Christopher Howse: The earth and the Son of Man

Dr Jones, in his recent Kreitler Lecture (at the Virginia Theological Seminary) picked out something I had not realised. When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden “to dress it and to keep it”, the two words dress and keep in Hebrew are also found in the prescription of the Levites’ duties in the sanctuary of God. This, Dr Jones says, suggests that Adam, standing for all mankind, has a priestly role in uniting nature to God.

Dr Jones points out that the Old Testament is much quoted in the theology of the ethics of the environment. What about the connections between ecology and Christ? The bishop has touched on this before, in his book Jesus and the Earth (SPCK, 2003).

Jesus, we know, is the second Adam. As, in Eden, the disobedience of the first man, Adam, led all mankind into alienation from God, so the Son of Man reconciles all mankind to God. At his Resurrection, Jesus is even taken for the gardener by Mary Magdalen, as this paper noted in its leading article for Easter.

Jesus habitually referred to himself as the Son of Man, and the name Adam means “man”. But the Hebrew also seems to be connected with the word for “earth”, and “God formed man of the dust of the ground”.

Read it all


Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Theology

5 comments on “Christopher Howse: The earth and the Son of Man

  1. AnglicanFirst says:

    The Earth is not an ‘end’ in and of itself. It is the place of habitation provided to us by God in which we are born and in which we end our mortal lives.

    While I believe that God wants us to respect and make good use of His Creation, I do not think that He wants us to ‘make and idol’ of His Creation, that is show more love, respect and concern for His Earth than we do for Him.

    In fact, it seems that many of the ‘green movement,’ whatever that is, show more love, respect and concern for the Earth than they do for God, if they even believe in God, The Creator, in the first place.

    This ‘green movement’ has taken a heretical turn among some Christians. It seems that they care much more about the Earth than they do about worshipping God, maintaining Christian relationships with those around them, the abortion of unborn infants, keeping the Christian Faith free of temporal and temporary political fixations, and increasing the Body of Christ that is His Church.

  2. The Rev. Father Brian Vander Wel says:

    Wouldn’t it be amazing, then, if Christians who did worship God with every fiber of their being, did take great care in relationship with other Christians, did defend the unborn AND ALSO asserted that God cares for the earth that he brought forth with his Word? That he has begun to renew in the resurrected body of his own Son? And that he will make new when the same Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead just as he will do to all the saints? Now that’s a religion (and political agenda) I give my life to!

  3. TheOldHundredth says:

    AnglicanFirst says, The Earth is not an ‘end’ in and of itself.

    This is exactly right. Stewardship of creation is only Christian as long as its primary point of reference is the Creator. Most of the environmental activism in the mainline loses sight of this in its rush to be “relevant” (i.e. trendy).

  4. The Rev. Father Brian Vander Wel says:

    But that’s not the point: we ought not reject care for the earth as an important tenet of the Christian faith because “Earth Care” has been hijacked. Let’s reassert our heritage there, too.

  5. driver8 says:

    1. The son of man argument seems, on the surface, to commit the etymological fallacy.

    2. Seeing the Garden, and so all creation, as being the archetypal Temple, with human beings having a priestly role, introduces (correctly, I believe) purity considerations into the divinely ordained purposes of human beings. I recall that Gordon Wenham has written in this area (see “Sanctuary Symbolism in the Garden of Eden Story” – partially available through [url=;=-1-jEDOIUNIdxy_M7nQqn6GM2Qs&hl=en&ei=T0f2ScfeCKbgtQPj2ZjUAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1]GoogleBooks[/url].