The challenge of different Christian approaches to the environment debate
The challenge of different Christian approaches to the environment debate.
Presented by Richard Gijsbers at the ISCAST Vic Intensive 2010
Richard Gijsbers is a consultant currently working with his wife in a small administrative services and consulting firm. He has a public service background working as a forester. He also has community forest development experience in Nepal, India and Cambodia.
In a past life I was a public servant involved in forest management. As such, I was exposed to a wide range of positions held on the environment by the community. My role was to identify the various positions and seek to accommodate as many of these as we could in our planning.
Hardly surprisingly, Christians reflect a similar range of positions such that it is impossible to declare any one such position as “Christian” to the exclusion of others.
Partly for want of something to do, I started to play around with the various positions I had been exposed to. I have identified eight of these, some overlapping and some contradictory. Every now and then I pull out the list and add new insights including the biblical themes upon which each position is based and the sorts of outcomes that would logically emerge. I do not pretend that the list is comprehensive or authoritative but it does underline the differences that exist in Christian thinking on this issue.
The positions I have identified are: Humans first, Stewardship, Reconciliation, Access to God, Environment first, Evangelism first, Armageddon is Nigh, and Get on with the Job.
In my presentation I will explore each of these and the biblical themes on which I understand each of these draw. More critically I will touch on the ramifications that this diversity raises including how this undermines attempts to declare any one position as ‘Christian’ and therefore God-endorsed.
My conclusion is that, while we must strive to be faithful to the insights and challenges God has given us, we need to do this with humility and understanding that at least some of our Christian brothers and sisters who are also seeking to be faithful to their calling will disagree with us. By confronting these disagreements in this fashion we are forced to the see the weaknesses and strengths of our own positions.
Download pdf - Notes