A Rocha founders, Revd Peter and Miranda Harris, were pleased to attend the Trinity Sunday service at Saint Paul's (11 June) during which Father Peter very kindly offered a sermon reflecting on the rich complexity of Psalm 8. "O
Lord our Governor, how excellent is thy Name in all the world : thou that hast set thy glory above the heavens!" (Book of Common Prayer Psalter)
(Father Peter will attend the A Rocha Reception at Saint Paul's this evening.)
From an interview published in Christianity Today, June 2011:
Peter Harris: It's important to understand that A Rocha, as a movement, is driven by biblical theology. It's not a Christian attempt to "save the planet." It's a response to who God is.
We may do many of the same things as do secular environmental organizations, but we do them for very different reasons. One question for any kind of activism is, how long are you going to be able to keep doing it? If you believe you're going to be able, by technology, by political force, by whatever means, to save the planet, you may well get exhausted and disillusioned and depressed. These are genuine problems within the environmental movement.
If, on the other hand, you do what you do because you believe it pleases the living God, who is the Creator and whose handiwork this is, your perspective is very different. I don't think there is any guarantee we will save the planet. I don't think the Bible gives us much reassurance about that. But I do believe it gives God tremendous pleasure when his people do what they were created to do, which is care for what he made.
Our job in reading Scripture is not primarily to find proof texts about creatures with wings or legs. Our job is to discover: Who is God? Who is Jesus Christ? What do they care about? And how does the Spirit enable us to live that life?
Look at Hosea 4. In the first three verses, we have moral problems: adultery and murder, bloodshed following bloodshed. But then, "Therefore the land mourns," and "the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away" (v. 3). That's a prophecy three millennia before we have the words for a marine crisis. Who would have thought that the fish of the sea would die? Until modern times, the fish of the sea seemed like an inexhaustible resource. You get those ecological consequences of the broken relationship with God all the way through Scripture. But at the same time, there's the phenomenal hope that as people are restored in Christ to a right relationship with God, there will be a restoration of our relationship to creation and healing for the creation.
It's important to recognize that we are losing species on the planet at an unprecedented rate since industrialization. Now, if in Psalm 104 it says, "In wisdom [God] made them all," and if God gave us the work of caring for creation, then clearly, we aren't fulfilling the biblical vision.
I think the Christian vision of conservation (is) one that has to do with human flourishing, that has to do with recognizing that a ravaged creation has wrecked not just species but God's intention for time, for Sabbath, and that in turn wrecks families and whole societies.