I originally made this post for a Facebook group. So some of it is geared towards the experiences there.
Why Restorative Theology matters pt1.
Why the scriptures tells us to be good stewards and the typical counter arguments by those who say it’s not important.
Based off of a previous discussion I am going to do a series of posts on why I think Restorative Theology needs to be highlighted more within modern Christianity. We can look at the earth right now ne see why stewardship is important. We can see how it’s affecting wildlife and us. We see giant texas size islands of trash in the ocean, and we see global climate change causing droughts, more storms and melting ice caps depending on where you are. We see a lot of animals and plants going extinct. In some places you can barely see stars due to light pollution and in others you can’t even swim in rivers or drink the water because of the pollutants including high level of pesticides and other chemicals in the water.
The reason why it should matter to Christian’s is because of the Bible itself. To begin in genesis God tells Adam to be a steward of the garden. God did not make a self maintaining paradise but one that required mankind to work the land and care for it. That same job has been extended to all of us throughout the world. We never see God tell us to stop caring for nature. After all nature is a testament to God.
New American Standard Bible
The Whole Creation Invoked to Praise the Lord.
148 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
2 Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His heavenly armies!
3 Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all stars of light!
4 Praise Him, highest heavens,
And the waters that are above the heavens!
5 They are to praise the name of the Lord,
For He commanded and they were created.
6 He has also established them forever and ever;
He has made a decree, and it will not pass away.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
Sea monsters, and all the ocean depths;
8 Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;
9 Mountains and all hills;
Fruit trees and all cedars;
10 Animals and all cattle;
Crawling things and winged fowl;
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples;
Rulers and all judges of the earth;
12 Both young men and virgins;
Old men and children.
13 They are to praise the name of the Lord,
For His name alone is exalted;
His majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 And He has lifted up a horn for His people,
Praise for all His godly ones,
For the sons of Israel, a people near to Him.
Praise the Lord!
All of nature, along with us, praises God. We won’t to help them praise Yahweh and not contribute to silencing them. We know Jesus cared very much for nature. Before starting his ministry he went into the wilderness with the wild animals where after facing off with Satan he was comforted by angels. Jesus was referred to as the tree of life and came from Nazareth, the place of the sticks. Jesus told his disciples and followers to meditate on wildlife ( flowers and birds ) and consider them. Proverbs is full of praises for ants. We see nature being upheld in honor by God and Jesus throughout the Bible. It’s only relatively recent that modern Christians begin to move away from biblical stewardship to a more secular disregard for it. There are a few reasons for this .
- A big part actually goes back to a persons interpretation of genesis. There is a decent portion , around 40-49%, of American Christians that reject evolution. They reject evolution because of a generational fear of science because they wrongly believe that evolution is synonymous with atheism. They believe this because of their fundamentalistic and literalist approach to genesis 1-2. Since they believe in a literal six day creation event they reject science that states otherwise. This means they surround themselves with the 0.1% of scientists who rejects the scientific consensus and teach outright lies and pseudoscientific beliefs. This is compounded by the fact that it breed a general disbelief and mistrust in scientists. So they are far less likely to read articles found in science journals such as Nature means they tend to be less familiar with things about ecology, biodiversity and natural systems. That’s why they are often confused by basic science articles. They were raised up in a bubble of anti intellectualism.
In addition to scientific mistrust they are often coming from a place of privilege. This is important because the Bible repeatedly tells us to care for the marginalized. We are to care for those nations throughout the world we bring the gospel to. We are to care about the immigrants within our nation, regardless of how they ended up in our nation, and we are to be concerned about the widows, kids, sick, oppressed and poor. Just because we are privileged does not mean everyone is. So global temperatures in my area climbing may be inconvenient for me because my AC unit has to work harder and I have to turn my irrigation system on more for my plants but it does not affect me like it does a small village in a third world nation facing increased drought periods. The prices of fruits and coffee going up does not affect me as much as a entire village that depends on growing coffee beans not having enough water to keep the trees alive and have to find out how to make it work as a crop instead of managing a foraged forest to keep up with our wants. So they lose forests to turn them into crops. Often these crops are not even for us to consume but to feed the livestock we consume. We struggle with obesity while they debate which child has the best chance at surviving. But as a privileged people , regardless if it’s by nation, class or race, with some marking off multiple boxes, it’s easy for us to not worry about that marginalized person in a cheap house falling apart of that village in a third world nation. But if we were to practice better stewardship and care about wildlife and other people we could help eliminate and weaken these injustices against those with little to no control.
The last reason I’ll touch up on is the false battleground belief. That’s where they believe as a Christian we have just this or that main goal and all other goals are so unimportant that they essentially don’t matter. A common one is that our primary goal is to preach the gospel to the lost. But that’s not true. Our primary laws that sums up the entire teachings is to love God and to love our neighbor. To love God means to submit to his will and that’s more than just preaching. This includes being good citizens, being good neighbors, being good parents, kids and friends. We are called to be good stewards. We love our neighbors more than just them accepting the gospel. We feed, clothe and help keep their holes stabilized. We don’t have a right to say we don’t care about your land as long as we are comfortable. That’s anti Christian. So there is no more of a battle between carrying out the great commission and being a good friend then there is to be biblical stewards of the earth. One of the most common beliefs for this disdain for the unimportance of stewardship is also tied to misunderstandings about what we are. Many will say, this is not our home we are citizens of heaven, but we are actually citizens not of the world ( secular paradigms ) but part of the body of believers, the kingdom of God. The kingdom of heaven is not this mystical kingdom in the sky. After all Revelation says that heaven overlaps with earth. The Holy Jerusalem comes down to earth. We are earthlings. All of creation gets restored. We read of the new earth in scriptures. Nothing claims we ever abandon this creation. Another reason that ties into this is the belief that God does it all. But since when? Even in genesis we know God expected Adam to do his part. So many disregard environmentalism and stewardship , and the plight of wildlife and the marginalized because they believe Jesus is coming back and changing it all. They have this modern “ left behind” and “rapture” understanding of theology. They ignore many places in the Bible such as
New International Version
New Heavens and a New Earth
17 “See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
19 I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.
20 “Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.
21 They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
the work of their hands.
23 They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,
they and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.
The Bible here mentions the new heaven and earth having kids, old men living , and dying, at ripe old ages and of us working the land but not in vain. We can’t just ignore these when considering what’s spoken by Jesus about the end times. It’s not two beliefs at war but rather something tuning us into the complexities involved and how we don’t just have all the answers and therefore we can’t just sit back and ignore our command to be stewards of the land.
So this first part is about why we know as Christian’s that we have to be stewards. We can’t just not care. At least not if we want to love God and love our neighbors and reflect on nature like Jesus advised us to. In following posts I’ll dive into how we can be stewards and why these are important as well.