Canadian Mennonite
Volume 10, No. 13
June 26, 2006


Caring for creation

Last year was full of reminders to pay attention to the Earth. There were more Atlantic hurricanes in 2005 than any past year on record, including Katrina, the costliest hurricane to date. There are now higher levels of carbon dioxide and methane (gases that warm the planet) in the atmosphere than at any time in the last 650,000 years. Human activity—largely the industrialized West’s huge use of fossil fuels in energy production and transportation—is the cause. The results are rapidly rising temperatures and overall climate change.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report, created by 1,300 researchers from 95 nations over four years, states that humans have radically altered our ecological environment in the last 50 years—for the worse—and our direction is to keep overdrawing from nature’s bank account. “When we look at the drivers of change affecting ecosystems, we see that, across the board, the drivers are either staying steady or increasing in severity—habitat change, climate change, invasive species, over-exploitation of resources; and pollution, such as nitrogen and phosphorus,” said William Reid, the director of the project.

Theologian John Stott contrasts the “have dominion over” and “subdue” language in Genesis 1 with the language of “to work it and take care of it” in Genesis 2 (see page 5). Christian theology has all too often served as an excuse in the past for our society to plunder God’s good creation.

Jesus often called himself a son of Adam, or literally, a son of the earth. He spent long periods camping and travelling through the wilderness. In his book, Jesus and the Earth, James Jones, the bishop of Liverpool, argues that Jesus did not only come to save us but to redeem creation itself. In Genesis, human sin leaves the Earth itself cursed. But as Paul writes in Colossians 1: “Through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.” That was a new way of looking at it for me.

This is a deeply moral issue for Canadian Mennonites. Those who will be hurt the most by climate change and environmental damage are the poor. Our consumption is killing those who had no part in it. Jesus had much to say on the ethics of that.

Editorial Advisory Group members: I’ve been seeking editorial feedback over the past year from people across the country as particularly tricky subjects have arisen. I recently formalized that process into a larger group for editorial feedback. Here are those involved in the process at this point:

• Eastern Canada: Brice Balmer, Muriel Bechtel, Matthew Isert Bender, Larry Cornies, Mary Lymburner, Lucille Marr, Ester Neufeldt and Kevin Peters Unrau

• Manitoba: Dan Dyck, Aiden Enns, Peter Epp, Sven Eriksson, Paul Krahn, Paul Kroeker, Wally Kroeker and Bernie Wiebe

• Saskatchewan: Marco Funk, Ed Olfert and Bernie Thiessen

• Alberta: Marguerite Jack, Werner De Jong, Doug Klassen, Jim Shantz, Brenda Tiessen-Wiens and Jan Wilhelm

• British Columbia: Gerd Bartel, Angelika Dawson, John W. Goossen, Tim Kuepfer, Henry Neufeld, Samson Lo, Karen H. Thiessen and Phil Wheaton

My thanks to these people for helping us with this additional way to stay closely connected with the life and welfare of our church.

—Tim Miller Dyck

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