For the vast majority of history, human beings have exercised limited power over nature. With the advent of modern industry and globalization, however, this power has grown swiftly, often resulting in great environmental abuse. In Living with Other Creatures: Green Exegesis and Theology (Baylor University Press), Richard Bauckham writes for the church in this context, mining the Scriptures and the richness of Christian tradition for instruction on creation care. Bauckham's aim is not to address specific environmental problems. Nevertheless, his book does presuppose the reality of climate change, unsustainable consumption, and the imminent extinction of various species.
At the outset, Bauckham reminds the reader that, as Creator, God delights in and cares for all creation. He contrasts the Enlightenment's human-centered project to conquer nature with the Bible's God-centered outlook. In recent centuries, Christians have tended to isolate "dominion" passages like Genesis 1:26-28. As Bauckham argues, however, God did not create the world and other creatures strictly for human use. The concept of dominion implies responsibility and caretaking, much in the way that a king is commanded to respect and treat his subjects as brothers and sisters (Deut. 17:14-20). Bauckham, though, wants to move beyond even the notion of stewardship. He wishes to recover the biblical view of human solidarity with the rest of creation by establishing creation's own inherent value.
In the Genesis account, God creates human beings on the same day as other land-dwelling creatures. Bauckham affirms that human beings are more valuable than other animals (Matt. 6:26), but he argues that the distinction between them cannot be absolute, since they share the ...1