Thinking About God’s Creation

Thinking About God’s Creation May 16, 2012

Autumn Evening on Eagle Lake, by Courtney Perry

I’m thinking and reading a lot about creation right now, in preparation for year two of the Christian Spirituality Cohort that I have the great joy of leading for Fuller Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry Program. (Another time I’ll write about what a joy it is to be in community with these 10 students.) In year one, Lauren Winner and I led the class through the history and theology of Christian spirituality; next year, Craig Detweiler and I will be teaching about spirituality, film, and fiction.

This year, my co-teacher is Brian McLaren, and we’re taking the cohort into the far north woods of Minnesota, to canoe in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, outfitted by Boundary Waters Experience. Our subject matter will be Christian Spirituality and the Doctrine of Creation.

One of the things I like most about Fuller’s DMin program is the aggressive amount of reading required of the students: 4,500 pages per year. That’s a ton of reading, especially for people who are working full-time jobs in ministry. It takes an enormous amount of discipline, but I have yet to field a single complaint about the amount from a student.

Just to make you jealous, the required reading list is below. I’ve broken the books into three categories, with Moltmann’s creation theology serving as our ur-text. Every one of these books is worth your time.

Moltmann, Jürgen, God in Creation: A New Theology of Creation and the Spirit of God (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1985)

Group A

Baukham, Richard, The Bible and Ecology: Rediscovering the Community of Creation (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2010)

Fretheim, Terence, God and World in the Old Testament: A Relational Theology of Creation (Nashville: Abingdon, 2005)

McClendon, Systematic Theology: Volume Two: Doctrine (chapter 4 only) (Nashville: Abingdon, 1994)

Tanner, Kathryn, God and Creation in Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004)

Watts, Fraser, Creation: Law and Probability (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2008)

Welker, Michael, Creation and Reality (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000)

Group B

Berry, Wendell, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry (Commonplace, 2003)

Bryson, Bill, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (New York: Anchor, 2006)

Leopold, Aldo, Sand County Almanac (New York: Ballantine, 1986)

Muir, John, Journeys in the Wilderness (Edinborough: Birlinn, 2009)

Olson, Sigurd E., The Singing Wilderness (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997)

Thoreau, Henry David, Walden (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009)

McKibben, Bill, Eaarth: Making Life on a Tough New Planet (New York: St. Martin’s, 2011)

Group C

Goodwin, Craig, Year of Plenty: One Suburban Family, Four Rules, and 365 Days of Homegrown Adventure in Pursuit of Christian Living (Minneapolis: Sparkhouse, 2011)

McLaren, Brian, Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008)

McLaren, Brian, Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in Twelve Simple Words (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2011)

The topics that we’ll be considering include God’s ongoing creative activity (creatio continua), and the BWCAW is the perfect setting, I think, to investigate that. The ultimate question — and the one that is guiding my theological life these days — is how involved is God in the world, and how responsive is God to human communication?

This question will form the backbone of my next book, Why Pray?, and it will be the centerpiece of the cohort’s ten days together. What is the intersection of God’s creative activity and human spirituality?

Maybe I’ll come home with some answers…

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