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Earthkeeping in the Nineties: Stewardship of Creation [Paperback]

By Loren Wilkinson (Editor)
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Item description for Earthkeeping in the Nineties: Stewardship of Creation by Loren Wilkinson...

Ever since its original publication over a decade ago, Earthkeeping has presented a thought-provoking, biblically based call for responsible stewardship. In view of the continuing environmental crisis worldwide and in light of increased ecological awarene

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Pages   408
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9" Width: 6.16" Height: 0.89"
Weight:   1.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2003
Publisher   Wipf & Stock Publishers
ISBN  159244394X  
ISBN13  9781592443949  

Availability  0 units.

More About Loren Wilkinson

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Wilkinson is Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Regent College.

Loren Wilkinson currently resides in Vancouver.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Stewardship

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Christian Stewardship  Mar 10, 2009
Each year Calvin College assembles a team of scholars to collectively write a treatise addressing some significant contemporary issue. I reviewed one of the volumes, Dancing in the Dark, in another this site reveiew. In 1980, the Calvin team published an outstanding ecological study entitled Earthkeeping. Now the general editor of that work, Loren Wilkinson, has supervised the publication of an updated ("greatly revised and augmented" he claims) version, Earthkeeping in the '90's: Stewardship of Creation (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, c. 1991).
The original volume's subtitle read "natural resources" rather than "creation." Wilkinson stresses the significance of the changed wording, for by using creation "more consistently to describe this vast, dynamic, beautiful, but suffering planet, we hope to contribute to a recovery and deepening of the full biblical doctrine of creation: that heaven and earth are the Lord's, the product of the Creator's ongoing love--a love which calls us, through creation and through Christ, back to our original task in creation, which is to be gardeners of the earth, stewards of what God has entrusted to us" (p. x).
The first of four sections in the book is entitled "The State of the Planet." Needless to say, it's in a sorry state! Unlike other creatures, who seem to live within limits and rarely degrade their habitat, we humans tend to overstep our rightful limits and destroy the very land we live on. Topsoil disappears, fellow creatures are pushed to extinction, population growth seems out-of-control, and energy resources are rapidly consumed. Acid rain, ozone layer depletion, global warming all threaten the integrity of earth's eco¬systems. The picture's not pretty, but it must be viewed; the data's disturbing, but it must be faced!
The second section considers "The Earth Keepers." Classical and Christian attitudes and environmental practices are compared with those which have developed during the past five centuries. The North American environmental story (including the emergence of environmentalism and some of its more radical quasi-religious variations) is summarized. Then contemporary philosophies and practices come under scrutiny. To understand why we're here we must know where we've been--and this section gives the reader a valuable historical perspective, full of philosophical and theological insights. Section three declares "The Earth Is the Lord's." St Bonaventure's declaration sets the tone for this section: "He, therefore who is not illuminated by such great splendor of created things is blind; he who is not awakened by such great clamor is deaf; he who does not praise God because of all these effects is dumb; he who does not note the first principle from such great signs is foolish. Open your eyes, therefore, prick up your spiritual ears, open your lips and apply your heart, that you may see our God in all creatures" (The Mind's Road to God).
Through a careful study of "dominion" passages in the Old Testament, the authors of Earthkeeping in the '90's argue that we enjoy "dominion" over other creatures only insofar as we live out our birthright as men and women created in God's image. The "image of God" should be understood not as some given essence, stamped into our nature like an ancient seal pressed into soft wax. Rather, according to Douglas John Hall, in a careful study entitled Imaging God: Dominion as Stewardship, our "image" is relational: "it describes our unique calling to be in responsible relationship with God, with each other, and with the rest of creation" (p. 285). Consequently, though humans were indeed placed "over" creation they were called to follow God's example in caring for the earth--to "till it and keep it" (Gen. 2:15). After carefully discussing the Hebrew words, the authors declared: "The significant thing about both words is that they describe actions undertaken not primarily for the sake of the doer but for the sake of the object of the action. The kind of tilling which is to be done is a service of the earth. The keeping of the garden is not just for human comfort but is a kind of preservation. Both verbs severely restrict the way the other two verbs--"subdue" and "rule"--are to be applied" (p. 287). Thus dominion, in the authors' opinion, means the same thing as stewardship.
This scholarly treatment of biblical teaching, unfortunately, rarely influences the articles circulated by secular environmentalists. All too many of them continue repeating charges leveled decades ago by Lynn White, Jr., in a challenging article entitled "The Historic Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis," wherein he argued that the biblical injunction to "subdue and rule" the earth led Christians to abuse creation. While White accurately accused many Christians of ruthlessly trampled over the globe, his sweeping generalizations regarding biblical teaching simply do not withstand scrutiny. The authors of Earthkeeping, devoutly attentive to the meaning of Scripture, working with the original language, help us understand what the Bible really says about our rightful relationship with creation.
To serve God as His stewards, tenderly caring for all He created, is our highest calling. Our uniqueness as humans, the thing that makes us fully human, stems from our relationship with the Creator God. Knowing Him, loving Him, leads us to serve Him. Since He obviously created a world which is His, not ours, and since He considers it "good," we're called to serve Him as stewards of His world. Were we to do so, we would serve our Lord Jesus, the living Word who indwells all He created. Rightly doing this, we will help effect righteousness and peace in our world. This is a fine work. I know of no better thoroughly Christian environmental treatise. Trustworthy in its data, persuasive in its argumentation, readable in its presentation, it deserves widespread study and discussion.


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