What is Creation Spirituality: An Introduction
From special guest contributor, Rev. Dr. Sid Hall —
Creation Spirituality: An Introduction.
Creation Spirituality is the idea that divinity permeates all things, and all things have the imprint of divinity, yet the sum of all things does not fully encompass the mystery of the divine. Renegade priest and environmental activist Matthew Fox writes, “If all of Creation had been whispering the story of its own Spirituality for 13.5 billion years…we would call that story Creation Spirituality.”
At Creation Spirituality’s core is a theological concept called "Panentheism," which literally means "all in God." Theism, the classical concept for God in the West, speaks of God as “up there” or “out there.” Conversely, some animist traditions use a framework called Pantheism, the idea that all things are divinations. PanENtheism combines these concepts. Panentheism was first coined by the early nineteenth-century German philosopher, Karl Christian Friedrich Krause, but is also present in the writings of classical theologians like Paul Tillich and process theologians like Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne.
Fox argues that when we peel back the mythological framework of most modern religious traditions, we see the imprints of panentheism. Indeed, elements of panentheism have found expression throughout the ages in most traditions, even if at times they were labeled as heretical.
My own tradition is that of Christianity. I am an ordained United Methodist minister, was trained at a classic liberal protestant seminary, and for the last 31 years have been the lead minister at one Austin’s most progressive congregations, Trinity Church of Austin, a community affiliated with the UMC and UCC, and also firmly grounded in a theology of Creation Spirituality.
One of my favorite theologians of Creation Spirituality is the 13th century mystic Meister Eckhart, who stated that we are to “Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things. Every single creature is full of God and is a book about God. Every creature is a word of God. If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature—even a caterpillar—I would never have to prepare a sermon. So full of God is every creature.”
My affinity for the work of BioIntegrity (producer of AllCreation.org) should be apparent. If Divinity permeates all things—the rainforests, the biosphere, our rivers, streams, and oceans—then diminishing the viability of the Earth, our Mother, is (to use theological language) tantamount of apostasy. Therefore, the work of environmental stewardship and social justice intersects with Creation Spirituality when we own up to the fact that we are NOT regarding the Earth and its creatures as expressions of enfleshed divinity. Our job, then, is to interrupt the interruption by working to restore the Earth. Our work is to restore the Earth and the cosmological order, even if we start with a caterpillar.
As the pastor of a local spiritual community and a leader in the Creation Spirituality movement, I believe that Creation Spirituality isn’t just another New Age weekend retreat brand that “we’re all connected.” If we take seriously the idea of divinity expressed all around us—and within us—there is an intersectionality between the environmentalist with all other activists working toward equality, inclusiveness, and liberation.
Matthew Fox states, “as a movement, Creation Spirituality becomes an amazing gathering place, a kind of watering hole for persons whose passion has been touched by the issues of our day – deep ecologists, ecumenists, artists, native peoples, justice activists, feminists, male liberationists, gay and lesbian peoples, animal liberationists, scientists seeking to reconnect science and wisdom, people of prophetic faith traditions – all these find in the Creation Spirituality movement a common language and a common ground on which to stand.”
Creation Spirituality Communities state that the modern movement of Creation Spirituality has two primary aims:
Integrate wisdoms. Integrate the wisdom of indigenous, Eastern, and Western spirituality with the revelations of modern science to awaken mysticism, revitalize our culture, and promote social and ecological justice.
Inspire sacred work. Inspire us to embody, support, reflect, and honor the spirituality of creation as it is expressed in the diversity of the cosmos. It compels us to lead lives of spiritual inquiry, creativity, and prophetic action as our sacred work in the world.
Creation Spirituality has been celebrated under various names over the centuries, most notably in the West by the Rhineland Christian mystics of medieval Europe. It has been emphatically articulated in our time by the prolific author, priest, and spiritual theologian Matthew Fox.
There are Six Essentials to Creation Spirituality.