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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Climate Change and Christian Ethics

Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life


Further Reading

Books by Willis Jenkins

Ecologies of Grace: Environmental Ethics and Christian Theology, by Willis Jenkins, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

From the publisher: "In Ecologies of Grace, Willis Jenkins presents a field-shaping introduction to Christian environmental ethics that offers resources for renewing theology. Observing how religious environmental practices often draw on concepts of grace, Jenkins maps the way Christian environmental strategies draw from traditions of salvation as they engage the problems of environmental ethics. He then uses this new map to explore afresh the ecological dimensions of Christian theology. Jenkins identifies ecojustice, stewardship, and ecological spirituality as three major strategies for making environmental problems intelligible to Christian moral experience, by drawing on patterns of sanctification, redemption, and deification." 


Articles by Willis Jenkins

"Prophetic Environmental Pragmatism: Adaptive Management and Cultural Reform" (under review)

"After Lynn White: Religious Ethics and Environmental Problems," Journal of Religious Ethics, 37.2: 283-309 (2009).

"The fields of environmental ethics and of religion and ecology have been shaped by Lynn White Jr.'s thesis that the roots of ecological crisis lie in religious cosmology. This article examines the critiques of White's legacy and presents a pluralist alternative that focuses religious ethics on the contextual strategies produced by moral communities as they confront environmental problems." 

"Global Ethics, Christian Theology, and the Challenge of Sustainability," Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology, 12.2-3: 197-217 (2008).

"This paper considers how theology confronts sustainability as a global problem, and what that confrontation can contribute to the challenge of global ethics. After reviewing major models of religious engagement with global ethics, Jenkins argues for an analogical conception in which Christian social practices generate moral patterns with the capacity to meet the integrative challenge of global ethics. Theological reflection on those practices then helps sustain the discourse of sustainability as an effective working concept."

"Missiology in Environmental Context: Tasks for an Ecology of Mission," International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 32.4: 176-84 (October 2008).

In this article, Jenkins describes "a series of tasks for making environmental issues more visible, intelligible, and significant for missiology. He argues, "each of the tasks may be approached from a range of theological commitments and registers. Missiological engagement with environmental issues is an ecumenical task, requiring all Christians to show how the gifts of living with God make sense of the gifts of living on earth." 

"Biodiversity and Salvation: Thomistic Roots for Environmental Ethics," Journal of Religion, 83.3: 401-20 (July 2003).

In this essay, Jenkins explores the writings of Thomas Aquinas and applies his theories to Jenkins' argument in support of a distinctively Christian environmentalism "one that happily avoids the determination of anthropocentric, ecocentric, or even theocentric by showing the harmony of several centrisms: it is in our own best interests to be able to perfect our nature (anthropocentric) by seeking the knowledge of God through worship (theocentric), which we are able best to do by understanding the many different perfections of the cosmos and our particular place among them (ecocentric). That is to say, for Thomas, part of the way God works for the perfection of humans is to invite them into the wisdom, beauty, and goodness made available on earth through active participation in God's love for creation."


In The News

"Global Warming and American Christianity," by Martin E. Marty, Sightings, November 15, 2010.

In this article, Marty critiques those members of the conservative party, Tea Party, and fossil fuel industries who refuse to acknowledge the reality of global climate change.  She heralds Bill McKibben, arguably the nation's leading environmentalist, for his work as an advocate of measures to confront climate change.  

"Bill McKibben and The Moral Math of Climate Change," a conversation with Bill McKibben, Krista Tippett on Being, August 5, 2010.

In this broadcast, McKibben, a leading environmentalist and author of The End of Nature (1989), discusses his "evolving perspective on human responsibility in a changing natural world."

"A Climate Skeptic With a Bully Pulpit in Virginia Finds an Ear in Congress," by John Collins Rudolf, New York Times, February 22, 2011.

This article discusses Virginia's Republican attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II's, actions against those working to promote research and policies concerning climate change, most notably Dr. Mann, a climatologist at Pennsylvania State University, and the Environmental Protection Agency.