How Christians Should Speak About Creation


How Christians Should Speak About Creation
Brian Zahnd

This year Earth Day falls on a Sunday, so I thought I’d say a few words about how Christians should speak about Creation.

First, Christians should never say…

This world is not my home.

This world is our home! And it’s the locus of God’s saving work. The blessed hope is not “we’re going,” but “Christ is coming.” Our eschatological hope is resurrection, not evacuation. The risen Christ is not a ghost, he has flesh and bones; he eats fish and honeycomb.

It’s all going to burn.

What a horrible, ghastly thing for a Christian to say! Especially when it’s given as an excuse for justifying environmental exploitation. In Christ we have a hopeful eschatology that says, “It’s all going to be renewed.” (And if you want to work from 2 Peter 3:10, say, “It’s all going to be refined.”)

Environmentalism is idolatry.

Never say that. Instead say, “This is my Father’s world.” In giving humanity “dominion,” God made us park rangers of Planet Earth. Environmentalism isn’t idolatry — it’s the original vocation given to humanity. Environmentalism isn’t idolatry — but greed is! In Revelation we’re told that God will judge “those who destroy the earth.”

Instead of saying un-Christian things like, “This world is not my home,” “It’s all going to burn,” and “Environmentalism is idolatry,” listen to how wise Christians have always spoken about Creation.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
–Apostles’ Creed (1st century)

The first step for a soul to come to know God is contemplation of nature.
–Irenaeus (120–202)

The whole earth is a living icon of the face of God.
–John of Damascus (675–749)

Praised be you my Lord through our sister Mother Earth.
–Francis of Assisi (1181–1226)

Any error about creation also leads to an error about God.
–Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)

God also writes the gospel in trees and flowers, clouds and stars.
–Martin Luther (1483–1546)

If we learn to love the earth, we will discover what it means to be truly alive.
–Teresa of Avila (1515–1582)

Every creature exalts God, since it has God in itself.
–John of the Cross (1542–1591)

Faith in Jesus Christ will lead to concern for every living creature on earth.
–John Wesley (1703–1791)

Love all of God’s creation. Love every leaf and every grain of sand.
–Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–1881)

A wrong attitude toward nature implies, somewhere, a wrong attitude toward God.
–T.S. Eliot (1888–1965)

Because God created nature, it demands our reverence.
–C.S. Lewis (1898–1963)

The beauty of the world is Christ’s tender smile for us coming through matter.
–Simone Weil (1909–1943)

How we treat the earth defines the relationship that each of us has with God.
–Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (1940–)



(The artwork is Sunset at Douarnenez by Renoir, 1883)