This page provides a range of key resources on ecological or environmental ethics. Most, but not all, of these are available online (some though requiring a subscription to be accessed).
The initial section points to some helpful introductory pieces followed by pointing to important discussions focussed on Scripture and then more general contemporary writings by a range of key authors.
There follows a selection of resources particularly focussed on Scripture before more general discussions (often engaging with Scripture) are provided.
The final section provides links to resources from different Christian networks and churches.Last Updated on 2 March, 2021 by Andrew Goddard
Dictionary Articles & Readers
IVP New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology article on Environment (pp. 349-52)
SCM New Dictionary of Christian Ethics article on “Environmental Ethics” (pp. 196-8)
Dictionary of Scripture & Ethics article on “Ecological Ethics” by David Horrell (pp. 255-60). Also “Animals” (69-71), “Creation Ethics” (189-92) and “Stewardship” (747-50)
Robin Gill’s A Textbook of Christian Ethics (2014, T&T Clark, 4th edition), Section 4, is devoted to the environment and includes an introduction (pp. 345-50) and key texts from Augustine, Aquinas and Luther (351-79) which will orient you to the tradition’s discussion. There are then extracts and commentary on six more recent discussions (380-434) which you may wish to at least sample.
An important argument has been made, classically by Lynn White, that the Christian tradition and its Scriptures are part of the problem we face in relation to the environment. The original article is “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis”.
There is a very short video (not even 90 seconds!) from Professor David Horrell explaining this perspective and introducing the work of Lynn White. If you wish to explore this further then see Horrell’s Is Christianity To Blame? page (and other resources on the Beyond Stewardship? web site)
For engagements with the Scriptures in this area see the resources at the “Use of the Bible in Environmental Ethics” website and sample from the following:
The work of Richard Bauckham including
- Bible and Ecology: Rediscovering the Community of Creation (2010, DLT and also Baylor University Press)
- Living with Other Creatures: Green Exegesis and Theology (2012, Paternoster)
- Reading the Bible in the Context of the Ecological Threats of Our Time, a lecture which offers a reading of Genesis 1 and challenges a common framework found among Christians and others which he calls “The Baconian project” (don’t let the fact his target is a group of American evangelicals put you off – the critique applies much more widely!)
- Ecological Hope in Crisis [PDF] also available as an audio (with audio Q&A) and as one contribution in a special issue of Anvil on the environment and hope.
- Why Do Other Creatures Matter? (audio of lecture focussed on Genesis)
- Jesus, God and Nature in the Gospels (video of lecture)
- First Steps To A Theology of Nature
- Loving Our Fellow Creatures
- Jesus and the Renewal of Nature: Reading Isaiah and the Gospels ecologically
- Jesus and the Wild
The work of David Horrell including (in addition to the dictionary article above):
- David G. Horrell, Cherryl Hunt, Christopher Southgate, and Francesca Stavrakopoulou (eds), Ecological Hermeneutics: Biblical, Historical, and Theological Perspectives (London & New York: T&T Clark, 2010). (A collection of seminar and other invited papers produced during the life of the project).
- David Horrell, Cherryl Hunt, and Christopher Southgate, Greening Paul: Rereading the Apostle in an Age of Ecological Crisis (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2010).
- David Horrell, The Bible and the Environment: Towards a Critical, Ecological Biblical Theology (Biblical Challenges: London & New York: Equinox, 2010/Durham: Acumen, 2013).
- Appeals to the Bible in EcoTheology and Environmental Ethics: A Typology of Hermeneutical Stances (also with Cheryl Hunt and Christopher Southgate)
- Ecological Hermeneutics: Reflections on Methods and Prospects for the Future
- The Green Bible: A Timely Idea Deeply Flawed
- Engaging the Bible in GCSE and A level Religious Studies: environmental stewardship as a test case
- Paul Among the Ecologists?: Rereading Paul in a Time of Environmental Crisis (video of lecture)
- How Green is the Bible? (transcript of podcast interview)
More widely than on Scripture but with many helpful resources for this essay see his Beyond Stewardship website.
The work of Jonathan Moo with others:
- Douglas Moo & Jonathan Moo, Creation Care: A Biblical Theology of the Natural World (2018, Zondervan). Jonathan Moo gives a 25 minute presentation on the theme here and Douglas Moo has a similar length video on “What Do Christians Have to Do with Creation?”. There is also a short interview with Jonathan Moo here.
- Jonathan Moo & Robert S. White, Hope in an Age of Despair: The Gospel and the Future of Life on Earth (2013, IVP). The two authors also wrote a short Ethics in Brief on “Environmental Apocalypse and Christian Hope”.
- Jonathan Moo & Robin Routledge (eds), As Long as the Earth Endures: The Bible, Creation And The Environment (2014, IVP)
The work of Sandra Richter:
- “A Biblical Theology of Creation Care”
- “Environmental Law in Deuteronomy: One Lens on a Biblical Theology of Creation Care”
- “Environmental Law: Wisdom from the Ancients” (JSTOR site)
- An audio interview with her on “Ecology and the Bible” (also covers other areas)
- “Christians and Creation Care” (7 mins video)
- Video talks on Environmental Stewards and Environmental Stewardship
A few other articles:
- G. M. Tucker, ‘Rain on a Land Where No-one Lives: The Hebrew Bible on the Environment‘, Journal of Biblical Literature, 116/1, 1997, pp. 3-17
- Steve Bouma-Prediger, “Confession, The Earth and The Bible: Reading Scripture in the Light of Creation”, The Bible in Transmission (2003) offers a short 3pp overview.
- Finally, on the difficult passage in 2 Peter 3 a good detailed guide is Matthew Emerson’s “Does God Own a Death Star? The Destruction of the Cosmos in 2 Peter 3:1-13” in SouthWest Journal of Theology (2015).
Contemporary Environmental Ethics
Among the best contributors here are:
Michael Northcott who has many papers on his Academia page:
- Environment and Christian Ethics (1996, CUP) – although now nearly 25 year old remains a good guide to the big questions. The pre-publication manuscript is available online and there is a short 14pp summary here.
- A Moral Climate (2007, Orbis)
- A Political Theology of Climate Change (2013, Eerdmans). There is a video lecture covering similar ground.
- Systematic Theology and Climate Change (editor with Peter M. Scott, 2014, Routledge)
- “Climate Change and the Communion of Saints” (2009) – audio and Powerpoint of lecture.
- Clouds of Witness: Lying, Truth Telling and Climate Change (2007 lecture on ethics of climate change)
- The Common Good and the Global Emergency (2011, CUP)
- The World Made Otherwise: Sustaining humanity in a threatened world (2019, Cascade)
- “The End of the World as We Know It?” (2019 podcast interview)
- ‘Is climate change, and its connection with the global economy, a matter for church confession? (2011 Operation Noah lecture video and link to text)
- On Building an Ark: The Global Emergency and the Limits of Moral Exhortation (Audio of 2010 academic paper)
- A Primer in Eco-Theology: Theology for a Fragile Earth (Cascade, 2017). See also her earlier Eco-Theology (DLT, 2008)
- A three-part interview from 2014 discussing issues around ecology.
- A lecture on Catholic Social Teaching and Ecology: Its Promise and Limits
- Video of Presentation (20 mins) on “Integral Ecology for Integral Human Flourishing”
- A Recovery of Practical Wisdom for Sustainable Futures—a theological perspective is a recent (April 2019) short (16pp) overview of her thinking
- “Pope Francis: Priest and Prophet in the Anthropocene” on Pope Francis’ environmental thought
- “Fragile Earth: Catholic Social Teaching and Ecology” is an hour long video focussed on Pope Francis’ encyclical and wider Catholic teaching
- “Ecological Conversion in a Changing Climate: An Ecumenical Perspective on Ecological Solidarity”, International Journal of Orthodox Theology (2012), pp. 78-104
- “Joining in the Dance: Catholic Social Teaching and Ecology”, New Blackfriars (2012), pp. 193-212.
- Rowan Williams, “The Climate Crisis: A Christian Response” (2009) – video and text of Operation Noah Lecture.
- David Atkinson, “Climate Change and the Gospel” (2015)
- Kapya J. Kaoma, Creation Care in Christian Mission (2015, Regnum) is a large collection of papers which although more mission than ethics-focussed may be of interest and help as to practical outworkings of an environmental ethic.
- R.J. Berry, “Creation Care: Stewardship or What?”, Science and Christian Belief (2012) reviews a number of recent books
- David G. MacDuffie, “Christian Vision for Creation Care” in Caring for Creation (2012, Baylor, pp. 89-93) also reviews some important recent books as part of a collection of articles on creation care.
- R. J. Berry, ed., The Care of Creation: focusing concern and action, (2000, IVP), especially papers 2, 6, 7 & 15 (all short!).
- John Weaver, “Why Care for the Environment?”, video of 2019 talk (1hr 15mins).
- Dave Bookless, “The Environment – Ethical and Religious Issues”, 1hr 14 mins video of 2014 presentation setting out the challenges as well as responses.
- Dave Bookless’ recent thesis “Why should wild nature be preserved? A dialogue between Biblical Theology and Biodiversity Conservation” is long but has much good material.
- A good guide to Roman Catholic Social Teaching on the environment is found at Virtual Plater.
Much Christian ethics in relation to creation care focuses on a theology of creation but it also needs to be related to our eschatological hope – is there redemption of creation and if so in what sense and with what ethical and missional significance for us today? In exploring further the question of new creation and its relation to our ethical responsibilities to creation the following may be helpful
“Eschatology Shapes Ethics: New Creation and Christian Ecological Virtue Ethics” by Steve Bouma-Prediger. See also his For the Beauty of the Earth (2001, Baker Academic; 2nd edn in 2010 with intro and chpt 1 here) and most recently Earthkeeping and Character: Exploring a Christian Ecological Virtue Ethic (2019, Baker).
“Environmental Apocalypse and Christian Hope” by Robert White (a geo-physicist) and Jonathan Moo (biblical scholar), KLICE Ethics in Brief (2011, 17.1)
Matthew Emerson’s “Does God Own a Death Star? The Destruction of the Cosmos in 2 Peter 3:1-13” in SouthWest Journal of Theology (2015).
Richard J. Middleton and his recent “A New Heaven and A New Earth” (Baker 2014). A short summary of his discussion of some key New Testament texts is here and a (not very well recorded) video of a presentation of his work is on YouTube.
Useful academic resource sites include:
Resources from Christian Churches and Networks
All Christian churches and various networks of Christians have begun addressing the serious ethical questions we face relating to care of creation, most notably climate change but also many others. Below are some of the various statements from a number of churches and other Christian bodies in recent years (or summaries of them).
Anglican Communion documents:
Stewardship of Creation, a declaration from 2002.
The World Is Our Host: A Call to Urgent Action for Climate Justice, Good Friday 2015.
See also the Anglican Communion Environmental Network
Church of England
Roman Catholic Church
The most important statement now is Pope Francis’ latest (2015) papal encyclical Laudato Si. As this is rather long and you may not have time to read it all, the following offer helpful outlines, overviews and summaries:
Although widely praised, a critique was offered of its approach to climate change (“well-meaning but somewhat naïve”) by The Bishop of Chester and another peer to which Bishop David Atkinson responded
Joint Orthodox – Roman Catholic Statement
Hope in God’s Future (summary on pp 4-5).
Assemblies of God
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
Together With All Creatures: Caring for God’s Living Earth (expanded version):
Together With All Creatures: Caring for God’s Living Earth (abbreviated version in colour):
Climate Change and the Purposes of God, Ash Wednesday 2012.
Lausanne Global Classroom: Creation Care [a set of educational videos]