A slightly different version of this review will be published in the journal Churchman.
Fundamentally, this book is a challenge for church leaders and preachers to have God’s heart for creation. I open this review with a quotation from near the end of the book, “Biblical wisdom requires attentiveness both to Scripture and to the realities of God’s creation if we are to care well for the earth and live out our vocation as God’s image bearers”. Broadly speaking, this is a helpful and accurate summary of this book. Moo and Moo engage in a wide-ranging and sensitive study of the full canon of Scripture, pondering the implications and meaning of a swathe of Biblical injunctions that challenge careful readers regarding what it means to care for Creation. Moo and Moo – well-known New Testament scholar Douglas and his son Jonathan – carefully consider what the Bible as a whole says about creation, with particular relevance to what this means for followers of Jesus seeking to be truly human in God’s creation.
After carefully gathering and probing the question that need to be ask, the authors and editors of this book take seriously the themes of creation and creation care that run through the Bible. Noting and commenting on issues of human activity, God’s action, and the eschatological trajectory of God’s creation, the authors point toward the text of the Bible as giving us more than we might imagine to consider the charge and direction of caring for creation. In the meaty mid-section of the book, Moo and Moo invite us to consider seriously what each book of the Bible says about creation – with an eye firmly fixed through the lens of a theology of the kingdom of God – and what will happen to it in the light of Christ and the Gospel. This is a carefully and optimistically eschatologically-oriented book.
Overall, then, this is a book that invites us – whether we lead a small local church, write an under-read blog, or are toiling away in study (to name just three situations of God’s people) – to consider what it might mean to take seriously the biblical injunction to care for creation. The authors are well read and well engaged in the wider discourse of genuinely evangelical biblical theology – they invite us, with J. B. Phillips in mind, to consider that “your redemption is too small!”. Noting the that the Gospel is God’s sovereign action to save people through Christ into the new creation by the recreating power of the Holy Spirit, Moo and Moo invite us into a new way of seeing.
Ultimately, this book goes beyond mere contextual theology (throughout, the authors are keen and careful to note what is happening in the world around us, and link what they are saying to real issues) and points us towards the impending and arriving Kingdom of God. As they say, “while recognising the inevitable subjectivity and differences in moving from theology to ethics… we nonetheless think the Christ faith provides resources to help”. This posture underpins and guides the book – inviting the reader to reconsider a range of ministries (preaching and discipleship figuring throughout) with an invitation into all the knowledge that God gives his people.
Overall, then, this is a helpful work of biblical theology. Taking seriously the words and intent of scripture, this is a book that brings together theological and exegetical methods to point towards a pattern of behaviour for all those who seek to live biblically. For this reviewer, it is an encouragement in the minor inconvenience of sorting rubbish, as well as a challenge to consider how to apply these deep biblical principles into my teaching and writing. Moo and Moo demonstrate, by careful interpretation and prophetic writing, the necessity and importance of taking seriously God’s good acts in creation, and the theological implications therein.