An ideology wherein the world is perceived as a collection of resources intended to be exploited for human progress. Many have pointed to the Judeo-Christian worldview where humanity (as made in the likeness of God) is given dominion over the rest of creation, as being particularly anthropocentric. It is certainly true, the few passages in the book of Genesis that this is pulled from have been used throughout history to justify all manner of exploitation of creation for human ends. However, the dominion granted to humanity is a responsibility, not a gift of endless and unrestricted access to the land and bodies of creation. The responsibility of dominion entails resisting the temptation to view oneself as separate from and more important than the whole of creation and in fact the well being of the earth rests on this responsibility. We can see clearly now more than ever where an anthropocentric ideology leads. From desertification and ocean acidification to global climate change and predicted global average temperature increases as much as 12 degrees fahrenheit by the year 2100, we are now on the precipice of a planet that is scarcely inhabitable. At the same time, there is no need to make “stewardship” into a dogma. As a reinterpretation of Genesis 1-3, where Christians have seen a mandate to dominate nature, stewardship simply re-inscribes the hierarchy as a fixed dogma, which reinforces the notion that there is something “less than” or something unworthy about creation unless human beings dominate it. Stewardship is still a model of power and domination and we want to see an inherent goodness in all of creation, without human interference. This world is worth treading through lightly, not because we have power, but because it is good and beautiful in its own right.
Shifferdecker, Kathryn. Out of the Whirlwind: Creation Theology in the Book of Job. Harvard Divinity School, 2008. Print. The book of Job is a complex, sophisticated treatment of the problem of undeserved suffering. It is also a sustained meditation on creation, on humanity's place in creation, and on God's ordering of creation. In this study, Kathryn Schifferdecker offers a close literary and theological reading of the book of Job—particularly of the speeches of God at the end of the book—in order to articulate its creation theology, which is particularly pertinent in our environmentally-conscious age.
After all of Job's agonized questioning, God's answer does not directly address Job's questions about undeserved suffering or divine justice. Instead, the divine speeches take Job on a God's-eye tour of creation in all its beauty and complexity. In extraordinarily detailed and beautiful poetry, the divine speeches show Job that the world is radically non-anthropocentric, that there exist wild places and animals whose value has nothing to do with their usefulness to humanity, and that God delights in the freedom of God's creatures. This vision of the divine speeches enables Job to move out of despair into renewed participation in God's often-dangerous but beautiful world.
This creation theology of Job, virtually unique in the Bible, has much to say to us today, as we struggle theologically and politically with the issues of environmental degradation and humanity's relationship to the natural world.