Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Jesus and climate change IV

Why God cares – it’s his world
Although the media and popular discourse will most commonly speak of the ‘environment’, Christians often prefer to use the term ‘creation’. What springs to mind when you hear this word?

Some people might think of endless debates about creationism vs evolution. Others might think about cosmological theories of the Big Bang and so on. Many, particularly given the topic of this series, will think of the natural environment, or perhaps more negatively of the threat of ecological doom.

But instead, the primary connotation of speaking of the world as 'creation' is that life (human and otherwise) and its entire context in the broadest sense, is a gift: creation is grace! According to Christian thought, God didn't have to make the world; he wasn't filling a hole, responding to a problem or meeting an inner need. Neither was it a struggle, a victory over primordial chaos, or a compromise between competiting forces. No, in pure generosity and love, he stands behind all that exists and says Be.

And this isn't primarily a theory of how everything got started. It's a claim about how things now stand. How does everything now stand, rather than falling in a heap? By the word of God calling them into existence and sustaining all things, holding all things together (Hebrews 1.1-3; Colossians 1.17). This isn't just back then (whenever that might have been is in one sense irrelevant), it's now.

“It should be a rather exhilarating thought that the moment of creation is now – that if, by some unthinkable accident, God’s attention slipped, we wouldn’t be here. It means that within every circumstance, every object, every person, God’s action is going on, a sort of white heat at the centre of everything. [...] It means that each one of us is already in a relationship with God before we’ve ever thought about it. It means that every object or person we encounter is in a relationship with God before they’re in a relationship of any kind with us. And if that doesn’t make us approach the world with reverence and amazement, I don’t know what will.”

- Rowan Williams, Tokens of Trust (2007), 37, 35.

Series: I; II; III; IV; V; VI; VII; VIII; IX; IX(b); X; XI; XII; XIII; XIV; XV.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that Rowan Williams quote. Despite taking most of what he says with a grain of salt, that piece was fantastic.

Sometimes it takes some good old fashioned prose to drum home a known truth. I know the doctrine of God's continual support and upholding of everything that exists. But something in the Rowan's quote brings it home in a new way, and fills me with awe and dread at the sheer BIGNESS of the one we refer to simply as "God".

byron smith said...

Yeah, I love that quote. The size of the grain I take with RW has been diminishing a little over the last couple of months since I've actually read a little more of his stuff. Make sure you check out one speech in particular called Ecology and Economy.