Books and Resources for Creation Care
Mission Round Table Vol. 9 no. 1 (May 2014)
The following includes brief descriptions of some helpful English-language books on creation care.
Bible and Ecology: Rediscovering the Community of Creation
By Richard Bauckham. London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-232-52791-9
The author explores the role of mankind in creation as uniquely called to stewardship and yet part of a “community of creation” that brings glory to God. His careful exegesis and reflections on key texts including Genesis 1–3, 8–9; Job 38–41; Psalms 104 and 148; Romans 8; the Colossians hymn; Mark 4; John 1; Revelation 5; 21–22, etc., lead to a description of seven main aspects of mankind’s stewardship; demonstrate the value to God of all of his creation and the Lordship of Christ over all creation; stress the centrality of God in creation, rather than mankind or the Earth; and explores the basis of our hope in the Kingdom of God as the renewal of creation. Amongst the author’s other writings is a helpful paper, “Ecological Hope in Crisis?” available at http:/www.jri.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/JRI_23_Hope_Bauckham.pdf
The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission
By Christopher J. H. Wright. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010. ISBN 978-0-310- 29112-1
In his earlier book, The Mission of God (2006), the author included a section on “Mission and God’s Earth”. In The Mission of God’s People, he shows how the whole world is the goal, scope, and arena of Christian mission; how the people of God should care for creation as part of their God-given mission; and how this relates to other aspects of mission. These concerns are based on the triangle of relationships between God, humanity, and the earth/land that the author described in his Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, together with their healing and renewal within the new creation.
Eschatology and Ecology: Experiences of the Korean Church
By Paul Hang-Sik Cho. Oxford: Regnum, 2010. ISBN 978-1-870345-75-0
This book is a significant contribution to the exploration of attitudes to creation care, not just in Korea but in other East Asian contexts as well. It gives an overview of the ecological challenges in Korea and their causes, and Christian responses to them. It then describes the eschatological context in Korea and particularly how dispensational premillennialism has been embraced by the Korean church and has led to what the author calls “unecological eschatology”, which he characterises as pessimistic and escapist, and he explains how such thinking owes much to the struggles and trauma associated with the history of modern Korea.
A Christian Approach to the Environment
Edited by Robert Carling. The John Ray Initiative, 2005. ISBN: 0-9550878-0-5
This collection of papers explores four main themes: the relative lack of interest in creation care among evangelical churches, the theology and ethics of the land, New Testament teaching on the environment, and Christian responses to environmental justice issues. The format of combining a proposal with a response by another writer allows for a rich treatment of each theme. An introduction and one of the papers give helpful overviews of the development of biblical creation care thinking over the last fifty years.
Where Mortals Dwell: A Christian View of Place for Today
By Craig G. Bartholomew. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011. ISBN 978-0-8010-3637-8
What is the significance of place for different people groups and communities, and for mission? This book gives a very full overview of place throughout the Bible, and how this has shaped Western Christian thinking about place. It then introduces a Christian view of place for our time, and considers place-making in the city, in the home, in universities, for the church, etc. Place-making in cities is explored more fully in David W. Smith, Seeking a City with Foundations (Leicester: IVP, 2011) and T. J. Gorringe, A Theology of the Built Environment (Cambridge: CUP, 2002).
Environmental Missions: Planting Churches and Trees
By Lowell Bliss. Pasadena, California: William Carey Library, 2013. ISBN 978-0-878-08538-5
The author explains his use of the term “environmental missions” as going beyond ecological conservation to embrace church planting and gospel ministry, and tells the story of how his concern for environmental mission grew out of his church planting ministry in India. He outlines the history of integral mission in India, pioneered by William Carey, and persuasively argues for Christians to respond to ecological challenges in ways that transform both communities and the land that supports them. He explores some of the connections between environmental missions and related topics such as poverty, migration, natural disasters and population growth.
The Earth Is the Lord’s: Reflections on Stewardship in the Asian Context
Edited by Timoteo D. Gener and Adonis Abelard Gorospe. Manila: OMF Literature and Asian Theological Seminary, 2011. ISBN 978-971-009-085-3
This is a collection of papers given at a forum in Manila in February 2009. It sets out the biblical foundations for stewardship, and then applies them to the environment, finances, and government. Issues covered include promoting clean air in Manila, tree planting as part of the transformational development of rural communities, the dynamics of bribery and land appropriation, and a “theology of the garbage bin”. While looking at contexts in the Philippines, these papers have a wider relevance in Southeast Asia and beyond. Papers on related topics were published in Phronesis (the ATS Journal), vol. 16, nos. 1 and 2, in 2009.
Planetwise: Dare to Care for God’s World
By Dave Bookless. Nottingham: IVP, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84474-251-6
The author gives an introduction to biblical teaching on creation care and what is involved in living it out in our discipleship, worship, and mission. He then explores the connection between evangelism and creation care. He is the theological director of A Rocha, an international Christian organization committed to community-based conservation work. A Rocha’s co-founder, Peter Harris, has also written two books, Under the Bright Wings (Hodder & Stoughton Religious, 1993; reprinted by Regent College, 2000) and Kingfisher’s Fire (Monarch, 2008), that tell some of the story of A Rocha and how it has lived out its core values as Christians in conservation, working cross-culturally in communities worldwide. He describes how this work has had transformational results, not just in threatened ecologies, but in bringing people to faith in Christ.
Hope in an Age of Despair: The Gospel and the Future of Life on Earth
By Jonathan Moo and Robert White. Nottingham: IVP, 2013. ISBN 978-1-84474-877-8
This book combines the insights of two professors from very different disciplines: biblical studies and geophysics. It gives a measured overview of the threats to the world’s ecologies and explores distinctively Christian responses to these threats. It explores an eschatology of renewal and encourages joyful hope and a sense of wonder in the midst of the severe ecological challenges that we face.
Greening Paul: Rereading the Apostle in a Time of Ecological Crisis
By David G. Horrell, Cherryl Hunt, and Christopher Southgate. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-160258290-3
This is a very careful and detailed exegesis of Romans 8, Colossians 1, and other key Pauline texts, leading to a formulation of a Pauline ethics that goes beyond the human community to include such concerns as reducing species extinction as an “eschatological task”. A similar approach is adopted for other biblical texts in Exploring Ecological Hermeneutics, edited by Norman C. Habel and Peter Trudinger.
Salvation Means Creation Healed: The Ecology of Sin and Grace
By Howard A. Snyder with Joel Scandrett. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade, 2011. ISBN 978-1-60899-888-3
The authors set out the biblical basis for God’s healing mission that embraces the whole of his creation. They contend that all Christians should care for creation as part of God’s mission for his people. As with other books described above, they explore the connections between different aspects of mission and consider creation care in the light of an eschatology of renewal, with the implications of the church being a “healing community”.
Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire
By Brian J. Walsh and Sylvia C. Keesmaat. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2004. ISBN 978-0-8308-2738-1
The authors present Paul’s letter to the Colossians as including a call to understand and resist the spiritual forces and values of the dominant contemporary power system represented by the Roman Empire. It applies this by critiquing the modern culture of excessive consumerism and its environmental and other impacts, and challenges us to practice an ethic of subversion, of community, of liberation, and of suffering.
The Cape Town Commitment (The Lausanne Movement, 2011). Includes sections entitled, “We love God’s world” and “Christ’s peace for his suffering creation”.
A. Fay Farley,Growing Hopeful Earthkeepers: Training Missionaries in the Care of Creation, Crowther Centre Monograph, 12 (Oxford: CMS, 2009). ISBN 978-085273-101-7.
John Weaver and Margot Hodson, eds. The Place of Environmental Theolog y: A Guide for Seminaries, Colleges and Universities. (Oxford: Whitley Trust and Prague: International Baptist Theological Seminary, 2007). ISBN 80-87006-04-6
Creation Care (Parañaque City, Philippines: Church Strengthening Ministries). One Year Curriculum on Stewardship in five volumes, for ages 4-6, 7-9, 10-12, High School and Adults. Available in English and Tagalog, www.csm-publishing.com.
Calvin B. DeWitt, Earthwise: A Guide to Hopeful Creation Care, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2011). ISBN 978-1-59255-672-4. This provides a very helpful study guide that can be adapted to suit local contexts.
Eco-congregation England and Wales. Practical helps for raising ecological awareness in church congregations run by A Rocha UK. http://ew.ecocongregation.org/
Walter McConnell, “An Explication of Ecological Ethics in the Light of the Biblical Creation Accounts” (PhD diss., Queen’s University of Belfast, 2000).