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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Fall of Man and its Consequences for the rest of Creation

Reading: Genesis 3

I am sure there have been entire books written about the Fall of Man and its implications. Obviously I cannot get into such detail here. What I am really interested in though is what the implications of the Fall are for creation and our relationship with the environment.

The Fall interrupted the relationship between man and the rest of creation. Instead of the land producing food for mankind freely, man now has to toil to eat 'by the sweat of your brow' and fight with the thorns and thistles to produce food. Man had trespassed on the providence within Eden and was now kicked out.

With sin came death; and death came to more than just man that day- in verse 21 we are told that God created clothing for Adam and Eve of skins.

Our broken relationship with God meant that we no longer instictively understand how He wishes us to relate to His creation. Our rebellion against God began with the Fall and it continues in our revolt against His will in relation to the care of creation. As Redeeming Creation states* "The sinful nature of humanity is nowhere more evident [than] in a world in which we possess the means to care for creation but not the will."(page 63)

"The biblical doctrine of creation assures us that mission is not truly holistic unless it includes the church's mission to and in behalf of the earth. In the biblical vision, God acts in Jesus Christ not to save men and women out of their environment, but with their environment. The biblical vision has always been God's people serving God's purposes in God's land.
The theological truth here is based in both creation and fall. God created man and woman in harmony with himself, with each other, and with the created world. Man and woman were at peace (shalom) with God, with themselves and each other, and with the plants and animals God had made.

Sin, however, brought disruption in a fourfold sense. As Francis Schaeffer pointed out years ago, human disobedience brought alienation between 18 humans and God and as a result an internal alienation within each person (alienation from oneself), alienation between humans, and alienation from nature. All derive from sin; all distort God's good purpose in creation. These are all concerns therefore of the gospel of reconciliation, and they clarify the church's mission agenda. Faithful Christian mission focuses on healing the four alienations that have resulted from the fall. Creation care, therefore—working for reconciliation between humans and the created order—is an indispensable element in Christian mission. It is part of the gospel.

The argument here is both theological and strategic. Theological, because a fully biblical view of mission will necessarily include the dimension of creation care. But also strategic and pragmatic, because a holistic theology and practice of mission that incorporates creation care is much more persuasive. Do we want people of all nations and cultures to come to faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world? Then we should proclaim and demonstrate that Jesus is the renewer of the whole creation, the whole face of the earth. Salvation is that big. This is a grander portrayal of Christ than we sometimes present. It both honors our Savior and makes the gospel more persuasive and attractive when we present a gospel of total healing—the healing of creation; the restoration of all things. This is truly the whole gospel for the whole world." (

All creation suffers for our sin, though innocent. As Romans 8:20 says:
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who are the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (ESV emphasis mine)

"Until God finally brings the new heavens and the new earth, the creation groans, suffering the effects of the fall and of ongoing human exploitation. It is our responsibility to care for creation, to work to relieve its suffering. The disorder and suffering that entered the world through human sin is not the final word, and it is not God's final intention. Like our own gardens and house plants and pets, the creation depends on us to see its need and to respond with God's compassion and care.
In great measure, God's other creatures depend on us for their well- being and survival. Increasingly, in fact, we see that the whole biosphere is more dependent on human nurture and care than we would have imagined. We need to recover the biblical sense of why creation exists, how it proclaims God's glory, and of how all nature will par ticipate in God's salvation. Since all God's creatures reflect God's glory and have a place in God's plan, they are part of legitimate Christian concern. If God cares for and about the creatures, so should we." (

Despite the Fall, there is hope, because the redemption offered to us by Christ's sacrifice is also offered to creation. Yet as seen in Romans 8:20 the redemption of creation is linked to our own freedom as the children of God. I believe it is God's will for Christians to take a leading role in caring for creation and in restoring the world, that God might finish the renewal at the end of time. To do so would perhaps go some way to making up for the Fall.

Tomorrow: Genesis chapter 4

* Redeeming Creation: The Biblical Basis for Environmental Stewardship by Fred Van Dyke, Davic C. Mahan, Joseph K. Sheldon and Raymond H. Brand, published by InterVarsity Press in Downers Grove Illinois 1996

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Important Lessons from the Bible

Why Jesus came:
"that the world might be saved through him"
John 3:17

Who Jesus is going to use to save the world:
"For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God."
Romans 8:19

Our role on earth:
"The LORD God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it."
Genesis 2:15

The Five Pillars of A Christian Theology of Sustainability

1. God is the creator, sustainer and redeemer of creation.

2. Covenantal Stewardship (we have a covenant with God as stewards of the earth).

3. The creation-fall-redemption paradigm (God made a good world; human failure broke the relationships between god, man and creation; Christ provides hope for all creation).

4.Bodily resurrection(we will rise with bodies, not as spirits)

5.New Creation (a new Heaven and new Earth refers to a renewal and an earthing of heaven, not starting over).

Adapted from When Enough is Enough: A Christian Framework for Environmental Sustainability, Edited by R.J. Berry, Published by Inter-Varsity Press, 2007, Nottingham p43+