Ecoguilt

Forests have been felled and fed to presses to print a host of books in which Christians—Catholic, liberal, mainline, and evangelical—beat their breasts and admit their “ecoguilt.” Many feel guilty for not being in the forefront of the environmental movement, or embarrassed by their theology that places people before animals, or exceedingly uncomfortable because their Scripture authorizes humankind to subdue the Earth.

The more charitable theologians argue that Christianity is not the problem; rather, the faith has been misunderstood through the ages, its doctrines twisted to justify ecological rape. “Though individual Christians may have held [a] bulldozer mentality,” contend the evangelical authors of Earthkeeping in the ’90s (edited by Loren Wilkinson, Eerdmans), “the whole weight of biblical teaching and Christian thought is against it.”

But others, like Lewis Regenstein in Replenish the Earth (Crossroad), believe the problem runs deeper, arguing that “there is little doubt that Christian theology is partly to blame for the churches’ apathy.” Ian Bradley, in God Is Green: Ecology for Christians (Doubleday/Image), goes even further: “Anthropocentric thinking … has made the church in the western world at least one of the prime aiders and abetters of the exploitation and pollution of the earth’s resources.”

Thus, we are witnessing a concerted campaign to make not only individual Christians, but also the church and even God, “green.” Bradley, for one, contends that “the Christian faith is intrinsically Green” and that “Christians have a positive and distinctive contribution to make to the salvation of our threatened planet and the preservation of the natural environment.”

Adding urgency to the efforts of the ecotheologians ...

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