‘Dominion’ over the Earth comes with responsibility, Christians learn

Christians in the Bristol Diocese recently spend the day learning about the difference that insulation, solar roof panels and carbon neutral electricity can make to preserving the planet.

The diocese’s first ever eco-conference was hosted by St Michael’s, Bedminster, in partnership with the Bishop of Swindon and a number of eco organisations, including EarthAbbey, NOMA Architects and The Centre for Sustainable Energy.

It was put together in response to the growing concern about climate change among Christians and their desire to be ‘at one with creation’.

The conference gave Christians the opportunity to consider whether the focus on climate change was simply a “new and passing Christian phenomena” and whether there were more deserving causes that Christians should be putting their energy into.

Bishop of Swindon, the Rt Rev Lee Rayfield, told Christians at the conference that it was often a struggle even for bishops to live lives of integrity and that it was difficult to ensure that actions matched beliefs.

The Rev David Moss, Vicar of St Michael’s, said the word “responsibility” had arisen many times during the conference along with the need for Christians to express concern about the environment and encourage one another to make small but important changes to their lifestyle.

He said Christians were called to be a “new centre of strength” for creation and for others seeking to live in a more environmentally sustainable way.

He said Scripture had to be understood in the context that it was written and that the Hebrew word ‘rada’ had often been “mistranslated” in Genesis 1as ‘dominion’ over creation.

“This word actually described what was believed to be the nerve centre of being of the plant, which ruled over the rest of the organism,” he said.

“‘Rada’ literally refers to the node or nucleus just above the root from which a plants life and being stems.

“In this context a better interpretation would be ‘Let [humanity] be the centre of strength’ for all creation.

“This translation demonstrates that humanity’s God given rule over creation does not come without responsibility.”