Project Augustine

Chapter 5: “The Good Creation”

  1. In 2001, during “Hannity & Colmes”, columnist Ann Coulter was quoted saying “God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.'”  On page 93, Migliore writes, “[Critics] charge that Christianity is a primary source of the ecological crisis; it is a major part of the problem rather than a possible part of the solution.  According to these critics, the seed of the rapacious attitudes toward the natural environment characteristic of the modern era is to be found precisely in the Christian tradition and its scriptures.”
    1. Do you find this critique to be warranted?  Are Christians at fault for not being in the forefront of environmental responsibility?  Is it more important to save souls or participating in social agendas than saving the environment?  Agree or disagree?

  2. On page 101, he writes, “The grace of God did not first become active in the calling of Abraham or in the sending of Jesus.  In the act of creation, God already manifests the self-communicating, other-affirming, communion-forming love that defines God’s eternal triune reality…”  And then he goes on after that to describe it not only as grace, but as “costly grace” or an “act of divine kenosis” whereby it’s an act of God that is a “self-humiliation or self-limitation” of God so that others may have life, and have a relatively independent existence alongside Him.
    1. What are your thoughts about creation being an act of grace?  Have you thought about creation in this way before?
    2. What about God’s kenosis?

  3. On the bottom of page 101 and continued on page 102, he writes about “The realization of this radical contingency, of our awareness of being primarily recipients of life, is what some philosophers and theologians have called the ‘shock of nonbeing.’  You and I are not necessary.  We are creatures who exist at the pleasure of our creator.  As contingent beings, our existence is precarious.”
    1. A thought popped into my mind, with all this contingency, yes we have free will and freedom which gives us to experience true love, but at the same time experience great pain, sorrow, and death as well. (Barth talks about the ‘shadow side’ of the good creation.) God seemingly took a big risk in creation.  Does this existential reality lead to question or doubt God’s intention as well?  Or does it bolster your faith and make you trust and depend upon God even more?

  4. Page 108: “Joseph Sittler, one of the pioneers in the renewal of ecological concern in 20th century theology, argued that the doctrine of the Trinity has been neglected in much Western theology, with a resultant narrowing of the understanding of the salvific work of God.  According to Sittler, when grace is limited to the forgiveness of sins, the grace of God that is already present in the gift of life is neglected.  Sittler called for a recovery of the ‘Trinitarian amplitude’ of the church’s understanding of the grace of God and insisted on viewing the whole of creation as the ‘field of grace.’”

  5. On pages 110 – 113, he writes about “Models of Creation” and different analogies or metaphors we use to describe the divine act of creation:
    1. Generation
    2. Fabrication/Formation
    3. Emanation
    4. Mind/body relationship
    5. Artistic expression
    6. Which model do you most relate with and why?
      1.  “God’s creativity comes to its conclusion in this story in the rest, celebration, and festivity of the Sabbath, not in the making of humanity.  As the completion and crown of creation, the Sabbath is a reminder of the playful dimension of the divine creativity and a foretaste of the joy, freedom, and peace for which the world was created.” (p. 113)

  6. In regards to the last section of the chapter regarding “The Doctrine of Creation and Modern Science” what do you see is the greatest challenge b/w the two?  Did you have a tough time reconciling your faith with the discoveries and advances in science?  How do you deal with other Christians who take a stance against science or evolution, and posit a more creationist stance?
    1. Page 115: “One philosopher of science remarks that today it is not only the case that faith seeks understanding, but that scientific understanding is, at least in a broad sense of the term, in search of faith.”
      1.   Any thoughts?


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