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Noah's ark, Mt. Meru, and the god of the rainbow.


The warning is clear. Unless human beings reach a change of civilisation in the ecological sense within the next ten years, we will not have a future--any future. However, a change of civilisation does require a change of religious beliefs as well. As Lynn White Jr. asserted many years ago, our present science and technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature that no solution for our ecological and economic crises can be expected from them alone. Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious," as White assures, "the remedy must also be essentially religious." Still, where do we begin? The author is convinced that any ecological reconstruction of Christian theology and missiology must begin with the Scripture. A solid re-reading of the Bible will do. This is the reason why the author revisits the well-known story of Noah's ark to reveal the inconvenient truth almost verbatim - the truth that the Noah's Ark is the story of God's new covenant of life with not only human beings but also with the Earth, represented by the animals from the ark. After scrutinizing the creation stories in Genesis 1 to 9, comparing in particular the two different commandments of God in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, as well as in Genesis 1 and Genesis 9, the author confirms that a just and sustainable future can only be built upon the biblical God of the rainbow, who shows no favor to human beings, and who makes a new covenant of life with all flesh. What we need is a new vision of Christian beliefs and discipleship that honors God, values the Earth, and emphasises humility [humus] of humanity [humus], concludes the author.


God did not send the Son for the salvation of humanity alone or give us a partial salvation. Rather the gospel is the good news for every part of creation and every aspect of our life and society. It is therefore vital to recognize God's mission in a cosmic sense and to affirm all life, the whole oikoumene, as being interconnected in God's web of life. (Together towards Life, article 4) With the theme of "Moving in the Spirit: Called to Transforming Discipleship," the World Mission Conference 2018 will meet in Arusha, Tanzania, located in East Central Africa, which is known as the place of human origin. Much scientific research has pointed to East Central Africa as the origin where Homo sapiens appeared around 200,000 years ago. (1) Why has God convened God's own people to this special place at this moment?

Participants will convene near Kilimanjaro, which is the highest peak in Africa, reaching about 6,000 meters (20,000 ft.) above sea level. Kilimanjaro is indeed a magnificent and beautiful mountain. Earnest Hemingway once said in The Snows of Kilimanjaro-. "As wide as all the World, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun ..." Nevertheless, where have the snows gone? The mountain's famous glaciers have greatly retreated over 80 percent since 1912 and, as we will see with our own eyes, are now in danger of being completely gone in a few years. Kilimanjaro isn't just a sight spot for us who are called to "Transforming Discipleship." Why has God convened God's own people to this particular place at this particular time?

Climate Collapse

We live at a time when all the inhabitants on this planet Earth sense the unusual change in the look of the sky. I live on the Korean peninsula where we used to have four distinctive seasons--spring, summer, autumn, and winter three months each. But now the climate of the Korean peninsula is changing rapidly into a subtropical climate. The winters are becoming shorter and the summers longer; and the kinds of fish in the surrounding seas have changed because the temperature of the water has risen. Even more shocking is the fact that the warming of the Korean peninsula is twice as fast as the average pace of the whole world. (2) I do not have statistics of other regions, but it is unarguably true that climate change is a global phenomenon and crisis for all. Jesus once said, "When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times"(Matt. 16:2-3). If Jesus saw us today, however, he would say that the changes in the "appearance of the sky" are the "signs of the times."

The Earth's climate went through huge change even before human beings started intervening, but now we are experiencing human-made climate change, or "climate collapse.' (3) Since the industrial revolution in the mid-18th century, humankind raised the average temperature of the Earth by 0.8 degrees Celsius. (4) Since so-called the industrial revolution, human beings have chosen a strategy of economic growth which puts greater materialistic abundance and convenience as the ultimate values. This has been linked with the consumption of energy, namely fossil fuels, which emit carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, to the extent of the catastrophic change of climate as we experience it today. (5)

Unfortunately, we don't have so much time in our hands. The "World Environment Crisis Clock" already pointed at 9:33 p.m. in 2008. (6) The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has continuously warned that unless appropriate responses do take place in action, global warming will cause great catastrophes including floods, droughts, disease, extreme changes in climate. Scientists have also warned that unless Homo sapiens reach a revolution of civilization in the ecological sense within the next ten years, we will not have a future--any future. Civilization change, not climate change, is our task for a sustainable future.

A change of civilization, however, requires a change of idea, of worldview, and of religious beliefs. As Lynn White Jr. asserted many years ago, both our present science and technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature that no solution for our ecological and economic crises can be expected from them alone. (7) Arnold J. Toynbee also insisted that human exploitation of the Earth began because of the Christian teaching that humans are superior to nature, especially the command of God that says in Gen. 1:28 to "subdue" the Earth and to "have dominion" over all living creatures upon it. "Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious," says Lynn White, "the remedy must also be essentially religious." (8)

In Arusha, therefore, we are invited to fundamentally rethink of our Christian beliefs, mission, and the meaning of Christian discipleship in this context of the charge against Christianity in terms of its heavy responsibility on ecological bankruptcy. It is this reason that in this paper I'd like to revisit the story of Noah's Ark to reflect upon the significance of "Mission [which] has creation at its heart." (Together towards Life, 105) The story of Noah's Ark is the story that has grasped the heart of every generation because of its beautiful image of the rainbow, however only to fail to see its naked truth. As a matter of fact, Arusha could be the best place to reread this story of Noah's Ark because of Mount Meru, which is located in the heart of Arusha National Park. Some scholars have suggested that East Central Africa was the homeland of Noah and Mount Meru, which is Tanzania's second highest mountain after Kilimanjaro and only 67 kilometers (42 miles) west of Kilimanjaro itself, was the place where Noah's Ark came to rest as the flood receded. (9) The story of Noah's Ark and the rainbow in the sky symbolizes God's new covenant of life not only with Noah but also with the Earth now and then. A mission that has creation at its heart does require a radical change of Christian worldview. A sustainable future will only be possible when we return to this God of the rainbow, who made a new covenant of life with all flesh, and who continuously calls us to "choose life" so that we and our children may live. (Deuteronomy 30:19) I wish we could meet this God in Arusha on the top of Mount Meru.

Noah's Ark

The story of Noah's Ark in chapter 9 of Genesis is a story of God's new creation. It is not a story of destruction or annihilation; rather, it is a story of new beginnings and new hope for a sustainable future. The flood was not simply about heavy rain. (We should go deeper than the literal sense.) According to Gen. 7:11, "In the 600th year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the 17th day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened." What are these "fountains of the great deep" and the "windows of the heavens"? A Hebrew cosmology is assumed here. Let us go back to the very first moment of God's creation in chapter 1 of Genesis.

According to Gen. 1:2, when God was creating the heavens and the earth, "The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep while a wind from God swept over the face of the water." It was like a world full of water and no dry land. However, God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters" (Gen. 1:6-7); so God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. This reflects the ancient Hebrew cosmology in which dry land is created and protected by two domes above and beneath. The "flood" then was a cancellation of this separation of waters, and, as such, it implies a return to the original state before God's creation where "the earth was a formless void" and simply full of water. God was determined to end the first creation because of the Fall of the first man and woman, because of the brutal murder of the younger brother by his own elder brother, and because of many other sins, like the Tower of Babel. God's intention, however, was not to terminate the creation itself but to begin it, or to "reset" it, anew. This is why God opened the "fountains of the great deep" and the "windows of the heavens." The story of Noah is not a story of destruction or annihilation but a story of God's creation of "new heavens and a new earth" (Isa. 11:1-9; 25:6-10; 65:17; 66:22; Rev. 21:1-4). The Book of Jeremiah sustains my point: "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope'" (Jer. 29:11).

The ark, or teba in Hebrew, was not a boat in a proper sense, although the size of it was enormous and gigantic compared to that of Gilgamesh. We are told that there lived a man named Gilgamesh in Mesopotamia, who also built an ark to prepare for a large flood. His ark though was very small in size compared to that of Noah's because he just loaded gold, silver, and his family members on it. The purpose of the huge ship of Noah was then to save all the animals, which will become one of the partners of God's new covenant of life after the flood. As a matter of fact, a teba is a box, like the reed box that saved the baby Moses (see Exod. 2:3). It is an instrument to save life. What is peculiar to a teba, however, is that it has no engine or steering gear, just like a barge. The ark, therefore, symbolizes the total guidance and protection of God and the absolute dependence of our salvation upon God, who is the rock of our salvation (2 Sam. 22:47). This ark, or teba, of Noah, without a compass and without self-generating power, went back alone on a sea of trouble to the very original moment of chaos before the creation. It was sent back by God to the point of the void, or to the point of zero from which everything can be started anew. This is the meaning of the "flood."

After all, "the waters were dried up from the earth" (Gen. 8:13), and Noah built an altar to God and offered burnt offerings on it. And when God smelt the pleasing odor, God said in God's heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth, nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done" (Gen. 8:21). This observation is, in fact, a shocking statement of God! God must be feeling remorse for God's own act, and yet, what is striking here is that God makes a firm resolution not to curse the ground because of humankind and not to destroy again every living creature because of humankind. In the first creation before the flood, the Earth was cursed because of human sin, and it brought forth thorns and thistles (Gen. 3:18) Indeed, "from its beginning the earth has cried out to God over humanity's injustice" (Gen. 4:10). (Together towards Life, 19). In the second creation after the flood, however, God vows that God will not curse or destroy the Earth because of human beings, that is, us! What is happening here? God is now disconnecting the destiny of the Earth from that of us; in other words, God dissolves, if you will, a "guilt association system" between us and the Earth and frees the Earth from the humankind whose "heart is evil from youth" and whose nature is inclined to sin and self-destruction.

Here I'd like to invite the reader to pay closer attention to the significant difference between God's first commandment to the first man and woman before the flood and God's second commandment to Noah and his family after the flood. In chapter 1 of Genesis, after creating a male and a female in God's own image, "God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over every living thing' [my emphases]" (Gen. 1:28). This verse is what has become known by biblical scholars as God's "cultural commandment" to the first human beings. Compare it, however, with God's second commandment in chapter 9 of Genesis: "God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth [and full stop here]" (Gen. 9:1). Do you see the difference? Here, in the second creation story, God no longer commands humans to "subdue" the Earth and to "have dominion" over every living thing upon it. Not many theologians and biblical scholars have paid attention to this significant change unfortunately. God is withdrawing the "cultural commandment"! Biblically speaking, we are living in a post-flood world. This reality means that God's "cultural commandment" to the first male and first female is no longer valid and legitimate for us. We are not the heirs of the "cultural commandment" because it was simply cancelled by God after the flood. The Earth and every living thing upon it are no longer under our dominion; they are no longer associated with our sins and thus doomed with our own destiny. This has a serious theological and missiological implications for us today.

Meanwhile, we are relieved to realize that there is a continuity between the first creation and the second one. What was the very first act of God after the flood? God blessed Noah and his family, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth" (Gen. 9:1 and 9:7). In the first creation, God's very first act was blessing the first male and female, saying to them to "be fruitful and multiply." However, don't be mistaken: God did not bless human beings alone. In the first creation, on the same day God created the first male and female, God also blessed all the living creatures in the sea as well as in the air to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:21-22). In the second creation, God also blessed "every kind of living creature that is with Noah--the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground" to "multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number upon it" (Gen. 8:17). Indeed, our God is a good and impartial God whose first act is giving a blessing to all life. It is therefore right for us to praise our God as the source of all blessings!

The God of the Rainbow

Let us now move to the climax of God's new creation story in chapter 9 of Genesis. As I mentioned earlier, it is the story of God's new covenant of life, which has grasped the intellect and heart of every generation because of its beautiful image of the rainbow, however, only to fail to see its naked truth.

God says to Noah and his family, "As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you and with every living creature that is with you [my emphasis], the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark" (Gen. 9:8). See how God is repeatedly emphasizing here with whom God makes a new covenant for life and a sustainable future. In verse 12, "God said, 'This [rainbow] is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you [my emphasis] for all future generations'"; in verse 13, "I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth [my emphasis]"; in verse 15, "I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh [my emphasis]"; in verse 16, "When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth [my emphasis]"; and finally in verse 17, "God said to Noah, 'This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth [my emphasis]." One cannot miss it! At least six times, in this short chapter of Genesis 9, God is repeating, restating, and re-emphasizing with whom God makes this new covenant. The contract is not simply between God and us human beings but is among God, human beings, and the Earth. The rainbow covenant for life is, in fact, a triple contract among God, human beings, and the Earth. After the flood, as I said, the Earth and every living thing upon it are no longer under human dominion, but they are now a legal, legitimate, and independent party, or if you will, "person" of God's new covenant. A rigid human-centered reading has looked away and pretended not to have noticed it, but it is crystal clear here in the Scriptures that we humans do not represent the Earth anymore and that the Earth, represented by the animals out of the Ark, stands next to us as a lawful and independent entity before God's new covenant of life.

To make it worse, many Christians have terribly misunderstood the essential points of God's rainbow covenant of life for a long time. We have naively and wishfully assumed that God will not destroy us with a flood again. But read the Bible carefully: God is saying that "never again shall all flesh [my emphasis] be cut off by the waters of a flood and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth [my emphasis]" (Gen. 9:11), and moreover that "the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh [my emphasis]" (Gen. 9:15). See how God emphasizes "all flesh" over and over again here. Remember that, after God smelt the pleasing odor from the burnt offering by Noah, God said, "I will never again curse the ground because of humankind [my emphasis]" (Gen. 8:21). Now it is crystal clear: The point of God's new covenant is not that God will not destroy us human beings by a flood again but that God "will never again curse the ground because of [us] humankind ... nor will [God] ever again destroy every living creature as [God has] done" (Gen. 8:21). We are quite stunned and deeply troubled, indeed; but the Bible makes it clear that God will show no more favor, no more preference to humankind. This revelation may sound shocking to us. This discovery may, indeed, sound strange, unfamiliar, and inconvenient to us human beings. This God of the rainbow, who shows no more favor to us human beings, must be looking odd and eccentric to us. However, we should face the facts as they are. Our God is not simply the God of Homo sapiens alone but is the God of all species, of all life. And it is my argument in this paper that in our present era of total crises--the crises expressed through climate change, continuous war, and worm-eaten injustices done by us human beings--the ground of hope for life and a sustainable future is only this God of all flesh, this God of all life, who was determined to continue life on Earth in spite of us human beings whose heart is evil from youth, whose eyes are blinded by their sumptuous greed. This new awareness is, indeed, a paradox, and, indeed, "hope against all hope" (Rom. 4:18); but if this paradox and this uncanny hope is not fully understood and grasped, we cannot hope for the redemption, restoration and renewal of the whole creation--let alone the transformation of Christian beliefs and the meaning of discipleship.

God is not the God of human beings alone but of all flesh, of all life. God does care about human life and all life because our God is the Lord of all hosts and "spirits of all flesh." (Num. 16:22, 27:16). Therefore, paradoxically speaking, the hope, the only hope for life and a sustainable future is this God of the rainbow covenant, who "will never again curse the ground because of humankind" (Gen. 8:21). We must turn to this biblical God of the rainbow, who took an oath with Noah and with the Earth, assuring that, "as long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease" (8:22). It is this God who is the rock of our salvation, upon whom we can build the "Transforming Discipleship" for a genuinely sustainable future.

"Brother Sun and Sister Moon"

To move in the Spirit as "Transforming Discipleship," we must rid ourselves of all the residues of a human-centered understanding of God and of the world. To affirm all life and to live out a mission for a just and sustainable world, we cannot anchor our hope on the conventional and narrow understanding of God because such an understanding of God is, in fact, the roots of our crises today. New wines must be put into fresh wineskins! We used to think that we human beings are the crown of God's creation. Nevertheless, we are greatly challenged today by Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), the "incomparable saint," who was also called the "Second Christ" (alter Christus). Francis's spirituality is indeed a great inspiration for our understanding of mission today. The key to an understanding of Francis' spirituality is his belief in the virtue of humility, not merely for the individual but for human beings as a species in God's entire creation. Francis tried to depose human beings from their monarchy over creation, and he set up, if you will, a "democracy" of all God's creatures. This was well expressed in his "Canticle of Brother Sun and Sister Moon":
   Good Lord, most high almighty, to you all praise is due, all glory,
   honor, and blessing, belong alone to you; there is no [hu]man whose
   lips are fit to frame your name.

   Be praised, my Lord God, in and through all your creatures,
   especially among them, through noble Brother Sun by whom you light
   the day. In his radiant splendid beauty, he reminds us, Lord, of

   Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and all the stars. You
   have made the sky shine in their lovely light. In Brother Wind, be
   praised, my Lord, and in the air, in clouds, and calm, in all the
   weather moods that cherish life.

   Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water. She is most useful,
   humble, precious, pure. And Brother Fire, by whom you lighten
   night; how fine is he, how happy, powerful, strong.

   Through our dear Mother Earth be praised, my Lord. She feeds us,
   guides us, gives us plants, bright flowers, and all her fruits.

   Be praised, my Lord, through us when out of love for you we pardon
   one another, when we endure in sickness and in sorrow. Blessed are
   they who preserve in peace; from you, Most High, they will receive
   their prize.

   Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death from whom no [hu]man
   alive can hope to hide; wretched are they who die deep in their
   sin, and blessed are those Death finds doing your will. For them,
   there is no further death to fear.

   O people! Praise God and bless him [sic]. Give him [sic] thanks and
   serve him [sic] most humbly.

For Francis, the sun, moon, wind, water, fire, earth, and even death are our "brothers and sisters." With this canticle then, an ant is no longer simply a homily for the lazy, the flames are no longer a sign of the thrust of the soul toward union with God; now they are "Brother Ant" and "Sister Fire," praising the Creator in their own ways as Brother/Sister Human does in his/her own way. As Lynn White Jr. pointed out, Francis here is trying to substitute the idea of the equality ("democracy") of all creatures, including human beings, for the idea of human's limitless rule of creation, human dominion over every living thing on Earth. (10)

Today we must continue his effort because we will continue to have worsening ecological degradation and economic injustice until we completely reject the old Christian axiom that nature, animals, or the Earth, has no reason for its existence except to serve our human interests. Today we must cultivate a more community-based understanding of humans in which human beings are perceived as those who belong to Earth. (11) We are not controllers of the Earth who exist "above" or "outside" of it. Not only do we belong to the Earth, we are absolutely dependent on its water, food, land, and climate. We exist "inside" the Earth, along with other living things, and we are deeply indebted to them for our very existence. We need, in a word, a Christianity and mission that honor God, value the Earth, and emphasize humility of humanity.

In the story of the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:4-3:24), which is the second creation story, even older than the first one in Genesis chapter 1, the human is not a ruler of the Earth that could conquer and rule over it but a humble farmer that tills the land. In this story, God creates Adam, or a human from Adama, or "the dust of the ground." Very interestingly, we can also translate this Adama as "farmland" and therefore Adam as "farmer." (12) According to this translation, God created a farmer from farmland in the Garden of Eden. What is amazing in chapter 2 of Genesis is that God's commandment to this Adam is not to "subdue" the Earth and to "have dominion" over every creature on it; instead, God commanded Adam to "farm" (or in Hebrew abad), which means to cultivate and take care of the land. What is being emphasized here is caring for, or managing the land, not possession or control over it by humans. We are not the owner of the Earth, but God is! It is God's Earth and not ours. This is the fundamental understanding of being human in the Scriptures, and we must return to this biblical view as we are called to "Transforming Discipleship" for a just and genuinely sustainable future.

As the WCC's new mission statement affirms, "the purpose of God's mission is fullness of life (John 10:10)," which is "the criterion for discernment in mission." (Together towards Life, 102). "God's mission begins with the act of creation," (777., 19) and thus "Mission has creation at its heart." (TTL, 105). Furthermore, WCC's new mission statement affirms that creation is in mission to humanity, not the other way around: "We tend to understand and practice mission as something done by humanity to others. Instead, humans can participate in communion with all of creation in celebrating the work of the Creator. In many ways creation is in mission to humanity; for instance the natural world has a power that can heal the human heart and body." (TTL., 22). If today the environment, ecology, or nature, that is, God's creation is the margin of margins to human civilization, "creation in mission to humanity" is indeed the concrete form of "mission from the margins."

In Arusha, therefore, we are all urged to remember, recover, and reinstitute God's rainbow covenant for life for all. We are called to become "a new humanity that respects the needs of all life on earth." (TTL, 23) And this new humanity can be borne by "a new conversion (metanoia) in our mission which invites a new humility in regard to the mission of God's Spirit." (TTL, 22). Interestingly enough, the terms of humanity and humility are both originated from the Latin "humus" which means soil equivalent to "the dust of the ground," that is, Adam. This is important for our problem today is nothing other than the humanity without humility, in other words, humanity [humus] that lost humility [humus]. However, "Humanity is not the master of the earth but is responsible to care for the integrity of creation." (TTL, 105).


Today the world is standing at a crossroads, a point in time when we must either choose a society of self-destruction or a sustainable society of mutually enhancing life. As the human economy has continued to expand globally, nearly half of the world's forests, which once covered the Earth, have already been lost. Despite the fact that the Earth does not have an infinite capacity to supply the resources necessary for production and to absorb the resulting waste from us, we are, nonetheless, blindly exploiting our natural resource base and generating waste, including the nuclear one, at a rate which exceeds the capacity of the natural world to regenerate and heal itself. We are, in fact, borrowing and plundering from our future generations who will inherit from us only a depleted and degraded Earth. Probably, we may well be on the way to our own extinction. What shall be done? What is the task of our mission in this critical juncture of human-Earth history?

Before the Israelites entered Canaan, after surviving in the desert for 40 years crossing the Jordan River, God said, "I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you. Now choose life so that you and your children may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19). As heaven and earth witness, we are faced with this same covenant and challenge. "Now Choose Life" is

God's own Word to us today. The 21st century, which was expected to be a time of hope, has begun as a time of unprecedented war and violence, economic injustice, climate change and ecological destruction, religious conflict, division between religions and generations, and spiritual and psychological chaos. Our age is one in which human greed is hastening the collapse of civilization and even of the cosmic end, an era when "the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time" (Romans 8:22). In the midst of this chaos and crisis, God speaks to us: "Now Choose Life!" God says, "Now." This "Now" is the eschatological time; it is a kairotic time, that is, the time of repentance, determination, and full of grace. God has prepared for us a path toward life and commands us to turn our feet away from the path of violence and self-destruction. This God is the God of the rainbow in whom and through whom we can become "Transforming Discipleship" for just and a sustainable future. Deeply anchored on this God, we will choose life, not death.

When we sense the unusual change in the look of the sky today, the rainbow is indeed the sign of the Spirit that gives life and creates hope. Walking and moving in this Spirit, we are called to "Transforming Discipleship" for God's mission to affirm all life, the whole oikoumene. I hope I could see the rainbow on the top of Mount Meru during the World Mission Conference 2018 in Arusha.

Yoon-Jae Chang is professor in the Christian Studies department, Ewha Womans University, in Seoul, South Korea.

(1) In paleoanthropology, the recent African origin of modern humans, also called the "Out of Africa" theory (OOA), the "recent single-origin hypothesis" (RSOH), "replacement hypothesis," or "recent African origin model" (RAO), is the most widely accepted model of the geographic origin and early migration of anatomically modern humans. The theory argues for the African origins of modern humans, who left Africa in a single wave of migration which populated the world, replacing older human species. The major competing hypothesis of the single origin theory is the multiregional origin of modern humans, which envisions a wave of Homo sapiens migrating earlier from Africa and interbreeding with local Homo erectus populations in multiple regions of the globe. (Wikipedia.

(2) The average temperature of the Korean peninsula has risen by 1.7 degrees Celsius in 96 years from 1912 to 2008, thus the speed of warming in the Korean peninsula is shown to be twice as fast as the world average. The earth's average temperature rose by 0.74 degrees during the same period. (Korea National Institute of Meteorological Research, Understanding Climate Change II, published on May 7, 2009).

(3) Regarding climate change and its theological implication, see more on Yoon-Jae Chang, "'Adam (Human), Where Are You?' (Genesis 3:9)--Ecology, Economy, and the Place of the Human," in Madang, Vol. 12, 15th December 2009.

(4) Mark Lynas, Six Degrees Could Change the World (Random House Inc., 2008) explains in detail what would happen if the earth's temperature rose by 1 to 6 degrees Celsius.

(5) Of the primary energy provided to the world in 2005, 35 percent was from oil, 25.3 percent from coal, and 20.7 percent from natural gas, thus fossil fuels accounted for 81.0 percent. In the Paleozoic era, plants were fossilized, capturing energy in them. This "buried sunshine" is the main force of modern capitalist industrial economy and the main culprit of climate change at the same time.

(6) The Environment Crisis Clock measures the severity of environment degradation in the world, and it says that we are in the most serious situation since 1992, when the investigations first started. The clock was set at 7:49 in 1992, and is running towards 12 o'clock, which marks the extinction of humankind. In 1997 we had already passed 9:04 p.m., a "very unstable situation." 9:17 in 2006, 9:31 in 2007, and marked 9:33 in 2008. (Seoul Daily, September 17, 2008).

(7) See Lynn White Jr., "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis," Srience 155 (1967).

(8) Ibid.

(9) According to this view, the old Arabic text of Genesis 8:4 identifies the resting place as "har-meni," which "refers to the mountain of Meni or Menes, another name for Mount Meru." The similarity between "bar-menl' and Armenia, however, led to the Christian tradition of identifying Mount Ararat, in Armenia, as the site. In fact, the word "men!' appears only once in the Bible, in Isaiah 65:11, where it is paralleled with the word "gad," which means good fortune. It is assumed that there might be a connection between "men!' and the ancient practice of worship on mountain tops because where the word "gad' appears there is often a contextual reference to sacrifice or praise offered on mountains. We recall that Noah offered burnt sacrifice on the mountain in thanksgiving for his deliverance. (Gen. 8:20) For more discussion, see Alice C. Linsley, "Mount Ararat, Mount Meni, Noah's Ark" ( Also see Wikipedia (

(10) Lynn White Jr., "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis."

(11) See Sallie McFague, A New Climate for Theology: God, the World, and Global Wanning (Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2008).

(12) See Theodore Hiebert, "The Human Vocation: Origins and Transformations in Christian Traditions," Dieter T. Hessel and Rosemary R. Ruether, eds., Christianity and Ecology (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2000).
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Author:Chang, Yoon-Jae
Publication:International Review of Mission
Article Type:Essay
Date:Nov 1, 2016
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