I plan to highlight and ask for your reactions to/readings of a few more texts. But till then, I’m passing along my review of a book that has come to mean a lot to me. What follows is the piece as it appeared in the May 1997 issue of the Christian Chronicle.
Stan L. LeQuire, editor. The Best Preaching on Earth: Sermons on Caring for Creation. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1996.
According to Psalm 19, the wonders of creation give testimony to the glory of God. But what if we ravage and ruin such wonders? Polluted rivers. Strip-mined mountains. What kind of witness can these provide?
Galatians 5:14 says that the entire law is summed up in the single command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But what if my way of living damages and depletes my neighbor’s world? Can I honestly say that I’m loving him as myself?
Recently, a growing number of people who take the Bible seriously have been making such points in order to show that the environment is no mere social or political issue, but that it is first and foremost a biblical and theological issue. Out of this conviction comes a new book of 22 sermons under the clever title The Best Preaching on Earth. The editor, Stan LeQuire, is director of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) based in Wynnewood, Pa.
The collection is divided into six parts, each dealing with a different element of the book’s basic theme. The sermons in Part One, for example, respond to the question, “Is caring for creation really a biblical agenda?” Part Two contains three sermons that answer a common objection: “Isn’t our primary calling to the fulfill the Great Commission?” At the end, Part Six reveals how some preachers have challenged their congregations to get involved.
The book closes with two appendices. The first provides additional sermon ideas; the second tells about the EEN, its mission and services.
Like any other collection from a variety of sources, this book has it highs and lows. A few of the sermons are severely weakened, if not fatally flawed, by skewed interpretation of the Bible. Some of the preaching seems to ask for little more than a flutter of the heart. By way of contrast, the sermon by John Stott, “The Works of the Lord,” presents a rich, biblical theology of the environment; and Ron Sider’s “Tending the Garden without Worshiping It,” both instructs and inspires us to respect and care for our world.
Concern for the environment is with us to stay. The church can be thankful for this condition. Because this is our Father’s world, environmental issues provide Christians with a broader platform on which to speak of the Creator and his creation, and to teach that caring for the earth is part of fulfilling the two greatest commands. The Best Preaching on Earth gives several good examples of how to go about doing just that.
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The Amazon page for this book is here.