Quaker Earthcare Testimony—An Opening

April 23, 2016 § 1 Comment

From opening to leading to ministry

In 1990, Buffalo Meeting asked New York Yearly Meeting’s Friends in Unity with Nature task group to bring them a program for the twentieth anniversary of Earth Day, which was still celebrated on Sundays then. NYYM’s FUN had been established by the little group that heard the word from Marshall Massey’s address to the FGC Gathering several years before.

A f/Friend and I went to Buffalo, and I had my notes all ready. But while praying over them the night before, I had an opening. I would later find the opening articulated by Matthew Fox in The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, so I know the basic ideas were in the air, but to me it came as a thunderbolt, a new revelation. The opening was this:

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:1-3)

If the Christ was the Word, the Logos, the organizing principle and order of creation, then to destroy creation was to re-crucify Christ.

Now I knew the Bible pretty well and immediately, meaning began branching out from this white hot source point, leaving trails like fuses to other Bible passages and new ideas. I was on fire. The next morning I shared this stuff with the meeting, receiving a cool reception. I don’t think they were expecting a Scripture-based sermon.

Well, neither was I. I had spent the last couple of decades bashing the Bible and being openly hostile to Christians and their ideas. But here I was quoting the Bible and sharing what was obviously a Christian message.

Over the next few weeks, the ideas just kept coming. The fire within me just got more intense. It became clear that I was led to write a book, a book of biblical earthcare theology.

Because this was such a cross to my will, I asked my meeting for a support committee. I was afraid that my hostility toward the Bible and toward Christianity would interfere with the truth I was seeking. I didn’t get the support I wanted and that is another story. But I found I had to go on without that support anyway. Soon I was applying to be a resident student at Pendle Hill, intending to start my research and my writing there. I was at Pendle Hill for two terms, coincident with the first gulf war in 1991.

I continued my research for several years, studying the Bible intensely and also reading Christian earth stewardship theology. In 1995, I went to Earlham School of Religion under the Patrick D. Henry Scholarship for Christian Writers and began writing in earnest. The result was How Long Will the Land Mourn: A Synthesis and Critique of Christian Earth Stewardship. The title comes from my favorite Bible passage on earthcare:

How long will the land mourn,

and the grass of every field wither?

For the wickedness of those who live in it

the animals and the birds are swept away,

and because people said,

“He does not see what we do.”

In the next post: the Ten Principles of Christian Earth Stewardship, the first fruits of this leading.

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§ One Response to Quaker Earthcare Testimony—An Opening

  • Lucy Davenport says:

    Steven,
    We have been “on the same page” for several years! Thank you so much for this initial report on your opening. My first sermon after attending ESR was on Earth Stewardship–in 1994. Many of us seem to have found our way back to the Scriptures because of the witness there to the new creation that is possible when right relationship with the Creator is the basis of our understanding.

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