(This post is part of a series reflecting on David Bosch’s six distinctives for a missiology of Western culture. See the introductory post for a little background.)
A missiology of Western culture must include an ecological dimension.
Thanks to my nature loving Grandma, I’ve always had an appreciation for nature that wasn’t really offered in my Evangelical background. Somehow I grew up with clashing ideas that nature can be enjoyed, but ultimately, it will just be destroyed, because the physical realm is corrupt.
In recent years, I’ve been able to reshape these ideas and find that a love of nature and a true Biblical understanding of creation. The works of Athanasius, NT Wright and others have helped me understand that to care for creation is to live in anticipation of God’s restoration of all things, when heaven and earth will be joined again. The physical world is broken, but the shattered fragments still hold glimpes of the glory of God.
This is all true, and all good, but Bosch emphasizes another point. A Western missiology must have an ecological element for the sake of the Third World. He writes, “the current exploitation of the environment in the Third World is often directly linked to the global economic structure that is dictated by the West.” To live with ecological responsibility is to live with the future in mind. But, it is also to live with the present, with the unseen other, in mind.
In Everything Must Change, Brian McLaren quotes Jacues Ellul: “A major fact of our present civilization is that more and more sin becomes collective, and the individual is forced to participate in collective sin.” A statement like that, which I agree with, leaves me feeling helpless.
But I am also hopeful, knowing that my individual choices can serve to weaken the collective. Through the Everything Must Change website, I found a site called Better World Shopper which grades the ecological responsibility of corporations in various industries. It’s a list that I’m consulting more and more, and I encourage you to do the same.
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