Dare to care for God's world
Dare to Care for God’s World
By Dave Bookless
IVP. 160 pages. £7.99
This is a totally brilliant book. You should get it for yourself, even if, like me, you thought your personal credentials were pretty green already. Definitely give a copy to everyone who teaches in your church; and why not buy a copy for Christmas for all the young people in your youth group, and discuss it with them over the following term?
The author is national director of the Christian environmental group A Rocha UK, and makes a compelling argument for Christians to take environmental issues seriously, since they affect the world that our God has made and which he loves.
Bookless outlines in the opening chapters the big picture of God and his creation, from the first day through to the fall, then redemption and restoration. In the second half he discusses how we should live out this theology in our ordinary lives, including straight talking about such things as cruel farming practices, greedy agribusiness, overfishing, and the destructive power of the supermarkets.
The author is convinced that God cares about the world — yes, that solid thing under your feet — as well as all the people on it. He consequently believes that all of life —our work and our play, as well as church stuff — is to be offered to God as worship. And how we treat the planet and its resources may therefore be judged as acceptable or unacceptable worship.
The book is wonderfully well founded on a view of embodied Christian spirituality, and not the neo-platonic escapism that still plagues so much evangelicalism. His theology is rooted in God making us to be physical human beings in a physical earth, which God declared to be good, and which he will one day renew for eternity.
Bookless also provides an excellent example of how to handle and apply Scripture to the world around us, and to our individual lives. In particular he exemplifies how to learn from and apply the laws of the Old Testament, without losing the glorious truth that in Christ we are no longer ‘under the Law’.
I didn’t agree with every application of every Scripture he made, but he repeatedly made my jaw drop with observations which in retrospect seem so obvious but have passed me by time after time; for example, the implications of God making a covenant with the earth, the role of nature itself in bringing worship to God, and the importance of contact with nature for our own psychological well-being.
Chapter 7 makes some excellent points of application, including the importance of ‘rootedness’ in our localities and communities, and the need to integrate our fragmented lives, with Christ (of course) as the integration point. Chapter 8 offers practical advice on beginning to adapt our lifestyles to a more environmentally aware theology. The final chapter has a vital commentary on environmental issues and evangelism; that the gospel is good news for the planet as well as for the people who live on it, and that the world needs to see believers living out the reality that the ‘earth is the Lord’s’.
one of the leaders of Hope Church, Greatham