The term "Eco-Justice" is certainly central to what we're about with Eco-Justice Ministries. That theological principle is not familiar to most people outside of church settings, or even to many within the church.
Here are some basic thoughts on the meaning of "Eco-Justice".
- The Fullness of God's Creation
God's loving intention reaches out to all that God has created. God's love and care is for the fullness of the creation -- for humanity, of course, but also for the rest of creation, the plants and the animals, and for the natural systems that God has designed to provide life and order.
- Biblical Theology and Ethics
God's love for all of creation, and the ethical mandate for humans to share in caring for creation, is a pervasive theme in the Bible. As a recent Presbyterian publication declares:
God's relationship with nature, and the human relationship with nature, is definitely a recurring biblical theme of great importance. ... Again and again throughout the biblical witness, the whole creation (in Greek, the cosmos) is included not only in God's sustaining care, but just as much in God's redemptive work, and ultimately in the salvation God brings.
- Recognizing the Interrelationship of All Life
The modern science of ecology has recovered a truth that many of the world's people have always known -- that there is a great web of life which can not and should not be broken. There are some who place a particular blame on the Judeo-Christian faith tradition for its part in spreading the notion that humans stand outside of, and over, nature. The eco-justice theological perspective looks to the amazing richness of its biblical, theological and historical tradition -- as well as to modern science -- to reclaim the assertion that all of life is bound up together, and that no part of God's creation can separate itself from the whole.
- Engaging Contemporary Issues
This is not just an intellectual exercise in theology, ethics and philosophy. There are critical issues in our churches and communities, in our nations and around the world, that must be addressed. The eco-justice perspective calls us into the often messy realm of politics and policy, of economic and social issues, where no answer is perfect and where few issues are clear. We are called to practical action, to praxis as we think about, and act on, the specific issues of the modern world. In this, we carry on the biblical notion that God is deeply involved in the workings of our world, and that the eternal truths of God's saving love are tied up with the particular, contextual details of what is happening today.
- Confronting Power Relationships
Faithful and ethical living is not confined to personal choices. Moses and the prophets all spoke to, and about, the power structures of their communities. Jesus and Paul dealt with the realities of political power. An eco-justice perspective recognizes that the power relationships of each situation must be analyzed and addressed. In our globalized economy, it is absurd to suggest that personal choices alone can address the crises we face. Various forms of power -- economic, political, military, intellectual and personal -- must be taken into account in the ways that we understand the world and live within it.
- Dealing With Deep Pastoral Needs
Even in our world of globalized power, personal issues are of critical significance. The members of our churches, along with others around the world, are crippled by the effects of living within systems that are brutal and abusive, exploitative and addictive, dominating and overwhelming. Our ability to live genuine, faithful and joyous lives is crippled by the paralyzing emotions that fill our hearts and souls: fear and anger, hopelessness and despair and meaninglessness, grief and rage, powerlessness and alienation and loneliness. A part of the church's calling for today deals with the need for pastoral healing for individuals.
It is our conviction that the modern church must work from an eco-justice theological perspective if it is to be faithful, relevant and effective.
Eco-Justice is not one "issue" out of the many from which congregations can pick and choose: hunger, housing, guns, abortion, militarism, morality, globalization, families, wilderness, affirmative action, civil rights, economic justice, education, immigration, hunger, health care -- and the list goes on and on. Rather, eco-justice is a theological perspective that shapes the way that we approach each of these issues.
Eco-Justice offers a perspective on what it means to be human, what it means to be part of God's greater creation, what it means to live lovingly and justly within all of God's creation, within society, within churches and communities, and within families and friendships.
Eco-Justice Ministries * 400 S Williams St, Denver, CO 80209 * 303.715.3873
Home Page: www.eco-justice.org *