Life, Faith and Urban Farming

The life and happenings of an unconventional pastor and urban farmer living in the city with a family of five.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Eco-Theology: Part 1


What is eco-theology? Unfortunately it's not something that the church or theologians have thought much about. It asks the question: "What is God's command toward his people in regard to the natural creation." I think the church and Christian/biblical theology has fallen far behind in responding to the sick state of God's beautiful creation due to human greed. Eco-theology is an exciting and desperately needed realm of theology for the American church to become serious about. First of all, does God care about global warming, extinction of thousands of species of animals, the fouling of our air and our water? These are questions we must first answer. Hopefully now that global warming is a fact, hurricanes have increased and worsened, and heat waves of this summer and recent other summers are actually killing thousands of people, we will realize that God must and does care about the environment in which his people and his creation live. I wrote a paper on the theology of Karl Barth and eco-theology. Below is how I started the paper. I hope that I can get a bit of a conversation going.

In The Church Dogmatics, III.4, Karl Barth creates a framework for doing special ethics from a theological point of view. Throughout this volume the degree of specificity in Barth’s topics is at first surprising. From the beginning Barth makes clear that he is not concerned in this volume with theological ethics that stay in the realm of metaphysics. Barth is concerned with the command of God, which involves the whole person in creaturely existence. From the introduction on, Barth makes clear that ethics have to do with all of creation. He says creation “is marked as a form of the divine Yes, which is the quintessence of all His works.”

5 comments:

keith d said...

John, I must point out one piece of information that is erroneous. Hurricanes have not increased worldwide. Numbers show that approximately 90 tropical storms occur worldwide annually. That number has not changed. Each hurricane producing basin goes through cycles and our North Atlantic cycle just happens to be in an active period. Other basins are in down periods. Now storms may be getting more intense due to global warming. That is a distinct possibility.

I am not trying to disagree with your overall point, I just know this is a touchy subject and throwing out general statements without checking the facts may alienate those who disagree with you.

I personally am a partial skeptic to global warming. I feel it is happening and man does have some part of it. I just feel the earth's climate is much more complicated than that. Having said that, I agree it is our responsibility to take better care of God's creation and do what we can to clean up the environment.

John said...

I agree, we don't yet know things for sure. That's why I think I said hurricanes may be increasing. My concern is that by the time we know for sure that human activity is the cause of global warming it might be too late. We do know for sure that burning fossil fuels creates gases that are not healthy for plant, animal and human life.

You're points are well taken though. I do want to learn more on the scientific side.

keith d said...

When my parents moved to Florida, I did some research about hurricanes to ease my mind. I found the number of tropical events have stayed pretty flat for as long as records are accurate. I also found out how many different factors go into tropical storm development and their ultimate path. There are a ton of factors. The last two years have pretty much been the perfect conditions for the big storms that have slammed our country. The atmospheric conditions are a little different this year and we may see less storms reach the mainland or different areas being affected (specifically up the east coast from the Carolinas).

Evil_Conservative said...

"Hopefully now that global warming is a fact, hurricanes have increased and worsened"

Is Global Warming a fact now? I see in the other comments by Keith d that you touched on the hurricane side of the above qoute, but global warming research is still pretty shoddy. There is some pretty convincing "evidence" that burning fossil fuels has been our salvation from an overdue ice age. Frankly, neither side of the arguement has been able to substantiate their points well enough for me to make an intellegent decision either way. I'm pretty sure we are guessing at very simple straws to very complex issue. Careful study of ice cores for both poles show period in our recent past where the earth was much warmer than today. Not to mention the very unusual cycle of sun spot inactivity that we are experiencing... I'm pretty sure that we didn't cause that.

I'm not trying to discount your point, but I'm just not convinced that any of the "experts" on either side are able to really comprehend all the mitigating factors contributing to long term planetary weather cycles. Afterall, what do you call the guy who graduated last in med school???

Doctor!

John said...

Like keith's points, yours are well taken.

By saying global warming is a fact I mean that there is no denying that our earth's average temperatures are going up, there is no question about that. There are questions, as you've pointed out, on exactly why they are going up.

I world rather see the human race err on the side of caution than say it's not our fault and destroy the earth. We COULD be destroying ourselves and home, or we COULD be experiencing something that is more natural. Like I said, let's stop doing the things that we think are causing temperature change. Heck, then if we're wrong, at least we did what we could.