Goodnews to all of creation?

Jarrod McKenna’s Wednesday’s with Gandhi:

“When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator. I try to see Him and His Mercies in all these creations. But even the sunsets and sunrises would be mere hindrances if they did not help me to think of Him. Anything, which is a hinderance to the flight of the soul, is a delusion and a snare; even like the body, which often does actually hinder you in the path of salvation.”


How does this quote strike you?

This morning I write this post from under the shade of eucalypts in the Lockridge community garden that us Peace Tree crew have helped birthed with other locals. One of the things that has shaped the Peace Tree is what the Spirit has stirred in us regarding the gospel being good news for all of creation (not just humans) and considering what this means in a society that is seemingly asleep behind the shopping trolley while we hurtle towards creation destruction (for those of us who have trouble connecting the dots… that means self destruction!). The Lockridge Community Garden is an exciting and humble venture in reconciliation, permaculture, food security, the reclaiming of public space, and as Harry (showing of his crazy latin skills and penchant for St. Benedict would say) “ora et labora” (prayer and work). Because it’s a Wednesday there a number of people who are volunteering in the garden, one of which is a friend who is a Buddhist nun. I ran the quote by her for her take:

“I really like it. He seems to be talking about detachment and perception and that what is external can either help or hinder depending on your state of mind.”

What I found so interesting is that I think many Christians, not just liberals, but evangelicals would actually agree with my Buddhist friend. They would use different language (maybe language simular to what Gandhi) uses here to say,

“It’s great but don’t let it (God’s good creation) get in the way of spirituality, or relationship to God, or ‘the gospel’ or ‘eternal salvation’.”

It’s always risky to paint with broad brushstrokes but the quote above reveals something Gandhi’s worldview where he viewed the goal of faith being a spiritual salvation (moksha) form the ‘illusion of this world’ while living lives of loving service. This ‘dualism with an activist twist’ is sadly what many Christians think the gospel is about as well. Somehow today Christians often think that right relationship with each other and with the land is a secondary thought to right relationship to God. For the early Christians it was an integral part of the reconciliation of all things which God has started in Jesus.

Somehow today Christians have walked away from our calling to be image bearers and witnesses to the transformation of creation (the coming of the kingdom). Instead we have become religious vendors of ‘spirituality’ to accompany the foolish and diabolical destruction of creation. Instead of preaching ‘in Jesus the exodus from all domination has started’ we preach a neo-Gnostism of ‘in Jesus the exodus from creation has started’. As my friend Ian Barns recently wrote:

“many Christians believe that God is primarily interested in humans and their eternal salvation, and not in other creatures and ecosystems. Although the doctrine of creation (God made the world and saw that it was good) saves us from being Manichean (matter is bad, spirit is good) nonetheless, Christian worship, practice, and theology and involvement in worldly life is shaped by a practical dualism which makes us generally unconcerned about ecological issues. Moreover, the focus on issues of personal spirituality means that we fit comfortably within the utilitarian approach to the natural world that is part of modern urban and industrial life.”

“For this movement of American evangelicals, issues of abortion, same sex marriage, and stem cell research have been much more important issues than the long term health of the planet. To be sure, in February 2005, 83 prominent US evangelicals published the so-called ‘Evangelical Climate Initiative’, with a ‘Call to Action’ to governments and churches. Yet evangelical leaders such as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Charles Colson and Don Carson actively opposed this initiative.”

And drawing on NT Wright issues this prophetic call:

“if we pay attention to the ‘bigger picture’ gospel that the Bible proclaims, we can see that far from being merely a temporary vehicle for us humans as we make our way to heaven, the creation is integral to God’s salvation purpose. God does not make a good creation, which he then destroys because of the disfiguring effects of human sin. Rather, his eternal purpose is that, as human creatures faithfully reflect God’s image, the created order should enter into the liberty of the children of God (Romans 8). The gospel message is that Jesus, the first born of a renewed humanity, has done what Adam, and humanity ‘ after the sinful flesh’, could not do: be the perfect image of God. Through his obedience unto death, Jesus opens the way for not just humanity, but God’s good creation, to enter into that glorious destiny God always intended.”

Living during this ecological crisis, if we are to have any integrity to the Scriptures, the early Church, and our Lord, we must preach a full gospel that is good news to all of creation. Otherwise “evangelical” will no longer be associated with ‘good news’.

46 thoughts on “Goodnews to all of creation?

  1. Could you please explain what Ian Barns meant by “practical dualism”?

    How would you define a “right relationship with each other”?

  2. “Somehow today Christians often think that right relationship with each other and with the land is a secondary thought to right relationship to God. For the early Christians it was an integral part of the reconciliation of all things which God has started in Jesus.”

    You are going to have to do a mighty work of isogesis to support that.

    Furthermore…you have been quite mischevious to lump in the land and the relationship with each other together. They are not….People have eternal souls…creation is not eternal…as much as we might want Lassie to come bounding up to us in heaven.

    There is no doubt in my mind that creation is a gift from God, and therefore should be treasured, valued…and not exploited or consumed….But you can say that without using your kingdom theology to justify it.

    This verse from Peter is pretty clear

    7By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

  3. Hmm, I’m not so sure Mark.

    Romans 8 talks about the redemption of creation – “set free from its bondage to decay” – as does Revelation, which speaks of a new heaven and a new earth, and no mention of the old one being destroyed. We are not destined for disembodied existence (read any of Paul and you can see he doesn’t go for that spiritual/physical dualism at all) but “different” bodies. It would make no sense for a Jewish person to diss creation – core to Jewish worldview is that creation is good (hence it being repeated after every day of the cration story!) though fallen, and to be redeemed.

    Hence it’s a mistaken assumption that Peter saying that the “heavens and earth are reserved for fire” means that they are to be destroyed – do you really think the heavens are to be destroyed? – there are many other ways to take that passage. Fire is usually about purification rather than destruction. I think we often read these passages through a dualistic lens that says “spiritual=good, physical=bad”, which skews the way we understand it.

    The old evangelical standard of John 3:16 needs to be revived in its fullness – “For God so loved the WORLD” – the kosmos, the whole created order, not merely humanity – “that he gave his only son…”

  4. Yes our bodies will be transformed…as will creation….so therefore….our motivation should be to care for the gift God has given us….

    But its pretty dodgy exegisis to leave out verse 17….that whosoever believes…….mmmmm cant see my weaping mulberry tree making a decision for Christ, nor my Irish Terrier…..

  5. verse 17 is “for God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that through Him it would be saved”

    Perhaps you were talking about the last part of 16, which says that whoever believes shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

    But it sounds like good exegesis to me to assume that those created beings that have self awareness, (made in God’s image) would also have the choice to be a part of God’s restoration. While the rest of the created world would go along for the ride. If Christ truly did reconcile all things, and if the creation groans in earnest expectation of the fulfillment of redemption.


  6. A Word From Paul

    I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

    We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?

    But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

  7. Yeah sorry Mark it wasn’t an attempt at exegesis so much – it was just a flat out quoting, and I ended it there because we all know the rest and I had to stop somewhere (well, didn’t have to, I could’ve quoted the rest of the bible since it’s all good! but it would’ve made the comment rather longer than it needed to be). Whoever believes shall participate in the unlimited life of God! How beautiful.

    Do you think that everything that cannot believe stands condemned? Why would God make a tree, why would Jesus say that God “so clothes the lilies of the field”, if God would only destroy them again?

    Or maybe, like Chesterton says, a tree or flower is faithful to God simply by virtue of being itself.

  8. But stopping there (my bad Rev on v16) was fairly convenient for your argument, humans will be saved..or not saved, because they are responsible before God for the choices they make….Creation, apart from humans, is not condemned…because it is ammoral….it is not made in the image of God, it is not responsible before God…it does not have the resposibility nor the privilege of having a spiritual consciousness. This is pretty basic stuff isn’t it? Or am I missing something here?

  9. Mark it sounds like:

    “It’s great but don’t let it (God’s good creation) get in the way of spirituality, or relationship to God, or ‘the gospel’ or ‘eternal salvation’”. Is where you are comming from?

  10. “People have eternal souls… creation is not eternal…”


    Certainly a lot of people believe that. But it isn’t clear from the Bible. In fact the whole notion of afterlife is pretty thin in the OT, with some possibilities in a few Psalms, an intriguing encounter with dead Samuel, and the hope for resurrection emerging in Isaiah (possibly) and Ezekiel (mostly as a metaphor for national restoration) and then applied literally to human beings in Daniel.

    Psuche (‘soul’ or ‘life’) or pneuma (spirit, attitude) in the NT are not clearly referring to eternally-existing entities. The real hope of Christians is embodiment in a world “filled with the glory of God” through resurrection. what happens between my death and my resurrection is a debatable point upon which no significant doctrine hangs. However, if one places the accent there as a hope of living forever as a ‘spirit’ in ‘heaven’ then—if followed through logically—there can be negative consequences for the Christian mission of making *disciples*. We actually create quite a different faith than the one envisaged by the Messiah of Israel… (despite the fact he graciously counts us as his own)

  11. absolutely not….I think one of the key ways God speaks to us and relates to us is through His Creation…it testified of His greatness..

    but there will come a great transformation when this creation will be changed…including my body…so maybe I am saying to have it in balance and be careful to worship the Creator, not the creation.

    Where do you see the early church, the church of the book of acts….acting in ways to preserve their environment, you actually say creation will be transformed…this will be by God right? Not by Peter Garrat?

  12. Mark, first off Peter Garret is a sell out.

    Secondly, are we not called to live as though the kingdom is here, and now? So in a kingdom world, shouldn’t we live in sustainable ways? Shouldn’t the kingdom people, who believe in God’s good creation, and believe in its infinite value as His artwork, and gift to us, be living in a way that glorifies God with and in His creation? And shouldn’t we do our best to see that this is a contagious reality?


  13. Rev, I agree with both your points…

    But our ‘relationship’ with creation as we now know it is finite….our relationship with God is not.

  14. I am not so sure I agree, I think our relationship with the creation will change, just like our relationship with God will change, but it will still exist.


  15. Some random responses:

    Do I detect some pre/post-millennial differences lurking beneath the surface of this debate?

    I think when John talks about ‘the world’, he means the world system. “If anyone loves the world or anything in the world the love of the father is not in him” (1st John I think). So I’m not sure expanding John 3 to encompass creation is what that section is on about.

    Nor do we need to proof text. It sounds like everyone here is agreed about the need to love God’s creation.

    While life is a matrix – we can’t easily separate the constituent parts and relationships – I think there is a matter of priorities. Kingdom living is holistic, but it seems to me that Jesus and the early believers lived with a keen sense of the not-yet of the Kingdom. There will be a renewal of all things, and while that doesn’t let us off the hook environmentally, we need to be about the business of preparing people for eternity. Caring for creation is part of Kingdom living and a practical necessity in the 21st Centuray. But it’s not our primary purpose.

  16. Alex,

    something I find helpful find helpful re: “world” in the NT:

    The term “Kosmos” in the Bible can refer to:

    1. the good creation of our good Creator (eg. John 1:10ab)

    2. God’s good creation effected by the fall (eg. John 1:10c)

    3. God’s good creation that will be saved (eg. John 12:47b)

    The terms “world” most often used to describe the sinful “systems of Domination” (To get all Winkesk on everyone. I beleive this is so important.

    The early Christians didn’t read James 4:4 as “don’t you know that friendship with creation is hatred towards God.” That would be Gnosticism!!! They read it “don’t you know that friendship with the “Oppression system” (or “Violence infused existence”, or “dehumanising Powers” or “Domination System”) is hatred towards God?”

    As Jesus says, when we live like him we can expect to be hated by creation? NO!!! By God’s grace we are letting the Spirit work through us to witness to the salvation of creation. Jesus says when we live like him we can be expected to be hated by the systems infused with violence and oppression and the individuals blind to their captivity to this system of sin and satan. (John 15:18-19)

    and yes… Peter Garret has broken my heart

  17. G’day Lance,

    “practical dualism” that’s Ian was talking about is the practice of living like (matter is bad, spirit is good) aka ‘it’s all going to burn who cares’ school of thought. It’s a bit like “practical atheism”, living like there is no God. Ian goes on to say,

    “Christians should be taking this issue much more seriously, changing lifestyles, supporting green initiatives in business and commerce, and lobbying governments to radically reduce carbon emissions.”

    As far as right relationship, Lance how would you define right relationship with God? Now if we take the New Testament seriously we have to say that in Christ, that it has started for all of creation.

  18. I think our relationship with creation needs to change now!!! – Luther’s doctrine of creation ‘reduced the whole world of nature to a repository of goods for the service of man’. Max Weber argues it was Protestant theological teachings which legitimated and in part inspired the new practices of usury, private property, the enclosure of the commons and the disenfranchisment of the peasantry in the Rhinelands and in England. Marx states more than religion it was the advent of private property and the developement of the money economy which finally ended the deification of nature and encouraged early modern Christians to abuse the natural world in a way their forbears had not.

    I remind all the possibilities for economic growth on a small planet are not infinite. It’s scary but our modern global econmy is dependant on CONTINUED expansion for survival – most of our income growth will be spent on consumer products the craving for which has yet to be created by advertisers.

    China for example neds to expand it’s economy by at least 7% a year just to absorb workers from the country and defunct state owned industries – such growth maintains civil peace. But a value system that makes endless growth the primary source of social stabilty and spiritual well being will in time be destroyed.

    We are all bound to a web of relationships through which we are cutting the rainforests and trawling the oceans and eroding the soil and polluting the air and poisoning the soil. This web creates wealth but it also brings poverty, to the West it promises life to the Third World it offers death – it is modeled on interactivity and yet it produces individualism.

    Virtues such as justice and prudence will not only make for wiser use of natural resources but also prepare one for the life of heaven.

  19. I agree Mark, very good post.

    I would also like to make a point that all of us very much understand the not yet part of the kingdom. It is my contention that the great majority of Christians are not understanding the now part. We are called to live the kingdom now, regardless of the principalities and powers that seek to subvert our allegiance.


  20. Without going into a thesis – which leaves one open to attack because of simplicity, I dot point Stott in his book Issues Facing Christians Today –

    * God has given us dominion over the earth.

    * Our dominion is a cooperative dominion.

    * Our dominion is delegated and therefore a responsible dominion – it does not belong to us by right.

    Trusteeship includes conservation. A crime against sense and sensibility cannot be defended by the appeal to mere texts – Moule.

    Though I don’t think Lassie will be in heaven – I do know, a righteous man cares for the needs of his animals (Pro 12:10) and the Sabbath rest was to be enjoyed by animals as well as humans (Ex20:10). That creation groans because of the bondage of decay – it’s decay will one day be replaced by glory when it is recreated.

  21. absolutely…

    it will be replaced….transformed….

    so where does that place this statement?

    “Somehow today Christians often think that right relationship with each other and with the land is a secondary thought to right relationship to God. For the early Christians it was an integral part of the reconciliation of all things which God has started in Jesus. ”

    2 problems I see with this

    our relationship with the land is different to our relationship with creation…so dont lump them together….

    I see a great emphasis with the early christians on seeing people reconciled with God…not creation.

  22. Pingback: spirituality of duelism and creation « Peace Interactive

  23. Mark,

    I must admit I’ve had trouble writing a response to your question.

    Not because of the question, but with something I’m struggling with. I need to confess that ever since you wrote off our community on your blog (before the press about me getting the peace award which was only possible because of the support of the Peace Tree) I’ve been guilty in my heart of writing you off as a rigid right-wing fundamentalist, more interested in shooting things down that helping others fly. For this I want to ask you for forgiveness. Such attitudes do nothing to encourage both of us in the ministry of reconciliation to which we have been called.

    I also wanted to ask if we could catch up sometime so I can hear where you are really coming from and that you might be able to hear the same from me.

    In response to your question, this article from one of my heroes might be helpful to understand how these sentences make senses to me (and hopefully some others) in expressing the fullness of the gospel message:

    Regarding my use of the language of “land” rather than “creation”, after years of doing workshops on how the gospel relates to ecological issues (this is in part what I was given the peace award for) I have often found that people often miss what Walter Brueggemann calls the “scandal of particularity”. I find the language of ‘land’ has been helpful for people getting a sense of the ‘how’ of witnessing to cosmological transformation of all things. (Ie. Starting in our backyards 🙂 ). That land is a central motif in Scripture and without getting into a big conversation about how ‘Israel’ is transformed and universalised in Jesus to encompass all of creation, stewardship still starts with that with which we have been given. Growing our own food and sharing it with our sisters and brothers might not be as sexy as joining an environmental lobby group but I think the world might take us more seriously if we (the church) we’re to first embody how the gospel is good news to the rest of creation. This is what the Peace Tree has been wrestling deeply with.

    How sad it is when it’s easier to organise the church to vote green without first living as church in ways that are good news to creation. Here is an article from another friend who we organised to speak in Perth a little while back (Phil Baker loved what he had to say):

    The deeper I’ve got involved in issues of peace, poverty, the end of oil, economics, sustainability, justice, ‘the environment’, I’ve come to see how deeply interrelated these issues are and how the gospel address all of them not with escapism but transformation. So in answering your final question, biblically we are [apart] of creation. The ‘part’ which is responsible for the health of the rest of creation. The early Christians lived pre the Cartesian dualism (which I’ve now run workshops on in ways that make sense to kids aged 10 and without losing the respect of world famous eco-philosophers that have seen my work).

    In short, when you start living the economics of the early church, you start living in right relationship with creation like the early church.

    Please let me know when would be a good time to catch up.

    Grace and peace,


  24. Great comments Jarrod. I was really thrown when Mark E differentiated between “creation” and the “land”. Mark you suggested not “lump them together”.

    What the??? I simply don’t get it. Land, soil, location, environment, fruit, water sources, death, decay, breakdown, humus, nutrients, growth, plants, food, animals, shade, shelter, life, food, death, decay…need I go on? It’s biology…it’s deep spirituality!

    Oh, maybe we have lost the fact that God himself chose to use the very ground that we so quickly destroy, to form us from. Maybe the links between the Hebrew word for soil and man are a hint – cf. Heb. adam “man,” from adamah “ground” and Human/humus as in ground/land/earth. There is no mistake we are connected. When we discover something of this connectedness there is no question of our needing to commit to saving the planet! The land is our origin and the source of our continuing life cycle. Damage land, disrespect land and we damage ourselves and our future.

    Also, the conversation about “having” a soul… That’s new to me. I was always under the impression that we “are souls” (careful how you say that!) not that we “have souls”.

    When we start to suggest that a ‘bit’ of us is soul and a ‘bit’ is flesh and blood I think we get into dangerous dualism, physical and spiritual. And thus we end up having discussions like this about if caring for physical ‘matter’ like our environment, our land is important.

    No wonder we don’t see discussion on environmental issues in the NT, it was a no brainer. The deeply entrenched dualistic attitudes we see prevalent now were not a part of the thinking of Jesus whom saw man as soul.

    God created man from the dust of the earth and breathed his Spirit into him and he became a living being…a SOUL.

    You are SOUL, you don’t have SOUL.

    Couple of very good books on some of this;

    Basic easy, practical non-theological book is Server God Save The Planet by Matthew Sleeth.

    The other is by Wendell Berry which is a collection of essays, is called Sex, Economy Freedom and Community.

  25. Nephesh is the Hebrew Word for Soul

    but it captures the the union of body, mind and Soul. The greeks wanted to split the soul from the body. The body became the prison for the soul.

    Old Testament anthropology affirms the deep union of the physical and the spiritual and hence heaven is a return to Eden, and REST is a return to the “seventh Day” of creation (See Hebrews 4). There is a physical and spiritual restoration in the “New heavens and the new earth”.


  26. Thanks for your thoughtful response Jarrod and I apologise that my post on markedly offended you, and you are right, I should have done the Mat 18 thing.

    I agree than local action is more important than organsing your church to vote green…..

    We grow our own vegetables…mostly because we want our children to understand the connection we have with the land and Gods creation, and our dependence on it.

    My post on our relationhsip with the land vs creation was not clear…it should have been our relationship with the land(including all non human creation) and people are quite distinct. Humans have a soul….animals and the land do not.

    I believe in a transformation of our bodies, and this creation. But as with every subject, we all come with our own bias…which naturally inform how we understand the world. I post on a pastors forum which contains many who do not believe in global warming, and believe that George Bush is as close to the Messiah as you can get. I feel like the leftie greenie on that forum, which I am obviously not.

    I post here because I like Hamo…and surely some balance and discussion is good? even if we are coming at it from different perspectives?

    This may help…what gets me mad….child abuse, divorce, broken families….families where children are being raised without any knowledge of Christ……The environmental issues of this world are important…but not as important as people, families and their relationship with Christ…and nothing will convince me otherwise.

    blessings and peace

  27. Pingback: it was Good » The liberation of the created order

  28. Mark,

    that’s awesome you grow your own veggies!!! I wonder if more senior pastors grew veggies if the church would be in better shape 🙂

    Hamo’s hard not to like and I’m really glad you post your thoughts here adding them to the mix, please keep them coming.

    I wonder how crew on your pastors blog would respond to tomorrow’s ‘Wed with G’? Should be interesting 😉

    Thanks also for sharing what your heart breaks for, when we catch up I’ll like to share a bit of my own story with you and how it relates to your passions. I’d also love to hear about your thoughts on the N.T. Wright article I linked to.

  29. The importance of people is a fantastic reason to care deeply about God’s good creation.

    And in today’s world we can’t love our neighbours (far or near) without caring for the earth that we are all connected to and dependent upon.

    We’re not being ask to chose between air or people. Without air there is no people! 🙂 We’re not being ask to chose between water and people. But without water there are no people. Nor are we being asked to chose between other parts that makes of the ecology we live in that we can’t do without. I really believe to care about the importance of people is to care about the earth with brings forth GOd’s good gifts to give us live.

    I think you might find this interesting. It’s the guy Scotty recommended. If you’re intersted I’ll buy you a copy of the book:

  30. A book that I have found helpful is – The Environment and Christian Ethics, Michael S Northcott (New Studies in Christain Ethics, Stott’s updated ISSUES (2006)has a great section on Global Issues and Sider continues to remind me that ‘I must live more simply that others may simply live’, (Rich christian In An Age Of Hunger)-

    and Mark E I agree – family, friends and their relationship with Christ is important – but as Jared Diamond points out in Collapse – How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive, it makes no sense for us to do these things for our individual children, while simultaneously doing things underminning the world in which our children will be living 50 years from now.

    Our world is presently on a non sustainable course, it is because of love that many choose to act, as Tim Flannery states – future eating ia a universal occupation,

    And her five cities, like five teeming sores

    Each drains her: a vast parasite robber state

    Where second hand Europeans pullulate

    Timidly on the edge of alien shores.

    AD Hope “Australia” 1955.

  31. and Mark E I agree – family, friends and their relationship with Christ is important … makes no sense for us to do these things for our individual children, while simultaneously doing things underminning the world in which our children will be living 50 years from now

    and Mark R…I agree with that, wholeheatedly..that makes a lot of sense.

  32. I so appreciate your words. There are so many simple ways to make a difference in this world. I love the idea of growing own’s veggies and fruits. As a child I grew up entirely on our family’s fruit and vegetables taken directly from our backyard. Nothing could be better!

  33. It’s a nice thought to grow your own food, but if we all went back to subsistence farming, we wouldn’t be in a position to feed people suffering through drought and famine.

    Jesus is indeed good news for all creation. And maybe it’s the political season, but I don’t understand why we frame the areas that we are passionate about as contradictory to one another. Is it really abortion vs. global warming? Is it really exploitation of the environment vs. exploitation of people? Is it really one or another?

    Well, who can live in a way that perfectly addresses every problem in this fallen world? Jesus did. That’s why some of us have chosen to follow him, right?

    We follow a Lord who taught us to be careful of walking so intently to our preferred, called-to activity that we disregard the naked, beaten man lying at the side of the road. I would feel very uncomfortable if I was running so fast to various meetings about global warming that I would ignore the child who is not safe in their mother’s womb, the woman who is in desperate need in a foreign land, the sexually abused and confused, the drug addicted, etc…

    Just an aside, Jesus does seem to challenge our sensibilities. How do people solely devoted to being green feel when Jesus withered the fig tree? How about when he used a whip to drive the moneychangers and their animals out of the temple?

  34. Lance, you make some good points. I think the answer is in celebrating what other churches are doing, but not necesarily doing them ourselves. In my view we have so fractured the church that we are no longer seeing something that J Johns said. “I am part of the biggest movement in the world”. We all are. What does happen though…is that sometimes we are so focused on our particular gift/calling that we fail to see that possible we have pushed it to far in our theological thinking, or are so immersed in it, that we cannot see the good that others are doing in different areas.

    This is why I cant understand why people could possibly vote for the Greens…while on one hand many would say they have got their environmental policies right…they are diametrically opposed to (without wanting to sound all fundry right wingy) Christian family values.

    In that spirit, I celebrate what this church is doing and saying, it is making me reevaluate some of my own thoughts.

  35. Mark,

    One of the Senior Pastors at Riverview talks openly about why he votes for the Greens because he is a Christian. When we catch up I’d be happy to talk about why I’ve changed my position from not voting at all because I didn’t want to be blessing that which I didn’t agree with to now vote for the Greens as the lesser of evils I have chosen (after a lot of research into the policies of the different parties). But as Ammon Henacy would remind us, “When choosing the lesser of two evils many forget they still choose evil”.

    That link Mark was very encouraging thanks. Is this a growing thing?

    Did you see this quote from Bill Hybels recently in the NY Times (thought it was interesting),

    “The quickness to arms, the quickness to invade, I think that caused a kind of desertion of what has been known as the Christian right.”

    On “family”, I think we must make sure that God’s priorities aren’t trumped by the “Christian value of families”. It’s worth asking ourselves if our understanding of “family” are in keeping with the early church (and closed nuclear family isn’t). It’s worth all of us doing a study of “oikos”. And looking at Jesus’ own comment on family are also challenging. 🙂 “Family First” (as a term) was not what was first for the early Church, Jesus was.

    Lance where you serious or kidding about your last questions with the fig and animals in the temple? The fig can only be understood in the prophetic tradition of the Old Testament (not that I was suggesting that you were arguing against an arching theme of the whole bible with one verse taken out of context but it read like that a bit) and the animals where in the temple to be slaughtered! Jesus actions are the first recorded incident of animal liberation. 🙂

    If we care about unborn children we must care about global warming which is the biggest threat to the yet to be born for generations to come. If we haven’t come to terms with that yet we haven’t yet honestly faced the realities of this issue.

  36. I believe my first responsibility as a Christian is to be a father and priest of my family, and to disciple my kids….this is perectly scriptural to me…….but it did not become clear until I had kids. Holding my son for the first time was the single most spiritual moment of my life, and when God spoke to me in an amazing way.

    Seeing good friends go through divorce is when I have most had my heart broken. (apparently God hates it too)

    I appreciate your perspective, and your passion comes through, and while our views might be tempered (iron sharpens iron etc) your passion for the issues you have is most likely given to you by God, my passions by the same person.

    btw Lances comment re fig is very funny 🙂 I can just imagine Bob Brown running in and trying to protect the tree 🙂

  37. (My wife said, “There is a difference between the current unborn and the yet-to-be-conceived. The unborn have flesh, blood, and beating hearts that are growing inside their mother’s womb.”)

    I don’t understand your logic, Jarrod. To say that we disregard the slaughter of children in order to protect future generations is like saying we need to slice off our arm to save our hand.

    And, I’m certainly not saying that we trash the environment in order to stop the slaughter of children. That is absurd. One cause is not contradictory to the other, but your posts and arguments certainly lead me to the conclusion that you think they are contradictory.

    The fig tree prophecies point to a proper understanding of how the environment is affected by our disobedience to God. A right or wrong relationship with God as demonstrated by our right or wrong relationship with each other has direct consequences for all of creation. When we passively or actively support any kind of evil, whether it is lesser or not, and passively or actively support any kind of violence against the innocent, whether sexual abuse, killing children, or bombing etc… it has profound consequences on all of creation.

  38. Lance your last sentence is beautiful. Wonderful! Amen! Amen!! I’m not sure how I’ve communicated that we need only care about one issue but this is not what I mean at all. You know the pain I’ve experienced and lengths I’ve gone to respond to the issue of abortion with the costly grace that reflects the kingdom to both mother and unborn child. Again can I recommend Dr. Glen Stassen from Fuller theological seminary in how to respond to these issues in transformative ways. I really appreciate your integrity with your consistent pro-life stance (not just for the unborn but against the killing of the living as well) and therefore being against all wars. And I realise how hard that must be to hold that position amongst people on the right who strongly disagree with you (sadly even Christians). Please know I’m holding tensions of not fitting the mould because rejecting all forms of violence as well.

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