Green Christianity; a sustainable future through faith
Environmentalism is an advocacy toward protecting the natural environment from destruction or pollution. This is certainly not a static movement. Instead, it is constantly evolving in response to new scientific discoveries, leading to conscious awareness of an earth in danger. In the 1970s and 80s, environmentalism aimed at a candid approach by simply trying to preserve certain resources and nature reserves. Today, forward-looking environmentalists are taking more action by developing a sustainable and renewable future. They address environmental issues within many contexts, including economic, social, cultural, and religion. Each context contributes in its own way. Specifically, I am interested in the religious role in preserving the environment.
Religious environmentalism is based on the concept that the current environmental crisis is, at its core, a crisis of values. The idea has been around for centuries but may have gone unnoticed. Ecological crises including invasions, wars, droughts, famines, floods, and hurricanes have impacted environments all over the world. Naturally, faith has been used as a mechanism to adapt to ecological crises by using faith and hope as rebuilding mechanisms. As a result, many deeply religious individuals, from all across the globe, are coming to the realization that a deeper understanding of environmentalism can provide a refreshing relationship with the earth that falls in line with their beliefs. Moreover, religious environmentalism has been hailed as a “diverse, vibrant, global, movement of ideas and activism that roots the general environmental message in spiritual framework” (Gottlieb 231). Both religion and ecology complement each other, while “ecology” stands for environmentalism and “religion” is the force that can inspire and mobilize it. A religious group that is increasingly adapting religious environmentalism is Christianity. Biblically understood, “the environment” is a part of God’s many creations. However, why should Christians care about the environment and not devote all of their time directly to God? This question can be answered with two short verses, “Christ died to reconcile all creation to God (Col. 1:20)” and “All of creation belongs to Jesus” (Col. 1:16). Thus, caring for every creation provides a Christian with a deeper sense of faith since it is a part of loving God. This idea is called creation care, a theological attempt to connect religious faith and practice with environmental stewardship. This idea accounts for taking care for all God’s creation by preventing harmful activities such as water/air pollution and species extinction. By practicing creation care, devout Christians are fulfilling God’s will. As previously mentioned, religious environmentalism treats the environmental crisis as a crisis of values. Christians follow this notion by maintaining a balance between being both a part of creation and apart from creation. If nature is treated as having no intrinsic value, our own value is diminished (Simmons 2009: 47). Overall, this special breed of Christianity strongly believes that God is glorified by caring for his creation. These Christians can fall in a subcategory commonly referred to as “Green Christianity.” This certain following of green Christians poses the question; can Christianity have an active role in preserving the environment?
In order to answer this question, religious environmentalism must first be broken down. According to Smith & Pulver, it is often minimized into two separate approaches. The first environmental advocacy approach is issues-based environmentalism. This approach focuses on a specific environmental issue, such as pollution or climate change. The issue is handled through a more direct engagement, using scientific, legal, or technological solutions to solve it in a strategic manner. There is little emphasis on shaping people’s core values to solve the...
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Butkus, R. A. (2002). The stewardship of creation. The Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University, , 17-23.
Seifert, J. M., & Shaw, B. R. (2013). Tending our patch of creation: Engaging christians in environmental stewardship through sense of place. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature & Culture, 7(3), 265-288.
Simmons, J. A. (2009). Evangelical environmentalism: Oxymoron or opportunity? Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture & Ecology, 13(1), 40-71.
Smith, A. M., & Pulver, S. (2009). Ethics-based environmentalism in practice: Religious-environmental organizations in the united states. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture & Ecology,13(2), 145-179.
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