‘Extinction Rebellion (XR) succeeded in putting the climate crisis on the political agenda.’ Thus the verdict in a recent editorial in one of the UK’s leading newspapers. With global emissions of carbon dioxide higher than they have ever been, we are now facing a situation that is becoming increasingly dangerous for human life. In fact, many XR protesters and those whose research has sparked the initiative would call that a dangerous, irresponsible understatement. Extinction Rebellion – the name says it all.
Is the climate crisis now firmly established on the political agenda? Only time will tell. But what about us? As people preparing for lay or ordained ministry in the Church of England, as theological educators responsible for the education of future ministers, have those pressing ecological issues made it onto our agenda for Christian ministry in the twenty-first century?
At this year’s annual open lecture, we were delighted to welcome renowned theologian and prolific author Keith Ward to speak on ‘Christian Faith and Deep Ecology’. Keith sees it as ‘the main task for religious believers today … to ensure that their beliefs are conducive to human flourishing and, so far as is possible, to the flourishing of all sentient beings; to relate ancient religious beliefs to the modern scientific world view; and to see their own faith in a truly global context’.
In our times, what could be more important to human flourishing and that of the planet than for us, believers in a divine creator and a good creation, to engage, as Keith has challenged us, with those ecological issues from our Christian perspective? And, with the Church increasingly seen as irrelevant, what better way to connect with the communities around us than by joining forces over those vital concerns that determine the future of us all?
It has been a stimulating lecture, but what are we going to do…?
Dr Karl Möller