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Environmental theology

Environmental theology pertains to “The study of God’s relationship to the environment” (Jacobus, 2004).


“The disclosure of God’s relationship to the world is essential to an environmental theology”

– (Johnson, 1994, Rust, 1971).

Lynn White, Jr. must be associated with any scholarly writings on environmental theology because of his work in the 1960s. “The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis” (White, 1967) is the most common quote in the literature.

Two veins of thought. One sector being a belief system and the other sector being a behavior system. It is commonly found that documents closely associated with environmental theology do not directly define the term (Jacobus, 2001). A distinction should be made; theology is a belief system and ethics is a behavior system.

Basic environmental theology

Environmental theology must include an understanding of God’s relationship to the cosmos or Creation, a cosmology. Robert J. Jacobus divides the possibilities into three basic views of God’s physical relationship with the environment . [1]One, the Creator-God exists externally to the physical world (Timm, 1994). The second is God exists internally in the environment (McFague, 1993, Tobias, 1994). The third basic view stipulates God as an entity does not exist (Berry 1994, Callicott 1994, Swimme 1994, Wei-ming 1994). Three variations of these basic types can be identified in literature. The first is the person of God can be distinctly separated from the environment and also exists internally in the environment (White, 1994). A second variation purports that God and nature exist as separate deities (Griffin, 1994). The third variation denies God has a cognitive entity and views the environment as creator / deity. If God is external to the environment God then the Creator-God interfaces with the environment one may make no distinction between the person of God and the environment and the concept of Creator itself may become problematic. A mystical viewpoint which is one of the most important of these categories, and which is the expression of God’s being, rather than an object created by God as the subject.

Nature is created, (2) nature is divine and (3) nature is emergent. Three environmental theologies emerge, (1) God exists eternally and the environment is God’s creation, (2) the environment is God (Nelson, 1990) and (3) the environment emerged from physical conditions (Fraley, 2000). But Robert S. Corrington goes so far as to say that God is an emerging property of the cosmos itself. [2]

There is a clear distinction between environmental and ecological theology , though the term environmental theology may be important in the understanding of the environment.

See also

  • Ecotheology


  1. Jump up^ Defining Environmental Theology: Content Analysis of Associated Literature, Thesis, West Virginia University
  2. Jump up^ Nature and Spirit (New York: Fordham University Press, 1992)

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