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L Is For Lifestyle: Christian Living That Doesn’t Cost the Earth

By Ruth Valerio
June 2009 | Review by Nathan Pomeroy

Synopsis

How can we live more responsibly? In this A-Z, Ruth Valerio highlights the main threats to people and our planet, God's beloved creation. She shows us how, by making small but significant changes to our lifestyle, we can learn the secret of a life that is both fair and simple.

  • Publisher: Inter-Varsity Press
  • ISBN: 978-1783599967
  • Pages: 208
  • Price: £8.19
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Book Review

Ruth Valerio is the manager of A. Rocha’s Living Lightly 24-1 project, and a member of Revelation Church, Chichester, where she leads a cell group and preaches regularly. She is very gifted, with a theology degree from Cambridge and an MA from the London School of Theology. She is also a popular conference speaker especially on environmental issues.

L is for Lifestyle is composed of short chapters covering issues of creation-care and global social needs. Some of the chapter headings give a feel for the type of issues covered – B is for Bananas; C is for Creation; G is for Globalisation; H is for HIV; I is for Investments; O is for Organic; P is for Paper. The chapters are well written, informative, encouraging and easy to read. Each chapter closes with some action points to take up.

The basic emphasis of the book is one we need to hear – it is not just the ‘in thing’ to get ‘green’; it is indeed a Christian issue. Ruth writes, ‘it is a part of the essence of being people created by God that we care for the rest of what he has created.’ You might not agree with all her applications but usually she makes a very good case for not conforming to the culture of materialistic greed that is destroying the planet.

However I am concerned that the theological foundation she builds upon is shaky. She writes, ‘if evangelism and social action are to be truly reflecting God’s mission, we must also be involved in ecological care.’ Here the gospel is not viewed as primary, but as holistic – it includes social action and environmentalism. This broad definition of the gospel is also extended to the kingdom, so that the kingdom is partially realised in ecological care.

This is an inadequate theology for Christian environmentalism, and results in the call to make sacrifices in time and money for the sake of the planet/kingdom rather than for the sake of eternal salvation/kingdom.

God’s providential ‘kingdom-care’ – his common grace – is a sufficient basis for Christian environmentalism. We must not think we are extending God’s redemptive kingdom work or his saving grace whenever we sort out our rubbish for recycling. But we should be concerned about recycling because God continues to care for this fallen earth, and for that reason it is worth reading L is for Lifestyle, or at least looking at the web site.

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