An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Christianity, Climate Change and Sustainable Living - a review

Christianity, Climate Change and Sustainable Living
Nick Spencer and Robert White
SPCK, 2007
pbk, ISBN 978-0-281-05833-4
x+245 pp

This book was 'conceived and nurtured' by the Jubilee Centre and the John Ray Institute. Nick Spencer was a researcher for the Jubilee Centre until 2007 and is now Director of studies at Theos, and Bob White, a geophysicist, is director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion.

The book split into three parts: the nature of the problem, the biblical perspective and the Christian response.

The first takes a look at global warming (ch 1) and sustainability and well-being (ch2). Here we have the science of climate change this is explained in an accessible way and contains abundant figures and charts. Unfortunately, the issue of 'climate scepticism' isn't addressed: 'The take home message is that global warming is real and unequivocal, and is caused by humans' (p. 25).

Climate change is the result of unsustainable development and so the issue of sustainability is examined in the next chapter. As they put it: 'The way we use energy at home, the way we travel and the manner in which we consume lie at the heart of climate change. Unless they change it won't' (p. 72).

Part 2 poses the question should Christians care about the environment? (Ch 3) Their answer an emphatic Yes! - they then look at what a Christian response might look like (Ch 4-5). In response to Why care? They respond:

  • because God does
  • because it is part of what it means to be human
  • to obey the command to love 'our neighbours'
  • because of our hope for the future

Chapter 4 looks at the biblical vision of sustainable living here they draw heavily on Isaiah 40-66 as 'it offers the fullest biblical vision the Bible has to offer of sustainable living', an example of how life on earth should be lived. Next drawing upon the Jubilee theme, in chapter 5, they look at the biblical practice of sustainable living.

The final part looks at the vision (ch 6) and practice of sustainable living (ch 7). In chapter 6 they outline eight helpful - the 'shoulds' notwithstanding - principles for sustainable living:
  1. We should value and protect creation, seeing that as a joy rather than a burden
  2. We should reflect the close bond between society and environment in our decisions
  3. We should pursue justice for the vulnerable and marginalized
  4. We should not confuse wealth and value: our goal should be relational health rather than money or personal freedom
  5. We should favour regulated, market-based solutions that take account of natural, human and social capital
  6. We should express commitment to our immediate environment and favour local solutions
  7. We should aim to offer just and equitable access to natural resout=rces
  8. We should respond seriously and with hope.

Chapter 7 looks at what we can do as individuals, as part of a community, nationally and internationally.

The brief final chapter looks at the new creation. God has not given up on his creation but will re-create it.

There are 16 pages of notes, a 3-page index of biblical references and a 6-page subject index. Sadly there is no bibliography, but a list of organisations such as the Jubilee Centre, The Faraday Institute, The John Ray Institute, Tearfund and WorldVision all judging by the logos on the back cover have supported the book.

The authors close this book with the comment that 'Christians are in a unique position to live and promote such "responsible and collaborative behaviour". We need to do so now.' This book doesn't provide all the answers or solutions but it is certainly a great place to start so that we can become more responsible and informed stewards of God's good earth.

Jubilee Centre has a number of Bible studies to accompany the book here.

Available in the UK from:
book depository

Other reviews:
Geoff Stratford
Ethel White

Times OnLine

1 comment:

Kate McElhinney said...

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