Christian voices in the environment debate

Christian Voices in the Environment Debate
Richard W. Gijsbers, November 2016




Richard W. Gijsbers

Richard was a forester working for over 20 years with the Victorian government in both field forestry and in policy development and planning for native forests. He has also had experience with the United Mission to Nepal working on reafforestation. He is now working as a consultant and administrator for a number of small organisations with his wife Glenys through their company Stockdale ACS.

Richard is currently studying for a Masters in Theology, exploring the idea of “Sin and Grace in Ecotheology.” Richard is also an ISCAST Fellow and the secretary of ISCAST.


This paper arose out of ISCAST’s “State of Play” workshop held at Ridley College in Melbourne in August 2015. The workshop explored the possible hot topics in the science-Christianity debate that would be of concern in ten years’ time in a number of identified domains. This paper focuses on the “Stewardship of Creation” domain.

It argues that the debates about the environment are not only complex and difficult, but they are continually shifting; not least because there are so many sciences involved, few of which communicate with each other and which, themselves, continue to evolve. It notes that the values and uses society wants to apply to the environment are also changing and are impossible to specify over the long term.

Christians (individuals, local churches, denominations, and national churches) have a responsibility to be part of these debates and to contribute their voices in how we relate to the environment at any point in time. Christians however will not necessarily speak with the one voice to the same issue. They will disagree. Nor will they necessarily have the final word on any issue in the debate.

The paper identifies four voices that Christians can use in the debate: the prophetic voice, the priestly voice, the kingly voice, and the voice of wisdom or wise counsel.

Different Christians will use different voices, often from different perspectives. We cannot claim that any particular position is the only one that Christians can or should hold.


Environment, church, prophet, priest, king, counsellor, environment debate, nature, creation, wilderness, grace, sin, ecotheology, wicked problem.


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