Approach to Ecological Mission in and Through the Christian Community in Australia: Beyond Apathy to Committed Action

Clive Ayre (2008). Approach to Ecological Mission in and Through the Christian Community in Australia: Beyond Apathy to Committed Action PhD Thesis, History Philosophy Religion and Classics, The University of Queensland.

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Author Clive Ayre
Thesis Title Approach to Ecological Mission in and Through the Christian Community in Australia: Beyond Apathy to Committed Action
School, Centre or Institute History Philosophy Religion and Classics
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2008-09
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Total pages 268
Total colour pages Nil
Total black and white pages 268 (text only)
Subjects 440000 Philosophy and Religion
Abstract/Summary The thesis sets out to consider the role of the Christian Church in the context of the emergent ecological crisis. The essential context for such a study is twofold. First, within the Australian Church there is clearly a dominant emphasis on an anthropocentric mission strategy, and consequently it will be argued that such a position is inadequate. Second, it will be argued that it can almost be taken as a “given” that the ecological or environmental crisis facing life on planet Earth is immediate and critical, and covers a range of well-documented categories – global warming, extreme weather events, degradation of the soil, and other factors. The loss of bio-diversity is gathering pace, while the threat to iconic features such as the Great Barrier Reef is very real. Even just from a pragmatic or humanitarian point of view, it seems important for the Christian Church to be part of a global response. From that background the thesis proceeds in three essential stages. The first issue is the identification of a sound ecological theology, or ecotheology. From the background of a large and increasing volume of literature, a range of both human-centred and eco-friendly theological positions is considered, concluding with an argument in favour of theistic biocentrism, but acknowledging that a responsible Christian environmental response may emerge from other theological positions. Thus, the thesis proposes that in addition to the scientific evidence, there is a compelling theological argument for Christian action in caring for the environment as God’s creation, and this represents a clear rationale for eco-mission. In the second part, the issue that is considered is the range of existing theologies of mission. This literature has tended to be strongly anthropocentric and very weak in the ecological area; however, there is an increasing volume of literature demonstrating a shift in emphasis towards an enhanced awareness of an ecological dimension, and in identifying that trend the thesis seeks to develop an eco-mission theology. However, there is still a perception in many congregations and denominations that ecology is not really part of the Church’s agenda. While practical action guidance models are not common, this thesis aims to challenge such a perception, and to change the culture of apathy and non-involvement in building on a foundation of ecotheology and a theology of eco-mission. Third, the thesis then explores the range and extent of Christian eco-mission, beginning with a study of how that is practised in England, and continuing with a comparative study of emerging eco-mission activity in Australia. Thus, it addresses the fundamental question as to why Christian denominations (and, by implication, local congregations) are not more actively involved in ecological mission, and explore possibilities for that position to be changed. The thesis is set within a practical theology paradigm, and employs a qualitative methodology. This involves a series of interviews supplemented by written comments and personal observations, from which dominant themes will be drawn and analysed. Thus the thesis is designed to help the Christian community to understand the seriousness of the situation as well as the biblical and theological rationale for appropriate action in “the greening of mission” and the establishment of an Australian eco-church model. In grasping the ecological aspects of its divine charter in caring for God’s creation, the Church may operate with greater confidence alongside other concerned people and groups in the community.
Keyword Ecotheology; eco-mission; ecology; environment; biocentrism, anthropocentrism; theocentrism; stewardship
Additional Notes The thesis consists of text only.

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Created: Tue, 10 Feb 2009, 15:10:14 EST by Rev Clive Ayre on behalf of Library - Information Access Service