“This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears all nature sings,
and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white, declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world, he shines in all that’s fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass; he speaks to me everywhere.
This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! God reigns; let the earth be glad!”
This familiar hymn, the words penned by Maltbie Davenport Babcock, has always been a favorite of mine – in part because of the word pictures it creates. Babcock reminds us that the mark of the Creator can be found in all His creation, and that through creation we can hear His voice. The beauty of a butterfly wing, the untamed wildness of the ocean, and the amazing development of a baby in his mother’s womb all point to God, His infinite creativity and His love for us.
Because creation reflects its Creator, do Christians have a special responsibility to take care of creation? If so, how do Christians “balance” caring for creation while also following the mandate recorded in Matthew 28:19 (NIV), “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”? Or, can creation care be an integral part of that mandate? What message does it send to others who don’t believe in Christ if I don’t treat my Father’s creation with care and concern?
The Cape Town Commitment addresses the issue of creation care with the following opening statement,
“All human beings are to be stewards of the rich abundance of God’s good creation. We are authorized to exercise godly dominion in using it for the sake of human welfare and needs, for example in farming, fishing, mining, energy generation, engineering, construction, trade, medicine. As we do so, we are also commanded to care for the earth and all its creatures, because the earth belongs to God, not to us. We do this for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the creator, owner, sustainer, redeemer and heir of all creation.”
From the Cape Town Commitment – Part 2, Section IIB, 6
Recognizing the importance of this issue, earlier this year The Lausanne Movement appointed Ed Brown, Lausanne Senior Associate for Creation Care (read more).
Ed Brown, Las Newman (Lausanne International Deputy Director for the Caribbean) and a team of international specialists on creation care, are hosting an invitation-only Lausanne Consultation on Creation Care and the Gospel this month in Jamaica. We hope to provide you regular updates from the Consultation through the Lausanne Facebook and Twitter feeds.
I encourage you to read the advance papers that have been prepared for the Consultation participants and to join the discussion on the papers by adding your opinions. Papers address the following topics:
- Impacts of Human Induced Climate Change – John Houghton, John Ray Initiative (UK)
- Natural Disasters: Acts of God or Results of Human Folly? – Prof. Robert White, University of Cambridge (UK)
- The Biblical Basis for Creation Care – Jonathan Moo, Whitworth University (USA)
- Why Should an Evangelist Plant a Tree? – David Bennett, Lausanne Movement (USA)
- Planetary Boundaries and the Green Economy – Paul Cook, Tearfund (UK)
- Do We Need a Special Ethics for the Last Days? – Thomas Schirrmacher (Germany)
Additionally, papers are available on a number of issue-specific presentations that will be held at the Consultation:
- A New Strategy for Hope based on the Inevitable Failure of Climate Change Mitigation – Lowell Bliss & Eden Vigil (USA)
- Theological, scientific and practical issues on Creation care – Frederic Baudin (France)
- Harnessing the media: A tool for environmental awareness. – Darceuil Duncan, University of Trinidad & Tobago
- Creation Care as a Ministry of Reconciliation – Susan Drake Emmerich, Center for Law & Culture (USA)
- The Church and Sustainable Urbanism in Asian Contexts – David Gould (Singapore)
- An Apocalyptic Call to Creation Care – David Knight (Canada)
- Transitioning From Crisis to Community: The Cultivation of Co-inspiration – Claudio Oliver & Sam Ewell (Brazil)
- Masters, Managers or Midwives? Are We Really Responsible for the Environment? – Claudio Oliver & Sam Ewell (Brazil)
- How can we develop positive attitudes to climate change among church youth? Improvisational drama as an effective approach. – Sally Shaw (Australia)
- Christ, Creation Stewardship and Missions – Craig Sorley, Care of Creation Kenya
- Gospel for the Liberation of Creation – Premamitra Anandaraja (India)
- Environmental Justice and the Church’s Preferential Option for the Poor – Barry Wade (Jamaica)
- Evangelism, Integral Mission and Creation Care – Dave Bookless (UK)
How is God calling you to be a better steward of His creation?