International Society for Science & Religion - Library Project

Christianity and Ecology: Seeking the Well Being of Earth and Humans

edited by Dieter T. Hessel , Rosemary Radford Ruether

Introductory Essay by Whitney Bauman

This is the third volume of one of the definitive series in the field of Religion and Ecology, Religions of the World and Ecology (Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, series editors). Part 4 locates this volume in the broader discussion of religion and science, but all sections are relevant to those interested in Christianity and Ecology or Christian Theology and Science. In this brief entry, I describe each of the five sections.

Part 1. Elizabeth Johnson writes the opening piece on creation followed by Sallie McFague’s chapter on an ecological christology. Mark Wallace has a chapter on an ecological pneumatology from within the “western” churches and John Chryssavgis’s chapter is on a Greek Orthodox, ecological pneumatology. Concluding this section is Rosemary Radford Ruether on eco-feminism’s challenge to theology.

Part 2. The section is opened by Thomas Berry describing Christianity’s role in the Earth Charter document. Theodore Hiebert’s chapter follows and describes both how the tradition itself developed and was influenced by a certain relationship with nature/landscape, and how the tensions of continuity and change manifest within the tradition. Louke van Wensveen’s chapter contributes to a Christian ecological virtue ethics. A chapter by Catherine Keller then argues that apocalyptic and eschatological images are environmentally destructive. Finally, Barbara Rossing provides a chapter on an ecological (re)reading of the book of Revelations.

Part 3. This section begins with James Nash’s chapter on the promise and perils of looking to nature for ethical norms. It is followed by two chapters on animal and other moral “others” from Christian perspectives written by Daniel Cowdin and Calvin B. DeWitt. Douglas Burton-Christie follows with a chapter on a pneumatology/spirituality of place. The next two chapters focus on multicultural and ecumenical approaches to Christianity and ecology. Peter H. K. Lee’s chapter is on a Christian Chinese understanding of Ecotheology and Paul Knitter writes on the promises of finding religious common grounds through working together on environmental crises.

Part 4. Ian Barbour starts off the section with a chapter on religion, science and sustainability. Daniel McGuire then writes a paper on the connections between Population and Consumption and James Martin-Schramm contributes a Christian ethical approach to issues of population and consumption. David Hallman follows with a chapter on climate change and justice and William French leads us through a discussion of the importance of ecological security for peace. Finally, the section ends with a piece by John Cobb on “Christianity, Economics, and Ecology.”

Part 5. Larry Rasmussen begins this section laying out issues of “global ecojustice.”  Marthinus L. Daneel follows with a chapter on the African Earthkeeping Churches movement. Vernice Miller-Travis contributes a piece on social transformation and environmental justice. The following chapter is a report by the National Religious Partnership for the environment and is co-written by William Somplatsky-Jarman, Walter E. Grazer, and Stan L. LeQuire.  Patricia M. Mische’s chapter then focuses on the “integrity of creation” and finally Rosemary Radford Ruether concludes the volume with the claim and call that ecojustice is (or at least should be) at the heart of the church’s mission.

This volume is important for those in the fields of “religion and science” and “religion and ecology/nature.”  Unfortunately, these two communities often see themselves as separate. Perhaps where “religion and science” conversations become too speculative, “religion and ecology/nature” can help ground the discussion, and where “religion and ecology/nature” conversations get too narrowly focused on specific issues, “religion and science” can help renew discussions and reframe problems. These two communities need each other.