Nature In The New Creation: New Testament Eschatology And The Environment -- By: Douglas Moo

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 49:3 (Sep 2006)
Article: Nature In The New Creation: New Testament Eschatology And The Environment
Author: Douglas Moo

Nature In The New Creation:
New Testament Eschatology And The Environment

Douglas J. Moo*

I. Introduction

In 1843, Ludwig Feuerbach claimed that, “Nature, the world, has no value, no interest for Christians. The Christian thinks only of himself and the salvation of his soul.”1 Feuerbach was not the first to accuse Christianity of an excessive anthropocentrism, and he was certainly not the last. Such charges have indeed become especially common during the last forty years, as many environmentalists trace to Christianity one of the ideological roots of the current “ecological crisis.” Perhaps the best known of these accusations came in a paper read by Lynn White, Jr., in 1967, entitled “The Historic Roots of our Ecological Crisis.”2 White argued that environmental degradation was the indirect product of Christianity, which he labeled (in its western form), “the most anthropocentric religion the world has ever seen.”3 The biblical claim that humans have dominion over creation has shaped the typically western “instrumentalist” view of nature: that the natural world exists solely to meet human needs.4 Wedded to unprecedented scientific and technological

* Douglas Moo is Blanchard professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, 501 College Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187.

advancements, Christian anthropocentrism has brought us pollution, global warming, and widespread species extinction. White himself did not call for a rejection of the Christian faith, but a modification along the lines suggested by the attitudes and practices of St. Francis of Assisi. But many environmentalists who followed the path blazed by White have not been as charitable. They view orthodox Christianity as a cultural virus that must be eradicated from the world if the planet is to survive. The “deep ecology” movement in particular insists that, along with the jettisoning of Christianity, true environmental healing can only take place when a new ideology is put in its place.5 But just what ideology to put in the place of Christianity as a basis for environmental ethics is, of course, quite contested.6 A significant number of contemporary environmentalists are convinced that some form of religion is needed to provide motivational power for the transformation of human attitudes toward the natural world. Max Oelschlaeger has claimed, “There are no solutions f...

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