It seems rather strange to me that there hasn't been a simple introductory book on Christianity and the environment. It seems a remarkable oversight. Or perhaps there are some, and I've failed to find them. Either way, there is one now.
Planetwise deals with that recurring question of whether or not Christians should be concerned with the environment - and if they should, how should they live in response? The author's answer is an adamant yes, caring for the earth is not just an intrinsic part of the Christian faith, but right at the heart of what it is to be human.
Following a pattern of creation, fall, and redemption, Planetwise shows how the Christian message is good news for the whole planet, how God's promises include the earth itself, and where we have sold Jesus' message short with a narrow perspective of soul-saving and future heaven.
In response, Bookless calls Christians to incorporate good environmental stewardship into their discipleship, worship, and mission. That involves lifestyle change. "Can you spot Christians by the cars they drive," he asks, "the contents of their shopping trolleys or the amount of waste they send to landfill?" Perhaps one day we will, and we'll be a little closer to meaning what we say when we pray "your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Recent years have seen a proliferation of books on a Christian approach to environmental care. We have had Russell, the Hodgsons, White and Spencer, Berry and Bookless. Why the resurgence of interest? What is interesting is that most of these authors have imbibed a neocalvinist framework: creation, fall and redemption. Many via Tom Wright and his amplification of the three stage into a five part play. Such is the case of Bookless in this book.
Bookless was throwing away some rubbish while on holiday when he felt God spoke in an inner whisper to him 'How do you think I feel about what you are doing to my world?' This book is the result of careful thought about that revelation and shift in perspective. As he puts it: 'God spoke, creation groaned, and worship could never be the same again'.
Bookless is the National Director of A Rocha UK, a Christian environmental group, so this book is the result of thought and action. This is no armchair theorising.
He starts by utilising Tom Wright's five acts framework of Creation, Fall, Israel, Jesus and the present future age. These form the first five chapters of the book. He writes in an engaging and helpful way. Though I would have liked to have seen more emphasis on the cultural mandate. His approach is very accessible and readable, each chapter ends with a three questions which aid reflection and discussion. The influence of another Wright - Christopher J. H. - is also evident here. Not only in the number of triangles but with the emphasis on land.
The remaining chapters, 6-9, all look have the title: 'Living it out: X as if creation matters'. Where X is discipleship, worship, lifestyle and mission. Here we see these important topics in the light of creation. He makes an important observation: 'Can you spot Christians by the cars that they drive (not just the the bumper stickers)...?' p.117. There are many wise practical and attainable ideas for how we can make our discipleship and lifestyle consistent with our beliefs and he manages to do it in a way that is not guilt inducing.
Unfortunately, there is no index, but there are three pages of end notes and two and a half pages of useful resources.
This is one of the best of the recent spate of green books. Highly recommended!
I have read tis book at least twice. The first time was very quick because I could not put it down. The second not only to think about what I had just read but also trying to put them into practice. This is not just an easy to comprehend book, but also offers suggestions on how to put the principles into practice. I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who seeks to put care for creation into their lifestyle
A really good introduction into why Christians should care for the world and practically how they can go about, it all undertaken in a very readable style. This isn't a book for the minority of Christians who are interested in the environment it is a book to be read by all to aid the understanding that our call to care for creation is for all Christians and effects our understanding of our whole faith.
I loved this book, I'd recommend it for every Christian to read. Caring for the environment is a very ignored part of the Christians conscience, and seen as something that someone should do something about. Dave Bookless takes the challenge to every Christian to live connected lives. Connected with God, humans and creation.