Animals and birds are dying because of the wickedness of our people, people who say, "God doesn't see what we are doing."
Jeremiah 12:4 (Today's English Version)
In 1967, historian Lynn White published a now famous piece entitled "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis."
White, himself a Christian, concluded that many of our environmental problems could be traced to the Christian notion that God gave this earth to humans for their use and specifically directed humans to exercise dominion over the earth and all of its life forms. While it is questionable that this is what White intended, the effect of the piece has been to serve as an indictment of Christianity as the source of our environmental problems, and to render laughable the idea that Christianity might have anything to contribute to our environmental crisis. As essayist Wendell Berry has observed, "the culpability of Christianity in the destruction of the natural world and uselessness of Christianity in any effort to correct that destruction are now established cliches of the conservation movement."
Largely as a reaction and response to White’s piece, Christian thinkers have over the last three decades formulated a response to White’s indictment. The response has taken three distinct paths. One path, which can be called the Stewardship Model, concludes that God did indeed give humans dominion, but only on the condition that we act as wise stewards, exercising our dominion with prudence and care. This is the model that is preferred within evangelical and fundamentalist circles, to the extent that this wing of Christianity chooses to address the environmental issue.
Within mainstream and liberal Christianity are two more models, eco-feminism and creation spirituality. Eco-feminism observes that domination over women and over the earth spring from the same masculine, patriarchal institutions, and that salvation for the earth, women, and ultimately men, will flow from modifying those institutions. Creation spirituality attempts to help us recover the nature mysticism of some medieval Christians such as Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, Mechtild of Madeburg, Hildegard of Bingen, and Francis of Assisi.
The following links will lead to pieces discussing these various dimensions of Christian Ecology.
James Nash as Christian Deep Ecologist
The Only Paradise We Ever Need: An Investigation into Pantheisms Sacred Geography
Book review in Environmental Ethics of John Hart's Sacramental Commons
Recovering Christian Pantheism as the Lost Gospel of Creation - Revisited
Recovering Christian Pantheism as the Lost Gospel of Creation
Befriending the Earth -- The Eco-Theology of Thomas Berry
The Biological Basis for Our Ecological Crisis -- Lynn White Revisited
Passion of the Western Mind: A survey of Western Philosophy
A Theology of Joy: God in Process Thought
Jesus: The Mystery
Toward a natural religion
Gaymon L. Bennett, Sr.
Gerard Manley Hopkins and Wendell berry on Planet Earth
Los Angeles Times
Harming the Environment Is Sinful
Pope John Paul
Consider the Lillies
Religion and the Environment
Muslim Deep Ecology
Christians for Environmental Stewardship
A Scriptural Call for Environmental Stewardship
Links to Christian Ecology resources on other web sites
- Religious Campaign for Forest Conservation
- National Religious Partnership for the Environment
- The Greening of the Gospel
- Au Sable Institute
- Christian Environmental Studies Center
- Creation Care
- Earth Ministry
- Center for a New American Dream
- High Country News
- Creation Spirituality Resources
- Thomas Berry: Selected Papers
- Center for Process Studies
- Catholic Conservation Center