Quote To Ponder: Missionaries to the Creation? Chris Wright

Below is a quotation from evangelical Christopher J.H. Wright (who I am told is taking up the mantle of John Stott in the UK) in The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative. This was a challenging book that gave me a larger framework for understanding what it means to be a missional Christian. For a long time, I have been convinced that ecology should matter to Christ-followers. But when I read our “quote to ponder” for the first time, it truly pushed how far I was willing to take my theology of ‘going green.’ According to Wright, in our message and movement of reflecting the good news in mission; serving creation is a type of missionary endeavor (not to downplay the importance of our mission to humanity who need to know the restorative love of Jesus).

What are your thoughts on this quote? Do you think that creation care is a form of Christian missions or is this an ‘ethics’ issue? Are you ready to become a “missionary to creation?”

Holistic mission, then, is not truly holistic if it includes only human beings (even if it includes them holistically!) and excludes the rest of the creation for whose reconciliation Christ shed his blood (Col 1:20). Those Christians show they have responded to God’s call to serve him through serving his nonhuman creatures in ecological projects are engaged in a specialized form of mission that has its rightful place within the broad framework of all that God’s mission has as its goal. [Chris Wright, the Mission of God, 416]

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  • It seems to me that we don’t necessarily need to compartmentalize our mission to humanity and our mission to the rest of creation. What we do for ecology is generally good for humanity, and what we do for humanity (fair trade agriculture, sustainable farming practices, etc.) is generally good for ecology. The trouble is that so much of our global economy is dependent on harmful ecological practices, and while we want to remedy that, we run the risk of causing severe economic hardship to the lower classes the world over. I’m not sure what the answer is, but since God pronounced humans “very good” and the rest of the created order “good,” when the two are at odds, we have to put humans first. But I still think the church has the ability and the ingenuity to find ways to move forward that benefits all of creation.

    (Seeing all of creation as part of our mission is a new thought to me. Just got done reading “Surprised by Hope” by N.T. Wright, and he addresses that as well.)

    • Good thoughts EA! I have often had similar questions about how our capitalistic practices that hurt creation have made those in poverty able to have easier access to goods. At the same time, if trade were truly ‘fair’ across the board, i wonder how much this would remedy this tension in the long run… thanks!

  • Amen, Kurt. This book is a must read which I haven’t yet read! So I intend to in the next few months.

    I do hope this comment goes through, as I think it was on your blog not long ago that I tried to send a comment which didn’t take.

    And thanks for your good comments both on my blog, and over at “Jesus Creed” today, in Scot’s last post on the new N.T. Wright book.

    • Ted, sorry that the comments weren’t coming through. I had one other person complain about that…it must have been down or had a glitch for a day or two 🙂
      I highly recommend the book to you… it is a bit long, but well worth the effort to get through!
      Also, thanks for your kind words about comments 🙂

  • Just the human mission is overwhelming to me. The book “Spiral Dynamics” would agree with the ecological mission. I would agree that we have an obligation to take care of the earth and all the ‘non-humans’…if not for us, for the generations to come.

  • thanks Dusty for you thoughts! I will check out the book you mentioned!