An Ecotheology Primer

The word theology means “the study of God” (or, perhaps, “the study of religion”) and God’s relationship with people (often through Jesus Christ but not always).

Thus, ecoetheology is the study of the relationship expressed between God and the natural world.

In today’s world, it is often about ascertaining the divine gift in the most significant cultural issues of our fragile Earth.

It seeks to demonstrate how environmental activism to prevent climate change and encourage human flourishing is one of God’s pressing calls to their people on this planet.


What Is Ecoethology?

Perhaps, the first individual to deal with the difficult concepts of the global demands of climate change and other pressing ecological issues was Seyyed Hossein Nasr.

This Iranian philosopher and professor of Islamic studies wanted to draw people’s attention to the “spiritual dimensions” of the environmental crisis facing humanity.

Soon after, Lynn White gave a very rich reading of this essay “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Criss” in May 1966.

His accessible style of Christian theology combined with similar arguments to Nasr, went down well in a range of different ecclesial settings.

However, it was a year later when Lynn’s lecture was published as an article that Christian theology began to incorporate an ecological component as standard. Arguing that our fragile Earth was caused by the previous model of Christianity in which man is given “dominion” over the planet.

In 1973, Jack Rogers began a search over different Christian theological divides to try and find data that supported a theological approach to our most significant cultural issues and which could offer hope in today’s world that God, humans and nature could have their relationship expressed in a more sustainable fashion.


Ecoethology Arises From Different Christian Theological Divides

Many scholars say that our fragile Earth is due to putting Christian theology to the forefront and exerting our own dominion over nature.

They say that this shows that the teachings of Jesus Christ led directly to the problems we face in the world.

However, there is much opposition to this viewpoint too and many say that a just and sustainable community can only come from the Christian tradition.

And that global demands for environmental activism can only be met by those benefiting from the divine gift which in Christianity embraces the well-being of both man and nature – as with Saint Francis of Assisi’s teachings.

It is often hard to come to terms with the difficult concepts in an accessible style because the different ecclesial settings of Christianity have different influences and much of the ecoetheologists’ data must be drawn from Eastern rather than Western thinkers.

Many undergraduate and graduate students of both theology and ecology are now calling for a combination of modern understandings of both schools of thought to see questions addressed in a practical manner than answers pressing calls for action before climate change overwhelms us all.

There is an excellent book: A Primer In Ecotheology: Theology For A Fragile Earth that can offer an in-depth introduction to this school of study too.

The book encourages practical commitment to the questions addressed within its pages and after reading the deeply engaging introduction, you may find it hard to put down. It’s available at all the usual places.


Ecoecthology And Gaia Theory?

Some might argue that there is an overlap between Gaia Theory and ecoethology, however, we would note that Gaia Theory is a purely scientific discipline and while Christian doctrine appears that it might offer some overlap with this theory – it wasn’t intended that way.

If you want to learn more about Gaia Theory may we recommend that you read – Microcosmos, Symbiotic Planet, and The Molecular Biology of Gaia?


Final Thoughts On A Primer In Ecotheology

As you would expect, ecotheology is a very broad and interesting subject that we’ve barely touched on here.

However, we think that for any person seeking a relationship with God, it must be essential to seek to understand how that relationship will touch on the world around you.

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