04 (April 2016)

A Christian Guide to Environmental Issues

A Christian Guide to Environmental Issues
James Hindson
31 March, 2016 2 min read

Everyone says it! One of the biggest challenges the church in the rich Western world faces today is a consumerism that damages our spiritual lives, God’s creation and the lives of the poor in many parts of the world.

This book is one of a growing number describing the impact our lives are having on the earth God created: how we are destroying biodiversity, producing energy in a way that is damaging our climate, using water irresponsibly, growing food in a way that threatens the soil, and creating an economic system that creates inequality.

The book is well structured around an analysis of each of these challenges. After looking at the scientific facts, it provides biblical reflection on the issues. Each chapter ends with ‘eco tips’, notes for group Bible study and references for follow-up reading.

Interspersed are personal reflections from the authors about their experiences in Spain where they spent a sabbatical writing this title. They are well qualified to write on this topic. Martin Hodson lectures on Christianity and the environment at Oxford Brookes, and has a background as a soil scientist. His wife Margot ministers among rural churches.

The authors set themselves a tough challenge, putting scientific information, theology, action and fellowship into one book. While the mix doesn’t quite come off, it is a worthy read. On the plus side, it is environmentally sound.

The short, readable chapters are packed full of facts about the different issues and the ‘eco tips’ range from the small-scale and do-able to the more thoughtful and comprehensive. Having said this, the information is sometimes presented in a rather dull and academic way. I would have liked a bit more passion!

On the theological side, all the right messages are given. The backdrop is that God has made a covenant with his people to care for creation. However, the theological aspects are less well organised and harder to follow than the environmental information.

I was also disappointed that the authors did not stress that we are commanded by God to care for creation in Genesis. For me, care for creation is all about obedience. I feel that Christians need to wake up to this aspect of our discipleship.

Margot Hodson remembers, as I do, the excitement she had when reading Ronald Sider’s Rich Christians in an age of hunger, a title that got Christians talking and acting.

The evangelical church needs another book like that one to change our behaviour towards the environment. Although this is probably not the one, it is a sound and encouraging read for those wishing to start thinking more deeply about environmental issues in relation to their faith.

James Hindson

Shrewsbury

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