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“Consumerism is a great idol of our time, in the church we have to ask ourselves if we are participating in it”

In Spain, a group of Christians involved in creation care have published recommendations for both local churches and individual believers.

FUENTES Protestante Digital AUTOR 45/Jonatan_Soriano,5/Evangelical_Focus VALENCIA 21 DE MARZO DE 2024 13:21 h
Photo: [link]Muhammad Numan[/link], Unsplash CC0.

The creation care working group of the Lausanne Movement in Spain, has published a practical guide and a diptych on this subject to be distributed in churches.

The group was formed as a result of spontaneous contacts at the national Bioethics Conference held just over a year ago.

Its members, from a range of evangelical churches in the country, began to share common concerns, materials and mutual encouragement in a process that has now led to the publication of a Practical guide for churches on creation care. The document includes a brief theological reflection as well as practical advice on creation care for churches and individuals.

To organise an annual worship service on creation care, or to compensate the personal carbon footprint through different initiatives such as Climate Stewards, are some of the proposals included in the document.

Spanish news website Protestante Digital spoke to Paula Casamayor, a member of the Lausanne Movement working group on creation care in Spain.

[photo_footer] An image of the proposals for churches presented by the Lausanne Movement Spain creation care group. [/photo_footer] 

Question. How did these documents come about?

Answer. At the fourth National Bioethics Conference, as a result of a series of coincidences that, I believe, were divinely directed, we met several people from the evangelical context in Spain with a sensitivity for nature, the care of creation and the environmental crisis... and the idea of starting something came up.

This document is a beginning and a way forward, it does not aim to become part of a bibliography, but something with which, perhaps, to reach people who are also a little isolated on this issue and who can ask questions and even join in. We hope that it can be a catalyst for other greater things that the Lord wants to bring about in our country.

The plan is a basic guide for churches with ideas of things that can be done both at church and as individuals to contribute to creation care. It is not intended as a stand-alone document, but as something auxiliary for workshops, sermons on a Sunday or other initiatives.


Q. Have you then been working on this material since the evangelical Bioethics conference?

A. Yes, it was about 30 people from all over Spain. That led to the creation of a network of e-mails, through which we shared reasons for prayer, activities that were being carried out on the subject in different churches, related documentation, etc. There were also some online meetings to develop a joint reflection.

[destacate] “The material is auxiliary and should go with workshops, sermons on a Sunday and other creation care initiatives”[/destacate] Since there were people in the group who were already involved with the Lausanne Movement in Spain, little by little, the group began to spread until it reached the National Committee, which was interested in covering and embracing this initiative and institutionalising it so that it could grow in a more structured way.


Q. What makes up the guide?

A. We have published two documents. One is the complete guide, which is designed to be viewed digitally. The other is a leaflet that can be handed out in churches, perhaps to coincide with a service or preaching focused on the theme, so that people can take away these practical ideas and then apply them both at home and in churches.

In the guide there is an introduction that is based on international Lausanne encounters, such as the 2010 Cape Town Commitment, basically a compressed theological summary of why, as Christians, we need to care about the planet and creation, far beyond what it has to do with human survival and comfort.

It is a brief theological foundation to begin to talk about specific things that we as a church and as individuals can do to honour God in the way we engage with His creation.


Q. What lacks or needs have you identified in churches and Christians regarding this issue?

A. The church side is mainly inspired by documents produced by A Rocha, the global Christian nature conservation organisation.

In Northern Europe, the issue of creation care seems to be taken more seriously both culturally and ecclesiastically, and many of the initiatives are born there. In other parts of the world, we find a stronger lack and we can be inspired by those who have been working on this issue for a long time.

John Stott, in the 20th century, in his book The Radical Disciple already spoke of creation care as one of the different issues we should embrace in our sanctification and spiritual growth.

Some, particularly in the Spanish evangelical context, have called this issue 'the great omission'. Where is this issue in our churches? In what pulpit is it talked about? In what evangelistic material has it been included? In what Christian social justice practice is there any reference to environmental justice as part of social justice?

[destacate]“Where is this issue in our churches, In which pulpits is it talked about, In which evangelistic material has it been included?”[/destacate]I personally think it is seen as a kind of passion or self-interest that has little to do with individual faith. And when we suddenly think about preaching and singing worship songs about it, having worship services outdoors or making it the theme of one of our retreats as a church, it still doesn't seem to fit.

That is why we maybe need to start doing some kind of theological reconciliation at the church level.


Q. You propose a worship service on creation care as well as hiring renewable energy.

A. Church life is also a reconciliation between the great gap described in the most recent gospel literature in reference to the apparent separation between spiritual or ministerial things and the material world. This, rather than biblical, is platonic, gnostic.

It is as if we think that what we do in church on Sunday is in one sphere, and what we do during the week is in another and is not of God.

The problem with that way of thinking is that God is Lord of all, also of our agenda and of the whole of this planet. So this work of reconciliation is necessary and the guide takes this into account.

It is about seeing how we can have that transversal perspective in both spiritual and ecclesial activities, as well as in the more routine and logistical ones, and see how making that effort has an effect on the rest of people and the life on the planet.


Q. And on an individual level?

A. Although it is hard to see this in churches, our lifestyle, in this globalised and connected world, has an impact.

How many trousers we buy and have in our wardrobe that impacts the land and environment of Bangladesh. Also a spiritual impact.

Consumerism is one of the great idols of our time in the West and in the church we need to ask ourselves whether we are participating in this collective idolatry, with the effects it has both materially and spiritually.

In every decision we make, we can choose whether we seek to honour God and his creation, or simply participate in the cultural inertia without thinking. Going for the easy, the comfortable and the fast, participating in all this whirlpool, without realising the dimensions it has already taken and the consequences it has and will have.

We are talking about justice and living lives that can speak, in word and in deed, of who God is and who the Lord of our hearts is.


Q. Where should all this lead us as church and disciples?

A. I am beginning to see an awakening in Spanish evangelicals, who are starting to listen to the groans of creation.

[destacate] “In every decision we make, we can choose whether we seek to honour God and his creation, or simply participate in the cultural inertia without thinking”[/destacate] My desire, as the guide also says, is that this bread and fish, so simple and humble, that we present before God, may be multiplied by Him and that He may make it reach people who agree or disagree with this issue, but that it may help to begin to talk about it and encourage a space for reflection and dialogue. The Lord is the One who does the work and will touch hearts.

The goal is that this material opens this Pandora's box and can be a channel for other things to come.

I have in mind an image that we have used in some workshops on the subject. It shows three drawings that represent three perspectives that the human being can take towards the rest of creation.

The first is the 'ego' perspective, in which man is at the top, woman a little lower, and then the rest of the beings subjected to this governance of over-exploitation.

The second perspective is the 'eco' perspective, in which man and woman are just two more animals in the midst of all the others and the theological basis that we are created in the image of God, separate from the rest of creation and with a purpose, is lost. In fact, we see the consequences of this in today's society, which is the idea of human beings as just one species among all the others, and that we are the cause of all evil on the planet, so we might as well extinct for example by controlling the birth rate.

And finally, the third perspective is 'theo'. Here, man and woman appear together, as a team, at the bottom, while at the top, in the shape of a heart, are the rest of the living beings.

That is the model that comes from Jesus, who did not come to be served, but to serve in love and to make the life around him flourish. This would be the call to be guardians and gardeners of God's work.


Q. In the ecclesiological sphere there are different points of view on this question. How do you handle this issue in the face of all this diversity?

A. I personally have that challenge with friends with whom I have been able to talk about it.

Perhaps also in Spain, but especially in other parts of the world, many Christians are totally negationist about the environmental crisis and have separated science from faith in many respects. They focus on saving souls exclusively and separate this from everything that is material.

Dialogue has to be done by listening and asking questions; it is the most humble approach and the one that can bear the most fruit.

I also like a reflection I have heard in several circles that suggests to go back to the basics of looking for common ground and dialogue from there.

We all agree on who made Creation and to whom it belongs, beyond any other question. From that common ground, we can ask ourselves what right we have to participate in the destruction of something our God created.

[destacate] We all agree on who made Creation and to whom it belongs. From that, we can ask ourselves what right we have to participate in the destruction of something our God created”[/destacate] If it is clear to us that Jesus is coming back and we are going to rise again, then we must ask ourselves why we are caring for our bodies and why we are comforting, supporting or helping a brother in faith, if Jesus is coming back and will do it all.

We must ask ourselves whether we are bringing heaven to earth and sowing seeds of eternity that will bear fruit later, or participating in planetary destruction.


[title]One more year[/title]


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