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Ecologies of Grace: Enviromental Ethics and Christian Theology / Edition 1

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Overview

Christianity struggles to show how living on earth matters for living with God. While people of faith increasingly seek practical ways to respond to the environmental crisis, theology has had difficulty contextualizing the crisis and interpreting the responses.

In Ecologies of Grace, Willis Jenkins presents a field-shaping introduction to Christian environmental ethics that offers resources for renewing theology. Observing how religious environmental practices often draw on concepts of grace, Jenkins maps the way Christian environmental strategies draw from traditions of salvation as they engage the problems of environmental ethics. He then uses this new map to explore afresh the ecological dimensions of Christian theology.

Jenkins first shows how Christian ethics uniquely frames environmental issues, and then how those approaches both challenge and reinhabit theological traditions. He identifies three major strategies for making environmental problems intelligible to Christian moral experience. Each one draws on a distinct pattern of grace as it adapts a secular approach to environmental ethics. The strategies of ecojustice, stewardship, and ecological spirituality make environments matter for Christian experience by drawing on patterns of sanctification, redemption, and deification.

He then confronts the problems of each of these strategies through critical reappraisals of Thomas Aquinas, Karl Barth, and Sergei Bulgakov. Each represents a soteriological tradition which Jenkins explores as an ecology of grace, letting environmental questions guide investigation into how nature becomes significant for Christian experience.

By being particularly sensitive to the ways in which environmental problems are made intelligible to Christian moral experience, Jenkins guides his readers toward a fuller understanding of Christianity and ecology. He not only makes sense of the variety of Christian environmental ethics, but by showing how environmental issues come to the heart of Christian experience, prepares fertile ground for theological renewal.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this comprehensive book Willis Jenkins raises one of the most thought-provoking questions in Christian theology today: How does salvation relate to environmental ethics? His response will provide food for thought for those within the emerging field of religion and ecology and well beyond. Written with grace, clarity, and conviction, this is a book to be read and savored for years to come." —Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University

"Jenkins argues, with unprecedented force, that being saved intimately connects with saving nature. Theologians once set nature opposite to grace; the kingdom of heaven is not of this world. Biologists once found nature ungodly; red in tooth and claw. They continue to fear lest human nature, shaped by evolution, is incapable of dealing with an Earth in global crisis. Jenkins finds, around the globe, that Christians redeemed by grace are caring for creation. These ecologies of grace are grounded in classical theological roots; they bear fruits in practice. Against so much environmental bad news, here is good news, gospel." —Holmes Rolston, III, University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University

"Ecologies of Grace is a stunning intellectual achievement and an interdisciplinary tour de force. While offering important conceptual clarifications of the major schools of environmental ethics, and framed within an essential rethinking of the Christian doctrines of salvation, creation and redemption, Willis Jenkins illuminates the promise of creative theological writing for the sake of the common good. This luminous book speaks not only to scholars of religion, students and ethicists, but also to policy makers, activists, clergy, and anyone concerned about the fate of the earth. Not to be overlooked, Jenkins presents his considerations with generous portions of well-crafted narrative." —Charles Marsh, Wayward Christian Soldiers: Against the Political Captivity of the Gospel

"This book would be useful in a university or seminary course on environmental ethics, but it would also be highly useful for pastors in order to connect preaching and ministry to the ever-growing environmental crisis. I highly recommend Ecologies of Grace." —Anglical Theological Review

"This volume is a valuable addition to the growing interest of the Church in the area of environmental issues." —Choice

"A cogent, well-articulated and realistic examination of strategies of environmental ethics and the contributions from classical sources. ...An excellent text for graduate students and faculty already engaged in the areas of religion and ecology, environmental ethics and ecotheology." —Biblical Theology Bulletin

"Finely researched and brilliantly argued study upends prevailing assumptions about how to think theologically about the environment. ...This book is a must for scholars and graduate students interested in environmental ethics, ecotheology, and soteriology. Not only is the argument topical and novel, the writing is clear and compelling — and the more than 60 pages of notes and 35 pages of bibliography are an absolute feast. ...[Jenkins] is right that there is much yet to be done, but that should in no way overshadow the significance and power of this marvelous book." —Theological Studies

"Jenkins finds in soteriology a powerful incentive for creation care." —Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195328516
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/4/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Willis Jenkins is Margaret Farley Assistant Professor of Social Ethics at Yale Divinity School, where he teaches environmental theology & ethics. He has worked internationally with Christian sustainability initiatives, consulting for mission and development work in over 20 countries.

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Table of Contents

Saving Nature, Saving Grace     3
Ethical Strategies
Three Practical Strategies in Environmental Ethics     31
The Strategy of Ecojustice     61
The Strategy of Christian Stewardship     77
The Strategy of Ecological Spirituality     93
Theological Investigations
Sanctifying Biodiversity: Ecojustice in Thomas Aquinas     115
Environmental Virtues: Charity, Nature, and Divine Friendship in Thomas     133
Stewardship after the End of Nature: Karl Barth's Environment of Jesus Christ     153
Nature Redeemed: Barth's Garden of Reconciliation     171
After Maximus: Ecological Spirituality and Cosmic Deification     189
Thinking Like a Transfigured Mountain: Sergei Bulgakov's Wisdom Ecology     207
Conclusion: Renovating Grace     227
Notes     245
Works Cited     315
Index     353
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