This is a post that I wrote last year that I feel has some relevance today. I would love to hear your thoughts on this one!
Over the past months I have been doing some reflection on how Christians have understood the value of the planet and the rest of creation. As I have wrestled with this, Christopher J.H. Wright’s book, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative, engaged this even further. The fresh insight that I received came with understanding that creation care can be Christian mission all on its own, and need not be driven by a human need. For instance, it is often discussed that if we do not do something to prevent global destruction on nature, that future generations will not have a suitable environment to call home. This is a fine motivation to serve the planet, but should not be the primary reason to work for ecology from the perspective of the narrative of God. Rather, ecology is our “first missionary commission” (415). Serving the planet is part of joining the mission of God!
Depending on the tradition in which you grew up, this may be a new and possibly ‘heretical’ thing to say. If what I said above un-nerves you a bit, it is probably because of the view of creation that you grew up with. It seems that we often have been taught that the earth doesn’t have intrinsic value, but rather is a resource that is going to be consumed and destroyed; and the only creation with value is the human family. Consider the following images I threw together that illustrate where creation gets its value:
Wright expresses that the earth must have intrinsic value:
“So the earth has intrinsic value—that is to say, it is valued by God, who is the source of all value. God values the earth because he made it and owns it. It is not enough merely to say that the earth is valuable to us. On the contrary, our own value as human beings begins from the fact that we ourselves are part of the whole creation that God already values and declares to be good…we take our value from the creation of which we are part, not vice versa. The earth does not derive its value from us but from its Creator. Accordingly, we need to be careful to locate an ecological dimension of mission not primarily in the need-supplying value of the earth to us, but in the glory-giving value of the earth to God.” The Mission of God, 399
What are your thoughts on this issue of value? Does the planet have intrinsic value? If so, what are the implications for mission and the whole of the gospel? If not, what do you disagree with Wright on and why?