April 2009


The Village of Frankfort celebrated Earth Day and Arbor Day last Saturday with a community clean-up. It was great to see many people from our church tackle the section of Route 30 surrounding us, picking up everything from candy bar wrappers to a car windshield. Thanks to everyone who came!

Our church’s participation caused me to reflect on my own journey of thought regarding environmentalism. Growing up, the environment wasn’t even on my radar screen and things like Earth Day were completely ignored in most of the circles of influence around me. My base line thought process was summed up in the often sarcastic mantra of many Christians: “It’s all going to burn in the end anyways.” Such disregard was pretty hypocritical, given how much I enjoyed the outdoors, not to mention the fact that it was thoroughly unbiblical. I don’t deny that there will be a new earth one day to replace this sin-cursed one, but Romans 8:21 seems to indicate that the coming of that new earth is less about the destruction of the created order and more about its redemption. The parallel can be seen in the fact that I care for my own body as worship to God, though I know I will one day receive a new, resurrection body; I should do the same for creation. And if the coming of the new earth at the end of time is akin to redemption, than it is in some way wrapped up in the wider focus of the cross. In other words, while the death and resurrection of Jesus are primarily about the atonement of God’s children, it could be said that the restoration of all things in the end, including creation, is also something made possible by the work of Christ. Caring for creation moves from a cursory issue to a cross issue.

My hypocritical and uninformed thoughts slowly softened after getting married and learning that my wife was committed to recycling, a practice I had never adopted. Around that same time I was directly challenged in a Systematic Theology class in seminary taught by Dr. Gregg Allison. I ended that class by writing a paper about how Christians should make creation care a priority, not simply because of utilitarian reasons (“if we don’t take care of this place, things will turn out bad for us later”), but primarily because our world reflects God’s glory and has been made for us to enjoy.

My journey has taken me from almost total disregard to seeing that caring for our planet is rooted in the act of creation, the work of the cross and resurrection, God’s glory, and my joy. I now believe Christians have the greatest reasons in the world to be at least somewhat involved in aspects of environmentalism.

I’ll admit that I am still developing in my understanding of how Christians should exercise creation care, but it is something Christians need to think about. Regardless of our understanding of or opinions about the current hypotheses regarding the future of our planet, every generation has legitimate environmental concerns that no one will argue with. And for better or worse, these concerns are at the forefront of many people’s minds in our day, including evangelicals. An insightful Christianity Today article by Telford Work on the release of The Green Bible quoted a Barna Group study that stated, “Nine in ten American evangelicals would like Christians to care more actively for creation.” That desire is probably closer to God’s heart than I would have admitted years ago.

And this renewed focus on creation care not only fits into the church’s theology, but her outreach as well. Environmentalism is a concern for many, but often for false or misinformed reasons. When the church lends a hand in cleaning the earth and communicates the gospel- and God-centered reasons behind such actions, we point those in our world to look outside themselves and to the firstborn of all creation, through whom and for whom all things have been (Colossians 1:15-16).

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I’m really looking forward to heading to the Gospel Coalition Conference this week, Tuesday through Thursday. Andrea pointed out the lineup to me in a Christianity Today ad awhile back, and, while I knew it was right up my alley, I didn’t think the timing was right, nor did I see it in the church’s or my budget. Well, a short time later I was linked to a contest at Crossway publisher’s blog, and ended up winning a free registration. Time frees up when things are free, so I am heading north to Rosemont, IL, tomorrow and looking forward to seeing how God is going to shape me into a greater pastor, husband, father, and follower of Christ in general through the week-long meditation on 2 Timothy. I’m praying that I would learn and allow the truth I learn to change me… and that my head doesn’t explode.

If you are interested they are streaming the entire conference here – it would be worth sitting down and enjoying at least one session sometime this week. The main session speakers are: Tim Keller, John Piper, Phil Ryken, Mark Driscoll, K. Edward Copeland, Bryan Chapell, Ajith Fernando, Ligon Duncan, and D. A. Carson.

I just finished reading Why We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck. It’s been on my “To Read” list since I received it at the Together for the Gospel ’08 Conference, and it’s appearance as one of Christianity Today’s books of the year pulled it off the shelf and into my hands. Also, given that I grew up in a conservative Christian church and am now in my 20’s but not a part of an emerging community, the title fits my life at this moment and motivated me to read it.

I echo many others who have said that this book is a great introduction to the emergent/emerging movement in the church, and would add that this would be a good read even for people who are completely unfamiliar with the topic, given that so many of the patterns of thinking in the movement seem to simply be a product of our culture’s way of thinking about and approaching God. I feel these currents of thought surging in the church at large, and at times see them rise above the surface in my own church.

DeYoung and Kluck are generous in their praise, precise in their critiques, and biblically centered throughout. They are both first-rate writers, blending humor and depth seamlessly, and I found the way they wrote every-other chapter made the book very engaging. The last chapter’s discussion and application of the church’s from Revelation 2-3 served as a great summary and action step for the book as a whole. DeYoung and Kluck had me thanking the emergent movement for their needed critique in certain areas, but, even more so, I felt well equipped to stand against the errors of thought and practice coming from this movement and elsewhere that are so dangerous to the historic Christian faith.