The series editor’s introduction to this little book contains two helpful things – first, “Christian have often failed to discern the difference between our own cultural values and those that are demanded by Scripture“, and second that in order to think well and think Christian-ly about something, “we hold our questions up to the big story of the Bible: the story of creation, fall, redemption and eternity“. That’s what Dave Gobbett does so well in this little book, which I recieved a review copy of from the publisher, The Good Book Company.
For such a small book (less than 100 pages, and the body of it is around 80) Dave packs a lot in – and there is plenty of food for thought. The audience for these Talking Points volumes is, I believe, evangelical Christians with a high view of scripture and a range of views around ‘culture’, but slanting towards the warier end. With that readership in mind I think Dave did a great job of showing why Christians should care about ‘the environment’, and pointing towards how we might be able to (Though, likely due to format, most of the heavy lifting here is down by directing people to other books). I appreciated – and resonated with – Dave’s excellent reimagining of the eternal question within evangelicalism, ‘is evangelism or [insert social issue here] more important’? Dave writes: “Even if evangelism is a top priority, that doesn’t make everything else a non-priority“. Amen!
There are a number of helpful framing devices and ideas that Dave uses well – but one theme (particularly indebted to his interaction with the work and words of activist Greta Thunberg) is that of the heavy burden we can place on ourselves to ‘do’ something about ‘something’, and this is something I’ve seen in activist friends, particularly those that don’t have a faith. Dave rightly writes, integrating the importance of doing something with the necessity of trusting someone:
“we roll up our sleeves in our studies or our science or our stewardship of his world. But we go to sleep at night trusting the Lord Jesus to be the Saviour of the world. We don’t have to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders – that job’s already taken”
This little book is rooted in a healthy and holistic view of what the Bible says – neatly summed up in one of the principles Dave outlines: “the fact that Jesus will one day restore and renew his world gives greater significance to any beautifying creational acts we do while we wait“. And so even the smallest step is actually ultimately important.
I appreciated this little book – and would give it to Christian friends and family who feel torn between a cultural desire to care for creation (a good thing!) and their own natural deference to scripture over cultural norms (also a good thing!). The recommended reading and suggested next steps are helpful – and I reproduce some further reading suggestions below, as this is a topic I care about:
- John Stott on Creation Care – part examination of Stott’s view on this, part gift to preachers and teachers looking at what the whole Bible says about the topic, part model of careful theology and scientific/cultural engagement, this book should be on the shelf of every preacher.
- Living Radical Discipleship – edited by Laura Yoder, who also saw the above book to publication, this is a great collection of essays, helpful for opening Western eyes.
- Stewards of Eden – Sandra Richter’s shorter book on the mandate of humanity towards caring for creation, this is a great resource to look at those early chapters of Genesis with.
- The Gospel of our King – Ashford and Thomas’s book is a cracking overview of how the Gospel, and Christ’s kingship over all, mesh together, including creation care as an aspect of that.
- Creator Spirit – Guthrie’s older book is about the cultural mandate rather than creation care, but I think would make a helpful companion to remind us of the importance of some of the ‘not-non-priorities’ of what it means to live as faithful human followers of Jesus in God’s world.