The Collision (or Cooperation?) of Evangelism, Compassion, Environment and Apocalypse
This week’s lesson on God and creation care grapples with a complex set of theological and sociological conundrums. Our commitment to proclamation of the gospel, anticipation of the coming of Christ, and theological understanding of our world’s destruction in final judgment, collides with the expression of God’s character in His creation and our responsibility for care of the environment and humanity.
God is extolled in Scripture as a lawgiver: “For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; it is he who will save us.” Is. 33:12 NIV.
The law of God can be compared to safety concerns that bracket in time a fatal car wreck that occurs at an unmarked intersection. A benevolent concern for others is a universal sentiment that precedes the car wreck, but placement of the stop sign follows the car wreck. Law precedes sin and sin precedes law.
Holiness means “set apart,” and that set apartness is the main theme of this week’s SDA lesson quarterly chapter on “The Holiness of God.” “God is set apart from anything else in creation,” asserts our lesson author, Professor Jo Ann Davidson. “He is transcendently separate, so far above and beyond anything that we can truly grasp. To be holy is to be “other,” to be different in a special way, as with the seventh-day Sabbath.” I have no quarrel with this assertion nor with where Prof.
One of the best editors I ever wrote for frequently reminded me that I had a tendency – unfortunate from his perspective – to try to cover too many topics in one column. “Keep it simple, Thompson,” he would plead. “Focus on one point.”
Usually he was right. But sometimes I was rebellious and deliberately slipped into sin. This piece is another example of that since because I am so eager to see the grace/judgment theme become fertile soil for enriching Adventist dialogue, rather than being just a trigger for destructive argument.
Editor's Note: After reading the Teachers notes for this week's Sabbath School lesson, Phillip Brantley was moved to send us this comment, which we are sharing here.]
This quarter’s Sabbath School Lessons—Glimpses of our God—devotes the second week’s lesson to the biblical teaching about Creation. I am dismayed to note that the Teachers Edition sets forth comments I find disturbing regarding science, the scientific method, and scientists, as follows:
Paul makes an extraordinary statement in his closing remarks to the Galatians: "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14, NIV) Never boast except in this ONE thing? The world (absolutely everything) has been crucified (killed) to me and I have been crucified (killed) to the world? Jesus has replaced absolutely everything? ONE has become ALL? Astonishing.