Re: Theological basis for stewardship and creation care

From: Steve Bishop (
Date: Fri May 10 2002 - 02:32:00 EDT

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    Thanks for the post outlining the biblical approach to stewardship. I
    particularly liked the worldview approach. I wondered if you (or anyone
    else) had come across and responded to objections to stewardship.

    The Australian philospher John Passmore and the Eastern Orthodox Paulos Mar
    Gregorios provide three examples:
    (1) Passmore maintains that stewardship 'relates to the Church, not to
    nature'(_Man's (sic) Responsibility for Nature_, Duckworth, 1974, p. 29).
    (2) Passmore also contends that if humanity is to image God, then humanity
    is to nature as God is to humanity. This suggest that nature is humanityís
    servant as humanity is Godís servant, thus leaving Christianity open to Lyn
    White Jrís accusation that nature is at humnaityís disposal.
    (3) Gregorios contends that stewardship reduces nature to ënothing but an
    object given into our hands for safe keeping and good managementí (_The
    Human Presence_ , Amity House, 1987, p.88).
    (4) Another, perhaps more recent objection, is that it suggests that nature
    is ëout thereí and human beings are in some sense separate from the object
    of their care.

    My own take is (and I dealt with these, in part, in my 'Green theology and
    deep ecology: New Age or new creation' _Themelios_ 16 (3)
    (1991)(incidentally, I was taken to task for some aspects of this article in
    a subsequent edition of Themelios by Michael Roberts! As ever he was partly
    right 8-))!!):

    (1) Pasmore is guilty of spiritialising ñ or even ecclesiastising - the

    (2) This argument is wrongheaded; even if
    God : humanity : nature
    it does not impy
    nature : humanity : God
    There is no evidence to suggest that the argument is commutative.

    (3) Stewardship rather than reducing nature opens it up to new
    possibilities. It brings liberation for creation because it fulfils their
    God-given roles. Secondly, there is no evidence that nature should be
    treated as an object; the whole premise of stewardship is that the earth has
    been given to humanity because of Godís love and concern for creation: it is
    his and he made it.

    (4) There is some force in this argument.

    I'd be interested in what others think.


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