Thursday, June 15, 2006

The stewardship of the earth

In relation to ecological problem usually one question is asked : to whom does the earth belong?

In Ps 11: 16 it is said, “the highest heavens belong to the Lord: but he earth he has given to man”. Here the balanced answer is that the earth belongs to both God and man. In this regard we can say the earth and human beings are mutually related. In the book of Genesis the word Adam is used and which comes form adamah (earth) but this is in order that he may emerge from it as the master to whom God has confided it,. He is to rule over it (Gen 1:28) and it is like a garden of which he is appointed as steward (Gen 2:8, 15). The life of the Israelites people is intertwined with their land. The vision of land is promised in the elections of Israel (Gen 12: 17; 13:15) they grow fond of their land in the years of captivity (Ps 137: 1). Israel is conscious of being a people of the land, and of the fact that the well being of the people and the land is interconnected.

In relation to the biblical notion of blessedness and fertility, it would be reasonable to say that human responsibility towards the earth must begin with the recognition that God, not human effort, gives fertility to the earth. The life of human beings depends completely on the fertility of its soil. The Israelites has in mind that the land is God’s and they are only caretakers and therefore God assures his blessing (Deut111: 14-15). In New Testament we read “ God loved the world to such extent that he sent his son” (Jn 3:16). Even though exegetes may not be fully agree to the translation of world into earth, one could say that earth also includes in the notion of the word, world. The Pauline idea supports that the whole creation partakes in salvation or redemption by Jesus. It shows that Jesus obtained the reconciliation between man and God on earth.

With regard to the stewardship of earth Joseph Sittler says that “use and throw away” mentality is to be avoided in our relation to earth. Democratic justice questions human position with regard to the nature that he is only a minority in the vast universe and he cannot overrule the majority. The best thing humans could do is, to let thins be and to treat lightly and reverently. What is needed is the inculcation of the idea that we have to love the earth as we love a neighbor. However care must be taken not to fall into pantheism and naturalism. All these analysis reveal the fact that the future of this world is in our hand.



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