Research Essay: 20876077 Through the study of scripture, Christian movements and the views of historical and contemporary figures, it can be said that Christian ethical teachings have a significant influence on the lives of its adherents. A prime example of the effects of these teachings is the nature and practice of Christian environmental ethics. The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy defines environmental ethics as the discipline in philosophy that studies the moral relationship of human beings to, and also the value and moral status of, the environment and its nonhuman contents.
Although each denomination has its own unique manner of judging ethical understanding, the basic and fundamental structures of their environmental principles have a tendency to reflect Christian beliefs. Any Christian ethic must begin with the Bible as it is the Word of God. The first chapter of the Old Testament, Genesis, details that God created humans in his image and likeness and separate from all that came before. The passage Gen 1:26 “Then God said, let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness, so they may rule over…all the creatures that move on the earth” introduces the concept of stewardship.
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Christian stewardship begins with willing obedience to the His commandments and grows out of a love for God. The Steward has an initial love for the Creator and through this an intense love for Creation. This intrinsic connection between God, His people and the environment is demonstrated in the passage Psalm 104: 25-30 “When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the earth” The Protestant Church defines Christian Stewardship as “the free and joyous activity of the child of God and God’s family, the church, in managing all of life and life’s resources for God’s purposes. This means that Stewardship is carried out as a community as well as individually, that creation is made a priority for the fulfilment of God’s will. The Protestant Church of USA website states that they are “making environmental stewardship part of their ministry through worship, education, facilities, and outreach projects that respond to our call to till and keep the garden. ” This can be seen as a recent development, most likely as a response to environmental concerns that have become prevalent in the past decade. The prime example is he issue of climate change, which necessitates a number of ethical practices for Christians, such as a decrease in consumer attitudes in favour of one that is ecologically friendly and sustainable. In the case of this denomination, the church aims to “To encourage Protestants to support sustainable environmental practices as individuals and in the life of their communities. ” On the other hand, the Anglican Church has a similar yet in some aspects contradictory approach to environmental stewardship. In the 1998 Lambeth Conference, a public statement of the foundations of the Church’s ethical practices was made.
This conference reaffirmed that the divine Spirit is omnipresent in creation, which is therefore to be treated with reverence, respect and gratitude. It was also stated that human beings are partners with the rest of creation and a living connection between heaven and earth, with responsibility to make personal and material sacrifices for the common good of all creation. On the topic of animal rights, Rev. D. R. Deinsen declared that “it is no longer an option for members to ignore the suffering of our fellow creatures…we must take actions to that end, educate others, and seek to advocate for legislation that will protect animals. This concept directly relates to the passage in the Old Testament Proverbs 12:10: “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel. ” This charge to treat animals, man’s partner in creation, with respect is seen not only in the Old Testament but also in the Gospels of the New Testament. The passage of John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” emphasises the importance of animals in the hierarchy of creation and Christian’s responsibility to protect and care for them.
The issue of Deforestation has been high on the global environmental agenda for many years, and remains a serious problem today. In the tropics and many other parts of the world, nations continue to lose the valuable biodiversity, soil and water conservation, and climate regulation that natural forests provide. Christianity can only address this matter by continuing to combine an acceptance of the command to people to ‘multiply and replenish the earth’ (Genesis 1:28) with a balancing injunction to act as stewards of the environment.
Charities such as Christian Ecology Link and World Vision work to increase awareness of the current ecological crisis and encourage adherents to live sustainably and make ‘green’ consumption choices. Significant contemporary and historical religious figures have also had been highly influential towards the ethical attitudes and practices of Christians. The Roman Catholic Church has issued a number of statements on the environment. In 1985 the German Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference issued a joint statement with the Council of the Evangelical Church entitled ‘Exercising Responsibility for Creation’.
This statement urged a change in attitude to animals and all creation, a change in patterns of lifestyle and consumption of resources. Pope John Paul II’s social encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis urges respect for the natural world and a deeper awareness of the needs of all creatures, rather than a focus on what is economically necessary. He states that ‘an education in ecological responsibility is urgent, responsibility for oneself, for others, for the earth’. Catholics are therefore encouraged to recognise the value of creation and that any urban planning has to be sensitive to the natural world.
St Francis of Assisi, declared the Patron Saint of the Environment by Pope John Paul II in 1979, had a great love of God and of nature. He sought to celebrate the beauty of God’s creation with others. His importance to the development of contemporary Christian environmental ethics can be seen in this excerpt from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s article, Seek that Which is Above: Mediations Through the Year. “Respect for man and respect for nature go together, but ultimately both can flourish and find their true measure only, if, in man and nature, we respect the Creator and his creation.
The two only harmonize in relationship with the Creator. We shall assuredly never find the lost equilibrium if we refuse to press forward and discover this relationship. Let Francis of Assisi, then, make us reflect; let him set us on the right path. ” It can therefore be said that although the environment continues to provide resources essential for everyday human life; the abuse and neglect of these resources will lead to the destruction of the global ecosystem and a loss of the capacity of the earth to provide. The ethics of Christians today must be utilized in relation to the environment if there is hope for a sustainable future.
The Oxford Studies of Religion asserts that “in its simplest explanation, ethics is a practical application of belief”. As a reflection on this statement and on the previous information, one can draw the conclusion that under the influence of important religious figures, Scripture and Church teachings, adherents are able to make a practical ethical response to current environmental issues. Bibliography ???Christian Environmentalism, 1992, viewed on the 4/5/2010 http://bible. org/article/christian-environmentalismis ???Christian Environmental Ethics, 2008, viewed on the 4/5/2010 http://www. slideshare. et/old_roofrat/christian-environmental-ethics ???Christian Environmental Ethics, 1999, viewed on the 5/5/2010 http://enteuxis. org/nathan/portfolio/writing/1999/xian_environmental_ethics. html ???Christian Stewardship of the Environment, viewed on the 5/5/2010 http://www. creationism. org/csshs/v10n3p24. htm ???Christian responses to Climate Change and other Environmental issues, 2009, viewed on the 10/5/2010 http://acen. anglicancommunion. org/resources/docs/Christian%20responses%20to%20Climate%20Environmental%20issues. pdf ???The Anglican Church’s Position, 2003, viewed on the 10/5/2010 http://all-creation. franciscan-anglican. com/resolution. tm ???An Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation, Evangelical Environmental Network, viewed on the 17/5/2010 http://www. creationcare. org/resources/declaration. php ???World Vision Environmental Protection, 2010, viewed on the 17/5/2010 http://www. worldvision. com. au/Libraries/SmilesDayIssues_TeachersResources/Environmental_Protection_-_The_Issue. sflb. ashx ???A New Dawn? The Roman Catholic Church and Environmental Issues by C Deane Drummond, 1997, viewed on the 17/5/2010 http://chesterrep. openrepository. com/cdr/bitstream/10034/14659/1/deane-drummond-nblackfriars97. pdf ???St. Francis of Assisi, Catholic Conservation Centre,