Evangelicals And Environmentalism: Past, Present, And Future -- By: Raymond E. Grizzle

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 19:1 (Spring 1998)
Article: Evangelicals And Environmentalism: Past, Present, And Future
Author: Raymond E. Grizzle

Evangelicals And Environmentalism:
Past, Present, And Future

Raymond E. Grizzle

Paul E. Rothrock

Christopher B. Barrett*

* Raymond E. Grizzle is Associate Professor of Environmental Science at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. Paul E. Rothrock is Professor of Environmental Science at Taylor University. Christopher B. Barrett is Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at Utah State University in Logan, Utah and in the Department of Agricultural, Resource, and Managerial Economics at Cornell University.

I. Introduction

The modern environmental movement (“environmentalism”) is only about thirty years old, but it is nonetheless a major global phenomenon. Concern over environmental1 issues has literally swept the globe, respecting no political, economic, educational, cultural, or religious boundaries.2 Some of the important contributors to the development of environmental philosophy and ethics do not claim any religious association, and some have even singled out Christianity as one of the problems for the movement.3 Nonetheless, important contributions to environmental philosophy and ethics have come from all branches of Christianity.4 Environmentalists by definition share a common concern for nature and the need to protect it, and it is now evident that this concern

springs from a wide range of underlying beliefs.5 Environmentalism today is truly ecumenical in every sense of the word.

These two characteristics of environmentalism, a wide diversity of worldviews and global popularity, would seem to offer a rare opportunity for Christians actively to influence further development of the movement. Indeed, environmentalism is among the most important contemporary social phenomena, offering Christians an unprecedented opportunity for being salt and light in societies globally. But what are we accomplishing in this respect? In particular, what has been the role of evangelicals in environmentalism? Have we missed a great opportunity? And more importantly, what should we be doing?

This essay is aimed at such questions as these. We begin with a “mapping” of the diversity of Christian responses to environmentalism, with an emphasis on evangelicals. It is followed by a section in which we comment in more detail on how evangelicals have interacted with the broader environmental movement historically. In the final section, we comment on very recent t...

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