The Theology Group’s work falls into two parts:
A: Discussion on Ten Significant Questions (see below)
B: Provision for the continuance of the group and its work between this meeting and the next ECEN two years hence.
It is hoped that the group will meet at Limerick, Ireland and hold our meeting at the European Theological Association’s conference in July 2009.
Our working Task is the provision of Creation-linked background material to the Great Feasts of the Liturgical Year.
There was a suggestion that it would be helpful and enlightening for everyone, for each denomination to investigate and write on Creation Theology from its own particular perspective and the problem of Anthropocentrism in all our traditions.
Another suggestion was that we might read some basic books in Creation Theology in order to be aware of work in the field and have a common basis for discussion.
A: Ten Questions:
The Theology Group’s proposed to discuss ten questions ranging over the spheres of theology in relation to Theology of Creation: of Fundamental Theology, Christology, Applied Theology and Ethics, Sacramental Theology and Liturgy, and the adequacy of these at the present time to deal with the Ecological Crisis. Because of exigencies of time, only five were discussed, and it became increasingly that the questions are indeed fundamentally interlinked and interconnected.
(not meant to be exhaustive!)
- Why did God create the World?
- What is our human vocation in the world God created?
- What is our understanding of "Priest", "Prophet" and "King" of the whole of Creation
- What is the Theological Crisis and its relation to Theology?
- The parameters of Christian Action to overcome this Crisis.
- Our Lifestyle and our perception of the world in which we live?
- God in Creation, Sacramental Presence: the revelation of God in Creation.
- "The Kingdom of God" and the "reconciliation of all things in Christ". What do these mean for us in a time of global crisis?
- Is our theology adequate to the present crisis in the world? What responsibility does Christian teaching have for the neglect and exploitative practices of the past two centuries?
- Sacramental Theology and Liturgy and the Global Crisis?
B: Some Notes on the Discussion of Five-of-Ten Questions
(time permitted discussion of only five).
1. Why did God create the World?
Can we know? God is eternally a Mystery. Maxentius says that God is beyond all, and brought creation into being so that it might rejoice with Him. The Trinity, is Love, and shares love. Creation is an act of freedom, He rejoices that we rejoice.
Plato: God as "creator", it is a necessity for God to create and share.
The Rublev Ikon: Trinity: we are sharing in love: I give back what I receive. The action of Christ; the Logos and the Spirit brought together in the unity of the Trinity which is immanent in creation. Before Christ how is God in Creation?
2. The Human Vocation:
Human vocation in relation to creation in Genesis humanity as “Kings” of Creation? Preserve and guard from corruption. Genesis 2 “To cultivate and ransom”, as Image of God we have to govern as He governs: as shepherd, servant –king. (difficulty of “kingship” in many cultures today?). (Looking at Gen.1 and 2 together, is necessary and helpful)
"Covenant" relationship: of mutual love and reciprocal action. Jesus reiterated this covenantal relationship: Ro.8: the whole of nature awaiting the coming of the Kingdom. Paul: co-creators., Corinthians: also Ps.72 , mercy, justice related to "kingship". (cf. Zizoulas interpretation of the Mercy of God, Redeemer and Father. The Justice of God, not as ours, reconciling justice, "last hope").
3. "King, Priest, Prophet".
Are these useful categories to express our engagement with nature: vocation to live in harmony and accept the integrity of creation?
Aspects of creation problematic: what is our vision or expectation of nature, "wolf and lamb"?
The Role of Priesthood, being and teaching of signs of hope is an aspect of priesthood: we mediate between God and Creation: we offer it to God, recapitulation in Christ, Eucharist: we have allowed the creation to be polluted: we are ignoring the extent of this and also the signs of hope.
We should promote the dialogue between science and religion., and find ways to emphasise and create connectedness.
Perhaps a revival of Blessings for events and occasions, and material goods: we need to learn about such traditions and promote these reclaiming of our world for God.
4. The Ecological Crisis and its relation to Theology.
Do we know the scientific facts: we need to inform ourselves of the Science and consider what political strategies are needed.
For us theologians it is also a question of the link between Creation and Redemption
Focus on Energy as fundamental issue: the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit, the "burning bush", renewable energy.
We must proclaim a simple lifestyle v. consumerism: quality of life as an improvement, "the good Life", not dominated by false "needs".
We are in a moral and Spiritual crisis: we need to cultivate attitudes of thanksgiving, gratitude and prayer and what it means to be a priest of creation.
We are the environment of other creatures and we need to restore a proper engagement with the world around us, as co-creators we use knowledge and skills and also cultivate an attitude of Repentance.
5. Christian attitudes in overcoming the Crisis.
“The Liturgy beyond the liturgy”: continuing our worship into daily life of the community: creating community that counteracts the culture of shopping-centres as the only place to be. Preaching to the poor about consumerism is not helpful! Consumerism is about status: "I shop therefore I am"!
Rediscovering real needs and real sense of being: Koinonia is possible. Likewise the monastic model of St. Benedict and others, has concepts and practices about the values of Christian living, and the building of communities.
We need to promote Education
- in awareness of the ecological crisis and how we might respond to it,
- in listening to the Spirit of Creation, and see its intrinsic values,
- in Eco-Theology for students and candidates for priesthood,
- offering leadership and involvement to local communities to find local solutions and press for political action,
- Prayer and Meditation: to use the Christian traditions to see what it is to pray in the midst of the global environmental crisis today, and create opportunities for people to have these experiences that will help urban people to be alive and be themselves with God, and develop their relationship with God as their Creator as the antidote to urban desolation and lack of identity. Restoration of life in time and space will be helped by the recovery of Sunday and harmony for the physical self in time and space.
- Pilgrimages can be re-envisioned as expression of the experience of common identity, values, actions and shared life experience of being “the body of Christ” in the world today, in relation to the Creation.
Louisa Poole (louisapoole AT hotmail.com Please use ECEN in the e.mail title in correspondence)