I have been reflecting on one particular lecture given at the Prague conference. David Gushee (Prof. of Christian Ethics, Mercer University) challenged us about applying "sanctity of life" to the whole of creation. In a closely argued paper he challenged the dominant idea of humans "stewarding" creation by ruling over it, and argued instead for a servant leadership that is open to earth-keeping, creation care and protection of the integrity of creation. Sadly, in the past many evangelicals have treated such environmental matters as "liberal" non-essentials.
Ranging over biblical teachings, he invited us to re-read the creation narratives (Gen.1-2) to "see" non-human life and its value, to reassess God's ongoing covenant with all creatures (Gen 9:8ff), to mine the legal materials, creation psalms (such as Ps 104), wisdom literature and prophetic teachings which value highly the ecosystems and creatures of creation. Especially, he emphasized the theology of cosmic redemption and the reconciliation of all things in Christ. While some Christians assume that this world can be discarded, Scripture sees it as part of God's ultimate master plan. (Incidentally, in my devotion this morning Jonah 4:11 jumped out: "and also many animals"!)
This big cosmic picture particularly interests me because I am shortly beginning a sermon series on Colossians. As soon as you open Col. 1, you see Christ as "the source and glue and destiny of all creation." Christ comes to reconcile and reclaim all creation (Col 1:20). I shall seek to keep God's big picture for all creation in focus.