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Fall 2001 · Vol. 30 No. 2 · pp. 227–28 

Book Review

Creation and the Environment: An Anabaptist Perspective on a Sustainable World

ed. Calvin W. Redekop. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. 283 pages.

Reviewed by Max Terman and Paul Jantzen

The purpose of this book is to describe an Anabaptist environmental ethic. This multi-authored work comes from a 1989 Environmental Task Force and a 1995 Creation Summit organized by the Mennonite Church and the General Conference Mennonite Church. The authors include eleven Ph.D.’s (three are women) in Bible, theology, history, sociology, economics, and biology. Other contributors are a Mennonite Cheyenne, an Amish farmer and naturalist, and a Mennonite pastor and environmental activist. The four parts of the book address human activities and their alteration of creation; Anabaptist Mennonite life and the environment; Anabaptist Theological and Historical Orientation; and the challenge to take care of the earth.

Throughout the book, the contributors generally concede that the Judeo-Christian record regarding the tending of God’s creation is dismal and comes from a separation of humans from the creation. The authors claim this is a misinterpretation of Scripture and that the Anabaptist/Mennonite perspective might offer a new, more holistic approach. The Anabaptist perspective is, according to editor Redekop, a derivative of the Christian heritage but is also distinctively different. Described as “a third way, neither Catholic nor Protestant,” its emphasis {228} is on the formation of a “People” who care for both human and creational concerns. According to this view, a true scripturally-based environmental ethic encourages Christians to “a renewal of creation” where there is “no more separation between the earthly and heavenly realms.” However, Mennonites have also incorporated a “use and dominate view of the creation” and have been caught up in uncritical consumerism. Thus the reason for this book—to bring us to a high view of both human and creational redemption.

Both of us (a Mennonite Brethren and a General Conference Mennonite) thought the papers were well-researched and provide good information on ecology and environmental issues as well as in-depth analyses of Scripture as it relates to the creation. Particularly interesting are a discussion on human population growth by Carl Keener and Calvin Redekop, and a paper on creation and the fall by Theodore Hiebert. Both topics are usually given inadequate attention in other Christian literature on the environment.

This book is in the same genre as Earthkeeping, edited by Loren Wilkenson, a volume on the environment from an Evangelical Christian perspective. While both books address the Evangelical Christian community, Creation and the Environment should appeal especially to Anabaptist denominations since it mentions Mennonite colleges, Mennonite businesses, and Mennonite leaders. We hope the book is widely read and helps to fulfill Menno Simons’ prayer, “Lord, send forth thy Spirit, and we will be created, and thou wilt renew the face of the earth.”

Max Terman
Professor of Biology
Tabor College, Hillsboro, Kansas
Paul Jantzen
Instructor of Biology, retired
Hillsboro (Kansas) High School and Bethel College, N. Newton, Kansas

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