Acton Institute Powerblog

Where do we go from here?

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Matt Stone asks the question: What do you think are some of the challenges that remain for Christian environmental theology?

I am presuming here that, if you’re the sort of Christian that likes a blog like mine, you’re not the sort of Christian who needs to have the dots joined between Christian ethics, creation care and environmental theology. But where do we go beyond the basic joining of the dots? How much more remains to be done… [snip]

Personally I think much work needs to be done with worship, with leadership training, with apologetics, and of course, with practice. Where do you see blind spots and opportunities for growth?

He offers a couple links as answers. I’d suggest this would be a great topic of discussion for the next Let’s Tend the Garden Conference (my notes from the first two here and here). Will shoot this link to the folks in Boise and see what they think.

Have you got a different answer for him? For that matter, has Christian ecology gotten too theological for its own good?

[Don’s other habitat is The Evangelical Ecologist.]

Don Bosch


  • I shot the post to Ed Brown at Care of Creation (also a blogger*) and got this back from him:

    “You and Matt should take another look at my book – especially the new edition coming out in April from InterVarsity Press. I started out with two goals: I wanted to a)identify connections between traditional evangelical doctrines (creation, fall, redemption, etc) and the environmental crisis or our response to it; and b)build a series of practical suggestions out of those beliefs for Christians and churches to respond to environmental issues. What I ended up with was, in effect, a new understanding of God’s plan of redemption as summarized by Paul in Colossians 1:15-20 – that redemption has always been about reversing the curse in all of creation. It is not, and never was, primarily about human salvation. Human salvation is key – God’s larger plan could not be accomplished without it, but it is a means, not an end. Our historical misunderstanding of this point is analogous to the Israelites misunderstanding God’s plan and thinking it was all about them. They were correct that it was about them, but they were wrong in thinking that it was only about them. They weren’t the end, they were the means to God’s end, which was and is a much, much bigger view of redemption.

    “When we understand that our view of redemption and salvation is too limited, we can begin to explain some of the blind spots in modern evangelical Christianity and missions. We can understand why things happen like the genocide in Rwanda or the recent violence in Kenya. We ask how Christians can massacre Christians and we’re mystified. But we should also ask how a Christian mine owner can blow up a mountain in pursuit of wealth – or a Christian CEO can sanction manufacture and sale of products that destroy both human health and non-human creation or how a Christian consumer can spend mountains of cash on himself (or herself) while walking by hungry people… It all comes from the same root: A deep, deep theological misunderstanding of God’s purposes in redemption.

    “Do we need to rethink worship, leadership training and apologetics, as Matt Stone suggests? Yes – but first we need to retune our view of redemption. When we understand, believe and preach this kind of “full redemption”, all the rest will fall into place. Gone will be the “me, me, me” choruses that debase worship today. An apologetic that allows Wendell Berry to in effect accuse us of being so heavenly minded we’re no earthly good (my words, not his) will wither on its own. Leaders trained to understand the full scope of God’s redemption will not have to be told that their ministry extends beyond the personal devotional lives of their people.

    “My thoughts…”

    Ed Brown
    Care of Creation