Looking over the Precipice (Issue 8 – October 05)

Editor: Dr Jonathan Ingleby

I sometimes wonder whether it is the responsibility of us Christians to add urgency to crisis.  One thinks of the Old Testament prophets who refused to delay their doom laden messages (‘yes, King Zedekiah, Jerusalem will fall and the people will go into exile’) and John the Baptist (‘the axe is laid to the root of the tree’) or Jesus himself (‘this generation will not pass away…’).

When we first planned this edition we were spurred on by the potentially good news that the state of the world’s environment was on the G8 agenda at Edinburgh.  The G8 Conference discussions now seem rather remote – a lot of hot air, perhaps – but that does not mean that the issue has gone away.  Since then we have had Katrina and a whole new set of headlines to do with the environment.  Proof, if proof were needed, that this issue must necessarily remain somewhere near the top of the world’s agenda for action.

All of our contributors are clearly convinced of that, but they want to add something more – that we Christians have, or ought to have, something to say about this, indeed that God has something to say about it.  To put it another way, missio dei includes God’s concern for the health of his creation and we are called to join him in this concern.

Our contributors come from an interesting variety of perspectives.  Peter Harris the Director of A Rocha International, simply wants to put theology back into the argument, moving the focus from the human environment to the world as God’s handiwork and then on to Christian mission.  Dave Bookless, also of A Rocha, wants to do the same, but adds fascinating insights into the way that this is being worked out in Southall and India.

A more polemical stance is taken by Simon Steer, Redcliffe’s Principal, who argues cogently for a cosmos centred missiology instead of an anthropocentric one.  Andrew Gwaivangmin, the Executive Director of RURCON, adds an African perspective while majoring on the Biblical theme of stewardship.  Finally, Michael Northcott of the University of Edinburgh, adds what to my mind is the indispensable and too often ignored component of the environmental debate, the justice issue.

This month also sees our second book review, this time by John Hathaway, an Associate Lecturer at Redcliffe.

There is much to think about here and, once the thinking is over, much to act upon.

Article 1:  Caring for Creation:  The new frontier of mission.
(Peter Harris, 1476 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Article 2:  Mission and the Environment in London and India:  A Personal Report and Reflection.
(Rev Dave Bookless, 2478 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Article 3:  Mission to the Whole Creation.
(Rev Dr Simon Steer, 1244 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Article 4:  Stewardship of Creation:  A Christian Motivation in Human Development.
(Andrew Gwaivangmin, 1963 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion
Article 5:  As the garden withers, the desert grows.
(Dr Michael Northcott, 1936 words) PDF -:- Abstract and Discussion

Book Review 1:  For the Beauty of the Earth:  A Christian Vision for Creation Care.
(By Steven Bouma-Prediger; Paternoster Press)

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