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Ecological Sustainability in Theology
Understanding Sustainability in Christian Traditions
In the evaluation of the views of evil and ecological sustainability in Christian traditions, it becomes obvious that there is an increasing response regarding environmental responsibility by ethicists and Christian theologians. It is explained by recognition of the changing environmental conditions that are becoming hotter and more unequal, reducing biodiversity and becoming more drastic (Craig & Moreland, 2009). There is the constant questioning of the role of ecological theologians and ethics regarding their input toward changing the conditions of the world and ensuring reasonable existence between people and nature. Maintaining the well-being of the community is a struggle. Traditional Christianity has comparative and competitive forms that can be either liberating or constricting. However, there exist certain ecumenical guidelines that emphasize Christian thoughts on the maintenance of sustainability of nature and its coexistence with people.
Understanding Sustainability in Christian Traditions
Degradation of nature is a universal concern since just a single company is capable of causing enormous damage to the environment, with the power to affect the entire world. There is also the continuous exploitation of resources in developing countries that lack any consideration for the effects such activities have on nature and populations living in the areas. Therefore, it is essential to consider the possibilities of acting responsibly for the development of sustainable resource utilization that would protect the environment. It is time for theologians to take the effects of global warming seriously since pollution has eroded all signs of care from humans. Other than factories, cars on the roads are also responsible for polluting the environment, leading to the rapid degradation of nature (Morton, 2007). Third-world countries, such as Indonesia, are most affected by it, and they need to introduce stringent laws and policies for governing resource utilization. It is not pleasant to see big multinational companies traveling to such countries and taking natural resources they find there, leaving the environment destroyed.
Peoples future depends on the sustainability of resources observed in current times. Survival is only possible through the encouragement of coexistence between people and nature. Since nature seems to be in less control of its condition, it is the task of humans to ensure the preservation of nature. Companies should protect water resources, land, and air for people's future to be safe and clean. The vitality of sustainability comes from the need for reduced changes in the climate. It is important to reduce the materialistic nature of the world as a means for resolving the issues of nature degradation. Theology is one of the means through which people can get new thoughts for making the world a better place. Instilling sustainability notions in the doctrines is a concern raised by modern ecologists as a form of challenging theologians into rethinking the requirements for reshaping the existence of people and nature as creations of God.
The concerns exist since the challenge of environmental damage is capable of leading to social and ecological crises in the coming decades. Pollution, production migration, population gene manipulation, and extinction of species have the power to either destroy or gain stability. However, the most likely opportunity implies experiencing either a collapse or overshooting, leading to a mix of hopeful existence and suffering. As such, questioning the role that should be played by ethicists and Christian ecotheologists in ensuring the well-being of the ecosystem during the struggle in the trying times becomes a constant concern (Radcliffe, 2011). Obviously, humans have an obligation in every aspect for ensuring that there is care and respect for the earth, considering that it is a creation of God and the home of life. Therefore, there is a pivotal obligation to ensure that justice prevails in the preservation of humans and biodiversity.
Christianity and ecology are becoming increasingly popular, leading to the reexamination and discovery of scriptural connections and traditional practices for the development of focus and application of ecological sustainability in current Christian theology and ethics. Since there are cooperative and competing forms in the traditions of Christianity, it can lead to liberation and constriction, which are important for the examination of the problems that lead to ecological abuse and neglect. There are also suppressive elements presented by the traditions that could lead to the creation of positive contributions to the implementation of social healing in ecology. It is also important to make a review of new approaches that could be applied in Christian theology and ethics for the sustenance of ecology (Berry, 2003). There is also a need for looking into the implications that such approaches would have on both church and society. As such, to achieve the best approach for ensuring ecological sustainability, it is important to evaluate previous approaches that can help in the development of mitigation methods aimed to fight the disturbing ecological crisis.
There are numerous changes in the weather, and it leads to the need for developing sustainable consideration for nature.
Development of Ecotheology
The emergence of eco-theology happened through the guidance of the National Council of Churches. The speeches at the forum held in 1963 were given by pioneering thinkers who initiated the consideration of cosmic redemption and Christology. Additionally, there was also the input toward environmental theology steered by nature writings of Rachael Carson as well as the encouragement of participatory environmentalism. As a result, the anticipation of Christian thinkers led to the influence of a large number of followers who sought a better understanding of ecological affiliations with ecology. The development of Christian theology contradicts modern assumptions of the problems posed by the environment (Morton, 2007). However, ethicists and theologians have made a significant effort in creating evaluations of both positive and negative attributes of Christian and biblical traditions regarding the environment. There exists an understanding of confrontations of biblical and Christian notions across the liberal spectrum of conservative attributions needed for saving the environment.
Such concerns are mostly considered in terms of the exploitative nature construed by feminists and liberationists. The exploitation of the lesser gender and races has connections to the humane treatment of the environment (Berry, 2003). The exploitation of the weak has been an occurrence connected to human activity, and it is connected to the treatment of environments by humans. There is an intersection of ethics and religion in the efforts to achieve ecological reformation. They are almost similar to the struggles with gender and racial issues faced in the world (Perdue, Morgan & Sommer, 2009). Through the enlightenment regarding human and nature rights, Christianity becomes a recycling of inherited traditional beliefs, the center for promoting stability in the modern world. Ecological and social dysfunctions need theological transformations, such as discarding colonial thoughts on hierarchy and gender positioning, which once were a part of Christian doctrines. Such beliefs limited the participation of women in religious capacities, reducing their social relations, and these harmful effects are similar to the ones faced by the environment due to human supremacy.
According to Christian eco-theology and ethics, the communities should discover the valuable nature of the earth. God values everything here as he is the creator of everything. He creates, sustains, and redeems everything on the earth. There is the belief in holistic care that is directly related to all organic creatures, not merely humans. Other kinds of organic forms enjoy their independent existence since they have their personal rights instead of just being functional components and helpers of humankind (Morton, 2007). There is a reorientation of ethics and Christian faith through the realization that the plant bodies have wisdom, love, and power from God (Wahlberg & Palgrave Connect, 2012). In the modern period, there is almost a loss of interest in revelations of natural world powers. Modern tendencies seem to disregard nature by manipulating their existence and polluting their life. However, rediscoveries made by contemporary cosmology present a change in nature on the earth and the universe, leading to the adoption of the dynamism of relational existence. It serves as an introduction of communication among subjects on the earth that require harmonious living with humans.
Adequate consideration of eco-theology also leads to the exploration of complexities of the relationship between cosmology, morality, and spirituality. Currently, there is a heightened thought of Christian cosmology, which comprises the evaluation of the relationship God has with the world. There is also the consideration of the application of humility invocations and their application in grounded ecological awareness (Craig & Moreland, 2009). Cosmology, based on the background of Greek dualism philosophies, needs reshaping in line with the recreated universal story through the recognition of a new understanding of cosmologies. The undermining nature of old cosmologies that rationalized and justified the domination of humans over nature should be reduced. Such theological challenges incorporate new dimensions of thinking into theology, based on revisions that lacked any forms of attention in the spectrum of modern theology before. It is a new concept for those studying theology to look for significant forms of communication by using theological symbols that can help in the conservation of nature through the maintenance of faith. God, soul, body, sin, evil, salvation, Christ, and eschatology are some of the things that require an in-depth understanding for theology to become a part of the solutions for saving the deeply affected environment.
Additionally, the development of Christian thinking for the sustainability of the environment needs ecological awareness, as well as covenantal commitments and sacramental sensibility. It is only through the achievement of such aspects that a community can reach the desired level of community sustainability (Berry, 2003). It is appropriate to note that these efforts are not for supplanting ecological motifs with sociocultural statues. Environmental thoughts build theological practices that promote the envisioning of social justices and lead to the strengthening of such movements through contextual placement for the resolution of existing ecological crises (Tran, 2010). It does not lead to a conflict between ecology and justice instead, it provides the linkage for the sustainability of the environment and ecofeminism, which promotes social justice and ecological integrity.
Considerations of Eco-justice and Ethics in Theology
Eco-justice theology reconsiders the plight people have brought on the earth through the consideration of every side. Ethics and eco-justice form the center of recent research and publications with a great focus on spiritual morality. There is the notion of a single household formed by all beings on earth and the benefits resulting from the economy, leading to social and ecological stewardship (Ehrenfeld, 2008). There is a dynamic framework created by eco-justice for actions and thoughts that steer ecological integrity as an integral aspect of socioeconomic justice. Such achievements are the results of human efforts that recognize the constructive responses of humans promoting social equity and health of the environment holistically. Through such thoughts, there is the challenging of Christian thoughts with the focus on human expressions and salvation as the only concepts holding Christianity (Craig & Moreland, 2009). It leads to an evaluation of socioeconomic justice and environmentalism for the effective promotion of eco-justice.
Eco-justice ethics comprises solidarity of humankind and other creatures who act as allies, victims, and companions of the earth community, as a reflection of respect to creation as required by God. There is also the consideration of ecological sustainability that regards the development of environmentally acceptable habits and actions that allow the flourishing of life through healthy utilization of ecological and social technology. Organized sharing is also needed for the promotion of sufficiency inequitable allocation and for fair consumption of resources in a manner that would be friendly and sustainable to the environment (Craig & Moreland, 2009). There is also the consideration of social participation needed for making decisions on obtaining sustenance for community life management, for the common good of the entire world.
These are the norms that illuminate biblical inclinations needed for pursuing and reinforcing social justice and ecological fitting. Through solidarity, there is the development of complete dimensions for a healthy earth community, as well as obligations for achieving interrelationships among all earthly beings. Ecological integrity comes as a result of sustainability and shows itself eminently in the cyclical use of resources, position itself as wise behavior for the community (Ehrenfeld, 2008). Other forms are the expression of the need for participation and distribution of justice in an environment that is on the brink of breaking from excessive population, pollution, and extinction of resources.
Ecological reformation is the center of Christian theology and ethics, and it forms a major part of the ecumenical agenda, which arises from the failures of religious and Christian traditions. There is the need for the adaptation of limitations of life conditions and recognition of the intricacies and interdependencies among humankind and other forms of nature. There is also the focus on people's involvement in responding to nature through justice and benevolence, achieved with the help of theology and biology that regard the relationships humans have with other creatures (Wahlberg & Palgrave Connect, 2012). Through the reformation of Christianity through the introduction of ecology insights, there is the effort applied for the creation of reinterpretation of theological doctrines in ways that promote ecological values and insights for the re-conception of Christian ethics. It is needed for effective encompassing of human relationships with other beings on earth. Theological transformation can lead to an ecological combination of ethics and faith, while the development of knowledge for the maintenance of bio space through reduced consumption and adoption of habits promotes sustainability. These are the efforts that can lead to the involvement of the government in the protection of the environment through the advancement of environmental conservation rights, reduction of pollution technologies, preservation of biodiversity, and equitable distribution of costs.
Reformation of Christian Traditions in Theology
Reformations that lead to eco-justice cause a revision of scripture as a theological critique of traditions leading to the revival of faith. Scriptural interpretation and critique of traditions result in ecumenical consensus and corresponding decisiveness on the matter of secularization of nature, which leads to the justification of carelessness, destruction, and subduing of the environment. Through theological transformation created by awareness through ecology, there is the change of paradigm mastery through the creation of healthy human relationships with the earth, related to biblical resonance (Ehrenfeld, 2008). Ecological reformation is a redefinition of faithfulness, meaning that human vocation resonates with human life and politics, leading to the flourishing of justice and ecology or their ultimate failure (Scott, 2003). However, theological reformation focuses on understanding the relationship between the earth's virtues, shared vocation, and human obligations as a pursuit of care and respect for the earth as a creation of God. Theological reformation also leads to an understanding of the ecclesial self for eco-justice through the appreciation of the role of the church on the ecumenical earth. The introduction of eco-justice into church ministry helps in the promotion of liturgical themes. It leads to a renewed understanding of the importance of all creations of God, which results in their preservation and the sustainability of earth resources.
However, despite the increasing efforts for incorporating ecological justice into theology, there are still some challenges faced. Not all churches are taking environmentally-friendly efforts seriously, and it leads to a low response to the call for the theological transformation needed for environmental sustainability. The eco-social transformation has a sharp contrast with the sluggish incorporation of ecclesial life and theological rigidity faced in some cases. There are numerous old-fashioned assumptions and religious traditions shown by some theologians, and some Christian communities make it hard to achieve theological environmental friendliness wholesomely (Ehrenfeld, 2008). They do not seem to embrace the worldview of transformed theology and adhere to traditions that make religion an element of environmental destruction. However, this is not a major cause for worry since there are increasing efforts for bringing all theologians onboard toward the development of thoughts that promote environmental conservation and service to the earth community.
The important issue to focus on is how the Christian faith treats the environment. There is the questioning of the role of Christianity and church life affiliations regarding environmental sustainability and neglected contributions. Ecotheologists make references to the latter while refusing to condemn Christianity in its entirety. Nonetheless, there is an agreement that some of the traditional Christian actions are damaging to the environment as they destroy the earth (Ehrenfeld, 2008). Therefore, through the logic of claiming destruction of the environment during any instance when animals or plants are threatened, there is an agreement among the theologians that some actions are degrading to the environment. They include some rituals and practices that unhealthily affect the earth community. The malformation of ecology and culture has a high dependency on Christian theology as it has shaped its scientific, rational, and modern formation. It means that there is still the possibility of theology leading to influential efforts that can promote the formation of sustainability in the relationship between humans and nature (The Oxford handbook of natural theology, 2012). The usage of the rationality paradigm can help in connecting ecology and physics for the effective achievement of biblical sensibility of eco-justice.
Theology has the role of ensuring transformation in the handling of the environment and its current challenges. There are numerous environmental impacts caused by humans, and therefore, fostering ecological knowledge through theology is an appropriate way for creating sustainability. Theology can help in fostering recognition of interdependence regarding the existence of humans and other forms of earthly life through positive coexistence (The Oxford handbook of natural theology, 2012). Christianity requires respect for all forms of life, and it is in line with scientific beliefs that always focus on the preservation of the environment. Among the Christians, there is the building of stewardship for the sustenance of continuity. This is a major concern of theology based on the belief and respect for the work of God as the creator. Theology calls for the creation of evolutionary wisdom and respect to earthly diversity as divine creations of the natural world. It leads to the development of accountability and respect for the lives of future generations, making theology a source for preserving a healthy environment. The view of having a healthy future leaves theology as a constructive means of leading to a resource-conservative and communal community life instead of the common destructive form of the good life (The Oxford handbook of natural theology, 2012).
In conclusion, there are notions that world religions have failed in promoting the restraint in population and limiting consumption, resulting in a form of environmental racism. Traditional religious beliefs have led to the destruction of the environment without any concern for the increasing elimination of other forms of life that exist on earth. However, the transformation of social policy and church ministry can lead to positive handling of the environment through the reconstruction of doctrines that promote sustenance of resources, hence leading to the development of healthy human relationships with other forms of life. Ecumenical movements have played a key role in stirring the activities that promote climate change approaches induced by humans. The industrialization of nations has played the greatest part in these disproportionate consequences, leading to fundamental ethical and justice problems that are detrimental to future generations and developing countries.
Public policies focusing on the achievement of sustainability of resources for the earth beings require the participation of Christian communities. Through such involvement, it becomes easy to attain the objective of preserving all creations on earth since theologians could find a platform for instilling that form of responsibility in Christian communities. Through theological transformation, it is possible to enlighten communities and restrain them from destructive habits that lead to the distinction of species. When theological scripts change and people accept the reality of the importance of all life forms, it will become easy to apply sustainability policies that help in changing community perceptions when handling the environment, further leading to its preservation (Sideris, 2003).
There is an effort for understanding the role of traditional religious thoughts and ritual functions, which leads to the corresponding understanding of the responsibility of humans for the preservation or destruction of the earth. Historical concepts produced economization while the ultramodern religion has led to the development of economism, which results in the irresponsible utilization of natural resources regardless of their rates of depletion during consumption, with the only aim of making profits. Ultra-modern religious concepts have utter disregard for destruction, and such activities hurt the environment, evoking the need for biodiversity in the ecosystem and sustainable communities. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the church to act quickly, contributing to the development of sustainable culture and preservation and protection of natural resources. It is time to develop theological concepts that refrain from universal worship of free markets promoted by the global capitalist notions.
The church should promote participation in the preservation of ecological justice for the safe coexistence of human life and nonhuman earth communities. The development of practical consciousness is the only means for ensuring that there is justice and ecology through theological promotion. Rethinking ecology and Christianity is a theological effort for developing ethical means of handling the earth and promoting sustainability for all its occupants (Berry, 2003). Planetary well-being is the work of moral and spiritual efforts used through theology and doctrines that influence the actions of humans, alleviating environmental challenges that hinder the safety of the universe. By maintaining the consensus in gospel transformations, it becomes possible for humans to strengthen their efforts for ensuring that there is no destruction of the earth and that the attempts to maintain a satisfactory lifestyle for diverse occupants are successful.