All Christian Theology can be Green


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God is Green

Poetry is a meaning-making activity that invests life with a measure of coherence and purpose. Bron R. Taylor, et al. New York: Continuum, , For wider discussion, see Mark I. For this perspective see Norman C. Habel, vol.

Edgar Cayce on Christian Theology

Habel, Shirley Wurst, and Vicky Balabanski from to set the standard for systematic ecoexegesis of the Bible. Similarly, see Norman C. Habel and Peter Trudinger, eds. The emerging field of ecopneumatology—nature-based reconstructions of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit—is represented by the work of Sharon V. Louis: Chalice, ; Google Scholar. Mark I. John F. Hoffmeyer Minneapolis: Fortress, Darby Kathleen Ray Minneapolis: Fortress, , The Creeds of Christendom , 3 vols.

Grand Rapids, Mich. These phrases that speak to the reconciliation of apparently opposing positions to form a burst of new insight into reality are used, respectively, by Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans , trans. Edwyn C. Hoskins from the 6th German ed.

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All Christian Theology Can Be Green by John Butterfield, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

CrossRef Google Scholar. The seventh-generation ideal is also identified today as the triple bottom line business model people, planet, profit. In this model, financial profits depend upon carefully managed environmental and social performance. Here corporate, societal, and ecological interests dynamically interact and mutually support one another.

The Earth Crisis is a Spiritual Crisis

The worldview we do have, so the argument goes, is so human-centered and so thoroughly utilitarian at its core that it cannot but lead to environmental problems. It follows, then, that for the right sort of environmental solutions to emerge, we must replace—or seriously revise—the dominant worldview. For the sake of argument, we shall not dispute this part of the theory, either. One might dispute it on several levels, but in a very general way it is obviously true to say that the wrong sort of environmental metaphysics has spread pretty widely throughout our society.

Our interest, however, is more basically in the alleged underlying causes of this mentality and in what may be done about it, which leads to the third and for us most crucial part of the theory. The last and main part of the theory, then, owes its essential form to the work of Lynn White, Jr. The intuition is that nature is no mere thing to be exploited by humans but something sacrosanct or even sacred provided one has room for religion. At the same time, we must also learn new actually quite old intuitions about ourselves. We must stop this Cartesian Enlightenment nonsense of viewing ourselves in the abstract as the rational masters of nature and must somehow come back to the ancient understanding that we are but a part of the larger ecological whole.

We must replace our destructive, human-centered, utilitarian worldview with some updated version of this redemptive, quasi-aboriginal one. In sum, we must, at long last, get together with the trees and have a talk. Now there is much here to invite discussion. What most concerns this essay, however, is the way in which theorists such as White elaborate this thesis into a wholesale critique of Christianity.

What they argue is that the destructive, human-centered, utilitarian consciousness is built right into the Judeo-Christian tradition. According to White and his supporters, the roots of our environmental crisis sink deeply into the worldview of ancient Judaism. On the one hand, as is well known, the Hebrews socked it to all the neighboring myths by de-mythologizing nature, extracting from it all vestiges of divine being and agency. On the other hand, as is also well known, they elevated themselves to a status heretofore not enjoyed by the human species: God made human beings in his own image and gave to them dominion over the earth and everything in it Gen.

From this status follows the extraordinary license to go forth, to fill the earth, and to subdue it Gen. The rest, as they say, is history. At any rate, the conclusion is that the core metaphysics of Christianity is really just the destructive, human-centered, utilitarian one in an ancient narrative form. If we are to get rid of that destructive metaphysics and replace it with a redemptive worldview, we must also get rid of Christianity and replace it with some other ideology. The rest of this essay, then, shall mainly focus upon this critique of the Christian faith.

Christian Animism, Green Spirit Theology, and the Global Crisis today

The larger thesis has, in the background, two assertions on what our environmental metaphysics must include. First, we must believe that nature has something like a spiritual or sacred standing, value, dignity even rights , and so on. Second, we must believe that we humans do not have a status that makes us transcendentally superior to nature. We must believe, that is, that the strong notion of human supremacy that has shaped Western civilization is mistaken.

Instead, we must adopt some version of human non-supremacy, or severely weakened supremacy, or the like recommendations are notoriously unclear on this point. And in doing this, of course, we must believe that Christianity is false, or at least incompatible in its metaphysics with these requisite environmental notions. How ought Christians to respond? The Christians who have responded do so in two typically distinct ways.


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One approach is to reject both of the above claims and to argue that some concept of human dominion or supremacy is, in fact, compatible with sound environmental ethics. Perhaps we may classify this common sort of approach as benign utilitarianism, in much the way certain people once defended the notion of a benevolent monarchy. The disadvantages of this otherwise quite coherent approach thus resemble those of that defense of royalty. The trees will not so much talk, according to this view, as just hope for the best. The second sort of approach, however, is to downplay the notion of human supremacy.

As far as we can tell, its representatives offer nothing like a defense of the notion of human dominion but, instead, ignore it to the extent that the uninformed person might never know it existed in biblical tradition, much less that it is at its metaphysical and moral core. The deficiencies of this second approach are thus as great as the extent to which that notion of human supremacy is, in fact, important to our Christian worldview.

On this one, we agree with White.


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The notion of human supremacy is basic to our Christian metaphysics and ethics. Without it, we cannot but weaken our claim that human beings have value, dignity, and rights that are transcendentally greater than whatever value, dignity, and rights we may confer upon non-human beings. It would be best if Christians had a coherent environmental view that contained two sorts of beliefs. The one would be that nature has a status, value, and dignity that is much greater than what one instinctively confers upon a mere thing.

The second would be that the biblically correct notion of human supremacy, or dominion, is consistent with the first one. Is that plausible? It is. In fact, the biblically correct notion of human dominion actually entails something very like the intuition we need about the sacredness not just goodness of the natural realm.

In brief, two large themes of the biblical text make us think otherwise. But it goes deeper still.

All Christian Theology can be Green All Christian Theology can be Green
All Christian Theology can be Green All Christian Theology can be Green
All Christian Theology can be Green All Christian Theology can be Green
All Christian Theology can be Green All Christian Theology can be Green
All Christian Theology can be Green All Christian Theology can be Green
All Christian Theology can be Green All Christian Theology can be Green
All Christian Theology can be Green All Christian Theology can be Green
All Christian Theology can be Green All Christian Theology can be Green
All Christian Theology can be Green All Christian Theology can be Green

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