Worth Reading - 6/18

Today is the day the Vatican is supposed to release the newest encyclical from Pope Francis. In honor of that, and because Environmental Ethics is a major interest of mine, I have compiled some helpful links to help frame the issue.

First, here is a link to the encyclical itselfLaudito Si

1. Here is a post I wrote for the ERLC proposing a staid and patient response to the forthcoming encyclical:

Initial reports about the encyclical are likely to report affirmation of specific policies promoted by some environmentalists. For example, if the Pope affirms popular climate models, some media outlets may spin that as support for a tax on carbon emissions or population control measures. However, affirmation of a certain climate model does not present a blank check to activists to enlist every Roman Catholic for every policy proposed in the name of the environment.

The content of this forthcoming encyclical will probably not be earth-shatteringly new. The Pope is likely to call members of the Roman Catholic Church to be better stewards of the created order. He is also likely to affirm that abuse of God’s creation is a sin. He will probably remind his Church that many times the poor have the least ability to survive and recover from natural disasters, and thus mitigating natural disasters is a part of caring for the poor. These are basic, biblical ideas that the Catholic Church has previously affirmed and should resonate with both Protestants and Catholics.

2. Yesterday, the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics posted a blog I wrote about developing a whole-life stewardship, including the encyclical:

There is value in the created order. Humans are part of that created order, but a special part. God gave a special responsibility to humans to be fruitful and to have dominion over the earth as his image bearers (Genesis 1:26-28).

The nature of this dominion is more clearly revealed in Genesis 2:15, where God puts Adam into the Garden of Eden with instructions to cultivate and keep the garden.

Through all of this, humanity remains both connected to the entire web of creation and distinct from it. Only humans have both the ability and the responsibility to influence the created order in a way that changes it. This is part of dominion.

We see in Genesis an unpopulated garden. But in Revelation, which is the final destination God intends for the world, we see a garden city (Revelation 21:9–22:4). God’s plan from the beginning was for there to be development, growth, and change.

The environment, therefore, was not intended to remain an unpopulated wilderness.

Human existence on earth is not an accident.

We are not an alien species.

We actually have a God-given place in the created order to steward it, tend it, and bring it to its full potential. This is the cultural mandate.

3. Acton Institute has put together a large set of resources anticipating and framing the backdrop to the encyclical. There are a whole lot of good resources on this page.

4. Here are resources from Ethics and Culture on the environment and my attempt to build a Christian perspective on the environment.