A new declaration on environmental questions, edited by an interconfessional board of church representatives in Sweden, gives insight in theological and ethical aspects of climate change and biodiversity losses: Värna den jord som Gud älskar (Protecting the earth that God loves).
The book is published under the auspices of the Sveriges Kristna Råd (Christian Council of Sweden) and offers a comprehensive reading on Christian paths towards ecology, proceeding in five topics: (1) economical, cultural and social backgrounds of ongoing interferences in man’s relationship towards his environment; (2) essential elements of Christian creation faith and man’s position within the environment; (3) current findings on climate change and environment related developments wordwide; (4) justice aspects of climate change (seen globally, seen intergenerationally); and (5) closing remarks on Christian hope and the biblical message of salvation.
The authors – for the most part Swedish theologians and political scientists from various Christian denominations, including the Catholic Church – plead Christians for a reform of Western consumerist styles (p. 16), for a determined involvement in initiatives that foster sustainable development (p. 16), and for integrating environmental concerns into Christian social, liturgical, and spiritual life (p. 13). Theological approaches to ecology, they argue, should become an integral part of the formation of priests and deacons (p. 12). The writers’ advertisement for celebrating September 1st as a “creation day” in all churches is not even new, since Demetrios I, Patriarch of Constantinople, appealed for it already in 1989. But this still awaits implementation in many churches and this proposal might deserve attention again.
And putting emphasis on Paul’s assurance, that the whole creation (and not exclusively humanity) attends the redemption (Rom: 8), the authors propose futher reflection about how much God reveals himself not only towards man but towards the overall creation (p. 9). Although some aspects of environmental ethics have come too short (e.g. the concept of sustainable development and its value for Christian social ethics), there is plenty of energy in this document from Sweden that is also ecumenically inspiring.
To order a print copy of the document, please visit Sveriges Kristna Råd.