Theology & the Environment

As the advancement of science permits humanity to better understand its impact upon the earth, theologians are increasingly being forced to grapple with important questions of environmental ethics. What does the Judeo-Christian tradition teach about humanity's obligation to care for creation? Is human "dominion" responsible for the ecological crisis? How do the needs of the human person and the integrity of creation properly intersect? This section will examine the foundations of creation theology and address the proper place for the human person in the natural order.

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"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The first sentence of the Bible together with the subsequent creation of man, provide a necessary foundation for environmental reflection. God made the earth, and gave to human beings a special place and a role of stewardship in relation to the rest of creation. This place and this role afford human beings a unique dignity and responsibility. Environmental stewardship properly addresses both human responsibility to the environment and the special place and dignity of human beings within God's creation.

Many Judeo-Christian denominations and organizations have attempted to provide theological statements pertaining to creation and environmental stewardship. As you read through theological statements of interest to you, you may want to consider this paradigm as you reflect on issues of enviromental stewardship.

In 1967, the American cultural historian Lynn White wrote that Christianity is uniquely responsible for growing environmental problems. White claimed that Judeo-Christian religion was the world's most 'anthropocentric' religion, blaming it for Western technologies' exploitative relationship with nature. White's, highly controversial article, now a classic, gave rise to a new dialogue on religious environmentalism which is still affecting discussions today in churches all over the world.