Sacramental Worldview

In next couple of days we will be following Rev. Ben Sharp’s thoughts on the relationship between the Sacraments and discipleship. The Rev Ben Sharpe is Rector of Christ Church in Winston Salem an Anglican Mission church that was planted a few years ago.

Ben has been married to his childhood sweetheart, Lisa, for 29 years. They are the parents of three lovely young women.

The Rev. Ben Sharpe has served in pastoral and church planting ministry for over 20 years. In 1995 he planted Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Fayetteville NC. In 2004 he and his family “came home” to the Anglican Mission in America. Ben received his undergraduate degree from the University of NC – Chapel Hill. He is a 1991 magna cum laude graduate (MDiv) from The Divinity School of Duke University.

Ben is deeply interested in early church history and sees our post-modern culture as significantly similar to the world the Church experienced for the first 400 years of the Christian era. He believes these connections offer direction for evangelism and discipleship in the 21st century.

Ben is an avid “section hiker” of the Appalachian Trail and claims his one athletic ability is carrying heavy objects over long distances. He also brews his own beer.

Most of all, Ben loves Jesus Christ, is passionate about the Gospel of salvation, and authentic Christian discipleship.

you can read more from his blog here

Discipleship and Environmentalism?

How should Christians relate to the natural world and to environmental concerns?  If talk radio (whether the boisterous commercial broadcasters of the political right or the political ideology that appropriately occupies the far left end of the FM dial) is any indication there seems to be a couple of dominant trends that drive the environmental discussion.  Since I don’t think I can hold most readers’ attention by “nuancing” every statement I will attempt to state these positions broadly and hopefully fairly.  But we need to recognize that both of these positions have an “extreme” element that tends to drive the discussion.

On the one hand there is the view which suspects that any attempt to publicly address ecological concerns, either by voluntarily curbing consumption or implementing environmental regulations, is an assault on personal liberty.  Painting with an extremely large brush, there often seems to be an accompanying utilitarian approach to the environment: the natural world is the vast repository of material resources to be harvested to fuel our consumer economy.  Sometimes proponents of this view see God’s command for humanity to have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28) as an excuse for rapacious consumerism.  An extreme version of this view runs like this:

The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man’s dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet — it’s yours. That’s our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars — that’s the Biblical view.  (Ann Coulter, Jewish World Review, October 13, 2000,)

On the other end of the political spectrum there is at least a rhetorical commitment to protecting the environment. However this position often sentimentalizes or even idolizes the natural world and sees humanity’s use of natural recourses as inherently suspect.  Rather than having a twisted view of dominion theology, there is almost no discussion of humanity having any form of divine mandate in relation to the environment.

The extreme expression of this position promotes voluntary extinction of humanity as the best possible hope for the biosphere.  While this extreme is far from mainstream, even respected environmental philosophers have viewed humanity as innately problematic for the biosphere.  Philosopher Paul Taylor takes this position in his book, Respect for Nature:

Given the total, absolute, and final disappearance of Homo Sapiens, not only would the Earth’s Community of Life continue to exist, but in all probability, its well-being would be enhanced. Our presence, in short, is not needed. And if we were to take the standpoint of that Life Community and give voice to its true interests, the ending of the human epoch on Earth would most likely be greeted with a hearty “Good riddance! [Paul Taylor, Respect for Nature: a theory of environmental ethics (Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 2011), 115.]

So the question I want to address in the next few blog posts is this: Is reverence for the natural world a legitimate element of Christian spirituality?  And if it is, then how do we live it out as followers of Jesus Christ?


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Filed under Anglicanism, Discipleship

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