New View Overview ---> New View Main Page, abxn Main Page. About this Page. Contact.
Please feel free to use and share this content, or this link: ""

Interconnectedness, Relatedness of All Things in Creation

It is part of the New View in Theology and Practice that all things in the created order are interconnected or related. The New View sees the nature of creation as relatedness, meaningfulness and joy. We are created to be related, to the rest of creation and to each other as human beings, and to God himself.

In short, there are two main types of relatedness: Creational-interconnectedness and selfish-interconnectedness. Creational interconnectedness emphasises dynamic processes and responsibility. Selfish-interconnectedness emphasises unhealthy, fragile dependency and the satisfying of my own wants by exploiting others.

Questions that are addressed here include:

To reach these, click the links in Contents below.

Originally most of the text here was a major section in the detailed discussion of the theology of the New View. Then I was challenged by Eric Enloe of Handong Global University as to whether interconnectedness is really in Scripture (thanks, Eric!). So, just as for the Representation section, I have set up a separate page to discuss Interconnectedness, Relatedness in more detail.


(Please feel free to skip to the implications, since they are more practical. Some of other pieces are more academic.)

Scriptures that Show Interconnectedness

I know of no verse that, directly in philosophic words, says "all is interconnected" but I have found many, many verses throughout Scripture that seem to presuppose it. The following verves show interconnectedness and make little sense if the Creation was not interconnected and would be impoverished in meaning,. Some key words are italicized.

Of humanity and the rest of Creation, "Let us make humanity in our image, and give them rulership over ..." "God set the human in the garden to tend and care for it." Genesis 1:26, 2:15

Of male and female "God said 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. ... A man will leave father and mother and cleave to his wife." Genesis 2:18

To Abram "I will bless you ... and you will be a blessing to all ..." Genesis 12:2

Of God's chosen nation, "Their descendants will be known among the nations, and and their offspring among the peoples" Isaiah 61:9

Of how to treat others, "... restore him gently ... carry each others' burdens ... share ... let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6

Of repercussions mediated through our interconnectedness, "There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery, they break all bounds and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying." Hosea 4:2-3

Ditto, "They sacrifice on the mountaintops and burn offering on the hills ... Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution and your daughters-in-law to adultery." Hosea 4:13

"They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind" Hosea 8:7

The harm that denying interconnectedness does: "Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors, the roar of battle will rise against your people." Hosea 10:13

Law as a manifestation of interconnectedness, "The sins of the fathers will be visited on the children to the third and fourth generation." "The parents have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge."

On repercussions of all we do, "Cast your bread on the waters, and it will return to you after many days."

The charge to "weep with those that weep, rejoice with those that rejoice."

And do not the Hebrew words shalom and towb (peace, goodness) imply interconnectedness, and would lose most of their rich meaningfulness if restricted to individual felicity?

The first few show a connectedness between people, the long one from Hosea 4 shows a connection between what people do and the health of the natural world, the next two show the connectedness between faith / attitude and the state of society, while the next few show a general connectedness. Some of these show good, some evil. Connectedness? Connectedness in a dynamic way, as repercussions, which is the Biblical way. Some show repercussions of good, but most there show repercussions of evil.

We think sin is breaking the law of God, but the real reason why God gave law and sin is important, is because of interconnectedness. God has compassion on all he made (Psalm 145) so all we do affects those whom God loves (including animals and the whole of Creation), and Law expresses that. If we ignore interconnectedness our understanding of sin is too limited.

Do These Scriptures Really Show Interconnectedness

But do such Scriptures really show interconnectedness? Or might it be that they are all true merely because of God's law, as results of our obedience or disobedience? Might these verses merely indicate that a Sovereign Law-giver measures us against His law and then acts in the world to punish or reward for what we have done? For example, when Hosea said that the land mourns because of the sin of the people, might it be that when we break the law of God, then God does things in the natural world to punish us?

That is a view that predominated in Scholastic Christianity, which likes to see supernatural action in the world, and such elevation of God's Law is one that still prevails in some Jewish thought to this day. That the repercussion could be via the action of God in response to how we act in relation to his laws is certainly a logical explanation, and possibly all the above verses and more could be explained that way, but such a view exhibits problems.

We can depict this view as follows:

All Entities linked only via God and His Law

One problem with such a view is that it makes God rather unjust, if He hurts others because of my sin. Because I sin, God makes my daughter turn to prostitution. I have long felt uneasy with the sins of the fathers being visited on the children to the third and fourth generation, feeling "Is God really just in that?" I know that Paul warns that we cannot question the justice of God, but in fact many people did so, including Abraham, Moses and Jeremiah, and God honoured their doing so.

Moreover, such a view seems rather forced as an explanation for some of the Scriptures above. God saying that it is not good to be alone does not seem to be anything about obedience to His law, but rather about the state of affairs in the way He created. Being known among the people is an interconnectedness of a kind that does not fit that.

It seems to me that such verses, and many more like them throughout Scripture, are indicative of interconnectedness within creation rather than solely via our relationship with God. I cannot yet point to 'proof texts' for this, but viewing the creation as interconnected brings new life, new dimensions, to passages of Scripture that were flat before. As we understand more what kind the interconnectedness is, and what its implications are, this might become clearer.

The interconnectedness view resonates well with the view that God designed reality to 'rejoice' and that the role of humankind is to 'radah' (shepherd) the rest of creation, as discussed under those links.

Interconnectedness, Relatedness is Not Relationships

Interconnectedness, relatedness takes on certain meanings. One is very general, namely that human beings are part of creation. In this very general way we are connected to all creation. But that is very amorphous, rather abstract, and does not have much effect.

The best way I see interconnectedness or relatedness is as dynamic and linked with response and responsibility, rather than as a static idea of relationships. That is, I see it as a state of affairs in which we exist, rather than entities that we can identify and perhaps name.

Note: "Responsibility" does not refer to culpability for past wrongs, but an attitude of responsibility towards the future, and especially the future of others than oneself.

However, many would tend to see it as a set of relationships. This is rooted in Greek thought, which liked to consider things, entities, which are discrete and relatively static, or at least retain some essence throughout changes. They liked the idea that each thing is of a certain substance despite 'accidents' that change it. Such a view has pervaded Christian and Western thought for centuries. As a result, we might naturally slide in our thinking from relatedness to relationships. This view is depicted in the following figure, which shows people, trees, a house and path, and the thought of someone, all connected by a network of relationships.

Things linked by a network of relationships

We might ask "What are the relationships among things in creation?" I do not think it is appropriate nor helpful to try to understand relatedness in terms of relationships. For the following reasons:

In recent years, the idea of relatedness has begun to be accepted among some Christian thinkers. The Relational Foundation has been arguing for the importance of relatedness for about 30 years. Recently, the Vatican has published a new list of sins, which includes 'relational damage', in which we are sinning if we damage others. These are very welcome developments, but they need to be developed in various ways. May the Holy Spirit stimulate further critical consideration of their ideas in order to enrich our shared notion of relatedness, interconnectedness. There are several ways in which extant ideas are weak, some of which follow - though what follows is not aimed at them.

Interconnectedness is Dynamic, Law-like

Instead, I see interconnectedness as dynamic, wide, multifarious. Relatedness may be expressed as repercussions, or the potential for repercussions - a kind of causal relationship by which what we do results in other happenings. Or as a state of affairs in which we live and exist (e.g. it not being good to be alone). To think of relationships is a reification, inspired by a Greek way of thinking, rather than the reality itself.

How does this dynamic kind of interconnectedness work? One way is to see God's Law, not as something imposed from above but as something underneath that "upholds creation with his word of power". Such law enables us to function and itself can include some interconnectedness with others. As we function in line with the various kinds of law that uphold creation, repercussions occur. Take the simple example of the physical law of equal and opposite reactions to force. When I swing a bat, the operation of this law leads to a repercussion on the ball (as long as I don't miss!). Likewise, the social law of politeness means that if I act in a rude way, the other person will be upset.

This view may be depicted as follows:

Everything interconnected dynamically by responding to laws-of-creation

Many Mosaic laws state or imply such repercussions. "Honour your parents, so that things will go well with you" is explicit. In "Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do no murder" the repercussion on others is implicit in the verb: disloyalty, loss of property and loss of life. This is the kind of interconnectedness that I see throughout the Scripture that pervades creation. Many of the verses above indicate relatedness of this kind.

Note: This view finds strong echoes in the 'Philosophy of the Law Idea' pioneered by the late Herman Dooyeweerd, so it can be addressed philosophically as well as theologically.

Types of Interconnectedness

(This section is inserted years after the above was written, and the above might need altering to take account of it. And the following might need altering to take account of the above. 30 March 2020)

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, our Just-In-Time (JIT) supply chains, used in manufacturing, broke down. We had taken them for granted for so long, but they were revealed as unsustainable and fragile. And yet, are not JIT supply chains not an expression of interconnectedness? It is not good to be thus interconnected?

There are at least two types of interconnectedness, which we might call:

Sadly, most of the modern world has taken advantage of the third, but it generates unhealthy dependence and lets us down and is not resilient. JIT is of the third type.

During the war (or "special military operation"!) in which Russia invaded Ukraine, it became only too clear that many European nations had become too dependent on Russian gas or oil - especially when Russia turned off the supply to Poland etc. Yet, is not the obtaining of gas from Russia an expression ofinterconnectedness? It is not good to be thus interconnected?

By contrast, Creational-interconnectedness spurs us on to responsibility, the kind of responsibility that humankind was created for, as we shepherd the rest of Creation, representing God to it. We should rejoice in it. It also generates joy in us, as we gaze upon and appreciate the wonder of the rest of Creation. We cannot do so if we are not connected with it.

When I first wrote the page, I did not realise the difference between them. I was faced with questions like "Doesn't JIT make us more interconnected and so must be a Good Thing? Is not the inter-dependency among nations a Good Thing? Don't they bring us together more, and don't they make us depend on each other more? And is not that a Good Thing?" Some Christians argued thus, knowing my interest in inteconnectedness.

However, I did feel uneasy about JIT, our dependence on Russia for gas or oil, etc. I intuitively knew there was some fundamental difference between them and our responsibility for the rest of Creation, so had to think about interconnectedness more deeply.

I realised that what happens in these two cases is that selfishness and laziness areencouraged, at the expense of responsibility. In some sense, the two types are almost opposites of each other. A nation thinks it needs gas - which actually is harmful in that almost every ounce of gas or oil taken from the ground ends up as either climate change emissions or plastic, both of which harm the environment. But, instead of facing up to having to reduce gas consumption, many countries just took the easy way out of getting it from Russia. Not only the lazy, easy way out, but the self-centred way, of seeking their own benefit at the expense of others, especially the environment. Similarly with JIT. Both are fired by Competition, which in this context is an expression of self-centredness.

Whereas Creational-interconnectedness tends to dignify us within responsibility, selfish-interconnectedness often tends to enslave, constrain and exclude, because systems of dependency are put in place. For JIT, for example, behemoth IT systems are necessary, in which all who take part can only do so by paying to install those systems. And if those systems fail, or have to be stopped as in the Pandemic, the whole supply operation fails. Small suppliers cannot join the market. With Creational-interconnectedness, nobody is excluded.

Creational interconnectedness brings Good; selfish-interconnectedness is often harmful, especially in ways that we overlook, such as climate change emissions massively increasing owing to JIT.

There might be a halfway between them, which we might call "imposed-interconnectness", where the freedom and responsibility of others is restricted because of some rule or structure we impose on them. This can bring some good, but can also bring harm. Of the latter, it can bring fear and loathing, so that we dare not speak truth to power.

Whereas Creational interconnectedness is like an ocean within which we 'swim', surrounding us and buoying us up and even constituting us, and by which we are nourished. Selfish-interconnectedness generates discrete, deliberately-formed relationships, that tie us down and narrows down both our humanity and the wider reality.

Interconnectedness is not a norm, an 'ought to', but a fact and a responsibility. It refers to the fact that Creation is organised in such a way that whatever we do has repercussions. How we function is not determined, and that for the repercussions of our functioning we bear the dignity of responsibility. Our functioning might be good or bad, and its repercussions, beneficial to others or harmful, but whichever, we bear responsibility and that dignifies us. We are interconnected in a web or ocean of potentially-joyful responsibility. The norm that we 'ought to' follow and obey is responsibility, not interconnectedness.

The Importance of Attitudes

It is one thing to do 'relational damage' and be deemed guilty for that. It is something deeper to have a self-centred attitude, which tends towards relational damaging behaviour, because we do not see the importance of anyone but 'me and mine'.

God condemned Sodom, not primarily for its sexual sins, but for arrogance, affluence and unconcern [Ezekiel 16:49]. Those three are attitudinal sins. Jesus put attitude at the centre, when he told us that being angry with my brother without cause is as bad as the act of murder, and a man looking lustfully on a woman is as bad as the act of adultery.

We may understand this via Dooyeweerd's notion of aspects, in which the faith and ethical aspects, which concern our attitudes (selfish or self-giving) and what we most deeply believe, affect all our other functioning, whether socially, what we do with money, the justice or injustice we do, etc. That is why the first commandments are about beliefs and attitudes, and why it was for idolatry and the taking advantage of the widows and orphans that God sent the people of Israel and Judah into exile [Jeremiah 7].

Our attitudes and deepest beliefs are relational issues in that they are about how we see ourselves in relation to our Creator and to the rest of Creation.

When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, then deceived and murdered her husband, putting a stumbling block before Joab the army commander, and tried to cover up his sin, and Yahweh God revealed it to the prophet Nathan and sent him to confront David, he immediately repented with no excuses or self-justification. (This shows he was a person after God's heart.) He composed Psalm 51. He recognised that his sin against Bathsheba, Uriah and others was also a sin against God, who made interconnectedness possible.

Where It Fits In Theology

Briefly, interconnectedness fits in theology as one of five major ideas, alongside Reality Rejoicing, Role of Humankind, Rich Redemption and Representing God. Notice there is no 'Fall' there. Fall is seen as a secondary, not primary, thing, a result of the interconnectedness, relatedness. This enables us to escape the negative problem of the Fall being a good thing in God's Plan, and allows God's Plan to be understood as wholly good. See Fall below.


The rest, below, has been extracted from Five R's, its 'Relatedness' section, to create this separate page. It will be rewritten later to suit it being a separate page about Interconnectedness.

Relatedness as Agape Love and Interdependency

Interconnectedness is an expression of dependency, a reminder that we are dependent on 'other' - never self-dependent - and this keeps on reminding us of our utter dependence on God.

Elsewhere, we have emphasised radah-as-love: that humanity's role is to bless the rest of creation so that it experiences something of the character of God as we do so. But we are not autonomous sources of blessing (only God is that). Rather, we also are part of creation and, as such, we are dependent on the rest of creation.

In this sense we find the rest of creation to be necessary for our living and we also derive enjoyment from it. We may indeed enjoy the rest of creation, and use it as resource for living, but that is secondary and not primary. God's plan is this: Primarily, we serve and bless the rest of creation, and then in return it responds and blesses us. Shepherds look after sheep, but, having done so, they can use wool, milk and even meat. God's plan is for a 'virtuous circle', in which as we bless the rest of creation, we are blessed in turn - and the whole results in blessing and praise to God. The apostle, Paul, understood this.

Jim Skillen puts it this way: Each creature has honour of being what it is, and each creature is hospitable to others. He finds this in the order of the days of creation: light and dark are hospitable to land, which is hospitable to plants, which are hospitable to sea creatures and land animals and these are hospitable to humans. Everything in all creation is there, not for its own sake, but for the sake of all others - and this is most true of humans.

We can understand this better if we recognise that the central rule of creation is interconnectedness, relatedness. Everything relates to everything else. There are food chains. There are networks of causality. There are cycles of blessing. There are relationships of responsibility. Nothing stands alone, nothing stands apart from others and especially not above it. All is dependent on all else. All refers beyond itself. And, ultimately, the whole cosmos refers beyond itself to God, and the interconnectedness we find in the cosmos is an echo of the love of God. Love is always relating and referring beyond itself. Note 4.

Let us look at what this entails - including looking at what Christians call The Fall. Or jump directly to Rich Redemption - Romans 8 revisited.

What Our Blessing of Creation Entails

What does our blessing of the rest of creation involve? Should we, for example, eschew all technology and aim for a 'natural' world and 'primitive' human living? Such a view might be possibly within this 'New View' (and it is not so appalling as Western thinking might suggest, when we remove the effects of the fall), but it sits uncomfortably here and with the whole story of Scripture. I believe it is much, much more likely that it is God's intention that we 'open up' all the diverse aspects of the creation, developing them to their full potential and glory, for God's delight, their joy and ours.

Part of this is technology. We are to fashion and control according to some purpose, rather than let things happen. (For example, rampant plants like Rhododendron should be controlled for the sake of other 'weaker' species.) For example, we can discover and employ the properties of timber, iron, silicon, and so on. But I believe the type of technological development God had envisaged would be different from ours - controlled, patient, at peace with the creation (see fruit of the Holy Spirit) - and especially that part of the fruit which is being patient with the speed and way in which creation works rather than using technology as an excuse for being impatient with it.

Part of this is economics. We are to frugally and skilfully manage, respecting, accepting and creatively working within the limitations of resource we encounter. Very different from current economics, based on removing limitations, on maximization of owner value, on production and consumption.

Part of this is poetry and music. And rest. Notice how the climax of the creation story at the start of Genesis is not human beings but rest [thanks to Jim Skillen for pointing this out].

And so on. I find Dooyeweerd's aspects provide a useful insight into the diversity of creation and how it may be properly opened up.

In Westminster Abbey is Poet's Corner, where famous poets are buried. I used to think this was blasphemy because many of these poets had not been true followers of Jesus Christ and did not die "in the Lord". But today, though my opinion of them has changed little, I no longer see it blasphemy, because even these people have opened up something in the Creation Order and thus contributed to fulfilling humankind's commission. This relates to our discussion of the contribution of the non-believer.

What God Hates

Everything in creation bringing blessing to another is an echo of love. The opposite of love is not hatred but selfishness, self-seeking and pride on the one hand and idolatry on the other. Selfishness, self-seeking and pride elevates me above others. Idolatry elevates another thing above others. Scripture tells us that God hates both pride and idolatry, but how do we understand his hatred of them?

In other views, we try to understand it in terms of God's authority: selfishness, pride and idolatry usurp God's authority. While this is logical, and there is obvious truth in this, this understanding on its own contradicts itself, in that it suggests a God who is himself 'selfish'. While Christians, Jews, Muslims and others might just accept that, many find it difficult to stomach.

Under the New View this problem is lessened. If we see both pride and idolatry, not as resisting God's authority but as denying our interconnectedness - denying or ignoring, for example, our responsibility to others, our ability to bless others, our causal effects on others, etc. - then we can see how damaging these can be to others. Since God loves all he has made, this hurts him. This enables us to bring God's love and justice together.

Justice as Love

We are used to thinking of justice as somehow opposed to love. We find it difficult to understand how God can hate the sin and love the sinner. This may be because we forget interconnectedness within creation, and think that the only eternally significant relationship we have is with God himself. If this were so, then I cannot understand how God can punish me when he loves me. (I might believe-it-by-faith, but I do not understand it.) The only way I can understand it is by way of God having a standard that I should keep up to. But this makes a tension between God's 'righteous' standard and his love. So Christianity, Judaism and Islam (and others) have always found it hard to reconcile the two, usually giving one or other the priority. God's love, we think, is in spite of his justice, and vice versa.

But now consider that all is interconnected. Suppose I do something that harms other things. Because God loves those other things, he is sad, and perhaps even angry with me. And so he punishes me, perhaps as retribution but certainly as a warning to stop what I am doing that harms the others. God's justice is because he loves others as well as me. There is no now tension between God's justice and his love.

Because God loves he is just, not in spite of it.

This is the New View of the relationship between God's love and his justice, wrath and so on. The wrath of God is derivative, not original, secondary not primary. We no longer have to deny one to uphold the other.

Paul Marshall defines justice as 'right relationships among all things in the created order' - linking justice with relationships. Righteousness is also linked with relationships: indeed, righteousness and justice are the same thing.

The Fall

Interconnectedness also helps us understand the Fall, in Genesis 3, and the significance of the 'curse' that God seemed to inflict when the human beings disobeyed him - pain in childbearing, thorns, weeds and thistles making agriculture difficult, and so on.

The standard view seems to portray God as a petty official who, peeved that his creatures did what he told them not to, instituted various curses and pains by way of punishment, retribution or even, if we are honest, revenge.

But I no longer see it so. Rather, I see these things as a natural outcome of what we have done, because of the interconnectedness inherent in creation.

Thus the so-called 'curses' are not. They are merely God telling us examples of how creation, with which we are interconnected, will work against us if we take to ourselves the right to determine what seems good and evil. He cited three examples - in obstetrics, in food production and in family relationships. Our wrong actions break the cycle of joy and blessing that we mentioned above. No! God is no petty, peeved official. He is still love.

The problem is that we have chosen to see the world in a certain way: to take to ourselves the right to determine what is good and evil, and this is a deep orientation of heart, not just a matter of thinking or doing. I believe we are guilty sinners, but many today (especially in establishment Christianity) detest notions of guilt and react against the word "sin", prefer to to say we have "limitations" or "failures". In my view, we are absolutely at fault, as individuals, communities and the entire human race; we have refuse the invitation of God to care for creation, we want rather "to be like God" - and we still do even more so today since secular, anti-Christian Humanism became so pervasive. (See longer piece on 'The Fall'.) Because we have done so, we are blinkered and keep on with self-justification.

(Why the reaction against "sin" and "guilt"? Is it because earlier Christians had over-played them, but not only that, applied them to others more than to themselves, leading to a harsh Christianity? The "wrath of God" and the doctrine of Hell were over-emphasised and distorted. Even that earlier tendency was rooted in sin, especially the sin of attitude, just as today's reaction against it is. God judges both. Because God loves the Creation, which is being deeply harmed by us, it is right that God should judge.)

To overcome this requires repentance, not just deductions, discourse or determination.

Though some dislike the theology of sin and its attendant theology of atonement, once we have stopped trying to make points, and begin to see ourselves as we are, we know we are warped (guilty) inside, trapped in the warp, and separated from God the source of Life and Joy. All we do, even the best, is tarnished by selfishness, pride, arrogance, self-will, unconcern. Sin is not only there, but is noetic.

See a longer discussion of sin, evil, dysfunction.

Example: What is intended for blessing, namely that when we give ourselves for the rest of creation it blesses us, has been turned into self-interest: we do good in order that good may be done to us. That hidden sin is a root of much evil in the world. Very subtle, but did not Jesus see through it in many of his parables?

(But, some might say, has not nature been 'put out of joint'? See elsewhere.)

Indirect Impacts

The New View helps us understand the importance of indirect impacts of what we do. Under older views, only direct impacts seem to be considered. We focus on individual responsibility to God and it is all too easy to assume that that is all we need be concerned with.

We make much of those verses that say that God will make all things right. And yet, much of the evil in the world comes about indirectly rather than directly. We are used to direct repercussions of what we do. But because of interconnectedness, what we do sets of a chain of repercussions. I use someone spitefully or unjustly, they get hurt and irritable, they go home and snap at their family, who in turn feel hurt and snap at each other, and a row breaks out, and one of the children goes round to their friends in a bad and cynical mood and causes trouble there, and so on.

In environmental issues, it is the indirect rather than direct impacts that are harmful. For example, I drive my car, and the emissions contribute to climate change, which causes storms that destroy the homes and livelihood of thousands in central Africa.

One very important indirect impact comes not from our actions but from our world view - the taken-for-granted assumptions about how the world is, what's important, what's wrong and what's right. Our world view affects they way we live and work, and what we put effort into and what we let go by, which in turn emanates in our actions, which in turn have impact. The Biblical world view involves proper radah, and would lead us to use our car less and do the 'inconvenient' thing of walking or cycling more (but with increased health!). But most of us Western Christians have a world view like that of the worldly consumerist, and don't bother. My world view - whatever it is - emanates in a myriad of small life decisions that have an impact, whether direct or indirect. That is why world view is so important, and why Rom. 12:2 tells us it is God's plan to transform us by changing the way we see things.

"The fathers will not be punished for the children, nor the children for the fathers; everyone will be punished for his own sin." God punishes those who commit sin - but the sin we commit has multiple indirect repercussions. And they stand against and accuse us in the court of God's judgement, as evidence to what our sin really is: "affluence, arrogance and unconcern for the poor" [Ezekiel 16:49] in our hearts and attitudes.


Most legal systems and Western media try to pin guilt onto one person or body. Yet are we not all guilty to some extent?

The soldier who perpetrates acts of unnecessary brutality is obviously guilty. But are not his colleagues, who egged him/her on also guilty? Is not their commander, who turned a blind eye to lesser brutality and refused to exert proper discipline in the past guilty to some extent, though perhaps in a different way? Are not the high-ups, who fostered a certain attitude guilty too? Are not the whisky-swilling generals, who set the tone guilty? Are not the politicians and media in the home country, who give the impression that their armed forces should be given privileges, guilty to some extent? Are not the public, who treat armed forces as heroes who can do no wrong, equally guilty? Those anti-war protestors, who cause a hero-worshipping reaction among the media and public - do not they also have a hand in this? From the other side, is the victim of the brutality completely innocent? Did they not unnecessarily taunt the soldiers? Were they not brutal to others of their community?

What about the child caught shop-lifting: who bears some guilt there? What about the tax-avoiding business? What about the politician; are we not all guilty there? What about the child abuser or the rapist?

Guilt is a web. None of us is completely innocent. At the very least, we acquiesce to prevailing beliefs or prevalent attitudes. As someone years ago put it, "It is enough for evil to triumph that good men do nothing." This is perhaps what the Vatican means by 'relational damage'.

God's 'Bias to the Poor'

This view, incidentally, helps us understand why it is that God has a 'bias to the poor', why the Living God has constantly revealed himself as a defender of the powerless. Under older views, especially those of a libertarian nature, it is very difficult to allow that God has any bias to the poor because any such bias is deemed unfair. Some would go so far as to suggest poverty and powerlessness is their own fault.

But if we acknowledge the relatedness of all in creation, and especially indirect impacts, then frequently poverty and powerlessness come about indirectly because of what we do, even though we don't intend it. The very world view we hold becomes inscribed into the society or environment we create around us, into its very structures. If that world view is idolatrous or distorted, then so will our society, environment and structures.

Even the best-willed person can do things that, unwittingly, create detrimental conditions for others - whether those others are human, animal or anything else in creation that 'groans' (see below).

God recognises this and helps those who are affected in such ways. But he does not simply step in on every occasion to right wrong, for two reasons. One is that he has given humankind responsibility and wants us to develop that and learn to employ it. The other is that this life is not the Real nor Final Life; that is to come (for most of us beyond death).


This can give a foundation for the idea of rights. If we try to define human, or animal, or any other, rights, we have a problem: on what do we base it? There are two major problems.

(1) Is not the discourse on rights closely linked with self-serving considerations, or even selfishness? Does not our thinking develop as "I'd like this - We'd like this - We want this! - We need this! - This is a basic human right."? On what basis may our jurists decide what is a right and what is not, especially when a large cohort of the media are shouting for it? We need a foundation for differentiating rights from needs, wants, wishes, preferences.

(2) Clash of rights. My rights versus your rights? Our rights versus those of faraway people we have seldom heard of and who are insignificant to us? Our rights versus those of later generations? Our rights versus animal rights? Our rights versus the sustainability of planetary systems? We need a foundation on which rights of all kinds can be discussed, without the articulate and powerful always gaining more rights than those without a voice. (Especially when 'our' rights are mere preferences?)

This idea of relatedness goes some way towards providing a foundation. All rights may be seen as deriving from the impact or possible impact within the web of interconnectedness - which turns the discourse about rights towards one about responsibilities.

Interestingly, this has happed in the British Green Party. After Paul Marshall and a couple of others came to speak to its working group on Rights in the 1980s, we began to understand the radical distinction between Green and Liberal: Green is about interconnectedness, the acceptance of responsibilities and the reasonable constraints that result. We amended our Manfesto for a Sustainable Society, and renamed the working group the Responsibilities and Rights Working Group.

More interestingly for Christians, perhaps, is that the Relational Foundation in the UK is exploring the importance of relatedness. It is trying to develop policy and thinking based on relatedness rather than on individualism.

This does not go all the way, because we need to understand the nature of the entities at the nexi of interconnections, and the nature of the interconnections themselves. That can be helped, for example, by Dooyeweerd's philosophy, a so-called Christian philosophy, which roots all entities and relationships in meaningfulness, and offers a way to distinguish distinct kinds of meaningfulness ('aspects') as implying distinct kinds of possible or actual relationships and responsibility. Dooyeweerd's aspects are well founded.

(This is why I am against abortion. Because it destroys and denies one of the most intimate relationships there can be between two beings. At this point, will some readers immediately turn against what I am trying to say and reject the entire idea of interconnectedness? :-( )


Ecology is interconnectedness in the biotic aspect: each organism exists, functions, lives, thrives, grows, matures, reproduces and dies in an environment of other biotic organisms and physical surroundings. Is this not the way God created all plants, animals - and all living things? Is it not via the sciences of biology that we have come to understand this, maybe echoing Adam's investigation of the animals to give them names (Genesis 2)? There is an interdependence built-in.

===== interconnectedness is an expression of dependence

For millennia human beings have lived in such an ecological way, always dependent on the rest of Creation. Do cities seem to be an exception to this? Even in the Law of Moses, God required each city to have its own food-producing land surrounding it.

Example: How do we judge rewilding? It seems to me that it restores interconnectedness that God had intended and which humanity had arrogantly broken.

Real Life - Eternal Life

Jesus revealed the reality of 'eternal life'. This is not endless sailing about on clouds with harps, worshipping God, but something much more tangible. It is better thought of as our Real Life, which is "hid with Christ in God", and is given or opened up to us after our death. This life is a kind of training ground for the Real Life. (I would call it Next Life, but that has echoes of reincarnation that I want to avoid. But I also want to avoid connotations that this will be 'heaven' or 'spiritual' in the sense commonly thought, because I believe it will be much more earthy and tangible that than, only without evil and sin.) Things there will be much more Real than things here.

Jesus clearly spoke about the Real (Next) Life when he:

We can see how this all chimes in with our notion of Radah as managing the rest of creation for its own blessing. Paul seemed to understand this well when he said on a number of occasions that the rest of creation would be resurrected and given new shape along with human beings.

(Note: I have placed this issue, not under the theme of Redemption below, but under the theme of Relatedness partly because it follows naturally from discussing the Fall and the Poor and the clearing up of problems that befall us, partly to emphasise its continuity with the present regime, and partly to avoid any suggestion that Real Life is either some kind of contingency plan by God made necessary by the Fall or on the other hand that our current regime is somehow inferior in God's plan. Both this life and Real Life were part of God's plan from the start, with or without the Fall. See Paul Marshall's book Heaven is Not My Home.)

(cf. PDL Day 4, Day 5, Day 64)


Heaven is seen, by most Christendom, as the place where those acceptable to God go after death, and conversely Hell is where the evil people go. Heaven is loosely seen as our destiny, our ultimate 'home'. It is seen as what will replace Earth after the end of time.

That is not how the Bible sees it. Most of the Bible sees heaven as the realm where celestial beings live, such as angels, the realm that is 'not Earth' and is 'above' Earth, both physically, morally, etc. Possibly because of the influence of Greek thinking, this was seen as the 'spiritual' realm as opposed to the material realm of earth.

Because, the Jews and other reasoned, God is not physical, God must be spiritual, and must therefore be 'in heaven'. The Bible; however, sees God as Creator of both heaven and earth, rather than being 'in heaven'; indeed Solomon knew that even "the heaven of heavens" cannot contain God. So heaven is not to be seen as 'God's home'.

This New View tries to understand heaven in the way the Bible shows it, as the realm of the celestial beings, as that part of creation that is not Earth. Heaven is probably governed by laws different from those we experience, including different physical laws.

The destiny of those acceptable to God is not heaven but a renewed Earth. Heaven is Not My Home wrote Paul Marshall, and Heaven It's Not the End of the World wrote David Lawrence.


Note 4. Philosophically, referring beyond self is what Dooyeweerd meant by 'Meaning'. But we are used to thinking of independent entities rather than meaning, of self-actualization rather than self-giving, of emancipation rather than interconnectedness.


Jim Skillen gave a talk at CPC2011 on 'Four patterns of creation's meaning', which are:

This is very like this New View. He will soon publish a book on this.

Lawrence, D. Heaven, It's Not The End of the World. Scripture Union.

Marshall, P. Heaven is Not My Home.

This page, URL= "", is part of the on-going work in developing a 'New View' in theology and practice that is appropriate to the days that are coming upon us. Comments, queries welcome by emailing

Compiled by Andrew Basden as part of his reflections from a Christian perspective. Copyright (c) Andrew Basden to latest date below, but you may use this material for almost any purpose, but subject to certain conditions.

Written on the Amiga with Protext in the style of classic HTML.

Created: 15 June 2014, from rrrr.html; its creation was stimulated by Eric Enloe and Nick Lantinga as mentioned above.

Last updated: 7 June 2017 Attitudes section. Also imported several things from rrrr; contents. 21 June 2017 corruption self-interest example. 26 May 2018 abortion note; new .end, .nav. 16 June 2019 guilty sinners. 30 March 2020 Two types of interconnectedness. 2 September 2020 ecology, rewilding, slight change to Dependency. 14 March 2021 sin and Psalm 51. 24 March 2021 defined "responsibility", new .end,.nav,bgc. 28 March 2021 Elaborated Scriptures, correcting errors, and added Hebrew words. 3 July 2021 verse: "weep with .." 27 April 2022 rewrote Interconnectedness. 23 May 2022 rw types. 27 May 2022 better intro.