Christianity and the Environment

This tag is associated with 5 posts

Book Review: “Bonhoeffer’s Christocentric Theology and Fundamental Debates in Environmental Ethics” by Steven C. Van Den Heuvel

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s influence on modern theology continues to grow, as he has clearly become one of the most influential theologians from the 20th century. What is exciting for those who are interested in his theological legacy is the increasing interest in applying his thought to new approaches and modern questions in ways that go beyond mere interpretation and into a broader application. Steven van den Heuvel takes up one of the most pressing and interesting questions of our time by applying Bonhoeffer’s thought to questions of environmental ethics in his Bonhoeffer’s Christocentric Theology and Fundamental Debates in Environmental Ethics.

Van den Heuvel puts quite a bit of work into emphasizing Bonhoeffer’s Christology, laying the groundwork for later development through the book. His interpretation of Bonhoeffer is fascinating, and he ably navigates the difficulties of seeing Bonhoeffer as a true Lutheran while also seeing the innovations he made. Bonhoeffer’s concept of the Christ reality allowed him to both resist and oppose Nazi ideology while refusing to shunt responsibility and action (56-57).

By placing Bonhoeffer in his historical situation, moreover, van den Heuvel explains several difficult questions related to Bonhoeffer’s thought and use of terminology. For example, it might be baffling for many Christians today to see Bonhoeffer react so strongly against “orders of creation” when they are commonly used by many theological strands today. But van den Heuvel notes that Bonhoeffer was reacting against the Nazification of those theological categories as they attempted to use “orders of creation” to make racial hierarchy and integrate it into the church (92-95). Thus, Bonhoeffer insisted on use of “orders of preservation” and developed that terminology over and against the ideological developments that attempted to unite Nazis and Christianity.

After extensive discussion laying the groundwork for Bonhoeffer’s thought, van den Heuvel turns to specific questions of environmentalism. These included detailed look at several environmentalist threads and how Bonhoeffer’s thought can expand upon it and adapt it.

One specific insight is the question of technological advancement. This question is one that was of interest to both Bonhoeffer and Luther. Van den Heuvel shows that, as often was the case, Bonhoeffer followed Luther’s reasoning in seeing technology as a way for fallen humanity to maintain its mastery over nature in ways that are often deleterious (174-175). This question ties into the overall theological problem of the “mastery” of humanity over nature. Too often, Genesis 1:26-28 is used to see the world and nature as something that humanity can abuse and use to the fullest extent. But Bonhoeffer offers corrective here, seeing the fall of humanity as integral intertwined with how we interact with nature. Thus, because Bonhoeffer has a focus on this world, he notes that we live in a fallen world, in which the urge to dominate nature becomes, all too often, a destructive force. Indeed, van den Heuvel notes that Bonhoeffer apparently departs from Luther’s view regarding the Fall here. Where Luther held that the eschaton would bring about human dominance of the world once again, Bonhoeffer did not see that as part of the eschatological hope (175).

Bonhoeffer’s Christocentric Theology and Fundamental Debates in Environmental Ethics is incredibly important because it shows conclusively that Bonhoeffer’s thought is not something that remains in the past, but has real-world applications to today’s contemporary debates. Van den Heuvel has done Bonhoeffer scholarship a service by showing not only careful attention to Bonhoeffer’s thought and interpretation but also through showing how modern theologians can apply his thought to modern questions.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of the book for review by the publisher. I was not required to give any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

Links

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Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Sunday Quote!- Ecological Ignorance

fbe-sbpEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Ecological Ignorance

In For the Beauty of the Earth, Steven Bouma-Prediger challenges readers to try to answer a number of questions about their place–where they live. These include questions like naming local flora and fauna, having knowledge of the geological formations and history of the area, speaking of wind and water cycles, and more.

After asking the questions, he poses this challenge:

If the answer to these questions is “no,” then we really do not know where we are. Despite our education we remain ecologically illiterate. (3, cited below)

Now of course we cannot be experts on every aspect of the place in which we live, but we must acknowledge our general ignorance about it. I couldn’t name most of the native flora in the area I live. How might this impact the way in which we view our place in the world? What of our charge to care for God’s creation? How might we better increase our ecological awareness so that we may not do more harm then good?

For the Beauty of the Earth is an excellent read for those wanting to explore the answers to these and many other questions.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Book Review: “For the Beauty of the Earth” by Steven Bouma-Prediger– Bouma-Prediger’s book is a fountain of insight into issues of creation care, ecological apologetics, and more. Check out my review to learn more.

Source

Steven Bouma-Prediger, For the Beauty of the Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2010).

SDG.

Sunday Quote!- Desecrating Creation’s Holy Ground?

pecEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Desecrating Creation’s Holy Ground?

I recently read through Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, a book of essays centered around defending theistic evolutionism. I think it is important to read books from several different perspectives in order to test them and keep the good. I came upon an interesting quote in one of the essays on caring for creation:

For those who can see creation glorifying God there is an opportunity to get a glimpse of “his eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20, NRSV) in the things he has made. Genesis presents the entire creation as a cosmic sanctuary where the Creator is present, glorified, and to be worshipped… If creation is God’s sanctuary, then when we desecrate creation for our short-term needs, we are desecrating holy ground. (Braaten, 422-423, cited below)

The notion that creation is God’s temple or sanctuary is one found in numerous studies on Genesis and its context. I find it to be a very appropriate way to envision creation as God’s ordered cosmos. I had not, however, thought of creation care in these terms. It seems to me to be correct, however. After all, if we really believe that all of creation is God’s temple, then the unwarranted and often greedy molestation of creation for monetary or other short-term gain is a molestation of God’s holy ground. It is a desecration.

How might we better approach creation and care for it as we have been charged to do? That is a difficult question–one I and others have explored elsewhere. However, I think it is time we as Christians stop ignoring the issues of caring for creation. We need to stand against the desecration of God’s temple.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Caring for Creation: A discussion among evangelicals– I write about creation care from a number of perspectives offered at a recent panel of prominent evangelical thinkers in this area.

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Laurie Braaten, “May the Glory of the Lord Endure Forever! Biblical Reflections on Creation Care” in Perspectives on an Evolving Creation edited Keith Miller (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2003).

SDG.

Really Recommended Posts 4/19/13

postHere we have another excellent round of posts from across the net. Please, if you look at nothing else, look into the Gosnell case. The link I have here really puts the matter well. The other posts this week are just as important and interesting, however. We have posts on the divinity of Jesus, the “King James Only” debate [what’s that? check out the link!], Rob Bell and spiritual reality, the dominion of nature in Genesis, and Sam Harris on morality. As always, pass this post to your friends and let me know what you enjoyed!

The Gosnell Trial and Destroying the Image of God– Who is Gosnell? The horrific details of this trial confirm that the image of God is under assault. But that assault goes beyond the obviously criminal actions of this man. They extend to the fact that we have undermined the image of God in humanity by devaluing human life, period.

Did the divinity of Jesus emerge slowly after many years of embellishments?– Wintery Knight presents a fantastic summary of the evidence that the divinity of Christ was a belief tied to the earliest years of Christianity.

King James Only Debate (VIDEO)– It is depressing to admit that this is a debate, but there are in fact Christians who believe the King James Bible is the only Bible we should use because… well, watch this debate and find out. I think that James White did an excellent job refuting this position.

Rob Bell’s Recipe for Spiritual Disaster– Rob Bell has seemingly prided himself in asking the tough questions that no one is asking. But what about the answers? Are there answers? Check out this thoughtful post on Bell’s theological system. Be sure to also check out my study guide of his book, “Love Wins” which comes with links to a chapter-by-chapter review I did as well.

Does Genesis 1:27-28 authorize exploiting nature?–  Dan Story has written a fantastic overview of the issues related to interpreting Genesis 1:27-28 (dominion over the earth) as a command to exploit nature. Be sure to also check out his further analysis. For more on that issue, check out my Caring for Creation: A discussion among evangelicals.

Sam Harris’ Equivocation on “The Good”– Max Andrews offers a brief yet poignant look at how Sam Harris has erred on his attempts to ground objective morality in a non-theistic system.

Questions of the Week: March 10-16, 2013

question-week2I have begun a new “thing” over on the Facebook page for this site. If you haven’t checked that out, go over and like the page: “J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason.” What is this thing? Well, I’m asking you, dear readers, to respond to various questions throughout the week, which I will then post here. The goal is to get you thinking about a number of issues, and to get some great interaction both on the Facebook page and here. Each week, I will ask questions on the Facebook page, and wait eagerly for responses. Then, I will post the questions here with perhaps some commentary. I don’t know, I’m figuring it out too. This will be a series to go alongside the “Really Recommended Posts” where I send you all to other awesome sites. Give me feedback on what you like about this, or what you don’t like. With no further ado:

Questions of the Week

What is your view on Christianity and the Environment?

I have seen in discussion on this site that people hold an array of views on how we should answer this question. I wrote a post discussing “Caring for Creation” and  reactions were very diverse. Skepticism was expressed over global warming, while others expressed the notion that such skepticism is unfounded. The bigger issue, however, is the issue of caring for creation more broadly and how to interact on that level. The answers there were diverse as well. You should check out the post, and let me know here what your thoughts are on this hot-button topic.

Do you have a view on the eschatological millennium? If so, what is it?

One of the most hotly-contested issues in Christian doctrine is that of eschatology. There are various views of the “millennium” which compete for adherents. I recently reviewed a book outlining premillenialism, but it also provided an overview of the various positions “out there.” Check out the review, and let me know what your view is on this contentious issue. Responses to this question on the page covered a diverse array, from those who felt the issue focused around Israel to a recommendation of amillennialism to one who held to a diverse pick-and-choose approach. What do you think?

“The Big One”: What are your thoughts on the Newly Selected Pope?

Judging from my Twitter feed and Facebook, reactions to this question were wildly diverse. Some people decried the “most recent antichrist” while others celebrated their new “papa.” Pope Francis’ second blessing was for a pregnant woman and her child, which gives me great comfort in knowing that the Roman Catholics will continue to stand firmly against abortion. I know little else of this Jesuit man from Argentina, so let me know your thoughts.

Image: 

The image is a picture I took of my NIV Study Bible (copyright for the pages to Zondervan, but image copyright as below).

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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