Planetwise - Dare to Care for God’s World

by Dave Bookless published by IVP (2008)
Reviewed by Jo Rathbone

Dave’s book is a clearly-written introduction (to those particularly from an evangelical background) as to why we should be caring for God’s creation. Perhaps the best paragraphs are in the introduction where he says that this is not an issue simply because we have to address climate change, but because climate change is a symptom of a deep malaise in our society which is bad for the planet. We have to root out a much more deeply embedded issue to do with the nature of our being, and our attitude to God’s creation.

Taking Tom Wright’s 5 acts of history (creation, fall, Israel, Jesus, present/future age), Dave addresses the theological implications of these acts of the cosmic drama for the planet, showing how the ‘material’ has always been an integral part of that drama. For many, who have imagined a salvation which only entails some sort of ethereal afterlife, devoid of the ‘material’, Dave shows that this is not a biblical picture.

One framework that is used in the book is Chris Wright’s triangle of relationships: God, the land, God’s people. Dave uses this as a paradigm for our current relationship to creation: God, humanity, the rest of creation. He demonstrates what brokenness and alienation looks like with any of these interrelationships, and uses plenty of Old and New Testament pictures of what these relationships might look like if they were to be reconciled.

In the second section of the book, he addresses what such a life might look like in terms of discipleship (which he interprets as stewardship, a term I find too authoritarian, I have to confess), worship, lifestyle and mission. The book is peppered with examples of how Dave and his family have been trying to work out what this means practically, in a way which is encouraging for the rest of us to have a go.

This book is a straightforward theological and practical introduction for individuals to caring for the environment. It doesn’t address any of the bigger, structural issues theologically (economics and geopolitics, for example) but his aim was to reach evangelicals with biblical reasons to care for creation.

Planetwise is available from Metanoia Books