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Introduction


The intention of this document is to engage churches, Christian groups and all people who are concerned about the integrity of creation in a process of study and action.

The study on the integrity of creation is part of a much larger process. The Vancouver Assembly of the World Council of Churches invited all churches "to engage in a conciliar process of mutual commitment (covenant) to justice, peace and the integrity of creation". While the terms justice and peace are familiar, "the integrity of creation" is new. To be sure, it includes ecological and environmental issues, but goes beyond them. Its central thrust aims at a caring attitude towards nature - an emphasis that is evident in the German "Bewahrung der Schöpfung" and in the French "sauvegarde de la creation". The English "the integrity of creation" says more. It tries to bring together the issues of justice, peace and the environment by stressing the fact that there is an integrity or unity that is given in God's creation.

An ecumencial consultation was held from February 25 to March 3, 1988 in Granvollen, Norway, to explore the meaning of the term the integrity of creation. This document sets out the results of that consultation. There were about fifty participants at this meeting from the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches from all parts of the world. There were representatives from other faiths - Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh. There were also Christian Indigenous People. During the first three days there were presentations from various perspectives on the understanding of creation and the threats to creation. The Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland, who was the moderator of the World Commission on Environment and Development, gave the key-note address. During the next four days, the participants divided themselves into five small groups to probe the insights and issues that emerged.

There were many points of agreement. There were also many disagreements. Not least of these was the question of how one does theology. Some thought that one should first examine biblical and Christian theological traditions on the doctrine of creation and then work out the implications for dealing with the critical issues of our time. Others argued that one should begin with the critical issues and then address them theologically. Given the plurality of faith traditions and theological viewpoints at the consultation, there were also sharp differences in the understanding of the "integrity of creation". The consultation was an exercise in conciliarity - to listen and to be heard so that positions and viewpoints may be in conversation with each other. In a significant way the consultation tried to be inclusive without lessening the particular emphasis of each entry into what is meant by the integrity of creation. To have strived for less would have been to betray the very concern of the integrity of creation.

Yet, the document is not exhaustive on all aspects of the Christian doctrine of creation. Neither does it cover all the aspects that could be included under the topic of the integrity of creation. It is tentative and exploratory. Its primary concern is to provide ways of entering into an ongoing discussion and to provide "windows" into what is meant by the integrity of creation. It is, therefore, a paper for discussion and not a position paper to be endorsed by the churches.

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