Progressive Christian Social Action Blog
Love in a Time of Climate Change
Today I am introducing my soon-to-be released book, Love in a Time of Climate Change: Honoring Creation, Establishing Justice. It offers a progressive Christian approach to climate change that takes climate science seriously. It is based on the core teachings of Jesus about loving God above all and our neighbors as ourselves.
Its premise is that in this time of climate change, loving God must include honoring creation—God’s creation. Likewise, loving our neighbors must include working to establish justice for our human family, especially those who are most vulnerable, especially those who live on the front lines of climate change, justice for our young and for future generations, and justice for all parts of creation. For as Albert Schweitzer said, “Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, [humanity] will not find peace.”
This book also draws from the teachings and practices of John Wesley, a key figure in the 18th century Great Awakening and founder of the United Methodist Church, especially his focus on the themes of creation and justice. The book introduces his teachings on God as immanent within creation and as revealed through creation, and explores the similarities of his thought with that of several contemporary process theologians. Likewise, it presents his teachings on what he called “social holiness,” his actions as a social reformer, and similarities between his teachings and that of liberation theologians today.
But this book does not tell the readers what to think. Instead, it demonstrates a process for exploring climate change from a faith perspective in a way that supports readers in thinking for themselves, examining the evidence, forming their own conclusions, and deciding what, if any, actions to take. The book demonstrates an unfolding process of discovery based on exploring creation and justice, in the context of climate change, through the lenses of scripture, tradition, reason, and experience.
This process, creatively adapted from John Wesley, takes the Bible seriously, but does not insist that it all be taken literally. It considers Christian tradition and acknowledges the good, but also shows the great harm dominant forms of Christianity have caused. Readers are encouraged to think things through by using their God-given faculty of reason, to listen to their own inner voice, and to learn from their own experience. In this way, readers integrate their understanding of climate change and its implications, including its spiritual implications, at a deep level, and gain insight that enables them to craft a faithful response based on their own understanding.
Finally, Love in a Time of Climate Change offers hope. From the book:
“Honoring creation and working to establish justice cultivates hope in us as individuals and equips us to offer hope to the world. First, as followers of Jesus, our primary hope is that we can live in faithfulness to the loving will of God in all circumstances, as he did. The fulfillment of this hope is possible only if we live under the influence of the Holy Spirit. As we do so, our ongoing growth in faith, hope, and love is expressed by our lifestyle choices and acts of mercy and justice in the world.
“Second, we hope for the transformation of the world. I stress throughout this book that individual action is not enough to turn the rising tide of climate chaos. It will take many people working together to build a diverse and multi-focused movement that is strong enough to pressure policy makers, transform the system, and make possible the enactment of sane policies and practices that effectively address climate change.
“It may be that the magnitude of the challenge of climate change will motivate the dramatic ideological and systemic shifts necessary for changing direction as a species. As we entrust our lives to God we are empowered to join with others in the growing movement for climate justice and to carry a unified message of healing, love, and solidarity as we live into God’s future, offering hope amid the climate crisis that `another world is possible.’”
“God is ever present, always with us. Love never ends.”
To find out more, to read initial endorsements, or to pre-order, go to Love at a Time of Climate Change.
Other blog postings from Sharon about climate change can be found here.
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