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.