My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.

"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Christianity, Creation and the Environment

In my tour of the world's great faiths, and their teachings on creation and the environment, I shall begin with Christianity. It is after all still the faith to which 33% of the world’s population and 78% of North Americans turn for their healing and spiritual nourishment. The ministry of Jesus Christ reflects the very essence of the Wounded Healer, with his compassion borne out of his own redemptive suffering for mankind.
However, throughout the history of Christianity, its followers have tended to think of their relationship with God’s Divine creation in terms of stewardship, which has been too often interpreted as mastery. Faced by the threat of environmental crises, the main Christian Churches have been redefining their theology for some time, as seen in the document from a meeting of the World Council of Churches in Granvollen, Norway, in 1988:

"The drive to have ‘mastery’ over creation has resulted in the senseless exploitation of natural resources, the alienation of the land from people and the destruction of indigenous cultures…Creation came into being by the will and love of the Triune God, and as such it possess an inner cohesion and goodness. Though human eyes may not always discern it, every creature and the whole creation in chorus bear witness to the glorious unity and harmony with which creation is endowed. And when our human eyes are opened and our tongues unloosed, we too learn to praise and participate in the life, love, power and freedom that is God’s continuing gift and grace."

The World Council of Churches again came together in 1990 ‘to consider the issues of justice, peace, and the integrity of creation,’ when they wrote in an affirmation of faith:

"The integrity of creation has a social aspect which we recognise as peace with justice, and an ecological aspect which we recognise in the self-renewing, sustainable character of natural eco-systems. We will resist the claim that anything in creation is merely a resource for human exploitation. We will resist species extinction for human benefit; consumerism and harmful mass production; pollution of land, air and waters; all human activities which are now leading to probable rapid climate change; and the policies and plans which contribute to the disintegration of creation."

The report concludes with a challenge to all Christians, ‘to discover anew the truth that God’s love and liberation is for all creation, not just humanity; to realise that we should have been stewards, priests, co-creators with God for the rest of creation but have actually often been the ones responsible for its destruction; and to seek new ways of living and being Christians that will restore that balance and give the hope of life to so much of the endangered planet.’

Now how many of us who claim to be Christians are prepared to rise to that challenge?
And remember these statements were made over 20 years ago. Have matters changed significantly since then?

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