Posted by: dacalu | 16 April 2014

Christian Environmentalism

Today I had the honor of speaking about the environment in faith and science at Harvard Divinity School. Students sent me questions ahead of time, allowing me to format these responses.

Question 3: What can the Church do about the ecological crisis? Is it too late?

 I believe we are all called to respond to our environment with compassion. It is never too late to do God’s will.


The Church is uniquely positioned to:

1) Articulate the value of creation and the interconnectedness of all things in Christ

2) Integrate our knowledge of creation with a value system that compels action

3) Coordinate people for the common good

4) Challenge people with the inconvenient truths of divine love, human ability, and concrete needs


Christians are called to:

1) Do outdoor theology

We must think about God and the world in terms that are beyond human scale and potentially beyond human comprehension. Science provides us with abundant examples of un-domesticated reality. Sadly, we have become accustomed to living in heated, air-conditioned, human-centered spaces. We can begin to think in terms of heated, air-conditioned, human centered pictures of God (e.g., kindly old man, service provider, strong-man). It is important for us to keep hold of the older, less comfortable theological ideas that encourage us to think of God and creation as bigger than that (e.g., Job’s God, The Lord of Hosts).

2) Evangelize for curiosity

When God called the world good, we were invited to enter into it, to delight in it, and to come to know it as God’s handiwork. Christians should advocate for the best and most effective science, founded on the doctrine of a good creation.

3) Evangelize for commitment

Genesis tells us that we are part of God’s family and, in a very important way, one with the creation. Faith calls us to realize, intensify, and harmonize our interactions with the world. The idea that we have dominion comes with a recognition that we tend and water the Garden on God’s behalf.

4) Take responsibility for things we do not own

Here is the biggest divide between the Christian message and the way of the world. We do not have the right to dispose of the world as our property. We care for it for the sake of God and for the benefit of our neighbors. This calls us into deeper relationships with God, neighbor, and environment, which can only be realized through curiosity about them, commitment to them, and care for them.


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