PlanetwisePaperback Dare to care for God's world Dave Bookless
Having been asked repeatedly for accessible biblical material on creation care, the author decided to write it himself, thereby plugging a gap in the market! Here is a message to honour our Creator. It will free us up, not tie us up in legalistic knots.(more...)
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'I was in the act of throwing away my family's rubbish while holidaying on a beautiful island when I heard God speak. I could easily have missed it, but an inner whisper asked, "How do you think I feel about what you are doing to my world?"'
Since the day God challenged him, Dave Bookless has been on a mission: to share with others the compelling biblical case for caring for the planet God made for his glory and his people's enjoyment.
This is not another book on green issues to make you feel guilty. The message is that there is hope. God can take your small and insignificant efforts and multiply them in his great plan.
Dave takes us right into the heart of his family and shows how living simply, besides honouring God, can be an exciting adventure.
Extent: 160 pages
Publication Date: 15/02/2008
Published by: IVP
Introduction: Planet Earth – why bother?
1. Creation calls
2. The fall: Creation’s groaning
3. Land: People and place in context
4. Jesus: Saviour of the world
5. The new creation: On earth as in heaven
6. Living it out: Discipleship as if creation matters
7. Living it out: Worship as if creation matters
8. Living it out: Lifestyle as if creation matters
9. Living it out: Mission as if creation matters
Appendix: Planet whys
Where to go from here?
Foreword: Making a difference!
Dave Bookless was concerned that there was so little green space in his parish. He noted that the Southall Regeneration Partnership Report of 1998 concluded that there was ‘a lack of greenery, open space, clean air and environmental awareness – all of which contribute to a lack of confidence and pride in the area’.
He was disturbed by the way that a large plot of land known locally as the ‘Minet site’ had been so neglected and abused. It had become an illegal fly-tipping site, the home of an enormous unregulated car-boot sale that resulted in tons of litter, and a late-night track for local motorbike racing: a muddy quagmire of refuse and waste.
Dave and his team became key players in the formulation of plans to turn most of the site into a country park that would cater for the needs of both local wildlife and people. After many battles and tough times, they eventually gained planning permission for the creation of Minet Country Park on 30 May 2002. Gradually they gathered a huge group of volunteers, received grants, and gained solid support for the project from the whole community.
June 2002 saw the beginning of the transformation. Dave partnered with the Christian ecology movement A Rocha, and together they produced an Ecological Impact Assessment on the proposed works, acting as Ecological Advisors throughout.
They oversaw the habitat creation and excavation of wetland scrapes, the fencing of areas for the protection of ground-nesting birds, and the removal of twenty lorry-loads of illegally dumped rubbish. They developed a water trail, ringed 600 birds of twenty-three species, and cared for the twenty-two species of butterfly, including the Small Copper. They built strong links with four local primary schools, and developed a curriculum-linked programme for environmental education. They started after-school environment clubs and holiday play-schemes on the site for sixty local children, and organized family picnics, insect safaris and wildlife walks. The team conducted twenty-three assemblies in eleven local schools and created resources for a purpose-built ‘floating classroom’ on the Grand Union Canal beside the site.
It was my great privilege to take part in the official opening of Minet Country Park. It was a parable of redemption, a great witness for Christ, and a sign that Christian mission is credible when it takes our theology of a Creator God seriously. As I meandered around the site that hot summer afternoon, I heard the birds singing and saw skylarks, kingfishers and woodpeckers flying free. Butterflies fluttered through the long grass. A conservationist called me over to wonder with him at a wild orchid growing by a pond. I looked at the distant line of planes queuing to land at nearby Heathrow, and marvelled that even here, near the disused gasworks, this urban wasteland had become another Eden.
The Living Waterways project is only one small aspect of Dave’s extensive ministry with A Rocha UK, and he already acts as consultant to many other pieces of ‘eco-mission’. Dave is a contemporary evangelist, taking the good news of Jesus into situations many vicars would never get near, because he carries with him the urgency of our global crisis.
That’s why this book is such an important contribution to the Christian debate about the environment. Dave has not written this from some ivory tower of academic learning. No, the theology that underpins this book has been forged through a life and ministry totally committed to developing a Christian response to the environmental crisis.
Dave’s theology has led him towards a fresh and innovative style of contemporary Christian ministry which draws many committed greens to work alongside him. He is doing much to reclaim the ground which we have lost to the followers of ‘eco-spirituality’, and his life is a witness to living out a credible Christian eco-spirituality personally. This book comes out of a ministry developed in the midst of tough places, a multicultural parish, a communal commitment to live simply, and a personal hunger to discern God’s perfect will.
Some churches proudly claim that they recycle their bottles or abandon their cars to go to church one Sunday per year. They are to be commended, but this kind of tokenism falls far short of a credible response to the cataclysmic effects of global warming. Dave’s ministry models something far more relevant and profound. This book teaches that if we are to embrace a kind of Christian eco-spirituality which has a vision to save the created order, it will demand real sacrifice and a very different way of life.
Our stewardship of the planet will one day be judged. And that means a change of perspective – a new look at how we live, and a new commitment to working with the Lord in renewing the planet. Our understanding of creation must begin with a sense that it is God’s and not ours. He didn’t leave it and walk away; his presence infuses it. The choice about how you live is yours. But ultimately, the judgment is his.
The contemporary church urgently needs Dave’s insights if it is to refocus its worship and prayer towards a new awareness of the Creator God. Dave’s theology demonstrates how genuine ecological action must flow out of the core of our believing rather than being some kind of add-on optional activity to ease our consciences.
The world produces two million tonnes of rubbish every day. Half a billion tonnes of oil are spilled every year through accidents, dumping and leakage. Six and a half million tonnes of refuse, including toxic and non-biodegradable waste, are discharged every year into the world’s oceans. So what basic principles should be guiding us in how we live out our faith in this increasingly polluted planet, and how should Christians respond to this environmental crisis?
This book is the starting-point. Read on.
Revd Dr Rob Frost
Extract from Chapter 2 The fall: Creation’s groaning
It did not take long for there to be trouble in Eden. Almost before God had finished declaring it ‘very good’, the harmony and beauty of creation were disturbed. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and were thrown out of the perfect garden. This dramatic event is full of important truths that still affect us today: truths about the relationships between God, his people, and the rest of creation. It’s impossible to understand the state we are in, humanly and environmentally, or to understand why Jesus died, without grasping how we have fallen from God’s good plans.
It is, most of all, a story of broken relationships. The friendship and intimacy that Adam and Eve enjoyed with God were gone. They had walked with God in the garden, enjoying the goodness of creation. Their nakedness showed they had nothing to hide from each other or God. After eating from the only tree God told them to avoid, all this changed. Adam and Eve hid their naked bodies from each other by making simple clothing, and when they heard God walking in the garden, they hid among the trees. The God whose purpose in creating was to enter into and facilitate loving relationships was rejected by the creatures chosen to bear his image.
The great drama of Scripture had quickly become a tragedy. Nothing would ever be the same again: a corrosive presence had entered the world and spoiled the perfection of creation. The rest of the biblical drama follows the disastrous consequences of sin’s arrival and God’s costly plans to resolve the crisis through Jesus.We cannot blame this on Adam and Eve alone, as the Bible is clear that every human being apart from Jesus has made the same choice. As Paul puts it, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23).
Christians have usually seen this tragedy in terms of the broken relationship between God and humanity, and rightly so. Nevertheless, its results are far wider than this. Yes, humanity falls from grace, goodness and intimacy with God. However, it is not only about one broken relationship, but about how all the good relationships that God created have been spoiled.
... there are three main actors in the drama of creation: God, humanity and the rest of creation. We can picture the relationships as a triangle ... As human beings, we have a relationship both with God and with the rest of creation. In addition, creation itself has a relationship with God, as we saw earlier. When human beings turn against God, this not only breaks the relationship with God, but also affects the other sides of the triangle. When climbers are harnessed together by a single rope, the fall of one pulls the rope and inevitably affects all the other climbers. When the knitter of a complex pattern makes a single error, the whole item may need to be unravelled. The very relational, interdependent nature of creation means that one broken relationship affects all the others.
Because human beings turned against God’s good plans, the broken relationships are seen in at least four directions, spelt out in Genesis 3 and elsewhere in the Bible:
- between God and humanity
- between human beings
- between humanity and the natural environment
- between God and his creation
Often, Christians only concentrate on the first of these broken relationships. We are thrown out of God’s presence and no longer have a relationship of closeness and intimacy. From God’s perspective, we, the creatures he made in his image to relate to him, are now cut off and in rebellion against him.
Yet, the impact of the fall goes further, as a damaging rift immediately opens up between the first two human beings. ...
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