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ECO-THEOLOGY

Below are resources for those seeking online Lutheran theological reflection about God's creation and our mandate to care for it. For bibliographies of relevant books, please see here. To suggest online resources for inclusion on this page, please e-mail them to: Peter Bakken at pwbakken@gmail.com. 
Larry Rasmussen's Lecture for the Bonhoeffer Lectures in Public Ethics at Union Seminary



Articles by Panu Pihkala, University of Helsinki


A lecture by Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, Professor of Theological & Social Ethics, PLTS. The moral challenge of climate change is heightened by matters of climate justice:  those most vulnerable to the ravages of climate change are also the people least responsible for it.  Lutheran traditions are rich with resources for building ecologically sound and socially just ways of living.  Read more and watch the lecture.

Ecological Christianity through Luther's Small Catechism

This exercise takes Luther’s back-to-basics approach, and also sets it in a broader ecological perspective. Each piece of Luther’s Small Catechism is followed by a learning question, then by a suggested participatory action. You may use this personally, or print one section each week in your bulletin, or adapt it for confirmation classes. This is only one way to try seeing the entirety of our faith as permeated with creation care. [Read More]

Creation -- Not for Sale

Edited by Anne Burghart

June 2015


The essays in this booklet are designed to stimulate discussion on the reasons for unrelenting exploitation of the Earth’s natural resources and our response from a theological point of view. Part of a collection of three booklets published by the Lutheran World Federation on the occasion of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. Creation - Not For Sale is one of the three sub-themes of the Anniversary’s main theme, “Liberated by God’s Grace.”  Order or download a copy.


Ecotheology and the theology of eating: controversies and convergencies  by Panu Pihkala Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis, 26 (2015), 64-81


Luther as Environmentalist: The Liberating Gospel and Care for Creation by Johan Bergh, Trinity Seminary Review, Winter/Spring 2014 (Click on link for the issue, or download it at the bottom of this page.)


Journal of Lutheran Ethics, February 2015: Theme issue on Environmental Ethics. Articles by Gilson A. C. Waldkoenig, David Rhoads, and Gretel Van Wieren.

  • Check under the "Browse Topics" tab for additional JLE articles on Climate Change, Ecology, Ecojustice, Environment, etc.

Book review of H. Paul Santmire's Before Nature: A Christian Spirituality, by Panu Pihkala on the Green Christian website.


Jewish & Christian Eco-Teachings - GreenFaith Webinar Series November 13-20, 2014


Climate Change as a Perfect Moral Storm by Larry Rasmussen, Journal of Lutheran Ethics, February 12, 2014

Lutheran Sacramental Imagination by Larry Rasmussen, Journal of Lutheran Ethics, February 12, 2014

Lutheran Ecotheology from the North: The Climate Programme of the Church of Finland

The stark forces of nature around them have caused Scandinavians often to reflect about nature, but as a result of the pietistic tradition, they have for a long time tended to see elements of nature mainly metaphorically. Thus, when Christians started gradually to get more interested about the environment in the 1960s, many Scandinavians argued for the interconnectedness of creation and redemption (Gustav Wingren, Regin Prenter), but it still took a while for them to start to give actual value to non-human creation.[Read More]

 


"Earth-Honoring Faith: Religious Ethics in a New Key," with ELCA Theologian Dr. Larry Rasmussen, Webinar recording with slides,hosted by GreenFaith on April 15, 2013.  One of the world’s most articulate, passionate eco-theologians, Dr. Rasmussen is Reinhold Niebuhr Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics, Union Theological Seminary and winner of the 1997 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his book Earth Community, Earth Ethics.  Learn about his new book, Earth Honoring Faith



Bibliography

Bibliography of Ecology and Faith:  Bible, theology, ethics, worship and spirituality, environment, and ecological primers.


Special Issues of Theological Journals


Seminary Ridge Review Autumn 2012 [Papers from Gettysburg Seminary Conference on “Getting Green Faithfully” August, 2012. [View the papers]

  • “Reflections on a Lutheran Theology of Creation: Foundations for a New Reformation” by David Rhoads.
  • “God’s Lovers as ‘Uncreators’: Morality on the Face of Systemic Evil” by Cynthia Moe Lobeda.
  • “A Whirlwind Tour of World Religious Teaching on the Environment” by Fletcher Harper.                                                           

Intersections. Fall, 2012 #36. The Vocation of a Lutheran College. A Calling to Embrace Creation: Lutheran Higher Education, Sustainability, and Stewardship. Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN. July 30 - August 1, 2012.

[View the conference schedule]

  • “A Traveler’s Manifesto for Navigating the Creation” by Ann Pederson.
  • “A Lutheran Ethic of Environmental Stewardship” by James Martin-Schramm
  • “Climate Justice, Environmental Racism, and A Lutheran Moral Vision: by Cynthia Moe-Lobeda
  • “Sustaining Sustainability” by Baird Tipson

Faith and Earthkeeping: A free issue of Currents in Theology and Mission (Volume 37, 2010)

  • “Faith and Earthkeeping” by Barbara Rossing
  • “Caring for God’s Beautiful Creation” by Michael Shelley
  • “Waiting for the Lutherans” by Larry Rasmussen
  • “Reflections on Sustainable Theological Education” by Rosemary Radford Ruether
  • “‘Things having lives’: Ecology, Allusion, and Performance in Revelation 8:9 by Peter Perry
  • “Earth-Mission: The Third Mission of the Church” by Norman Habel
  • “Creativity in Earthkeepiing: The Contribution of Joseph Sittler’s The Structure of Christian Ethics to Ecological Theology” by Robert Saler
  • “The Urgency of Climate Change Legislation” by Mark Hanson
  • “Adaptation Assistance and Climate Change” by Callon Holloway, Jr.
  • “Bringing Virtue to Practical Issue” by John Spangler

Biblical Foundations
The Bible and Caring for Creation: Read "Love God, Love Your Neighbor, and Care for Creation: Vocation according to the Bible" by David Rhoads
 
Reading the New Testament in an Ecological Age. Read "Who Will Speak for the Sparrow? Reading the New Testament in an Ecological Age." by David Rhoads.

Bible and Ecology Web site: For resources and current bibliography in biblical studies, check out our companion site: www.bibleandecology.org

Theological Resources and Reflections:

NEW H. Paul Santmire's website: "For more than 40 years I have been addressing ecological and justice issues from a Christian theological perspective. In my retirement, I still feel called to be an ecological theologian and public witness. On this website I provide information about myself, my background, my writings, and themes that continue to be of interest to me."

See-Remember-Connect: What does this imply? A faith-grounded set of practices or process through which people can uncover what actually is occurring in society, critique what is wrong in light of faith traditions, and collaborate with others in pursuing the transformative justice in society that God intends. A blog and website by Karen L. Bloomquist, who has directed theological work of the ELCA (Chicago) and Lutheran World Federation (Geneva).

Reflections on a Lutheran Theology of Creation: Foundations for a New Reformation by David Rhoads.

Small Catechism Commentary: Here is a reflection on Luther's Small Catechism and our vocation as Earthkeepers (written by Pastor Nick Utphall of St. Steven's Lutheran Church in Madison, WI).

Theological Reflections on Congregational Mission: A Companion to the LRC Training Manual for Congregations by David Rhoads. “Transformation through Worship”   “Transformation through Education”   “Building and Grounds as Model of Earthkeeping”   “Discipleship at Home and Work"   “Public Witness and Policy Advocacy”

Call for a New Reformation. A New Reformation: Caring for Creation. Read this article by David Rhoads and Barbara Rossing, “A Beloved Community: Christian Mission in an Ecological Age in Mission after Christendom: Emergent Themes in Contemporary Mission (Louisville, KY, Westminster John Knox Press, 2010) 128-143.

Theology of Stewardship: Links to sources related to Stewardship of Creation along with the article "Stewardship of Creation" by David Rhoads.

Joseph Sittler Archives: Resources from the pioneering Lutheran ecological and constructive theologian, Joseph Sittler (1904-1987). www.josephsittler.org

Larry Rasmussen, "Just Water," Nobel Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College, 2009.  video at Nobel Conference website          Video on YouTube

Green the Congregation Through Worship, a reflection by David Rhoads on why worship is essential to Earthkeeping, and vice versa.

Who Will Speak for the Sparrow? Reading the New Testament in an Ecological Age” by David Rhoads. 

RECENT PUBLICATIONS


NEW Toward a Better Worldliness: Ecology, Economy, and the Protestant Tradition
by Terra Schwerin Rowe  

Five hundred years ago the Protestant Reformation inspired profound theological, ecclesial, economic, and social transformations. But what impact does the Protestant tradition have today? And what might it have? This volume addresses such questions, focusing on the economic and ecological implications of the Protestant doctrine of grace.  In the spirit of ecotheologies resonating with the best of the Reformation tradition, this book develops a fresh reading of Luther’s theology of grace and his economic ethics in conversation with current reflections on concepts of the gift and gifting practices.



NEW  Behold the Lilies: 

Behold the Lilies draws from the riches of the author's long-standing work in the theology of nature and ecological spirituality, especially from his classic historical study, The Travail of Nature (1985), and from his Franciscan exploration in Christian spirituality, Before Nature (2014).  

In Behold the Lilies, Santmire maintains that those who would follow Jesus are mandated not just to care for the earth and all its creatures but also to contemplate the beauties of the whole creation, beginning with "the lilies of the field." 

His first-person reflections range from "Scything with God" to "Rediscovering Saint Francis in Stone," from "Taking a Plunge in the Niagara River" to "Pondering the Darkness of Nature." 
Behold the Lilies offers brief spiritual reflections that can be read in any order, over a period of time.  


Visit Paul Santmire's website for information about his other books.


NEW Coming Home To Earth 
by Mark Brocker

As a young Norwegian Lutheran teenager in rural Wisconsin, Brocker lay awake one night worrying whether he believed in Jesus enough to get to heaven. This getting-to-heaven anxiety reflected an excessive focus on individual salvation and a loss of concern for the well-being of the Earth community. A faith journey that leaves Earth behind is misguided. 

Ever since those early teen years Brocker has been on a journey to come home to Earth.
Coming Home to Earth makes the case that there is no salvation apart from Earth and that Earth care is at the core of our identity and mission as followers of Jesus. The ecological consequences of a loss of concern for the well-being of Earth have been devastating. Brocker is especially concerned to determine what will motivate followers of Jesus to make radical changes in our way of life so that we can participate in the healing of wounded Earth and all of its inhabitants, both human and nonhuman. We are far more likely to make needed sacrifices for our fellow creatures if we share God's delight in and affection for them, and cherish Earth as our home.





The Nature of Things: Rediscovering the Spiritual in God's Creation
Edited by Graham Buxton and Norman Habel
Forward by David Rhoads

With contributions by David Rhoads, Paul Santmire, Celia-Diane-Drummond, Heather Eaton, Ernst Conradie and others, this volume highlights a diversity of perspectives on the spiritual in creation, both traditional and radical.  


Eco-Reformation: Grace and Hope for a Planet in Peril
Edited by Lisa Dahill and James Martin-Schramm

The conviction at the heart of this collection of essays is that a gospel call for ecological justice belongs at the heart of the five hundredth anniversary observance of the Reformation in 2017 and as a—if not the—central dimension of Christian conversion, faith, and practice into the foreseeable future. Like Luther’s 95 Theses, this volume brings together critical biblical, pastoral, theological, historical, and ethical perspectives that constructively advance the vision of a socially and ecologically flourishing Earth.  

Transfiguring Luther: The Planetary Promise of Luther's Theology
by Vitor Westhelle

In this book, Luther's theology--his view of language and understanding of creation, incarnation, the cross; his affirmation of freedom from ecclesial, economic, and/or political encroachments; his eschatology, and so forth--is seen in a new light in societies in which modernization does not necessarily mean secularization and the spirit is not set in dual opposition to things material. 



Seeing-Remembering-Connecting
by Karen L. Bloomquist

This book draws from Bloomquist's many years and formative experiences as a pastor, theologian, activist, seminary professor, and speaker in a number of settings--both within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and ecumenically and globally. Drawing insights from many sources, Seeing-Remembering-Connecting proposes a new "church in society" framework, so that faith communities can engage and transform the urgent systemic injustices confronting us today.


Download the publisher's flyer here or at the bottom of this page.

Visit Karen L. Bloomquist's website and blog (includes an excerpt from the book and related discussions)

Currents in Theology and Mission - April 2016

Eco-Reformation is the theme of the April 2016 issue of Currents in Theology and Mission. Guest editor is Barbara Rossing, with help from David Rhoads.

LSTC professor links Christian worship and care for creation 

Eco-theologians and lay readers alike have a new, paperless way to learn about ecology and Christian worship. The Rev. Dr. Benjamin M. Stewart’s book A Watered Garden: Christian Worship and Earth’s Ecology is now available in a Kindle edition. A Watered Garden links worship with God’s creation, drawing connections between the natural world and ecumenical patterns of worship.







Eco-Lutheranism
Lutheran Perspectives on Ecology
Karla Bohmbach & Shauna Hannen, Editors

There are many hot-button issues in present day discussions of the environment and ecology, e.g., offshore drilling, global warming, wind power, fracking, solar power, nuclear power. The list goes on and on. Most of the discussions have to do with the production and consumption of energy. In the midst of these swirling debates around the causes and consequences, the effects on human and other forms of life, what does Lutheran theology have to say? What resources does it have, especially by way of themes and thinkers, which might help Lutherans think through the ever-expanding theological conversations and on our role and place in this creation? 



In June 2013, the Lutheran World Federation accepted the report of a Special Committee outlining plans for celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, including the theme and subthemes for the LWF 12th Assembly in Namibia, May 2017:

    Liberated by God's Grace


ACADEMIC CONFERENCE


GREENING THE GODS: 
ECOLOGY AND THEOLOGY IN THE ANCIENT WORLD

18th-19th March 2014
St Edmund’s College, Cambridge


Ten Reasons Why Lutherans Care for Creation

 
Lutherans are well prepared to address the critical issues of the environment. We have strong theological, ethical, and practical foundations for this work. And we can build on our heritage of care for the vulnerable. Here are ten reasons why Lutherans care for creation.  [Read More]