Christianity used to damage environment says Bishop
A Church of England bishop has warned that global warming could be the next punishment for ìmanís disobedienceî, and admitted that Christianity had been used to encourage misuse of the environment reports the Church of England Newspaper.
Within 50 years, 150 million people could be made refugees as a result of man-made climate change, according to the scientist, Sir John Houghton, who was formerly Chief Executive of the Met Office. The richest countries are responsible for the problem by their huge consumption of fossil fuels, he said.
The Bishop of Ely, Dr Anthony Russell, said that societyís selfish desire to be independent of God are bringing disharmony and exploitation to the natural world.
Delivering the Hulsean Sermon at Great St Maryís Church, Cambridge, he told leading University academics that Christianity had often been blamed for ìthe mindset which has led to the history of irresponsible human exploitation of the natural worldî.
Bishop Russell, who is Vice-President of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, said that the word ìdominionî, found in Genesis, has often been seen as providing legitimation for subsequent exploitation.
He continued: ìThe legacy of the Christian tradition has given us both definitions of man which are too exalted, and see him exercising god-like power over the natural world on the one hand; and on the other hand, definitions of man, which see him as being part of the natural world, and losing all distinctiveness.î
The environment is a deeply important concern for Christian reflection, he urged, warning that global warming could be the next ìfloodî.
ìIn many places the phenomenon of global warming carries the subtext that this is punishment for manís abuse of the environment. It is hardly coincidental that the classic effect of manís disobedience is dramatically told in the Old Testament in the story of the Flood.î
The Bishop added: ìThe message of the Christian Gospel is that there are alternatives to the blindness, greed, mutual suspicion and ruthless competitiveness by which many human disasters are precipitated.î
Bishop Russellís comments echo the Bishop of Liverpoolís claims a couple of years ago that natural catastrophes were Godís punishment for manís misuse of the environment. Bishop James Jones, one of the Churchís most vocal speakers on the issue, has welcomed a government-backed initiative to transform the local environment.
The Bishop has spearheaded Operation EDEN, a three-year pilot project that aims to improve communitiesí understanding of their environment, developing local recycling schemes and reclaiming open space in urban areas.
ìIt is not enough simply to talk about caring for the environment, there needs to be action.î In his book, Jesus and the Earth, he says: ìTo desecrate the earth and despoil the soil is not just a crime against humanity, it is a blasphemy, for it is to undo the creative and redemptive work of God in Christ.î