Care for the planet a Christian imperative, say ecumenists

By agency reporter
August 12, 2010

The wholeness of creation and the commitment for justice are two biblical insights that have guided ecumenical concern on climate change, say the editors of the latest issue of The Ecumenical Review, published under the title, "Churches Caring for Creation and Climate Justice".

"These two concepts come together in the concept of 'climate justice', which is part of the larger concept of eco-justice," guest editors Dr Guillermo Kerber and the Rev Dr Martin Robra write in their introduction to this issue of the global Christian journal.

Is climate change God’s anger at human sinfulness? Can we hold environmental activism on water together with liturgical practice? Does religion contribute to environmental alienation? These are among the questions it asks.

It "provides sound theological background information as churches prepare to celebrate the yearly Time for Creation beginning on 1 September", say the publishers, the World Council of Churches.

"We cannot say that life on the planet is only for some of us. It is a matter for all of us: when this planet is threatened, it is threatening for all of us," writes the WCC General Secretary, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, in one of the articles in the issue.

"In a very disturbing way, the climate crisis brings us together as one humanity. Therefore, it also brings us together as one fellowship of believers, as one church," he writes.

Other authors include the biblical scholar, the Rev Dr Barbara Rossing, the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s special advisor on environmental issues, the Rev Dr John Chryssavgis and the South African theologian, the Rev Dr Steve de Gruchy, to whose memory the issue is dedicated, following his death earlier this year in a tragic accident.

“There is great richness in the different Christian traditions. Each of the authors in this issue has a different approach; the challenge is to bring this together in a responsible and effective theology of caring for creation,” says Kerber, the programme executive on climate change at the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Climate change, he says, has to be addressed in the broader context of issues of spirituality, struggles for justice and caring for the whole of creation.

Robra, director of the WCC programme on Ecumenism in the 21st Century, adds, “Environmental destruction is undermining life for the poorest. Concern for people and for creation belong together, if we can’t do that our idea of God is too small. This is about the risk of including Christ in all areas of life.”

The WCC, notes Robra, placed the term “sustainable society” into the public domain more than 30 years ago. “Churches are well-equipped to point to long term needs of the planet. Politics often gets stuck in short term issues,” he says.

The guest editors say that working on The Ecumenical Review has shown how the churches’ network on creation issues is very much alive.

The Ecumenical Review, Churches Caring for Creation, is co-published by the World Council of Churches and Wiley Blackwell. ISSN: 1758-6623.


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