The Goodness of God’s Creation
How to Live as an Orthodox Christian: A Guide to Orthodox Ethics
By: Father Philip LeMasters
In The Goodness of God’s Creation Dr Philip LeMasters, Turner Distinguished Professor of Religion and Departmental Chair at McMurray University, makes a great contribution to the understanding of, and living by, Orthodox Christian ethics. Herein he treats--with remarkable balance and sensitivity--such issues as the need for serious and sustained commitment to environmental and physical health;
- The goodness of sexuality and marriage in a Christian framework, together with the importance of ascetic discipline for spiritual growth...
- The ambivalent Orthodox attitude toward participation in warfare, with special emphasis on the call to non-resistance to evil...
- The importance of fasting in fulfilling our Christian obligation to the poor, “the least” of Christ’s brethren.
The author calls on primary sources to illuminate his discussion: Scripture and the (particularly Eastern or Greek) Church Fathers, to which he adds pertinent insights from contemporary Orthodox theologians.
"This is a fine book is in depth yet wholly accessible and a pleasure to read. The Goodness of God’s Creation offers an excellent overview of Orthodox approaches to some of today’s most urgent and critical moral issues. It insights and pastoral relevance make it invaluable reading for lay persons, students of theology, pastors, and theologians, both Orthodox and non-Orthodox. We are deeply indebted to Dr LeMasters for this book, as for his earlier studies in Christian ethics. It deserves – and I hope will receive and inform – a wide audience."
-Rev Dr John Breck Professor of Bioethics St. Sergius Theological Institute
About The Author
The Rev. Dr. Philip LeMasters is Professor of Religion and Director of the Honors Program at McMurry University in Abilene, TX. He holds a B. A. (Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa) from Baylor University, an M.A. in Religious Studies from Rice University, and a Ph.D. in Christian Theology and Ethics from Duke University. A member of the Society of Christian Ethics and the American Academy of Religion, his many previous publications in moral theology include Toward a Eucharistic Vision of Church, Family, Marriage, and Sex (Light and Life Publishing Company, 2004) and essays and reviews in journals such as Theology Today, Worship, and St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly. After completing the St. Stephen’s Course in Orthodox Theology through the Antiochian House of Studies, he earned an M.A. in Applied Orthodox Theology from the University of Balamand (Lebanon). A priest of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese, he serves at St. Luke Orthodox Church in Abilene.
- The Incarnation and the Environment
- Is Marriage Unclean?
- Healthcare and Theosis
- May Christians Kill?
- Fasting and the Poor
Sample quote from The Goodness of God’s Creation
Many Orthodox Christians would be surprised to learn that their faith calls them to be good stewards of the environment. We are used to worrying about dishonesty, anger and adultery, but when we think about the life in Christ, we rarely think of conserving energy, recycling, and composting – or of viewing the world as an icon. Perhaps that is because we imagine that worship is only about what we do in the church temple. Or maybe we assume that faithfulness to the Lord is a purely spiritual matter that aims toward escape from the world, not taking care of it. Truth be told, many dismiss any sort of environmental concern out of fear that it would lead them to question a comfortable, materialistic American lifestyle. That last one hits a bit too close to home for most of us.
I am on solid ground, however, in writing that stewardship of God’s creation is a fundamental dimension of the Orthodox faith. A brief glance at Psalm 104 (103 LXX) is one way of showing that. This Psalm is read at the beginning of every Vespers service. It describes the glory and goodness of God’s creation, for the Lord has “set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be shaken.” He has established seas, mountains, and valleys, and provides water and shelter for wild beasts. The food of the cattle, and our wine and oil, come from the hand of the Creator, Whose bounty extends to mountain goats, badgers, and lions. “O Lord, how manifold are Thy works. In wisdom hast Thou made them all.” These “works” include even Leviathan, the sea-monster created for the sport of it, merely to play in the oceans. All these creatures look to God, find life in Him, and die when He removes their breath. After describing the creation so poignantly, the Psalmist exclaims, “May the glory of the Lord endure forever, may the Lord rejoice in His works...”