Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hope and the Environment

The September, 2013 issue of the Anglican evangelical journal Anvil presents a series of papers that have arisen from a consultation on "Environmental Hope".  Margot Hodson sets the stage for this special issue in an editorial, describing a discussion with a fellow theologian in 2010:
We both regularly share platforms with environmental speakers who present a bleak picture of the state of the planet. We follow and our role is to present Christian hope. As the environmental situation deteriorated, so our hope had become less proximate and more eschatological. It lacked reality and we were both struggling to find an authentic hope for this age...
 While Christians share in the "ultimate hope" of God's redemption, what is the relationship between that and the "proximate hope" of solving our very present problems - especially as those problems seem to become ever more intractable. Richard Bauckham draws on Revelation as a model for the relationship between these hopes:

The church has frequently had to think afresh about Christian hope in changing contexts. It is not that the essence of Christian hope – the great hope, founded on Jesus Christ, for God’s redemptive and fulfilling renewal of all his creation - changes. But if Christian hope is to retain its power to be the engine of the church’s engagement with the world, if it is to be more than an ineffective private dream, hope itself needs renewal as the world changes. From the infinite riches of God’s future for the world we must draw those that can be transformative for our time. That way we can re-envision the world in the light of hope. That is what happened when John the prophet, in the book of Revelation, was taken up to heaven in order to see how the critical moment of history in which his first readers were living looked from God’s perspective - from the perspective of God’s purpose to actualize his kingdom on earth as it already is in heaven. John had to be abstracted in vision from the world of the beast, the world as projected by the imperial propaganda, in order, not simply to see the future goal of God’s purposes, but also to see how that goal shed light on the present, how God’s people there and then were to live towards the coming kingdom of God and the coming renewal of all creation.
It's a sobering but encouraging atricle.  Here's the reference: Bauckham, Richard. “Ecological Hope In Crisis?” ANVIL 29, no. 1 (September 1, 2013): 43–54.

Picture of Richard Bauckham from the article cited.

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