Corrective Yet Gentle Father's World Compels
- 2008 19 Jun
Author: Edward R. Brown
Title: Our Father’s World: Mobilizing the Church to Care for Creation
Publisher: InterVarsity Press (Green Press Initiative)
Edward R. Brown is the founding director of Care of Creation, Inc., an environmental mission agency dedicated to mobilizing the church around the world to respond to the environmental crisis.
Right. An environmentalist. Granola head. Tree hugger. Californian. Definitely not a Christian. Because Christians don’t need to worry about things like saving the earth. God gave us that to enjoy. Yum, yum, yum. And all we need to do is save souls. Diminishing resources? Well, no worries. Jesus is coming back any day now.
That’s the kind of attitude (paraphrased by this reviewer) that Brown has encountered since launching his mission, but this scholar/lay minister who happens to live in Wisconsin, remains undeterred. He also makes a very compelling argument against this kind of narcissistic theology in Our Father’s World, a book which should be mandatory reading for every believer.
Christians, Brown says, are called not merely to salvation and discipleship but also to stewardship—a command that we have conveniently ignored in our quest for earthly self-fulfillment. We can refuse to look at the facts, but they remain:
- The average American consumes twice as much as
50 years ago.
- The average American house size has doubled since the 1970s.
- The average American creates 4.5 pounds of garbage per day – twice the amount that we did 30 years ago.
- And yet, 99 percent of all the things we buy are not even in use after six months.
The consequences—which are far closer to home than global warming—are devastating. More than 40 percent of our waterways are undrinkable, and 75 percent of global fisheries have been fished beyond capacity. Only four percent of U.S. forests still exist. Only 20 percent of the world’s forests remain. And yet, in the Amazon alone, we chop down 2,000 trees (the equivalent of 7 football fields) every minute.
We’re running out of gas. We’re running out of space. We’re running out of water. In short, we’re using up the oh-so-finite resources God has given us, without any end in sight. And here’s the kicker: we’re still miserable.
The products we work so hard to buy and pay for haven’t brought us satisfaction. To Brown, this is clearly a spiritual problem—not a political one. And unfortunately, the comfortable admonition to “just be responsible consumers” is tantamount to an alcoholic trying to drink responsibly.
“We are consuming what we don’t need and not enjoying it at all,” he says. “We work without satisfaction to pay off debts for things we bought but didn’t need, while millions of others work themselves to death and barely have enough to survive from one day to the next. And creation suffers and groans under the burden of such consumption.”
Because the problem is a spiritual one, so must the solution be, Brown says. Fortunately, we have that solution, in the form of reconciliation to our Creator through Christ Jesus. Once that is accomplished, however, we must then go and be about our Father’s business. How best to do this? Where to begin? Brown provides a road map.
His book, which is full of practical solutions for churches, home groups, and youth groups, could easily serve as a manual for anyone interested in loving that which God loves and blessing that which he created. It’s corrective yet gentle, disturbing yet encouraging. And it’s very compelling reading.
“In God’s wisdom, he seems to have decided that the creatures that caused the curse in the first place—you, me, the human race—should be those charged with the job of reversing its effects,” Brown says. “It is as if he were saying to us, ‘You broke it. I’m going to let you help me fix it.’”
Who will answer that call? Certainly, Brown is doing his part to sound the trumpets with this well-written, inspirational and highly-convicting book.