Creation And New Creation -- By: Douglas Moo

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 20:1 (NA 2010)
Article: Creation And New Creation
Author: Douglas Moo

Creation And New Creation

Douglas J. Moo

Wheaton College

The phrase “new creation,” used twice in the letters of Paul (Gal 6:15, 2 Cor 5:17), appears abruptly in both contexts and has therefore been subject to several different interpretations. This article argues that the phrase is best understood as a broad description of the “new state of affairs” inaugurated through Christ’s first coming and to be consummated at his second coming. This interpretation fits with the usual meaning of the phrase in Jewish literature and makes best sense in both contexts where it occurs. Though the phrase cannot, then, be limited to cosmic renewal, it includes this element and therefore provides some basis for environmental stewardship by Christians today.

Key Words: creation, new creation, Galatians, eschatology, ecology, κτίζω

On Earth Day in the Spring of 2008, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi cited Scripture in support of the importance of environmental protection. She said, “The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, ‘To minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.’ On this Earth Day, and every day, let us honor the earth and our future generations with a commitment to fight climate change.” Of course, the words Speaker Pelosi quoted do not appear in the OT, as the media gleefully pointed out.1 Internet wags suggested that Speaker Pelosi may have been quoting the “Book of Hezekiah,” or the “Greenpeace Bible,” or a Hallmark card. But the source of Speaker Pelosi’s words and whether she thought she was quoting a specific text or summarizing OT teaching are not my concern.2 My interest, rather, lies in a

Author’s note: This article is a very lightly revised version of a paper read in November, 2008, at the annual Institute for Biblical Research Meeting in Boston.

bigger issue that the incident and the debates that occurred in its wake highlight: how the Bible may be used to address modern issues, such as climate change, to which the Scriptures do not explicitly speak. This question has particular importance to members of this society who are committed both to the integrity of Scripture and to its relevance for our current context. Surrendering the former, of course, makes it easy to be relevant. This tactic is common in our postmodern hermeneutical climate, exemplified in the case of environmental issues by the Earth Bible...

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