Francis and creation

Rick Santorum, the American Republican Presidential told the Pope to “leave science to the scientists” due to the publication of Pope Francis’ call for action on man-made climate change in the forthcoming encyclical Laudato Sii. Little did Mr. Santorum know that the Pope holds a Masters in Chemistry!

This made me reflect upon the “marks of mission” established by the Anglican Church. The 5th mark is to “Strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth”. There are many people more competent than I who blog about this subject regularly, for instance Ruth Valerio, but I felt it was important to raise this in our mission thinking.

There is little disagreement within the scientific community–although there are deniers–that climate change is anthropogenic, that is, generated by human activity. If so then as Christians we should be acting on this issue. Here are a few theological reasons

  1. The earth does not belong to us but to God (Psalm 24), to ruin it is spoiling something that is not our.
  2. This earth is a gift from God, to destroy it is not showing God love.
  3. The earth displays God’s glory (Psalm 19), to ruin it blurs God’s glory.
  4. God tells us to develop the earth (Gen 1:27-28) and to care for it (Gen 2:15), not to do so is disobedience.
  5. God became part of the creation in the incarnation (John 1:14) and so values it.

Here are some practical reasons for caring for the earth.

  1. Mission is always in context and the planet is our most obvious context.
  2. The poorest people in the world are most affected by climate change.
  3. If we are to do the third and fourth marks of mission–to respond to human need by loving service and to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation–then caring for creation is a prerequisite.

You probably can think of others. Let’s start a dialogue.