Hope in an age of despair: the gospel and the future of life on earth
Jonathan Moo and Robert White
IVP, 219 pages, £11.99, ISBN: 978-1-84474-877-8
Star rating : 3
This is a book of two distinct parts. The first describes the global environmental concerns that many express, from within the scientific community and wider culture. The second aims to teach Christians about the future of the planet, from some key eschatological passages in the Bible.
The first section begins by relating the anxieties many are now raising about the future well-being of the environment and how that might deleteriously affect humanity. Having expressed this, two chapters look at a range of indicators signalling rising problems.
These indicators include: rapid population growth (it took 127 years to go from 1 billion people in 1800 to 2 billion, but recently it took only 12 years to go from 6 to 7 billion!); reduction in biodiversity; pressures on water resources; and changes in the nitrogen cycle, food supply chains and land use.
A whole chapter is then given over to looking in more detail at global climate change and how humans are affecting this with many potentially devastating consequences. I found this part of the work responsibly written — neither unduly scaremongering nor dismissive of so much evidence that points to serious developing problems.
In the second and longest part of the book, the authors look at the Christian hope and how this shapes the way we look after the planet God has made.
They first look at Romans chapter 8, and it was a pleasure to find this teaching taken more seriously than some believers do. I recall the late Dr Lloyd-Jones strongly emphasising how the apostle Paul longed for full redemption, namely the new body Christ would give at his return, and how the whole creation was longing for this sight of the sons of God and its own release from the bondage to decay.
They then tackle the passage that seems, on the face of it, to contradict the apostle Paul, namely 2 Peter 3. Here it appears there is no future for this world, but that all is destroyed. They helpfully look at this and explain both what Peter teaches and how it doesn’t contradict Paul at all.
The authors then focus on some of the teaching of the Lord Jesus, especially about him returning ‘as a thief in the night’. They conclude with an examination of passages in Revelation, looking at the emphasis there on the renewal of all things, when evil is finally and fully judged.
This is an important book, but not the easiest of reads. It takes up a significant issue that Christians need to become more aware of, but does this wisely. I did feel that it lacked a ‘ways forward’ chapter, but on the other hand it was a book that aimed more to raise awareness than offer simplistic solutions.