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How Can We Steward Creation Faithfully? Here are 3 Aspects of Biblical Wisdom

How Can We Steward Creation Faithfully? Here are 3 Aspects of Biblical Wisdom

by Douglas J. Moo and Jonathan A. Moo, adapted from their new book, Creation Care: A Biblical Theology of the Natural World.

Three aspects of wisdom will help guide Christians who are seeking to steward the creation faithfully: learning about our world, making good decisions, and appreciating our limitations.

1. Learning about Our World

First, it is useful to think of information about our world as a form of biblical wisdom. Wisdom in the Bible, we will all recall, is rooted in “the fear of the Lord” (e.g., Prov. 1:7). But, while acknowledging God is the necessary beginning of true wisdom, biblical wisdom also involves reflection, from a divine perspective, on the realities of the created world.

“The discerning heart seeks knowledge” (Prov. 15:14). Solomon’s wisdom included insight into the natural world: “He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish” (1 Kings 4:33). A “wise” person is one who governs his or her life in accordance with the reality of the world as God has made it. Therefore, to be wise, a person needs to understand something about how the world works.

2. Making Good Decisions

Second, wisdom will help Christians to exercise good judgment about some of the competing values involved in decisions about how best to be good stewards of creation. “To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue” (Prov. 16:1). Should projects like extensions to the Keystone pipeline be supported or fought? What is more important: the immediate need for more energy and jobs or the long-term damage that might be inflicted on the earth?

Wisdom is needed to balance these issues and priorities. But not just any wisdom—we need biblical wisdom, wisdom that reflects God’s own values. Too often, our thinking on such issues is governed by the wisdom of this world, the wisdom displayed in political maneuvering and in arguments that tend to make economic good the primary (and, indeed, the only) good. People who think biblically know better. Human flourishing is not a matter simply of wealth or easy lifestyle. Wisdom is a matter not only of thinking well, it is also a matter of having the right standards to guide that thinking.

3. Appreciating Our Limitations

Third, biblical wisdom reminds us of our limitations. In Job 38:4–7, the Lord reminds Job of his finite and creaturely status.

God has given human beings the mandate to use their unique abilities creatively to intervene in the natural world. But these interventions, just because they can have such far-reaching and long-lasting consequences, need to be undertaken with careful and cautious consideration. The hubris that is the result of our sinfulness can often lead us to intervene in creation when a hands-off approach might be wiser. Both conservation and development are integral aspects of human “rule” of the earth. It takes considerable wisdom to determine which is best in any given situation. But the God who gives us this mandate also gives us the resources to carry out that mandate. What is important is that we fully admit our “creatureliness” as we go about caring for the earth, recognizing our own place in the process.

— Douglas J. Moo and Jonathan A. Moo, Creation Care

How to Use This Book

Creation Care would make an excellent group study guide, and a good addition to every pastor’s library church library. Why? The Bible teaches extensively about the natural world, but we easily overlook this teaching if we are accustomed to focusing only on what the Bible says about God’s interaction with human beings. Creation Care will help you find answers to these questions:

  • What is the purpose of the non-human creation?
  • Can a world with things like predators, parasites, and natural disasters still be the ‘good’ world described in Genesis 1?
  • What difference does the narrative of the ‘Fall’ make for humankind’s responsibility to rule over other creatures?
  • Does Israel’s experience on the land have anything to teach Christians about their relationship with the earth?
  • What difference does Jesus make for our understanding of the natural world?
  • How does our call to care for creation fit within the hope for a new heaven and a new earth?
  • What is unique about Christian creation care compared with other approaches to ‘environmental’ issues?
  • How does creation care fit within the charge to proclaim the gospel and care for the poor?

Tremper Longman III says this book is “theologically profound … scripturally sound and rich … Rather than browbeating their readers, they present a hopeful vision that will stir the church to action. Every Christian needs to read this important book.”