When Enough is EnoughPaperback A Christian framework for environmental sustainability R. J. Berry (Editor)
Informative and challenging perspectives on a vital contemporary issue.(more...)
This book offers a Christian approach to living now in the expectation that tomorrow will come - a Christian framework for sustainable development, written by some of the world's experts on the subject. It is a guidebook for living in such a way that we will be better able to give a positive account for our treatment of the talents entrusted to us, when we face the divine Judge of all the earth.
The contributors are R. J. (Sam) Berry, Dave Bookless, John Bryant, Flavio Comim, Joanne Green , Donald Hay, Sir Brian Heap, Margot Hodson, Sir John Houghton, Sir Ghillean Prance, David Stafford and John Wibberley.
Is our God too small?
Do we truly acknowledge the biblical God, who is Creator and Sustainer as well as Redeemer - a much bigger God than the one who cares merely about me and my personal faith and behaviour?
Do we really love our neighbours - the powerless one in a less developed country as well as our friend next door?
And what about our own family: are we stealing from our children and their children - damaging the only world we have through global climate change, never mind polluting our neighbours' environment, using up non-renewable resources like fossil fuel, indulging in industrial and agricultural practices that permanently harm land and water?
We want to 'make poverty history' - but are we squandering so much capital that we are making this impossible?
Extent: 192 pages
Publication Date: 16/03/2007
Published by: Apollos / IVP
1. Sustainability: God’s way or greenwash?
R. J. Berry
2. Towards a theology of sustainability
3. The challenge of sustainability
4. Thoughts on the sustainability of the non-human world
Ghillean T. Prance
5. Consumption and happiness: Christian values and an approach towards sustainability
Brian Heap and Flavio Comim
6. Sustainable economics
7. A framework for sustainable agriculture
8. Let justice roll down like a never-ending stream
9. Sustainability, resources and waste
David Stafford and John Bryant
10. Creative harmony: Isaiah’s vision of a sustainable future
Margot R. Hodson
In my book Jesus and the Earth I drew attention to the collection of verses in the Gospels where Jesus refers to himself as ‘Son of Man’, and in the same context there is a reference to the earth. There is continuing theological debate about the meaning of this title. The reason why this collection deserves some special study is that, whatever else the phrase signifies, the ‘Son of Man’ in Hebrew means, ‘The Son of the One from the Earth’. To find Jesus referring to himself in this way while in the same breath talking about the earth merits serious attention, not least because if you asked many Christians whether or not Jesus had anything to say about the earth, they would be hard-pressed to give a positive answer.
Further to my own studies and relevant to this book on environmental sustainability we find Jesus asking at the end of one of his parables, ‘However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’ (Luke 18:8).
Jesus had just told the story of the nagging widow who pesters a judge for a ruling in a dispute with an opponent. We are not told the nature of the grievance. That is irrelevant to the point of the parable, where Jesus said we ‘should always pray and not give up’ (Luke 18:1). The judge is eventually worn down by her bothering and grants her justice. Jesus spells out the meaning: ‘And will not God bring about justice . . . I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly’ (vv. 7–8).
In Luke’s Gospel, the purview of prayer is the coming of the kingdom of the good Father (Luke 11:1–13). Luke acknowledges that one of the issues for the disciples of Jesus (both then and now) is why after so much prayer we are still waiting, and he recognizes therefore that one of the great temptations is to lose heart and give up.
When the kingdom of God is eventually established, his reign will be marked by justice. This is a constant theme throughout the Bible. And here in this parable the judge gives the widow justice, prompting Jesus to promise that one day God too will grant justice to those ‘who cry out to him day and night’ (Luke 18:7).
As the pages of this book show, the root cause of an unsustainable world is the lack of justice. The three great Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, believe that not only is God merciful but he is also just. Indeed, without justice there can be no mercy, for the latter implies the former. In Christianity, there is a remarkable claim that through Jesus the human race and the whole of creation are reconciled to God. You cannot be made one with the God of justice without at the same time being caught up in the dynamic divine passion to see his justice established on the face of the earth. That is why Jesus taught his followers to pray not only that the kingdom of God would come but also that God’s will would be done on earth as it is in heaven. It is a prayer for the earthing of heaven, the earthing of justice.
So, the Son of Man who was of both earth and heaven and whose mission is to unify the two, urges his followers to keep on praying for the earthing of heaven ‘and not give up’. Jesus assures us that God will one day grant us justice and challenges us to keep the ‘faith on the earth’. God knows it is not easy to stay faithful. So much militates against a fair, free and sustainable world, as the chapters here show. But, although Christians have mostly come late to understanding what is happening to the earth (with the prophetic voice coming from beyond the walls of the church), the gospel of Jesus Christ lays upon us unavoidable responsibility to change, and at the same time calls us to have faith in and work with God, who is the sustainer of all.
The Rt Revd James Jones
Bishop of Liverpool
Extract from ... Chapter 4. Thoughts on the sustainability of the non-human world - Ghillean T. Prance
This book is about one of the most important issues facing environmentally conscious Christians, that of sustainability. The concept of sustainability has been seriously on the world agenda since the publication of the Brundtland Report (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987). It was further boosted by wide-reaching environmental initiatives, especially by the Convention on Biological Diversity and the other achievements of the 1992 Earth Summit of Rio de Janeiro (such as the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the excellent Rio Declaration, and Agenda 21).
There have been various definitions of the concept of sustainability, but the underlying idea is that present human needs should not be at the expense of future generations. Perhaps we could learn from the woodland Indians of eastern North America who consider the effects of environmentally sensitive actions on the seventh unborn generation. However, a glance at the use of almost any non-human resource shows we are far from achieving this sort of attitude. Life in our society revolves around a four- or five-year term of political office rather than the long-term future. Moreover, the promotion of the sustainable use of any resource almost inevitably results in conflicts of interest between the promoter and those with a short-term interest to use up the resource and get rich quickly (see Chapter 6). In the process of unsustainable use, the few usually get rich at the expense of the poor. This involves explicit ethical and moral questions and is surely where our Christian faith must enter into the equation.
Dependence on the non-human world
In autumn 2005, the Eden Project in Cornwall opened a new education building to demonstrate the services that plants and the environment provide for us and the other organisms with which we share this planet. It highlights plants at work in a closed environmental chamber, showing a life support system taken granted by most people, where photosynthesis by plants provides for the oxygen we breathe, the transpiration of plants influences our weather, and plants remove toxic substances from our air and water. But this system is our own life support system. The hope is that this exhibit will stimulate more respect and care for these unheralded, uncosted and essential services of the environment.
The living world provides us with much more than these basic services: we have learned how to use it for shelter, food, medicines, recreation, symbols of religion and too many other benefits to list here. We take all this for granted without counting the true cost of abuse and unsustainable use. Costanza et al. (1997) estimated that the total worldwide value of the natural processes is $33 trillion. They calculated this on the basis of the contributions from various ecosystems such as oceans, forests, grassland, wetlands, lakes and rivers, cropland; and of processes such as pollination of crops, climate regulation and biological pest control. At present we get the ecological systems that sustain the Earth for free. But life on the planet will be unsustainable in the long term if we do not protect these services; at present we take them entirely for granted. We need to do something to account for these benefits in our environmental regulations and tax systems. ...
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