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Nick Spencer & Robert White, Christianity, Climate Change, and Sustainable Living (SPCK, 2007)


£9.99, 224 pages

Buy: http://www.spckpublishing.co.uk/cat/show.php?9780281058334

Author details: Robert White - http://graphite.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/faraday/Staff.php

Nick Spencer - http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/mainnav/about-theos/theos-team.aspx


In Christianity, Climate Change, and Sustainable Living, authors Nick Spencer & Robert White set out a compelling three-part Christian vision of environmental action.

The first part covers the evidence for, and nature of, the current environmental problem. This goes into a lot of detail, but is nonetheless extremely readable.

The second is an argument for why Christians should care for the environment, and how they can do that. In short, Christians should care because God does; because that is the mission we are given in Genesis 1&2; because if we don’t it hurts our neighbours; and because nothing we do will be lost in the new creation. Christians especially should be able to live a more environmentally sensible life because, in contrast to the enlightenment vision of autonomous individual people consuming an infinite amount of resources, the Bible offers a vision of human society with strong relationships: with God, with other people, and with the natural world. The argument here is that sustainable living and healthy society are closely linked. For example, an hour-long commute each way isn’t good for the environment, and it’s may not be very good for your family either. Indeed, going even further, sustainable living practices are incorporated into the societal fabric of the Bible – such as the ‘Jubilee’ year when all fields were left to lie fallow.

The third section is an intensely practical look at what Christians can do to help the environment in daily life, and at all levels of society, building upon the biblical foundation outlined in part two. This helpful and interesting section begins by outlining eight principles for Christian sustainable living. There are suggestions such as: ‘We should reflect the close bond between society and environment in our decisions’ or ‘We should not confuse wealth and value: our goal should be relational health rather than money or personal freedom’. There are also more controversial proposals including: ‘We should favour regulated, market-based solutions that take account of natural, human and social capital.’ In line with these suggestions, the authors go on to make proposals for Christian action in five different areas: personal response, communal response, national response, technological response, and international response. All of these sections include practical and useful new ideas which people can implement in their own lives, or encourage their incorporation in wider society.

Although this is an extremely helpful book, it is limited in that it only gives statistics for the UK. Likewise, many of the practical ways to respond to environmental issues do not apply outside of the UK, which does limit the impact this book can have. Thankfully, there is a new edition for the USA by Nick Spencer, Robert White, and Virginia Vroblesky (Hendrickson, Dec 2009).

Difficulty: Intermediate

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