Stewards of Eden
Sandra L. Richter cares about the Bible. She also cares about the environment. Using her expertise in ancient Israelite society and economy as well as in biblical theology, she walks readers through passages familiar and not-so-familiar, showing how significant environmental theology is in the Bible's witness. She then calls Christians to apply that message to today's environmental concerns.
Richter is a master Bible scholar. Each chapter in this timely book draws out a biblical mandate about care for the land, for domestic and wild animals, for people at the margins, and more. She is also a master storyteller. Well informed on the most significant challenges to present-day environmental stewardship, Richter includes case studies connecting the biblical mandates to modern day issues.
Though current political values may tempt readers to separate or even polarize Christian faith and ecological concerns, in this short, accessible book Richter urges us to be driven by God's values instead.
"No newcomer to serious biblical thinking about the environment, Sandra Richter is a learned and seasoned interpreter of the Scriptures. Her vision begins with Scripture, the overarching story of redemption, stressing the grand themes of the Christian faith. She brings into focus how care for our broken world occupies a vital place in robust biblical faith and discipleship. Bringing God's living Word into contact with his hurting world, she issues a call that every follower of Christ will need to take seriously."
"Creation is groaning like a woman in travail, and we are called to be midwives, delivering God's creation to future generations in as good or better shape than we received it. Sandy Richter is a gifted biblical scholar and teacher, the right messenger with the right message at the right time."
"The environment is one of the most pressing as well as polarizing issues today. As Sandra Richter points out, this issue is not simply a political question but a human question; it's a matter of life and death. What are Christians to do? First and foremost we turn to the Bible to find out what God tells us about our role in the world. For that reason Stewards of Eden is critically important as it skillfully and clearly interprets the relevant biblical passages. All Christians should read this book."
"Sandra Richter marshals evidence from her decades of first-rate engagement with biblical theology, her extraordinary knowledge of pertinent Ancient Near East sources, and her awareness of unconscionable contemporary environmental disasters in order to challenge the church. The earth is the Lord's and we are privileged to be stewards thereof. That mandate transcends current political divides and puts the matter squarely in the realm of 'kingdom politics.' The task of the church is thus to nurture lives of restraint as we use resources and charity as we share them."
"This deeply moving, impassioned, and informed argument for responsible Christian engagement with environmental concerns is the fruit of years of careful biblical study and wise application to contemporary issues. Stewards of Eden challenges, disturbs, and encourages us to recognize God's consistent concern for the well-being of all creation and our responsibility as God's stewards. Sandra Richter's work is both very readable and richly insightful—I highly recommend it!"
"We can scarcely overstate the relevance of the subject of this volume for Christians who identify as evangelicals. For too long we have turned a blind eye to the ecological crises facing our planet—often based on our theological precommitments or our appeals to isolated texts in Scripture. The issues involved in turning around the rapid degradation of our earthly home and the home of all species of life (both plant and animal) are complex. Surely we must begin by reexamining the witness of the Scriptures to our roles as images of God and deputized stewards of his creation. Combining sound interpretation, engaging literary style, and awareness of the current urgency, Richter provides Christians with an invaluable resource for study, reflection, discussion, and action. This book should be required reading for all who seek to make a difference in this world."
"My soul comes alive hiking mountain trails or kayaking across a saltwater bay. I remember and give thanks to the Creator. I encourage my congregation to sabbath and rest in creation. Yet, how is creation stewardship expressed in our day-to-day living as followers of Jesus? There I fall short. Stewards of Eden provides a compelling biblical analysis and a wake-up call to our responsibility as those who bear the imprint of the Creator. All creation groans because of the weight of the fall. Let's no longer be paralyzed by political agendas or blinded by an ignorant consumer mindset. Let's be the church! Dr. Richter's wisdom paired with practical suggestions awakens a movement toward justice for all of creation."
"Richter's book moved me to tears. Finally, an evangelical voice has challenged the church's notion that the earth was given to humanity to exploit for our own benefit. Richter's knowledge of Scripture shines through as she lays out a biblical theology that instructs us to steward and care for God's beautiful creation, not destroy it for our own greed. Her love of creation, animals domestic and wild, and struggling humanity is evident throughout the book."
"A number of biblical scholars have demonstrated that 'creation care' is deeply rooted in the Scriptures. But Dr. Richter's book stands apart in its focus on examples from everyday life that illustrate and bring home to us the biblical principles she highlights. Her book therefore is a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on the biblical basis for appropriate environmental activism."
"Sandra L. Richter presents a forceful and compelling prophetic assessment of the idolatries that influence many of our current economic and social practices and that deter us from properly imaging the Creator in caring for and protecting the creation. She reminds us that human flourishing is inextricably linked to the flourishing of creation as a whole."
"Richter combines an expert knowledge of the Old Testament and ancient Near Eastern culture and practice with an acute sensitivity to their resonances in contemporary environmental crises. She writes with an easy, conversational style, even as she engages the many difficult and troubling ways in which human actions are at odds with God's intention for creation. Arguing that proper care—and even love—for ecosystems and the creatures (including humans) that inhabit them should surpass our superficial partisan divides, she provides a deep and compelling foundation for a Christian environmental and animal welfare ethic."
"Sandra Richter does a brilliant job of showing us in her contagious, passionate way how a theology of creation can intersect with practical guidelines for stewardship. This book provides a necessary and authentic understanding of biblical relationships regarding one's engagement of faith and praxis in the care of God's creation. Anyone who reads this book cannot avoid hearing the universal call to think rightly and justly about issues of sustainability for the future. Richter poignantly synthesizes history, case studies, and stories in ways that invite the reader to a radical change in praxis for the good of all creation, human and nonhuman. The discussion questions provided with each chapter prompt reflection and evoke a responsiveness for all readers."
"In Stewards of Eden, Sandra Richter has not only given us a biblical theology of creation care, she has profiled a biblical ethos that strikes a proper ethical balance between economic productivity and sustainability. Dr. Richter's work is more than a biblical survey of environmental principles and practices, as she uses Scripture, theology, and current socioeconomic realities to ground the entire enterprise of creation care as an expression of our spiritual formation, that is our love for what God loves, our contentment in his provision, and our sensitivity to how all of this affects the vulnerable. I highly commend this work to pastors as a resource for doing biblical discipleship, equipping Christ followers to prioritize their calling as advocates for God's creation in this time when many are prioritizing short-term convenience and temporary prosperity."
"This book is for much more than Jesus-loving environmentalists, it is for anyone who takes the Bible seriously. Stewards of Eden offers a long-overdue reminder that the story of the Bible and the work of Jesus are centrally about the restoration of the human vocation of glorifying God through the stewardship of the creation in his image."
"Sandra Richter's Stewards of Eden is a compelling and passionate call to action for a paralyzed church. Richter laments that young Christians hear the message that they should not advocate for creation and calls all Christians to a value system of holiness. The reader engages with the biblical foundation for creation care, poignant case studies, and practical suggestions for action. By the end of the book one feels equipped to live out a call to care for the amazing creation our Creator loves. We can celebrate that environmentalism is a response to the call to Christians to live transformed lives eagerly anticipating and working toward a reconciled creation."
"Rather than follow the lie that our planet is a marginalizing commodity for consumption and thus devoid of divine purpose, presence, and hope, this beautiful, bittersweet book guides us back to the ancient and current wonder of our human calling—to tend, and thus mend, this domain of broken beauty and divine glory. Richter helps relocate us in the life of God's beloved world, setting us in our proper place as life promotors, glory sharers, and human stewards of creation, whose destiny is inextricably joined with our own—ultimately so in our still-incarnate Lord. Read and prayerfully live the truth of this book as you read and hear anew God's truth. It's that simple. And difficult. And non-optional."
Introduction: Can a Christian Be an Environmentalist?
1. Creation as God’s Blueprint
2. The People of Israel and Their Landlord
3. The Domestic Creatures Entrusted to’ādām
4. The Wild Creatures Entrusted to ’ādām
5. Environmental Terrorism
6. The Widow and the Orphan
7. The People of the New Covenant and Our Landlord
Conclusion: How Then Should We Live?
Appendix: Resources for the Responsive Christian