Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Caring for all of creation

Written by: on April 4, 2014

In Hunter’s book, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, explains how Christians try to use evangelism, politics, and social reform to change the world’s moral values. The author outlines how Christianity attempts to use these tactics and as a result, experiences both negative and positive results.

There are two different schools of thought, or theologies, that the author covers in regards to changing or saving the world. The first is the “lifeboat theology” which can be explained as viewing the world as a sinking ship on its way to judgment and hell.  In this view, the goal of the Christian is to rescue as many as possible
on the lifeboat of salvation.[1]
This theology saves the individual, but in doing so it neglects God’s commandment to care for the world.  In Genesis man was created to care for all of creation, so by neglecting this responsibility we aren’t adequately fulfilling the great commission. If we do not care for God’s creation, how can we expect him to bless our endeavors for evangelizing the world?

The second theology involves caring for all of creation and humanity. This theology states that, “to be Christian is to be obliged to engage the world, pursuing God’s restorative purposes over all of life, individual and corporate, public and private.” [2] This total care approach toward ministering to individuals and caring for the planet at the same time is what I believe God has commanded us to do. Christians cannot neglect its responsibility for caring for the planet.  Evangelism shouldn’t be so singularly focused on winning souls that it neglects the world around it.  Revelation states the world will be destroyed and God will recreate a new heaven and new earth. Throughout the Bible, we find that God commanded His people to care for the land, as well as each other.  Further, caring for each other is part of caring for God’s creation.  Evangelism must involve meeting the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of others.

If the church is going to shape and change the culture, the it must come together as one body in Christ. Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, and other Christian organizations must set aside doctrinal differences and start working together if we intend to influence and change the world in a positive manner for Christ. Hunter explains that, “it is vital for us to prepare ourselves to become God’s agents in shaping this culture and bringing biblical truth to bear on all of life.”[3] Many Christian organizations and churches have committed themselves to changing the world’s culture back towards Biblical truth, but unless we come together this goal will never be accomplished.

Hunter outlines three tactics used by the church to try to influence or change the values of society:  evangelism, political action, and social reform.  The strategies have had both positive and negative outcomes within modern culture.


Evangelicals and others have used evangelism as their primary means of changing the world. Evangelism has not only been used to save souls, but as a means for transforming culture and society. Evangelicals believe that if individuals will turn their hearts towards Christ first, then the values of society will change from immoral to moral aspects.

Political Action

Political action involves the use of politics as the central means of changing the world. The theory is that bad people have created bad laws, so if Christians take an active role in politics and government then individuals who do not have Christian morals or values can be removed from office. On the surface this may appear to be effective, but in reality this doesn’t work because the church does not act in a uniform manner.   There has been infighting across Christian denominations and real political change is rarely accomplished.

Social Reform

Social Reform involves changing the culture through a renewal of civil society— the institutions that mediate between citizens and the state and market.[4] The issue with this is that societies or reform efforts that are not based on Biblical truth are incapable of any real significant change to the moral values of the culture.

The best way for the church to effectively influence the moral values of a culture is to be actively engaged in the aspects of day-to-day life.  The church cannot pick and choose what it wishes to take a stand against, or to whom it wishes to minister to. Engagement with culture is the most effective means to spread moral values and to make positive change.

[1] Hunter, James Davison (2010-03-31). To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (p. 4). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

[2] Ibid p.4

[3] Ibid p.4

[4] Ibid p.14

About the Author

Richard Volzke

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