18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:18-25 (ESV)
Creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freed of the glory of the Children of God, for we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Our salvation is the salvation of the world. This is the Christian cosmetology, in extricable linked to our eschatology. The world indeed is coming to an end as we now know it, but what is coming is far greater than any environmentalist could ever dream.
It strikes me often, the religious zeal that people display for the environment, scientists today have become worse than the Roman magisterium of the middle ages. If you show contradictions of logic in their reasoning, if you question their findings they appeal to their authority as scientists and declare you too stupid to understand. They certainly don’t have any obligation to explain their thoughts or defend their findings to you. They bad mouth philosophy and then engage in the circular reasoning of Hume to deny the possibility of miracles. Science does not exist apart from philosophy, it was the western Philosophical tradition, largely influenced by theological discussions that gave birth to the greatest insights in the history of science. So yes, I scratch my head at reports of global warming, when the geological record and history itself documents periods warmer and colder than ours. At the same time, I enjoy the efforts of cleaning the air in major cities. A friend once looked with astonishment when at the conclusion of a hunt I emptied a bag full of trash I had collected along the hike. Trash that added considerably to the weight of water for the dogs, ammo, and the shotgun I was carrying up and down the hills. I think that creation is something that should be taken care of while we are here.
I’ll go one further. I think God created us to take care of his creation. He created us special to share his image that we would join in with him in his creative activity, which is why the first chapters of Genesis also explain such things as where gold can be mined, and onyx found. It is why he gives us dominion over the animals, to exercise the same love for them that he bestows upon us, love that includes sustainable management, preservation from extinction and so forth. When the spring comes and I begin tilling the earth in my back yard for a landscaping project or the planting of a vegetable garden, for me this is an act of alignment with God’s good order. Taking a dead piece of wood and transforming it into sculpture is the same whether the subject matter be overtly religious or secular, the mere act of artistic creation is a claim to the image in which I was created, and perhaps a prayer of lament that realizes how much of that has fallen in this world. A prayer of hope for better times to come.
The creation groans in child birth. Oh, I may be skeptical concerning different aspects of the environmental agenda. I also see in the concern an aspect of that divine image effaced. I see too a recognition of the reality that this world is in pain. If I didn’t know better I would mistake it for the groans of a painful death. But I know something quite different. This world, if it dies, will die in childbirth giving birth to that which comes. A much greater world restored to the perfection with which God originally intended, when indeed man will live in harmony with creation, a harmony that death itself has destroyed in this world. There in the restored image of God promised to us in the death of Christ and secured in his resurrection, we will once again know the full glory of the image of God as we take a file and rasp to the blocks of onyx and shape sculptures for our gardens. The pain we suffer here just does not compare to the glory we will experience there.