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The real crisis is spiritual

The emerging consensus between many theologians and scientists is that we are facing a global environmental crisis and it is becoming increasingly urgent that we should begin to address the “ecocrisis” facing our modern industrial world.

It is not being melodramatic to say that the future of life on our planet is at stake and there are a number of points where we can begin to address the issues.

We can begin with what we ourselves have observed, as scientists chart the progress of global warming in Queensland, but climate change and extreme weather events are just the beginning.

Additional pieces of disturbing information about ozone, the degradation of the soil, our over-use of resources appear with painful regularity on our TV screens and most scientists are convinced that we humans are mostly to blame.

We can begin with theology as this is God’s world after all. God created it and called it good but bad theology in the past took “dominion” to mean that destructive abuse of the earth was in order.

But the “image of God” in which we were created means that we are to care for the earth just as God would. Genesis 2:15 spells this out succinctly telling us to “tend (or serve) the earth and keep (or preserve) it.”

Whatever else it is, our ecological calamity is a spiritual crisis. In a recent statement on the environment, the National Council of Churches in the USA declared that, “To continue to walk the current path of ecological destruction is not only folly; it is sin.”

From a different theological perspective, the Evangelical Environmental Network said, “Because we have sinned, we have failed in our stewardship of creation. Therefore we repent of the way we have polluted, distorted, or destroyed so much of the Creator’s work.”

The environment needs to be more obviously on the Church’s radar, not only on the agenda of the Church at large, but a part of the mission of local congregations as well.

Retired Uniting Church minister Clive Ayre is undertaking post-graduate research relating to ecology and Christian mission in the congregation and would love to hear from any Queensland congregation
interested in or attempting to respond to this vital issue cliveandgail@dovenetq.net.au.