Many Christians are suspicious of terms like “environmentally sustainable,” “green,” or “eco-friendly.” The images the terms conjure, and the practices they denote, are often associated with atheists, progressives, and “hippies.” As a result, too many of us ignore genuine dangers—deforestation, land erosion, oil spills—while adopting foolishly anti-environmental rhetoric.
That’s the problem Norman Wirzba tackles in From Nature to Creation: A Christian Vision for Understanding and Loving Our World (Baker Academic). According to Wirzba, who teaches theology, ecology, and “agrarian studies” at Duke Divinity School, we’ve ceased thinking of God as actively involved in caring for his creation.
The Bible paints a very different picture. “The eyes of all look to you,” declares Psalm 145:15–16, “and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” Matthew 6 speaks of God providing food to the sparrows and “clothing” the lilies of the field. God’s rule over creation is tender, particular, and devoted.
“Creation,” writes Wirzba, “is not a vast lump of valueless matter. It is God’s love made visible, fragrant, tactile, audible, and delectable.” We’ve forgotten that the world is “a place so cherished that God enters into covenant relationship with it (Gen. 9:8–17), so beautiful that God promises to renew it (Isa. 65:17–25), and so valuable that God takes up residence within it (John 1:14 and Rev. 21:1–4).” Believers need to develop “an imagination for the world as ...1