Christian environmental stewardship: Disciples of Christ and the Alverna Covenant


I learned something new tonight.  The Disiciples of Christ formally adopted wise environmental stewardship as a denominational goal in 1981.

History of the Alverna Covenant

The Alverna Covenant was written by members of the Task Force on Christian Lifestyle and Ecology of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) while meeting at Alverna Retreat Center, a Franciscan retreat in Indianapolis, Ind. The name has added significance. Alverna is named for Mt. Alverna in Italy, the mountain retreat given to Francis of Assisi. Francis is honored for his concern for the care of and relatedness of all creation. The 800th anniversary of Francis’ birth was celebrated in 1981, the year the Alverna Covenant was first introduced at the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

The Alverna Covenant

Whereas:

  • God has created the world with finite resources;
  • God has given to us the stewardship of the earth;
  • God has established order through many natural cycles.

And it is evident that:

  • We are consuming resources at a rate that cannot be maintained;
  • We are interrupting many natural cycles;
  • We are irresponsibly modifying the environment through consumption and pollution;
  • We are populating the earth at a rate that cannot be maintained;

As a member of the human family and a follower of Jesus Christ, I hereby covenant that:

  • I will change my lifestyle to reduce my contribution to pollution;
  • I will support recycling efforts;
  • I will search for sustainable lifestyles;
  • I will work for public policies which lead to a just and sustainable society;
  • I will share these concerns with others and urge them to make this Covenant.
  • What other denominations have statements on wise resource stewardship? What do they say?

    Tip of the old scrub brush to Darrel Manson, who writes at Hollywood Jesus.

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    12 Responses to Christian environmental stewardship: Disciples of Christ and the Alverna Covenant

    1. Don says:

      Well, brother – obviously we’re probably going to agree to disagree, but we do agree on the stewardship part. That’s good.

      But I do have to respond to “One of the great stories of the Old Testament is the Israelites’ taking Canaan from the Canaanites. In a world of infinite resources, such drama would not be necessary.”

      There was an abundance of resources in Canaan. It was described as the “land of milk and honey” and there was plenty of room for Israel to move in along side the nations already living there.

      God commanded Moses to destroy them to ensure His people weren’t contaminated by rampant idolatry in Canaanite society: (Deut 7)

      “1 When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you- 2 and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the LORD’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you. 5 This is what you are to do to them: Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones, cut down their Asherah poles and burn their idols in the fire. 6 For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”

      Here’s the important bit, I think, to our discussion:

      “7 The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.”

      In the short run, Israel wasn’t that big a deal. They were a small nation compared to those already dwelling in Canaan. God clearly says it was His choice to do this to keep them set apart as His chosen people. Also, a thousand generations is a long time, and in terms of exponential population growth, an awful lot of people.

      Again, this was a sin pollution problem, not a limit on God’s provision or His abundance.

      Ugaritic texts found in northern Syria showed how depraved were the religious practices of the Canaanites around 1400 B.C.

      Interesting post though, and I enjoyed the discussion.

      Grace and peace,
      Don

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    2. Ed Darrell says:

      The fact that God created the whole universe with a simple “let there be” means there is no such thing as finite resources where He is concerned.

      That’s reading a lot into the scripture which isn’t there. We live on a planet with finite size, finite air, soil and water. We get a finite amount of sunlight. Scripture doesn’t describe exactly the limits of what God created, but neither does it hint in any rational reading that supplies of anything on the planet are infinite.

      One could just as easily note that when God said “let there be,” it was automatically finite, no longer infinite in God’s imagination, but finitely real. Theologically, that would be more accurate, don’t you think?

      Would rather it said “God created the world with a rich abunance to thankfully enjoy, generously share, and wisely manage.”

      If there is scarcity in the earth it is due to mankind’s sin (cf Ezekiel 4:16-17), not God’s original intent or any lack of provision on His part.

      Scarcity from normal production should not be counted as indication that hte normal situation is great abundance.

      One of the great stories of the Old Testament is the Israelites’ taking Canaan from the Canaanites. In a world of infinite resources, such drama would not be necessary.

      I don’t think a fair read of scripture supports an idea that we live with infinite resources.

      For similar reasons, assuming God never changes (cf ), “be fruitful and multiply” is a gift He never rescinded.

      Nor is His command to steward the planet — which was given first to Adam, then repeated to Noah. If resources are infinite, why is stewardship needed?

      I’m not sure your idea of infinite resources is rooted in Christian theology at all.

      If there are scriptures that say the world’s resources are finite or that He demands limits on fruitfulness, I’d be interested in those.

      I think the closest scripture comes to suggesting infinite is when, in Psalms for example, it refers to “everlasting hills.” The limitless stuff there is time, however.

      In contrast, the cultural assumption throughout especially the OT is of limited resources, which makes disputes over land important, which animates conflicts between brothers for inheritances from their fathers, and which is assumed in the NT in commentary about money and its limits.

      Farmers and herders in the Middle East knew well the limits on resources, especially after the economic collapse of Babylon.

      It’s a stretch to claim that scripture says resources are unlimited, a stretch that takes scripture out of its operating parameters.

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    3. Don says:

      Appreciate the question.

      “God has created the world…” – no doubt, Brother.

      “…with finite resources” – this I disagree with.

      The fact that God created the whole universe with a simple “let there be” means there is no such thing as finite resources where He is concerned. Would rather it said “God created the world with a rich abunance to thankfully enjoy, generously share, and wisely manage.”

      If there is scarcity in the earth it is due to mankind’s sin (cf Ezekiel 4:16-17), not God’s original intent or any lack of provision on His part.

      For similar reasons, assuming God never changes (cf ), “be fruitful and multiply” is a gift He never rescinded.

      If there are scriptures that say the world’s resources are finite or that He demands limits on fruitfulness, I’d be interested in those.

      Like

    4. Ed Darrell says:

      Don, the first “whereas” comes right out of Genesis, doesn’t it? I don’t understand your question — none of the things you list runs contrary to anything in the first clause.

      Like

    5. Don says:

      Where in the Bible did they get the first “whereas”? Isn’t He the God of cattle on a thousand hills, manna in the desert, water from rocks, 12 baskets of bread from five loaves and 5,000 people, coins from a fish’s mouth, etc etc?

      Like

    6. James Kessler says:

      I’ve known quite a few quite fervent believers in religion who were as peaceful as a train wreck.

      Like

    7. barbara says:

      Religion has become politically correct! All a marketing tool!

      Like

    8. Mary A. says:

      If they have posted it online, I’ll forward it to you.

      Like

    9. Donna B. says:

      despicable — I haven’t a clue what you’re trying to say.

      Like

    10. despicable says:

      Religion brings forth the result of having “peace of mind” regarding the fact of dying and no longer having consciousness. By believing what religion says is true and a “fact” does not make it an objective fact, it makes it a subjective notion that it is true and not false.
      True science is not concerned about the subjective notions of what exists in your brain. True science is interested in what exists outside of your subjective consciousness. That what exists independent of your consciousness is that what is objectively real and true. It is true because it is verified by verifiable evidence and is not prejudiced by subjective notions of the real world.

      http://blogdespicable.blogspot.com/

      Like

    11. Ed Darrell says:

      Be sure to grab all the information on the denominational programs on Scouting, will you, Mary?

      Like

    12. Mary A. says:

      Makes me happy to be a Disciple. I’m planning on checking out all the happenings at this year’s General Assembly this weekend.

      Like

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