As I indicated in my last post the question I want to address for the next few blog entries is this: Is reverence for the natural world a legitimate element of Christian spirituality?
In answer to this, I would suggest that conservation of and caring for the natural order is foundational to a faith that takes the words of Scripture seriously. In Genesis 1 the natural, material world is brought forth by God’s word and repeatedly said to be “good.” Human beings are given dominion over this world (Genesis 1:26-31) and the character of that dominion is clearly portrayed as ordering, adorning, and conserving God’s physical creation.
Thus for the Christian tradition rooted in the witness of Scripture, human involvement with the natural realm is not a “hands off” approach in which the biosphere is best served by the absence of human influence. Neither is the biblical view of human interaction with the environment ruthlessly utilitarian or pragmatic. That is to say, the natural world is not simply a commodity to be expended at the whim of individual human consumers.
Moreover, the biblical doctrine of the incarnation (the teaching that God put on human flesh and came among us in the person of Jesus Christ), lends itself to promoting concern for the realm of nature. If Christians truly believe that, in Christ, the immaterial, eternal Creator condescended to clothe himself in atoms and enter his own physical creation, then material existence can never be seen as inconsequential. The incarnation means that now matter itself has been re-hallowed and has transcendent significance.
If all this were true, would not there be some residue of reverence for the material world in Christian spirituality? In the case of the Anglican expression of the Reformed Catholic faith the answer is, “Yes.” In fact, the 1979 Book of Common Prayer supports a spirituality that embraces the goodness of the natural realm, promotes the stewardship of creation, and exalts God for his mighty acts in creating and sustaining the cosmos. So in the next blog post I want to take a look at some of the important elements of the Book of Common Prayer in order to see how this resource promotes a biblically based, creation-affirming Christian spirituality.
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