Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day everyone!

George Fox Seminary hosted a conference I was unable to attend last week, entitled Theology of the Earth. It was presented by several Native Americans, discussing issues of creation, stewardship, and spiritual connection to the earth. All of the presenters were Christ followers who had managed to integrate their beliefs with their own organic native culture, heritage, and spirituality. This stands in stark contrast to the polarized options made available to native peoples in the early-to-mid-2oth Century (and of coure, for several centuries before). They were forced to entirely reject their heritage and belief systems, as if Christ stood against all non-Western-European belief structures.

Part of this "theology of the earth" involves a sort of panentheism: not God is all things, or all things are God, but rather God is in all things. And even: all things carry a divine spirit.

My wife Jen, attended. Honey, you might be able to express these concepts more clearly. Brandon, I know you were there too.

Anyway, I think it's vital that Christianity discover, or re-discover, its intrinsic spiritual connection to the world around us. "New Age" spirituality has been so demonized in popular Christian culture, probably beginning in the 1960s or '70s, that many of us are afraid to acknowledge the sacredness and mystery residing in the natural world around us. This is a sad development, but one I believe is already being reversed.

Today, let's be intentional and mindful of the lives we're living, the stewardship we are effecting, and the consumption we are contributing. Let's be better... "the Kingdom of God is among you."

5 comments:

Existential Punk said...

Peter,

YOU are so PAGAN! And i love you for it! ;)

Happy Earth Day!

Adele

Anonymous said...

I agree. I also think churches need to do more both inside and outside their walls. I liked this article (the homepage) about what a congregation can do about asthma (which is a multi-faceted issue in the end):

http://www.hopeandhealing.org

Anonymous said...

"...all things carry a divine spirit."

Um... no, no they don't. Otherwise Satan would have the "divine", defined as "holy" and even as a part of God resident within him. But we know this is not the case because he is described as the father of lies, among other things. While God created Satan, nothing of the divine resides within him.

I know Native Americans and they speak of the "spirit" in things and all that, but they are not speaking of the Holy Spirit by clear definition. They tend to hold more of a Universalist position in that regard, that most people, except the truly "evil", will somehow come to terms at some point and find their way to heaven.

This theology of the earth is tied to worshiping the creation, which is shear idolatry. They may acknowledge the Creator, too, but they give equal weight, equal "power", if I can use that word, to the creation as being on par with God. This is wrong theology and incompatible with what God teaches us in scripture.

Jesus said the kingdom of God is IN us, no longer among us, because of His Holy Spirit indwelling His people, who are called by His name. It does not rest upon us any longer, nor wander as a disembodied spirit across the earth.

Peter said...

Anonymous,
You sound angry and I'm sorry for that. I think it's fine that you have a very clear concept of what you believe - my parents were both drawn to Christianity years ago, because it gave them a very concrete and stable worldview and sense of truth.

But to understand the nature of the Body of Christ involves acknowledging a radically wide and incredibly diverse spectrum of theological approaches.

There are many Christians, and many brilliant and faithful saints, scholars and theologians, who absolutely disagree with some of your assessments here. And there are plenty who disagree with me!

I believe God is bigger than fighting over whether the Holy Spirit exists in the natural world, apart from humans (I believe it does, and that it's theologically supportable) and I would be very careful of judging a theology of the earth (or any other) as "idolatry." We get on perilously thin ice, judging others. Particularly other Christians.

You conclude: "This is wrong theology and incompatible with what God teaches us in scripture." I find this assertion wounding and sad, but I have a lot of good friends (Christians) who feel the way you do. I still love them, and thankfully, they still love me.

Thanks for the site visit, and for sharing.

Al said...

I did my first 'Earth walk' today (I guess Saturday is a better day to do such things). Got fingered to help carry an anti-war banner, and had a great conversation with the other banner-bearer. Started thinking more about what my generation has 'contributed' to society--the use-it-once-and-throw-it-away consumer attitude. I'm planning voting Green in our upcoming provincial election. Guess I'm almost as unorthodox as you, Peter!

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