Stewards of Eden would be a great book for a church to read together.
Sandra L. Richter’s book, Stewards of Eden, is important for a number of reasons.
First, it reminds believers that our salvation is not limited to the saving of souls. God loves His world, and Jesus has reconciled that world unto His Father. We are now called – as believers have always been called – to bring all of creation under the rule of King Jesus, to keep and develop and guard the creation, so that all of it might be liberated from its groaning and set free to praise and glorify God by serving His people everywhere. Caring for the creation is “a regular attribute of God’s communicated values and affections.” It’s not merely an issue for liberal or progressive political parties.
Second, as a study in Biblical theology, Stewards of Eden provides a fine example of how seeing the Bible as one developing narrative of salvation can keep us from a too-small view of the Gospel and a too-distant understanding of the Kingdom of God. While Dr. Richter’s work in this subject is not exhaustive – she did not intend it to be – it is exemplary, and it shows us why her topic matters Biblically, at the same time it offers guidance in how a Biblical theological approach to our Christian worldview can offer a wider and more fruitful perspective on life. At the end of her study, she summarizes, “We have seen that the themes of sustainable land use, humane treatment of livestock, care for the wild creature, respect for the flora and fauna of our leased land, and care for the widow and orphan are reiterated from Eden to the new Jerusalem.”
Third, Dr. Richter turns to the Law of God and provides helpful guidance in how to interpret the holy and righteous and good commandments of God in our present context. She explains the use of the commandments as representative and analogical, and offers very useful comparisons of how obeying God’s Law would save us from many environmental and economical conundrums of our day.
Her study of the topic of creation care makes many excellent comparisons with issues before us today, including, the care of creation and its creatures, wisdom in farming and animal husbandry, stewardship of the land, and care for the poor and needy. Again, none of these is exhaustive, but each is sufficient to get our attention and get us thinking about how we might bring the reality of our salvation to bear more pointedly on creation matters.
Each chapter includes case studies of present environmental issues and questions for discussions; and a final section offers many practical ways readers can become involved in creation care right where they are.
Dr. Richter reminds us, “God takes pleasure in his creation. He has designed it, provided for it, and his expectation is that his people will respect and protect it.” If you’ve never read anything on the subject of creational theology or creation care, Stewards of Eden is as good a place as any to begin. She opines, “in this fallen world, the role of the redeemed community is to live our lives as an expression of another kingdom, to reorient our values to those of our heavenly Father, to live our lives as Adam and Eve should have, as Jesus Christ has.”
This is an important and useful book, one which could help whole congregations stretch out into a larger and more fruitful and exciting experience of our great salvation.