Any insistence on the more widely perceived notion of man's dominion (Genesis 1.28) must be balanced by the less familiar but equally important concept of man as servant. [...]

6. Man's relationship with his environment has been disrupted by the Fall. One primary symptom of this is that he is always tempted to allow economic considerations to override ecological ones.
- Donald Macleod, excerpt of testimony to Harris superquarry public inquiry,
quoted in Alastair McIntosh, Soil and Soul (London: Aurum, 2001), 233-34.
This is a brief example of a theological case for our responsibility towards the earth as God's good creation. It is not attempting to be exhaustive and was for a particular polemical purpose, but I thought I'd post it as an example. Thoughts?
Image by Celia Carroll.