Environment talk

In light of severe weather conditions and ongoing fears surrounding global warming, it’s enlightening to reflect on how ‘on message’ the Christian Science pastor (Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy) is.  Here is the text of a short talk by Jo Gray given in the Mayor’s Parlour, Bath, at the request of Bath Interfaith Group:

Introduction

Speaking to farmers and peasants in the Judean countryside long ago, Jesus once asked them to “Look at the birds of the air” and “Consider how the lilies grow in the field” (Matt. 6:26-30, New English Bible). His point seems to have been to show ordinary people something of God’s tremendous love for His whole creation, the birds and flowers as well as the Father’s own dear children—each of us. That’s the backdrop against which Christian Scientists consider the urgent environmental issues of our day.

What is the definition of Environment?

The modern definition of environment includes surroundings or conditions in which people, animal, plants live & operate, & all the natural world, or specific geographical area, affected by human activity. Speaking theologically, Christian Scientists would also see as significant to human affairs, the mental environment that surrounds us, that is, the general drift of society toward such pollutants as greed and selfishness or towards the healing and restoring values of stewardship and love for God’s creation and one another.

What is the Christian Science Church’s policy on Environment?

Our church has no clergy, as such, and as a lay church takes no official positions on social or environmental issues, encouraging members to think for themselves, to listen for God’s guidance, and act in accord with their highest understanding of the Bible.

How does a Christian Scientist behave towards the environment?

At the heart of our teachings is Christ Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and the Golden Rule, which says (Matt 7:12) “… all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them”.   Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, wrote, “To my sense the Sermon on the Mount, read each Sunday without comment and obeyed throughout the week, would be enough for Christian practice.” (’01 11:16-19)

This teaching, which has underpinned Christian attitudes toward the world around us for many centuries, is fundamental to Christian Science, & guides behaviour.  

Do Christian Scientists believe in the Biblical view of Stewardship?

In Genesis the Bible embraces the idea of “stewardship” (Gen 5:2 & 43:19), caring & managing households, finances, livestock, land etc.  In the New Testament this idea grows to include being a “steward of God”, (Titus 1:7), being faithful to Jesus’ instructions, especially concerning loving one another (I Cor. 4:2).

Mrs Eddy, alludes to this New Testament view in her seminal work, Science & Health with Key to The Scriptures, saying ( 518:14–16), “the higher always protects the lower. The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood”.  In the Church Manual ( 77:18), which governs our church organisation, she reminds members that, “God requires wisdom, economy, & brotherly love to characterize all the proceedings of the members”.

What do Christian Scientists do for the environment? -“Not words but deeds” (SH 181:24)

Many may feel they shouldn’t just talk about the pressing environmental troubles, but actively do something.  The story of Jesus feeding 5,000 is deeply loved. Facing a hungry crowd, Jesus cares for their human needs by feeding them with only 5 loaves & 2 fishes.  Jesus instructs leftovers be gathered up, resulting in 12 full baskets of food. This story shows that God, divine Love, shares abundantly, and that we should gratefully gather up remnants & leaves no mess! (Matt 14:15-21)

I’m aware of church members who have founded or participate in environmental organisations, teach ecology, practice rainwater harvesting in desert areas, actively recycle, and many other activities. But again, these are personal choices based on one’s highest individual sense of what it means to glorify God and love and respect our neighbours.

What do I do for the environment?

My daily Christian Science practice, includes following the Golden Rule, praying to see everyone as good, as God has made them, in His image & likeness, no matter how they seem to be behaving, and I pray to do them good.  I look to be increasingly more careful of what I use, seeking & sharing environmentally-friendly solutions at home & with family. I have actively recycled for many years, endeavouring to reuse, share, buy second-hand & mend.

Summary

Praying to better understand God’s good creation, I endeavour to emulate the qualities of the mental environment that lead to improvement in the physical environment, and which are the fruit of the Spirit, including “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal 5:22, 23).  Only then can I truly honour all God has given us, & care for it as He guides me. And in that honouring, I believe I will be truly caring for my world environment, & all those contained within it.

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