The Ecological Schedule and the Word of God: What do you both have to tell us?

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE

ASSIS, Rogério de [1]

ASSIS, Rogério de. The Ecological Schedule and the Word of God: What do you both have to tell us? Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 05, Ed. 01, Vol. 09, pp. 106-116. January 2020. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link: https://www.nucleodoconhecimento.com.br/theology-en/ecological-schedule

ABSTRACT

This article aims to present the biblical agenda imbriated with the ecological agenda. As a methodology, primary and secondary sources, such as Sacred Scripture and some Fathers of the Church, and other research related to the subject had been used. In conclusion, it was observed that both agendas have much more elements in common than is thought to have at first.

Key Words: Biblical theology, ecology, interconnection.

INTRODUCTION

Applaud the sea with every being who lives in it, the whole world and everyone. The mountains and rivers clap your hands and rejoice with joy.

Psalm 97

Would the biblical agenda and the ecological agenda have anything in common to tell us? Would it not be the biblical agenda, that is, the manual of how we should live our faith somewhat dissociated from the ecological agenda? Wouldn’t that just be the responsibility of governments and sectors responsible for the environment? Is it not enough for us Christians to practice our religion, actively participate in a community of faith, and at the same time keep up with our prayers? These and other issues guide this article.

Well, it is unfortunately observed that some churches and/or religious ministers have been criticized for adopting the ecological agenda of the “present day”, as if religion were just something related to the sphere of spirituality, something in the style “me and God” only. However, this article is intending to address the theme and its relationship with the Word of God, thus clarifying that, much more than one thinks, the “ecological agenda” is actually intimately intertwined with what we can call the “biblical agenda”, that is, both speak clearly about the care we should take towards our common home , this fragile planet that is our home, or as some say: “that is still our home, for we are destroying our home.”

DEVELOPMENT

How can we not take care of creation, how not to take care of our home, of our planet that we receive as a gift from God? Such a criticism mentioned in the introduction to those who adopt the ecological agenda in their praxis, that is, in their “modus procedendi” do they have any meaning? Definitely not, according to our research. I think that such criticism stalifies the religious who have not yet adopted the ecological agenda imbriated with the biblical agenda, after all, God has revealed himself to us not only as being a Transcendent God, but also as being an Immanent God, that is, who is present in his creation. This fact, as is known, is narrated in several verses of the Holy Scriptures, both of the Old and New Testaments, as for example in Psalms 104: 29:30

You hide your face, and they are disturbed; if you take your breath away, they die, and they return to their dust.
You send your Spirit, and they are created, and so renew the face of the earth.

And yet in Proverbs 8:22-31

The Lord has possessed me at the beginning of his ways since then, and before his works.
From eternity I was anointed from the beginning, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no chasms yet, I was generated, when there were still no fountains loaded with water.
Before the hills had settled, before the hills, I was generated.
Yet he had not made the land, nor the fields, nor the beginning of the dust of the world.
When he prepared the heavens, there I was, as I traced the horizon upon the face of the abyss;
When he established the clouds above, when he fortified the fountains of the abyss,
When he fixed his term to the sea, so that the waters would not pass through his command, when he composed the foundations of the land.
So I was with him, and it was his architect; was every day his delights, rejoicing before him at all times;
Rejoicing in your livable world and filling myself with pleasure with the children of men.

God rejoiced in his creation and carried it out so that we might have life and life in it in abundance. “God saw that everything was good” (Gen 1:31). The Creator planned everything in a perfect way so that created beings could dwell and delight in all that had been created. Unfortunately, however, history clearly shows that created beings have not yet understood that they must take care of their natural habitat as a gift received from the Creator. And like every gift we get, if we don’t take care of him, he’s going to be gone. In this sense, a feeling of longing related to “paradise lost” must be part of the life of the believer, that is, precisely, because we believe in the God of covenant and promise, and therefore, knowing that the world as it is is not in accordance with the promise made by the Creator of a new heaven and a new earth, is that we must strive for our world to be better. We read in (Ap 21, 1-4):

Then I saw a new sky and a new earth. The first sky and the first earth were gone and the sea no longer existed.2 I have also seen the holy city, the new Jerusalem, which came down from heaven, from God. She was dressed as a bride adorned for her husband.3 Then I heard a strong voice coming from the throne, saying,

Now, God’s abode will be with men. God will dwell with them and they will be God’s people. Then God himself will be with them and He will be to them by God. 4 God will wipe away all the tears from his eyes, and death will no longer exist. There will be no more mourning, no more crying, no pain, because the old things have passed.

Such a promise of a new heaven and a new earth can lead many of us to a certain accommodation in terms of caring for our home, after all, many think: if God promised the best, if this promise is an eschatological issue, that is, something that is at the end of time, is it not enough to wait passively for the fulfillment of the promise? According to the theologian of hope, Jüngen Moltmann, who presents us with a new concept of eschatology, it is not a “pure wait” or even a “vain wait”, because, according to his theology, reality is pure eschatology, and this, identical to Christian hope. This hope not only embraces all that we expect, but also the very act of waiting. For him, “Christianity is totaland viscerally eschatology, and not only in appendix mode; it is a perspective and a forward trend, and for this very reason, the renewal and transformation of the present” (Moltmann, 1971, p. 2).

According to Moltmann, the hope of the gospel is controversial and liberating not only with the religions and ideologies of men, but above all with the real life and practice of men and the circumstances in which this life is led. (Moltmann, 1971, p. 395).

From this new worldview, from this new understanding of eschatology, we understand that it takes much more ecological efforts, personally and globally speaking of what has been observed. Really work hard for our house to be as much as possible a better place for us, but above all, for the next generations to live, in other words, it is a hope, or even an active wait, “Because we know that all creation groans and is together with labor pains so far. ” (Rom 8: 22).

The Creator is present in his creation, however, many have not yet understood the dialectics of transcendence and divine immanence and end up reaching a certain exaggeration of understanding, a) cultivating a disembodied spirituality and b) “endeaking” nature, that is, divinizing what is not divine. We deepen our understanding. The fact of understanding that the Creator is present in his creation does not mean understanding that “everything is God”, that the tree is God, that the moon, the sun and the stars are gods, etc. Such understanding, in addition to for us Christians being paganism, would also be pantheism, therefore an incorrect view from the Judeo-Christian point of view. Christian theology, when speaking of the presence of the Creator in his creation, speaks of panenteism[2]. As genesis 1:1ss “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. But the earth was formless and empty; there was darkness upon the face of the abyss, and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. “God loves his creation and wants us to take care of it. God is always on the side of creative and non-destructive possibilities.

Moving forward a little further, for us Christians, God revealed himself as trinity. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were present in Creation in a beautiful dance, what we call divine pericoresis. And it is in Christ and by Christ that all things have been done, and it is in Christ that all creation will be restored. Being God, Christ is also creator. He is not a creature, but he always existed from the beginning (John 1:1). He is called “firstborn” because “all things were created in him” (Colossians 1:16). The point is that Christ is superior to any creature, whether man, animal, or heavenly being. Christ is the reason for creation – “All was done through him and for him” (1:16). Without Christ, nothing could survive (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). Everything was created in him and towards him.

In the Trinitarian conception of creation, the idea of the cosmic Christ is related to the idea of the cosmic Spirit present as a creative force (Jn 3:5; 2 Cor 5:17) and the experience of communion of the Spirit within the limits, social and religious and the future of the new creation. Being the Spirit immanent presence of God in the world, then it is possible to speak of a kénosis of the Spirit. Here is based on the assumption of a connection between incarnation of the logos and indwelling of the Spirit. In an attempt to avoid a pantheism of the Spirit in the world, the idea of H is taken. Heine who, rejecting pantheism, stated that God is at all, but everything is not God, pointing, in this way, to the difference between pantheism and pan-en-theism. However, differentiated panenteism cannot connect God’s immanence in the world with his transcendence of the world; what is possible to the Trinitarian doctrine of creation in the Spirit and the creator Spirit that dwells in creation.[3]

In this sense, another concept emerges that cannot fail to be addressed in our reflection on the care for creation: Christian Stewardship. However, I invite you to think more broadly about Christian Stewardship, after all, it is not only Christians who live on this planet. All of us are finally invited to exercise our stewardship, especially those who know the Word of God. And what is stewardship? As is known, it is nothing more than firstly the recognition that God is the Lord of all that had been created, and secondly, it is nothing more than the recognition of our responsibility to being created in his image and likeness to administer the goods we have received for free from his divine hands. How have we run our house? That’s the big question.

God made us as stewards of all his creation (Sle 115:16). He himself is the Lord of all (Sle 24:1). He entrusted men with the dominion of his works (Gen 1:26). However, it requires that each one exercise stewardship faithfully (1 Cor 4.2). Aware that one day we will give an account to God for all that we have done. (Rom 14.12; II Co 5.10).

Now using one of the fathers of the church, with regard to the interconnection between Faith and Reason, we read in John Wesley that… another fundamental principle in bible study, for Wesley, is reason. In one of his books, he says: “Whoever renounces reason renounces religion; religion and reason go hand in hand; all irrational religion is false” (Works, XIV, 254).[4]

In Pmões, 33, he shows knowledge of the political problems of the world, saying:”… and not only the Spanish and the Portuguese, slaughtering thousands in South America…”. In fact, he was sensitive to the difficulties faced by the English of the poor class. In another of his writings, he asks, “Why is cereal (bread) so expensive”? Next, he analyzes the situation. Bread is expensive because cereal is being used to make booze and to feed rich people’s horses (Works 11. Pgs. 53-59). Wesley’s writings form a precious documentary on the economic, social, political and religious situation, especially in 18th-century England.[5]

Well, numerous researches done by the main international organizations in relation to the environment, provide us with the sad numbers related to deforestation, the melting of polar ice caps, the numerous deaths of animals, including threatened with extinction due to the warming of the oceans, and of course, also show the extremely worrying numbers of the death of the human being himself, who have suffered hunger, diseases and so many other miseries caused by human selfishness. I therefore think it is unequivocal to note that we are not exercising our Christian stewardship well. In this sense, it is our duty as churches, as local communities of faith to charge the properly constituted authorities to administer the natural goods that are common to all that lives, after all, what is our mission in this world? To be “salt of the earth and light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). What we are doing with its creation is unequivocally our responsibility and, of course, we are suffering the consequences of our bad attitudes, both on the personal and collective levels, after all, it is no use charging others if we also throw plastics into the oceans and do not have the slightest care for responsible consumption, etc.

In this sense, I invite you to think in two words: Globalization and Planetarization. The first, better known by many of us, as we know, is related to the market and social issue and speaks of the relations that the most varied countries have from the point of view of free trade. I invite you, however, to replace the word globalization with the word “planetarization”. This expression, in addition to being much more Christian in my view, speaks to us much more about the care we should take towards our common home, that is, our planet that has been explored so much in its natural resources and unfortunately in an unsustainable way.

Yes, we must respect the rest of the earth. And here we have one more key of interconnection: the rest of the Creator on the Sabbath with the rest of the earth, because just as the Creator rested after all he had created and saw that everything was good, the earth also needs to rest so that of course he can breathe and prepare for the new productive stage, that is, for the new creation that brings us to the Resurrection. Rest is something consecrated by the Creator.

The idea of the Sabbath as the completion of creation, and as a revelation of God’s restful existence in his creation, beckons beyond the Sabbath; points to a future in which God’s creation and revelation become redemption understood as the eternal Sabbath and new creation. However, the sabbatical year (Lev 25: 1-7), and the Jubilee year (Lv 25, 8-55) and the prophetic vision of the messianic year (Is 61: 1-11), are interconnected and point beyond historical time, that is, to messianic time. At the end of time, the Sabbath will turn into an endless feast. It is proposed here to interconnect the Sabbath on Sunday, to the day of Christ’s resurrection, the day of the Lord, which anticipates not only the sabbatical rest of the end of time, but the beginning of the new creation. The Sabbath allows us to participate in the rest of God, the feast of resurrection allows us to participate in the strength in the re-creation of the world. This day is thought of as the first day of the week. (Ibid,. 1).

Would Santo Agostinho, one of the most read and known fathers of the Church, have he influenced the thinking of so many reformers, something to tell us about this matter? Yes, he has something to tell us. We read in his work City of God:

The love of himself led to the contempt of God generates the city of the world; god’s love led to self-contempt generates the heavenly city. That aspires to the glory of men, this puts above all the glory of God. . . . The citizens of the country city are dominated by a stupid ambition of dominance that induces them to subjugate others; the citizens of the heavenly city offer themselves to each other in service and a spirit of charity and respect the duties of social discipline docilely.[6]

From this brief quote, it is evident that it is on account of our pride, or even, using the words of Santo Agostinho, on account of “a stupid ambition” that we are doing badly, however, is the invitation to change behavior, after all, it is never too late for us to proceed as citizens of the heavenly city, that is, in a different way, responsible, and that observes the social duty beyond the religious , after all, both are intertwined.

CONCLUSION

This article was supposed to answer the following problem: The Word of God and the Ecological Agenda: What do you both have to say to us?

We hypothesized that both agendas are imbriated, so they have something in common to tell us, which we have been proving throughout the article. For this we use some primary and secondary sources, such as the Word of God itself, also citing a few priests of the church, in addition to research related to the subject.

We hope to have been able to demonstrate the interconnection between the two agendas, that is, in our reading, it is not possible to cultivate only a disembodied spirituality, it would be like closing our eyes to the problems of our society, of our planet, and such a fact from the theological point of view would be contrary to the Christian faith itself.

Finally, there is the challenge for each of us to make use of this theological instrument and many others, with a view to the even greater revival of ourselves and our local communities, cious of our mister of stewards of creation, so that we hope to transform this world into a better place for us and, above all, for generations to come , our children, grandchildren and other generations live.

REFERENCES

FREIRE DA SILVA, Maria. A Criação e a Questão Ecológica no Pensamento de Jürgen Moltmann. Disponível em: <https://www.maxwell.vrac.puc-rio.br/21630/21630.PDF>. Acesso em 24 nov. 2019.

MOLTMANN, Jürgen. Teologia da esperança: estudos sobre os fundamentos e as consequências de uma escatologia cristã. São Paulo: Herder, 1971.

MAZZAROLO, Isidoro. A Bíblia e o meio ambiente. Disponível em: <http://www.fsma.edu.br/visoes/ed05/ed05_artigo_7.pdf>. Acesso em 23 nov. 2019.

RAIMER, Haroldo. Hermenêutica ecológica de textos bíblicos. Disponível em: <https://www.abiblia.org/ver.php?id=1259>. Acesso em 24 nov. 2019.

APPENDIX – FOOTNOTE REFERENCES

2. God is present in the cosmos and the cosmos is present in God. Ancient theology expressed this mutual interpenetration by the “pericórese” concept, applied to the relationship between God and creation and then between the divine Persons of the Trinity. Modern theology has coined another expression, “panentheism” (in Greek: pan = all; en = em; theos = God). That is to say: God is in everything and everything is in God. This word was proposed by the evangelical Frederick Krause (l781-1832), fascinated by the divine glow of the universe. Available at: <http://www.ihu.unisinos.br/noticias/508499-panteismoversuspanenteismo>. Accessed on 26 nov. 2019.

3. https://www.maxwell.vrac.puc-rio.br/21630/21630.PDF

4. Available in: <file:///C:/Users/Rog%C3%A9rio/Downloads/2299-5564-1-PB%20(1).pdf>. Accessed: 26 Nov. 2019.

5. (Ibid,. 3).

6. Available in: <http://oestadodaarte.com.br/a-cidade-de-deus-de-agostinho/> Accessed on 26 Nov. 2019.</http:>

[1] Master’s in Education; Lato Sensu post-graduation in Teacher Education for Higher Education; Lato Sensu postgraduate studies in Reformed Theology; Graduation in Theology; Graduation in Anglican Theology.

Submitted: November, 2019.

Approved: January, 2020.

Master's in Education; Lato Sensu post-graduation in Teacher Education for Higher Education; Lato Sensu postgraduate studies in Reformed Theology; Graduation in Theology; Graduation in Anglican Theology.

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