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THE ECOLOGICAL AGENDA AND THE WORD OF GOD: WHAT DO BOTH HAVE TO TELL US?

THE ECOLOGICAL AGENDA AND THE WORD OF GOD: WHAT DO BOTH HAVE TO TELL US?

Rev. Rogerio de Assis
Special to Virtueonline
www.virtueonline.org
March 19,2021

ABSTRACT

This article aims to present the biblical agenda interwoven with the ecological agenda. As a methodology, primary and secondary sources were used, such as Sacred Scripture and some Church Fathers, in addition to other research related to the theme. As a conclusion, it was observed that both agendas have much more elements in common than it is thought to have at first.
Keywords: Biblical Theology, ecology, interconnection.

INTRODUCTION

Clap or sea with every living being, the whole world, and everyone. Mountains and rivers clap and rejoice. (Psalm 97).

Would the biblical agenda and the ecological agenda have something in common to say? Wouldn't it be a biblical agenda, that is, the manual on how to live our faith is something dissociated from the ecological agenda? Wouldn't that just be the responsibility of governments and sectors responsible for the environment? Is it not enough for us Christians to use our religion, to participate actively in a community of faith, and at the same time to keep up with our prayers? These and other issues guide this article.

Well, it turns out that unfortunately, some churches and/or religious ministers suffer severe criticism for adopting an ecological agenda of the "present-day", as if religion were just something related to the sphere of spirituality, something in the "me and God" style only. However, the present article intends to address the theme and its relationship with the Word of God, thus clarifying, much more than you think, an "ecological agenda" is actually closely interwoven with what can be called a "biblical agenda" ", That is, embassies clearly on the care that we should take with our common home, that fragile planet that is our home, or as some say:" that is still our home because we are destroying our home. "

DEVELOPMENT

How can we not take care of creation, how can we not take care of our home, our planet that we received as a gift from God? Does this criticism mentioned in the introduction to those who adopt the ecological agenda in their praxis, that is, in their "modus procedendi" have any meaning? Definitely not, according to our research. I think that such critics deserve the religious who have not yet adopted the ecological agenda interwoven with the biblical agenda, after all, God has revealed himself to us not only as being a Transcendent God but also as being an Immanent God, that is, who is present in your creation. This fact, as we know, is narrated in several verses of the Holy Scriptures, both in the Old and New Testaments, as for example in Psalms 104: 29,30 You hide your face and are troubled; if they take their breath away, they die and return to their dust.

You send your Spirit, and they are created, and thus renew the face of the earth.

And yet in Proverbs 8: 22-31 The Lord has possessed me at the beginning of his ways, ever since, and before his works. From eternity I was anointed, from the beginning, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no abysses yet, I was generated, when there were no fountains loaded with water. Before the mountains had settled, before the hills, I was begotten. He had not yet made the earth, nor the fields, nor the beginning of the dust of the world.

When he was preparing the heavens, there I was when I was drawing the horizon over the face of the abyss; When the clouds were firming up when they were strengthening the abyss, When he fixed his term to the sea so that the waters would not pass over his command when he composed the foundations of the land. So I was with him, and he was his architect; every day was his delight, making me happy at all times; Rejoicing in your habitable world and filling me with pleasure with the children of men. God rejoiced in his creation and made it so that we have life and life in abundance. "God saw that everything was good" (Gen 1, 31).

The Creator planned everything perfectly so that the created beings could inhabit and enjoy everything that was created. However, unfortunately, history clearly shows that created beings have not yet understood that they must take care of their natural habitat as a gift received from the Creator. And like every gift we receive, if we don't take care of it, it will be over. In this sense, a feeling of longing related to the "lost paradise" must be part of the believer's life, that is, precisely because we believe in the God of the covenant and the promise, and for this very reason, to know that the world as it is is not according to the promise made by the Creator of a new heaven and a new earth, is that we must strive for our world to be better.

We read in (Rev 21, 1-4): Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first sky and the first land were gone and the sea was gone. 2 I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from heaven, from God. She was dressed as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, Now, God's abode will be with men. God will dwell with them and they will be God's people. Then, God, Himself will be with them and He will be for them by God. 4 God will wipe away all the tears from your eyes and death will be no more. There will be no more mourning, neither crying nor pain, because the old things have passed.

Such a promise of a new heaven and a new earth can lead many of us to a certain accommodation regarding the care of our home, after all, many think: if God promised the best if this promise is an eschatological question, or that is, something that is at an end at the end of time, is it not enough to wait passively for the fulfillment of the promise? According to the theologian of hope, Jüngen Moltmann, who presents us with a new concept of eschatology, it is not a "pure wait" or even a "vain hope", because, according to his theology, the reality is pure eschatology, which is identical to Christian hope. This hope not only encompasses everything we hope for, but also the very act of waiting. For him, "Christianity is totally and viscerally eschatology, and not only as an appendix; it is perspective and trend-forward, and for that reason, renovation and transformation of the present "(Moltmann, 1971, p. 2).

Still, according to Moltmann, the hope of the gospel has a controversial and liberating relationship not only with the religions and ideologies of men but above all with the real and practical life of men and the circumstances in which this life is led. (Moltmann, 1971, p. 395).

From this new worldview, this new understanding of eschatology, we understand that much more ecological efforts are needed, personally and globally speaking than has been observed. Really working hard so that our home is as far as possible a better place for us, but above all, for the next generations to live, in other words, it is about hope, or even an active wait, "Because we know that the whole creation groans and is together with labor pains until now. "(Rom 8, 22).

The Creator is present in his creation, however, many have not yet understood the dialectic of transcendence and divine immanence and end up reaching a certain exaggeration of understanding, a) cultivating a disincarnated spirituality and b) "deifying" nature, that is, divinizing what is not divine. Let us deepen our understanding. The fact of understanding that the Creator is present in his creation, does not mean understanding that "everything is God", that the tree is God, that the moon, the sun and the stars are gods, etc. Such an understanding, in addition to being Christians for us to be paganism, would also be pantheism, therefore, an incorrect view from the Judeo-Christian point of view. Christian theology, speaking of the Creator's presence in its creation, speaks of panentheism. As read in Genesis 1,1ss "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The land, however, was shapeless and empty; there was darkness on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. "God loves his creation and wants us to care for it. God is always on the side of creative and not destructive possibilities.

Going a little further, for us Christians, God revealed himself as a Trinity. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were present in Creation in a beautiful dance, what we call divine perichoresis. And it is in Christ and through Christ that all things were done, and it is in Christ that all creation will be restored. Being God, Christ is also Creator. He is not a creature, but he has always existed from the beginning (John 1: 1). He is called "firstborn" because "in him, all things were created" (Colossians 1:16). The point is that Christ is superior to any creature, be it man, animal, or heavenly being. Christ is the reason for creation - "Everything was done through him and for him" (1:16). Without Christ, nothing could stand (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1: 3). Everything was created in him and towards him.

In the Trinitarian conception of creation, the idea of the cosmic Christ is related to the idea of the cosmic Spirit present as a creative force (Jn 3, 5; 2Cor 5, 17) and the experience of communion of the Spirit in the limits, social and religious and the future of the new creation. Since the Spirit is God's immanent presence in the world, then it is possible to speak of the kenosis of the Spirit. Here we start from the assumption of a connection between the incarnation of the logos and the Spirit's habitation. In an attempt to avoid a pantheism of the Spirit in the world, H. Heine takes the idea that, rejecting pantheism, affirmed that God is in everything, but everything is not God, thus pointing to the difference between pantheism and pan-en-theism. However, differentiated panentheism fails to connect the immanence of God in the world with his transcendence in the world; what is possible with the Trinitarian doctrine of creation in the Spirit and the creative Spirit that dwells in creation.

In this sense, another concept emerges that must be addressed in our reflection on care for creation: the Christian Stewardship. However, I invite you to think more broadly about the Christian Stewardship, after all, it is not only Christians who inhabit this planet. Finally, all of us are invited to exercise our stewardship, especially those who know the Word of God. And what is Stewardship? As is known, it is nothing more than firstly the recognition that God is Lord of all that was created, and secondly, it is nothing more than the recognition of our responsibility to be created in his image and likeness. to manage the goods that we received free of charge from his divine hands. How have we managed our home? That is the big question.

God made us be stewards of all His creation (Ps 115.16). Being Himself the Lord of all (Ps 24.1). He entrusted to men the domain of his works (Gen. 1:26). However, it requires that everyone exercise stewardship faithfully (I Co 4.2). Aware that one day we will be accountable to God for everything we have done. (Rom. 14.12; II Co 5.10).

Turning now to one of the church's fathers, when it comes to the interconnection between Faith and Reason, we read in John Wesley that ... another fundamental principle in Bible study, for Wesley, is the reason. In one of his books, he says: "Whoever renounces reason, renounces religion; religion and reason go hand in hand; every irrational religion is false "(Works, XIV, 254).

In Sermões, 33, he shows knowledge of the political problems of the world, by saying: "... and not only the Spanish and the Portuguese, butchering thousands in South America ...". In fact, he was sensitive to the difficulties faced by poor Englishmen. In another of his writings, he asks: "Why is cereal (bread) so expensive"? Next, he analyzes the situation. Bread is expensive because the grain is being used to make drinks and to feed the horses of wealthy people (Works 11. pp. 53-59). Wesley's writings form a precious documentary on the economic, social, political and religious situation, especially in 18th century England.

Well, countless surveys carried out by the main international organizations in relation to the environment, provide us with the sad numbers related to deforestation, the melting of the polar ice caps, the countless deaths of animals, including those threatened with extinction due to the warming of the oceans, and of course, they also show the extremely worrying figures of the death of the human being himself, who have suffered hunger, disease and so many other miseries caused by human selfishness. I think, therefore, that the fact that we are not exercising our Christian stewardship is unequivocal. In this sense, it is our duty as churches, as local communities of faith, to charge the duly constituted authorities so that they manage the natural goods that are common to all who live, after all, what is our mission in this world? To be "salt of the earth and light of the world" (Matthew 5, 13-14). What we are doing with your creation is unequivocally our responsibility and, of course, we are suffering the consequences of our bad attitudes, both on a personal and collective level, after all, there is no point in charging others if we also throw plastics into the oceans and we do not have the least care with responsible consumption, etc.

In this sense, I invite you to think in two words: Globalization and Planetarization. The first, best known by many of us, as we know, is related to the market and social issue and speaks of the relations that the most varied countries have with each other from the point of view of free trade. I invite you, however, to replace the word globalization with the word "planetarization". This expression, in addition to being in my view much more Christian, speaks to us much more in relation to the care that we must take with our common home, that is, our planet that has been explored so much in its natural resources and, unfortunately in an unsustainable way.

Yes, we must respect the rest of the land. And here we have one more interconnection key: the rest of the Creator on Saturday with the rest of the earth, because, just as the Creator rested after everything had created and saw that everything was good, the earth also needs to rest so that it can naturally breathe and prepare for the new productive stage, that is, for the new creation that brings us to the Resurrection. Rest is something consecrated by the Creator.

The idea of the Sabbath as a conclusion to creation, and as a revelation of God's restful existence in his creation, beckons beyond the Sabbath; points to a future in which God's creation and revelation become redemption understood as the eternal Sabbath and new creation. However, the sabbatical year (Lv 25, 1-7), and the jubilee year (Lv 25, 8-55) and the prophetic vision of the messianic year (Is 61, 1-11), are interconnected and point beyond time historical, that is, for messianic time. At the end of time, the Sabbath will turn into an endless party. It is proposed here to link Saturday to Sunday, to the day of Christ's resurrection, the Lord's day, which anticipates not only the Sabbath rest at the end of time but the beginning of the new creation. The Sabbath allows us to participate in the rest of God, the feast of the resurrection allows us to participate in the force in the re-creation of the world. This day is thought of like the first day of the week. (Ibid, 1).

Would Saint Augustine, one of the most read and well-known priests of the Church, he who will influence the thinking of so many reformers, something to say to us on this subject? Yes, he has something to say to us. We read in his work City of God:

The love of oneself brought to the contempt of God generates the earthly city; the love of God brought to contempt for oneself generates the heavenly city. The former aspires to the glory of men, the latter puts above all the glory of God. . . . The citizens of the earthly city are dominated by a stupid ambition to dominate that leads them to subjugate others; the citizens of the heavenly city offer themselves to each other in service and in a spirit of charity and docilely respect the duties of social discipline.

From this brief quote, it is evident that it is because of our pride, or even, using Saint Augustine's words, because of "a stupid ambition" that we are doing badly, however, there remains the invitation to change our behavior, after all, it is never too late for us to act as citizens of the heavenly city, that is, in a different, responsible way, and that observes social duties in addition to religious ones, after all, both are intertwined.

CONCLUSION

This article was intended to answer the following problem: The Word of God and the Ecological Agenda: What do they both have to say to us?

We started from the hypothesis that both agendas are intertwined, therefore, they have something in common to tell us, which we have proven throughout the article. For this we use some primary and secondary sources, such as the Word of God itself, also citing a few church priests, in addition to research related to the topic.

We hope to have managed to demonstrate the interconnection between the two agendas, that is, in our reading, it is not possible to cultivate only a disincarnated spirituality, it would be like turning a blind eye to the problems of our society, our planet, and such a fact from the point from a theological point of view it would be contrary to the Christian faith itself.

Finally, the challenge remains for each one of us to make use of this theological tool and many others, with a view to reviving, even more, ourselves and our local communities, aware of our need for creation stewards, so that hoping to make this world a better place for us and, above all, for future generations, our children, grandchildren and other generations to live.

REFERENCES

FREIRE DA SILVA, Maria. Creation and the ecological question in Jürgen Moltmann's thinking. Available at: . Accessed Nov. 24, 2019.
MOLTMANN, Jürgen. Theology of hope: studies on the foundations and consequences of Christian eschatology. São Paulo: Herder, 1971.
MAZZAROLO, Isidoro. The Bible and the environment. Available at: . Accessed Nov 23, 2019.
RAIMER, Haroldo. Ecological hermeneutics of biblical texts. Available at: . Accessed Nov. 24, 2019

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