We live in an era in which humankind is having a devastating imapct on the planet and its environmental systems. The signs are everywhere: between 1970 and 2012 the number of animals living on the planet declined by almost 60%; the world's coral reefs are bleaching; the malaria bearing mosquito is appearing in places it was previously unknown; and Pacific islands are submerging beneath rising seas.
Centuries of misplaced Christian thinking about creation have left us ill-prepared for this era. In this short book and accompanying bible study guide you have the opportunity to reframe your thinking about creation in the light of Scripture and to discover afresh how to live as a caretaker of God's good earth.
Chapter 1 asks about God's purpose for creating the world. Over against traditional notions that everything was created for the benefit of humankind, a more careful reading of the creation story shows that the world was created as the temple of God. This gives the earth and its living creatures value independent of their benefit to humankind and calls for us to respect the world as the place of God's presence, and the living creatures of the earth as a source of God's joy and all life as the object of God's love.
Chapter 2 explores God's purpose in creating humankind. We ask what it means to be created in God's image and to rule over the animals and subdue the earth. Over against traditional notions that these verses picture humankind as the master of creation, bending it to our will, we argue that in the biblical framework to rule is to serve. This means God created us to be the caretakers of his planet.
Chapter 3 surveys biblical teaching on salvation, showing that there is a gulf between a biblical way of framing salvation and the way salvation is commonly framed in Western Christianity. For the biblical authors salvation is not the soul leaving the body and earth behind to spend eternity with God in heaven, but God coming to the earth to restore and renew the entire created order. When we work for the renewal of the created order now we witness to God's intention for it and for every human being.
Chapter 4 focuses on the great command to love God and love our neighbour. We demonstrate that in our era this has inescapable ecological dimensions. The human population of the world is now placing such pressure on the planet that we are destroying the ecosystems God loves and that sustain the life of our fellow human beings and future generation of human beings. If we are to love God and love our neighbour we need to revise the way we produce and consume and to do so at a personal level, a political level, and a prayerful level.
A study guide is found at the back of the book and each chapter concludes with an eco-discipline readers can implement.
Scott Higgins is one of Australia's leading Christian thinkers on matters of social justice and public faith. These studies - A Beautiful World - remind us of God's grace in creation. They pull no punches when it comes to outlining the deep scars we are inflicting on God's creation. Ultimately, though, they are an inspiring, practical and hope-filled call to prayerful action to love God and honour His creation and to love our global neighbours in a warming world. Ben Thurley,
National Coordinator, Micah Australia
Are you interested in seeing freshly what the Bible says about the created world, informed by current biblical scholarship? Are you looking for some practical steps that relate to what is happening on earth today? Scott brings the wealth of his experience together to ensure you do both: the Bible is to lead to action, an action is to be consistent with God's purposes. He writes with captivating ease, and you'll be inspired by his use the Bible and story-telling, and challenge to implement eco-disciplines.
Former Principal & Old Testament Research Fellow, Vose Seminary