Blackfish and a Christians Responsibility to God’s Creation

By | November 8, 2014

What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her,
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn,
And tied her with fences and dragged her down
“When The Music’s Over” by The Doors




I met a wonderful man this past June.  His name is Ricardo Preve.  He is about my age.  We met at Divers Down on the east coast of the UAE.  We were dive buddies for three dives that day and “cliqued” as partners.  After diving I took him to my favorite Indian restaurant in Khorfakan. We had a good meal and good conversation.  I learned that Ricardo used to film episodes for National Geographic and has dove in almost every Sea in the world.  He now does freelance work, selling his documentaries to major networks such as Al Jazeera. A few weeks ago Ricardo was passing through Dubai so he called me up and asked if we could get together for lunch. I jumped at the chance.  Ricardo is quite an activist for underprivileged people as well as marine life, specifically dolphins and Orcas.  During lunch he told me of some work he was doing to free dolphins in captivity.  He also asked me if I had seen the film Blackfish. I told him I had not.  He urged me to watch it. Blackfish is a documentary which I had heard much about, but never viewed. Because of Ricardo’s urging I viewed the film last week.  I guess my reasons for not viewing the film were selfish.  I knew it would be hugely depressing to see beautiful Orcas mistreated by humans.  I was right, it was depressing, even worse than I had imagined. But I am also glad I watched it because the film stirred my emotions enough to cause me to seriously evaluate  how I, as a follower of Christ, should think and act towards God’s creation.

As a child I was fortunate to have parents who were kind enough to take us to Disneyland, Sea World and the San Diego zoo. To be able to see the “Trifecta” in southern California was a dream come true. When I had kids of my own I did the same for them.  I never thought twice about the animals who were penned up all their lives for our viewing pleasure.

People change, hopefully we grow and learn throughout our lives and hopefully the same is true for all of humanity.  I am no longer a fan of Sea World.  I am sorry I took my children there.  Fortunately my children, and it would seem the majority of their generation, are way ahead of me on the learning curve as it relates to the proper treatment of animals, so I believe better days are ahead for our world.

And Ricardo, thanks for being my friend.  You are a beautiful person and a shining example of what a man should be.

What follows is song most people my age have probably heard. I felt it fits the theme of this post.  After that are some thoughts from two Christian thinkers I admire – Francis Schaeffer and Martin Luther.

“So fallen man has dominion over nature, but he uses it wrongly. The Christian is called upon to exhibit this dominion, but to exhibit it rightly: treating the thing as having value in itself, exercising dominion without being destructive. The church should always have taught and done this, but it has generally failed to do so, and we need to confess our failure. Francis Bacon understood this, and so have other Christians at different times; but by and large we must say that for a long, long time Christian teachers, including the best orthodox theologians, have shown a real poverty here.”
“Pollution and the Death of Man”
Francis Schaeffer
pages 72-73

“But Christians who believe the Bible are not simply called to say that “one day” there will be healing, but that by God’s grace, upon the basis of the work of Christ, substantial healing can be a reality here and now. Here the church—the orthodox, Bible-believing church—has been really poor. What have we done to heal sociological divisions? Often our churches are a scandal; they are cruel not only to the man “outside,” but also to the man “inside.” 

The same thing is true psychologically. We load people with psychological problems by telling them that “Christians don’t have break-downs,” and that is a kind of murder. On the other hand, what we should have, individually and corporately, is a situation where, on the basis of the work of Christ, Christianity is seen to be not just “pie in the sky,” but something that has in it the possibility of substantial healings now in every area where there are divisions because of the Fall. First of all, my division from God is healed by justification, but then there must be the “existential reality” of this moment by moment. Second, there is the psychological division of man from himself. Third, the sociological divisions of man from other men. And last, the division of man from nature, and nature from nature. In all of these areas we should do what we can to bring forth substantial healing. I took a long while to settle on that word “substantially,” but it is, I think, the right word. It conveys the idea of a healing that is not perfect, but nevertheless is real and evident. Because of past history and future history, we are called upon to live this way now by faith.

When we carry these ideas over into the area of our relationship to nature, there is an exact parallel. On the basis of the fact that there is going to be total redemption in the future, not only of man but of all creation, the Christian who believes the Bible should be the man who—with God’s help and in the power of the Holy Spirit— is treating nature now in the direction of the way nature will be then. It will not now be perfect, but there should be something substantial or we have missed our calling. God’s calling to the Christian now, and to the Christian community, in the area of nature (just as it is in the area of personal Christian living in true spirituality) is that we should exhibit a substantial healing here and now, between man and nature and nature and itself, as far as Christians can bring it to pass.”
“Pollution and the Death of Man”
Francis Schaeffer
pages 66-68

2014-11-08 Pollution and the Death of Man by Schaeffer


…”at the same time, righteousness in the world with our fellow creatures (corm mundo) depends on our carrying out our God-entrusted tasks within our walks of life for the good of creation. God created human beings as male and female to complement and complete each other. Together they formed human community, and together they were given responsibility for tending God’s creation. To guide them in their task, God hardwired his law into creation and engraved it on the human heart. At the same time, God gave human beings dominion in such a way that they have the freedom to figure out how best to tailor that to the specific challenges and questions of daily life. Here human reason and imagination play critical roles in mediating the law into our daily lives in such a way as to carry out God’s ongoing work of preserving and promoting creaturely well-being. Human beings carry out their God-given tasks for the well-being of both the human and the non-human creation. As they do so, they stand accountable both to God and to their fellow creatures for the way they carry out tasks.”
The Genius of Luther’s Theology
Robert Kolb and Charles P. Arand
Pages 28-29

“To the contrary, Luther stressed that the passive righteousness of faith does not remain in heaven; it descends to earth and contributes to the pursuit of active righteousness in the world. Faith revitalizes and renews our life in this world so that others may for the first time see how God intended human beings to live for one another and in relation to the environment. Our relationship to God shapes our relationship to creation. And so on earth we actively pursue a life of works and virtues in accordance with God’s will for creation and his reclamation of creation in Christ.”
The Genius of Luther’s Theology
Robert Kolb and Charles P. Arand
Pages 30-31

Luther’s Robust Theology of Creation

Luther’s conviction that God created the world, and that the world he created is good, provides the presupposition for human engagement with the world. Luther develops two aspects of creation rather extensively. First, Luther stresses the ongoing creative work (creatio continua) of God within the world and counts it as the necessary foundation for life in this world. Second, in his creative activity God has designed us to “live as good and faithful creatures on this earth (and in relation to the natural and social world that God is continually creating, preserving and renewing).” God gave human beings the privilege of exercising dominion over his creation: he gave them the responsibility of managing the goods of creation for the well-being of one’s neighbor. In giving human beings that responsibility, God also holds them accountable for their management of creation. This accountability is not rendered only on the last day before God; it is also mediated through others.

These two aspects of Luther’s understanding of creation come together in his reminder that God carries out his work by enlisting human beings as instruments of his creative activity for the good of his creation. Both human creatures and nonhuman creatures function as masks of God (Luther used the Latin term lavae Dei), behind which he remains the creative agent of life. These creatures are the instruments by which he provides and preserves life. Luther describes creatures as “the hands, channels, and means through which God bestows all blessings. For example, he gives to the mother breasts and milk for her infant or gives grain and all sorts of fruits from the earth for sustenance – things that no creature could provide by itself. God is continually at work in the generation of new life, in the growing of trees and grain, in the rain and rivers, the sun and warmth, in human work with the soil and animals, creating and governing social and economic life.

Sin and human evil have not prevented God’s ongoing work within creation. So effective is God’s activity as Creator that the nonhuman creation continues to bring forth its bounty in spite of ecological destruction perpetrated by human beings. Moreover, in spite of their rejection of God with the fall into sin, people continue to function as God’s instruments for the good of creation, even if they do so unwittingly and unwillingly: farmers, carpenters, all “who handle creation’s wares, carry God’s gifts to their neighbors, even if their purpose is not always to serve. Luther was even willing to grant that at times the godless “fulfill the second table of the Decalogue so brilliantly that they ‘indeed at times appear holier than Christians.’” Although all people have God-given roles within life, only those called by God will understand that these roles are places where God has called them to serve in specific ways; only believers will see themselves as coworkers with God on earth.

According to Luther’s understanding of human vocation, God carries out his creating work by summoning us to action through the gifts and needs of our neighbor to a life of constant activity and work. “Just look at your tools – at your needle or thimble, your beer barrel, your goods, your scales or yardstick or measure”; they are all crying out to you, “Friend, use me in your relations with your neighbor just as you want your neighbor to use his property in his relations to you.” After all, this is the reason for which God has given us the gifts of creation, to be used in service to others.
The Genius of Luther’s Theology
Robert Kolb and Charles P. Arand
Pages 55-56

2014-11-08 The Genius of Luthers Theology

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