[Slide 1: Title]How can the concepts of order in creation and eschatological hope help inan ethical response to the financ...
This critique has not gone unanswered, mostly apologetic reactions that theBible is in fact much more environmentally frie...
[Slide 5: Creation order as source of ethics]We will start with a discussion on creation order and eschatological hope fro...
revelation and the place of the Word of God as a comprehensive revelation andnorm.[Slide 7: Cosmos as a source of ethics]C...
not shared by all reformational philosophers though and later scholars in thistradition had a more ‘horisontal eschatology...
in a sense of mystery and surprise. The Christian faith leaves the end of thingswide open, a future far greater than what ...
word of God.     This raises the need for following a biblically responsiblehermeneutic.Sixth, the tension between an expe...
In another sense, the outcome of this initial review provides renewed focus onand hope for the possibility of a Christian ...
Dewey, J. 1938. Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. New York: Rinehart and Winston.Douma, J. 1976. Kritische aantekeningen bij d...
Keyns et al : Paternoster.White, L. Jr. 1967. The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis. Science, 155(3767):1203–   1207...
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Notes Presentation: How can the concepts of creation order and eschatological hope help in responding to teh financial, economic and ecological crises

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Notes Presentation: How can the concepts of creation order and eschatological hope help in responding to teh financial, economic and ecological crises

  1. 1. [Slide 1: Title]How can the concepts of order in creation and eschatological hope help inan ethical response to the financial, economic and ecological crises? Paper presented at International conference on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of theAssociation for Reformational Philosophy, “The Future of Creation Order “, August 16 -19, 2011, Free University Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Martin P. de Wit School of Public Leadership Faculty Economics and Management Sciences Stellenbosch University and De Wit Sustainable Options (Pty) Ltd[Slide 2: Outline of presentation]In the ongoing quest for human autonomy and material progress, humanity hasreached a point of a deeply-rooted moral crises that keeps on eroding thefoundations of our economic culture and one that impacts heavily on the naturalenvironment in which we life. It is time for a deep reflection on the meaning ofChristian environmental ethics, to which this paper hopes to contribute. We willcontrast this approach to environmental ethics and ecological economic ethics.The realisation that not only instrumental or even structural changes will beenough, but that individual and communal responsibility is also important, isback. New rules are drafted to limit carbon dioxide, whether one may drive anSUV or not and which wood species to import. Businesses are urged to besocially responsible, consumers to recycle and minimise. Ethics courses are backin swing at Universities and business schools and some companies even haveChief Ethics Officers. It is high time to reflect what a Christian environmentalethics can bring to the table and what it means for the behaviour and lifestyles ofthose who name themselves Christian.In this presentation we will explore how the concepts of creation order, thecosmos and eschatological hope for creation may be helpful in understandingand formulating an ethical response to the financial, economic and ecologicalcrises.The reason is that creation order in the literature of reformational philosophy,and the cosmos and eschatology in the literature of eco-theology are treated asimportant resources in constructing an ethical response to the ecological crises.It is also in these areas that Christianity’s contribution to the ecological criseswas most severely critiqued. Lynn White, for example, argued that the biblicalview that humans are made in the image of God and are given dominion over theearth introduced a dualism between humans and nature and a license forexploitation. Ideas on what some Christians are expecting in the last days andwhat they are hoping for are also argued to negatively influence views onresponding to the ecological crises. 1
  2. 2. This critique has not gone unanswered, mostly apologetic reactions that theBible is in fact much more environmentally friendly than what it was given creditfor, leading for example to publications like the Green Bible. This argument isnot generally accepted though especially by those who argue for a more carefulreading of the Scriptures. Furthermore, the implication of the reformationalphilosophical concept of creation order may be a promising resource to explorein the formulation of an environmental ethic. These are enough issues to startworking on for a start. We do take a particular approach to this work, namely toevaluate the importance of these concepts within the context of a Christ-centeredenvironmental ethics.Given the early days of this research programme, the paper aims only toprogress towards the development on an intermediate theory, a conceptualframework, on the importance of creation and eschatology for Christianenvironmental ethics. In a sense, the outcome generates a set of workinghypotheses that are still very much work in progress and may serve to supportfuture research on the topic.[Slide 3: Environmental ethics]The word ethics is derived from the Greek word ethos, or in short – morality.Aristotle used it to refer to a good desire. Human beings are seen as the agents ofmoral change.Environmental ethicists go one step further to include non-human entities intheir ethical reflection, but in general, the debate on the source of value of theplanet’s inhabitants is rooted within human intuition or in human reason.Secular environmental ethics does not explicitly appeal to a revelation from Godas a source of environmental ethics. The same applies to an ecological economicethic that includes some form of anthropocentrism, but is softened to includevalues of nature in different forms.[Slide 4: Christian ethics]As opposed to any other ethical theory, the important insight from Christianethics is that the person and work of Jesus Christ makes Christian ethics possible,and so distinguishes itself from an ethics as based on nature or reason.The major distinguishing factor of Christian ethics is God’s work of creation,ordening and redemption, a realisation that transcends all humanistic forms ofmorality.Christian ethics is not one final idea though and Christian ethicists work withseveral sources of ethics namely: God’s works in covenant and Christ, God ascreator and orderer, the realisation of God’s Kingdom, as well as God’s law andcommands (James Gustafson, retired American theological ethicist).This paper starts to critically discuss the concepts of God as creator and ordereras well as exposing some ideas on the realisation of God’s Kingdom as specific,potential sources of Christian environmental ethics. 2
  3. 3. [Slide 5: Creation order as source of ethics]We will start with a discussion on creation order and eschatological hope fromthe perspectives of both reformational philosophy and ecotheology.The idea of creation order, or the nomos or law order of creation, is rooted in theinsight that reality is God’s creation, finding meaning from God. God’ssovereignity is seen as His action with regards to the world, which carries thecharacter of a law that provides order and structure to the world. There arenatural laws and cultural laws and both are manifestations of God’s ordinancesto the world, a point I probably do not have to elaborate much more on in thisgathering.Reformational philosophers generally emphasise that God reveals Himself increation, a revelation we can better understand through science, which in turn,provides the basis for a responsible way to till, keep and mind the earth.[Pieter] Stoker, [Professor in Natural Sciences at North West University,Potchefstroom] for example, argued that ethical responsibilities derived from abetter understanding of creation through science would require an acceptance ofwhat he refers to as a ‘transcendental revealed principle of creation’, a revelationthat he argues makes scientific thought more open.Egbert Schuurman [Dutch philosopher, engineer and politician] similarly pointstowards a cosmology of the reality as God’s creation (as opposed to objects ofmanipulation), but explicitly adds the commandments of love (as opposed topower), i.e. to appreciate everything according to its nature, as sources ofnormative principles to redirect ethics.Andre Troost [Former Dutch theologian and professor of Calvinistic philosophy(1916-2008)] goes further and argued that in creation the totality of revealedprinciples can be found, reducing ethics to moral responsibilities in specific newsituations.][Slide 6: Critique on creation order as source of ethics]To accept that God reveals Himself in the order of creation implies an acceptanceof God’s universal revelation in creation. The idea of universal revelationinstilling a creational pistic function in all people remains contentious.The idea that faith is perceived as something that is worked in humans throughthe Word of God and not through creation is a general position in manyProtestant-Reformed circles.In a Christ-centered view, science, whether closed or open, whether classical oremerging, is never a source of ethics on its own. In such a view it can only bejudged by the norms as rooted in the person and works of Christ as revealed inScripture.Whether to accept order in creation as a source of Christian ethics thereforeremains contentious and sensitive to theological arguments on universal 3
  4. 4. revelation and the place of the Word of God as a comprehensive revelation andnorm.[Slide 7: Cosmos as a source of ethics]Creation order and cosmology are here distinguished from each other; theformer a focus of reformational philosophy and the latter a focus of eco-theology.Eco-theology has been described as a theology that focuses on theinterrelationships of religion and nature, particularly in the light ofenvironmental concerns.In a study performed on Christian environmentalism in the US, three mainresponses to Lynn White’s [Former Professor of Medieval History, 1907-1987]call for a rethink on a new religion, was indentified. The first can broadly bedescribed as the ‘Christian stewardship ethic’, the second one as ‘Eco-justiceethic’ and the third as a ‘Creation-spirituality’ ethic.Christian stewardship emphasises the biblical mandate for humans to take careof the earth, the eco-justice ethic links environmental concerns with churchperspectives on justice issues such as the just sharing of limited resources and thereal cost of environmental problems and a creation-spirituality ethic focuses onreorienting humans to see their place as one part of a larger, panentheisticcreation.These are all very different ethical strategies, but they do share a commonconcern on how to develop a practical environmental theology or eco-theologyto account for the emerging ecological crises.[Slide 8: Critique on cosmos as a source of ethics]Recent critique on eco-theology is first, that the focus is mainly on cosmology,underplaying concepts of salvation, and second, that it can benefit from a morecautious hermeneutical strategy.First, creation and salvation are accepted as works of God in both reformationalphilosophy and biblically focused eco-theology, but the critique is that it holds animplicit hierarchy tending towards the cosmological. This situation has led someeco-theologians more recently to lament the lack of attention to soteriology, withrenewed focus on the meaning of salvation for environmental ethics.Second, the kind of ethical requirements from various approaches to reading thebible differ a lot. David Horrel [Professor New Testament Studies, University ofExeter], primarily, argue for a cautious approach in jumping from biblicalinterpretation to theology and ethics. Horrel and co-authors argue that theBible… is ambivalent and ambiguous in terms of its ecological implications. Themessage is clear: there are no easy solutions to a Christian environmental ethic.[Slide 9: Eschatological hope as a source of ethics: Contributions fromReformational Philosophy]According to Peter Steen (Former theologian and philosopher, 1934-1985), andas quoted by Philip Blosser [Catholic philosopher], Dooyeweerd never mentionsthe new earth in all his works… It seems as if such a ‘verticalised eschatology’ is 4
  5. 5. not shared by all reformational philosophers though and later scholars in thistradition had a more ‘horisontal eschatology’ where creation order continuedinto a new creation.Albert M. Wolters [Professor Religion & Theology, Redeemer University College,Ontario], for example, argued that future cataclysm is not a “burnup” but rather a“meltdown.” Wolters concludes that there is a permanence in the created earth,and despite the coming judgment, maintains a belief in the continuity of creationorder.It appears as if a continuity between the old and the new is expected by severalworking in the reformational philosophical tradition. In this view, in a newheavens and new earth creation order is seen to remain intact and will berevealed in its full splendour.[Slide 10: Eschatological hope as a source of ethics: Contributions from eco-theology]The eco-theological focus is strongly on continuity and renewal of creation aswell. Some commentators in eco-theology point towards a continuity of creationalready in the here and now.However, this is not a universal position in ecotheology. Those who tend toemphasise the importance of a cautious hermeneutic, point towards a radicaltransformation of existing creation in the last days with some form of continuityfor the righteous (Edward Adams, Senior Lecturer New Testament Studies,King’s College London). Others caution against speculation on how such acontinuity will look like, pointing towards God’s loyalty and promise of a newheaven and new earth.[Slide 11: Eschaton and Christian ethics]The critical question remains what Christian hope means for our life here andnow. Tom Wright [a leading New Testament scholar and former bishop ofDurham in the Church of England] argues that the ultimate future hope remainsa surprise, but there is a powerful intermediate hope – ‘the things which happenin the present time which implement Easter and anticipate the final day’. In thisview it is the resurrection of Christ that transforms, that makes a Christian ethicpossible, rather than what we as fallible human beings think might happen infuture.A Christian environmental ethic is possible in the expectation of a renewal andrecreation of the entire cosmos, and in accepting that the continuity of thecosmos is not in contrast to visions of judgement and discontinuity. Thecontinuity between the old and the new does not lie in creation, but in theresurrected Christ whom has ascended to heaven. The practical and ethicalimplications of a new creation that has already started in Christ, creating thespace for real Christian hope, are topics that need far more attention.It is only through God’s faithfulness and His promises that the tensions betweena new creation and a world of crises and eminent final judgement, holds together 5
  6. 6. in a sense of mystery and surprise. The Christian faith leaves the end of thingswide open, a future far greater than what we can remotely comprehend, and fargreater than what a naturally deterministic or teleological worldview supposes.A reliable source of Christian ethics is thus an unwavering trust in God, knowingthat the future He has in mind for His children is one far beyond our imagination.[Slide 12: Christian environmental ethics: towards an intermediate theory]In order to give coherence to research on such a complex topic, our strategy is tofirst develop an intermediate theory - that is linking a conceptual framework toan initial review of the literature on the topic and later to the operationalisationof this conceptual framework (Shields & Tajalli). Such an intermediate theoryshould only seen as a tool to do better research while conceptual elements ofmethodology are exposed rather than hidden in the choice of a theoreticalapproach.[Slide 13: Critical tensions in the development of Christian environmentalethics]The preliminary review of the literature on sources of a Christian environmentalethics as presented here revealed some critical tensions that need furtherattention. In this section it is attempted to highlight these critical tensions that,in turn, will serve as a basis in the development of an intermediate theory onChristian environmental ethics.First there is the tension between the focus of Christian ethics in general and thefocus of environmental and ecological economic ethics. Christian ethics is theo-or christocentric in its approach, transcending the antropo- or ecocentricapproaches of environmental and ecological economic ethics.Second, within Christian ethics there is quite some tension between the ultimatesources of ethics, whether in God’s works through Covenant and/or in Christ, inGod as creator and orderer, in the realization of God’s Kingdom here and now orin future, or in God’s laws and commands.Third, the idea of accepting creation order as a source of ethics invokes tensionbetween the universal and particular revelation of God, between the cosmos andthe Word of God as resources of revelation and between the perceivedimportance of reason and science in relation to faith and the workings of theHoly Spirit.[Slide 14: tensions ctd]Fourth, there is a tension between cosmology and soteriology as ultimatesources of ethics. Attempts to unify approaches to cosmos and salvation needfurther critical reflection.Fifth, there is a tension in how to responsibly use and interpret Scripture informing Christian ethical viewpoints. When accepting the Word of God as theonly ultimate source of ethical conduct the questions looms how to read the 6
  7. 7. word of God. This raises the need for following a biblically responsiblehermeneutic.Sixth, the tension between an expected continuity and/or discontinuity ofcreation in the last days. Those positions that focus on cosmology as a source ofethics tends to accept a position of continuity while positions that accept a moreradical soteriology tends to accept positions of discontinuity.Seventh, there is a tension between visions on when and how the Kingdom ofGod is realized, either here and now, or as a distinct future event. Positions of aKingdom here and now, a realized eschatology, tend to expect a lot fromChristian ethics while positions on a future Kingdom expect very little fromChristian ethics.These tensions set the stage for further research on the topic of Christianenvironmental ethics.[Slide 15: Christian environmental ethics: Working hypotheses]The purpose of further research is to investigate if and how a Christianenvironmental ethic is possible and would look like. We define four mainworking hypotheses supported by several sub-hypotheses on a lower level (seeAppendix).1. A distinct Christian ethical response to the ecological and economic crises ispossible2. The person and work of Christ as revealed in the Word of God, is the ultimatesource of Christian ethics3. Responsible hermeneutical strategies to understand God’s revelation inScripture are critical for a Christian ethic4. A Christian environmental ethic goes beyond a situational ethic of love or alegalistic ethic of law.[Slide 15: Conclusions]Returning to our question: How can the concepts of order in creation andeschatological hope help in an ethical response to the financial, economic andecological crises?In one sense the outcome of this initial review may be disappointing. There issubstantial critique on the position that a theology and philosophy of the cosmosand/or a theology of radical continuity of humans and cosmos as well as arealized Kingdom of God here and now, are able sources of a Christianenvironmental ethic. This does not mean that such positions do not bring helpfulresources to the table, but the key to unlocking the ethical implications ofresources on creation order, cosmology and eschatology, lies in the person andwork of Jesus Christ. What that means and what the implications are for humanculture and economy and humankind’s relationship with God’s creation needsfar more research. 7
  8. 8. In another sense, the outcome of this initial review provides renewed focus onand hope for the possibility of a Christian environmental ethic. What we do notknow or cannot comprehend point us to God’s faithfulness and promises. JesusChrist has already risen from the death and in Him it is indeed possible againthat God will be all in all. The transformative implications of this enormoushappening on human culture, economy and humankind’s relation with God’screation needs to be far more exposed and acted on. In my opinion, theformation of a Christian environmental ethic would at least require a focus onthe transformative implications of the work of Christ on our ethics, a scripturallyresponsible hermeneutic and the serious engagement of believers in the church,the body of Christ.Chair, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your attention.Literature consultedAdams, A. 2010. Does Awaiting New Heavens and a New Earth (2 Pet 3.13) Mean Abandoning the Environment?. The Expository Times, 121:168-175.Azqueta, D. and Delacámara, G. 2006. Ethics, economics and environmental management. Ecological Economics, 56(4):524-533.Bauckman, R. 2010. Reading the synoptic gospels ecologically. In: Ecological Hermeneutics. Biblical, Historical and Theological Perspectives, edited by David G. Horel, Cherryl Hunt, Christopher Southgate and Fransesca Stavrakopoulou. London, New York: T&T Clark.Blokhuis, P. 2010. The Cape Horn Of Christian Ethics: In Memory Of Andree Troost (1916-2008). Philosophia Reformata, 75: 75-81.Blosser, P. 1993. Reconnoitering Dooyeweerd’s Theory Of Man. Philosophia Reformata, 58: 192-209.Bouma-Prediger, S. 2001. For the Beauty of the Earth. A Christian Vision of Creation Care. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.Bouma-Prediger, S. 2008. Creation Care and Salvation. Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology 9(1): 15-23.Burger, H. 2010. Blijde hoop voor de toekomst [Joyful hope for the future]. De Reformatie, Desember: 76-78.Chermack, T.J. 2004. Improving decision-making with scenario planning. Futures, 36(3):295-309.Colwell, J. 2008. Living for the Future. In: What are we waiting for? Christian Hope and Contemporary Culture, edited by Stephen Holmes and Russel Rook. Milton Keyns et al : Paternoster.Conradie, E. 2010a. What on earth is an ecological hermeneutics? Some broad parameters, in: Ecological Hermeneutics. Biblical, Historical and Theological Perspectives. Horrel, D.G., C. Hunt, C. Southgate & Stavrakopoulou (Eds.) London and New York: T&T Clark.Conradie, E. 2010b. Book Review: Ecologies of Grace: Environmental ethics and Christian theology. Theology, 113:153-154.Conradie, E. 2010c. The Salvation of the Earth from Anthropogenic Destruction: In Search of Appropriate Soteriological Concepts in an Age of Ecological Destruction. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology, 2(3): 111-140.Conradie, E. 2011. Creation and Salvation. Brill Academic Publishers. 8
  9. 9. Dewey, J. 1938. Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. New York: Rinehart and Winston.Douma, J. 1976. Kritische aantekeningen bij de Wijsbegeerte der Wetsidee (Critical notes at the Philosophy of the Idea of Law). Groningen: De Vuurbaak.Goudzwaard, B. 1978. Planning Economic Systems And The Future Of Our Society. International Reformed Bulletin, 73: 18-23.Gowdy, J. & Erickson, J.D. (2005), The approach of ecological economics. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 29(2):207–222.Gustafson, J.M. (1995), The idea of Christian ethics. In: Companion Encyclopedia of Theology, edited by Peter Byrne and Leslie Houlden. London & New York: Routledge. pp 691–715.Hendriks, A.N. 2005. Continuïteit en discontinuïteit in Gods toekomst [Continuity and discontinuity in God’s future] De Reformatie, 81(6):1-4.Horrel, D.G. 2010a. The Bible and the Environment. Toward a Critical Ecological Biblical Theology. London, Oakville: Equinox.Horrel, D.G. 2010b. A New Perspective on Paul? Rereading Paul in a Time of Ecological Crisis. Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 33(1):3-29.Horrel, D.G., Hunt, C., Southgate, C. & Stavrakopoulou, F. 2010. Ecological Hermeneutics. Biblical, Historical and Theological Perspectives. London and New York: T&T Clark.Jenkins, W. 2008. Ecologies of Grace. Environmental Ethics and Christian Theology. Oxford: Oxford University PressKaplan, A. 1964. The Conduct of Inquiry: Methodology for Behavioural Science. Scranton, PA: Chandler Publishing Co.Kearns, L. 1996. Saving the Creation: Christian Environmentalism in the United States. Sociology of Religion, 57(1): 55–70.Niebuhr, H.R. 1951. Christ and Culture, New York: Harper and Brothers.Norgaard, R. (1989), The case for methodological pluralism. Ecological Economics, 1(1):37– 57.Oelschlaeger, M. 1994. Caring for Creation. An Ecumenical Approach to the Environmental Crises. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Santmire, P. 2000. Nature Reborn. The Ecological and Cosmic Promise of Christian Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Schaeffer, F.A. & Middelmann, U. 1993. Pollution and the Death of Man. Wheaton: Crossway Books.Scharper, S.B. 1997. Redeeming the Time. A Political Theology of the Environment. New York: Continuum Publishing Company.Schuurman, E. 2006. Struggle in the ethics of technology . Koers, 71(1):155-173.Shields, P.M. and Tajalli, H. 2006. Intermediate theory: The missing link in successful student scholarship. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 12(3): 313-334.Shrader-Frechette, K. 2005. Environmental Ethics. In: The Oxford Handbook of Practical Ethics, edited by Hugh LaFollette. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Stoker, P. 2006. Christian ethics and the concept of creation. Philosophia Reformata, 71: 132-144.Valerio, R. 2008. Eschatology and the Environment. In: What are we waiting for? Christian Hope and Contemporary Culture, edited by Stephen Holmes and Russel Rook. Milton 9
  10. 10. Keyns et al : Paternoster.White, L. Jr. 1967. The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis. Science, 155(3767):1203– 1207.Wolters, A.L. 1987. Worldview And Textual Criticism In 2 Peter 3:10. Westminster Theological Journal, 49: 405-413.Wright, T. 2007. Surprised by Hope. London: Society or Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK).Appendix: Working HypothesesWorking Hypotheses Literature support1. A distinct Christian ethical response to the ecological andeconomic crises is possible1.1 A Christian environmental ethic is radically different from an Gustafsonenvironmental- and ecological economic ethic1.2 Tensions between the sources of Christian ethics are driven by Berkhouwer, Calvin,different theological positions on who God is, and what God’s Luther, Moltmann, Barthrelationship with humans and the rest of creation is throughout theentire history of creation, fall, covenant, salvation, redemption andconsummation2. The person and work of Christ as revealed in the Word of God, is Gustafsonthe ultimate source of Christian ethics2.1 Order in creation or eschatology are not primary sources of Dooyeweerd,Christian ethics on their own Berkhouwer, Douma2.2 Radical soteriological theories ignore the ethical consequences Santmire, Bouma-of God’s work as creator and orderer of the cosmos Prediger2.3 Unification of cosmological, soteriological and eschatological Conradie, Kuyper,concepts can only be attempted through faith in the person and Bavinck, Jenkinswork of Christ3 Responsible hermeneutical strategies to understand God’s Horrel, Conradie,revelation in Scripture are critical for a responsible Christian ethic Thiselton, Silva3.1 Hermeneutical strategies and ethical positions are clearly linked Horrel, Conradie, Thiselton, Silva3.2 Scriptural eschatology includes aspects of continuity as well as Wright, Adams,discontinuity and instill a living hope O’Donovan, Bauckman, Hart3.3 Scriptural Kingdom theology includes aspects of both a realized Wright, O’Donovan, Floorand a future Kingdom4. A Christian environmental ethic goes beyond a situational ethic of Spykman, Fletcher,love or a legalistic ethic of law Troost4.1 Faith in what God has done, is doing and will do in Christ Hendriks, Burgertransforms current Christian ethical positions4.2 The church has a major role in developing a Christian Wright, Floorenvironmental ethic 10

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