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For the Life of the World

An Eastern Christian Approach to Nature and Environmental Care

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Robin Gibbons

For the Life of the World: An Eastern Christian Approach to Nature and Environmental Care explores climate change and global ecological issues via the ability of Christianity—one of the world’s most frequently practiced religions—to provide insight. Author Robin Gibbons outlines the tradition of prior Christian involvement in the issue, drawing upon ideas of freely given care and human stewardship of the world. Recently, the issue of climate change and the Christian community’s inability to act against it has been characterized by a disconnect between human life and nature, with the biblical model of human stewardship subsumed by politics, business, and greed. In contrast, this book advocates for embracing an older model of Christian thought, theoretically surmounting the consequences of climate disaster through care and respect for nature.

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Introduction

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Too often the Christian Church has had an ambivalent approach to our planet, its nature, living creatures and resources. On the one hand there is a strong tradition of stewardship which comes from the Judaeo-Christian scriptures and a command to take care of what resources we have, on the other the implications of being fruitful, multiplying and utilising these resources has not always been a positive experience either for humans or any other living creature, let alone Mother Earth herself! In part this has something to do with a theological approach that sees human beings at the top of the pyramid of life under a Divine presence to which all life owes its origin and continuation. Human beings are intelligent, and so have adapted, created, and existed on this planet using all the materials to hand and making their mark in history. Christianity in both East and West has not always served nature and living creatures well, possibly more in omission than commission. Our scriptures and texts do not immediately urge us to respect animal life for instance, in fact sacrificial activity in the OT suggests more of a substitutional attitude where animals represent humans and take their place. In some cases such as the poor old serpent, there has been a decidedly negative influence! The NT itself does not explicitly state any great ethic concerning environmental issues or animal welfare in terms that we would understand today, later writings are more←1 | 2→ concerned with the theological...

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