Religion Professor Publishes Book on Christianity and Climate Change

Christianity may be part of the problem and the solution to climate change.

Dr. Hilda Koster, associate professor of religion, together with Dr. Ernst Conradie, professor of theology at the University of Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa, published the “T&T Clark Handbook of Christian Theology and Climate Change” (London: Bloomsbury, December 2019).

Essays by more than 80 leading theologians, ethicists, and scientists, representing six continents, engage the theological and moral challenges raised by anthropogenic climate change in the book.

North Atlantic Christianity is as much part of the current climate problem as it may be part of the solution. This is the case not just because of Christianity’s role in the denial of climate science, but also because it has lent support to the extractive and predatory economic practices characteristic of modern capitalism.

“The relationship between Christianity and climate change is widely known ever since the publication of “Laudato Si’,” which students read in their religion courses,” Koster said.

“Laudato Si’ – On the Care of Our Common Home,” is the second encyclical of Pope Francis dated May 24, 2015, where he calls on the world to take global action to protect the planet against environmental issues and climate change.

The “T&T Clark Handbook” creates a dialogue between religious scholars, ethicists, and theologians situated within a “high carbon footprint” context, roughly the Global North, and those representing climate vulnerable communities in low carbon footprint world predominantly the Global South.

Koster described the book in a Centennial Lecture as being structured as a critical dialogue among North American Christian scholars and persons representing other regions of the world, other religious traditions, and minoritized communities.

The handbook asks how Christians from these different contexts might find common ground, allowing them to come together and critically engage the ecological wisdom in the deepest roots of their traditions in order to collaborate with others in the face of global climate distortions.

According to the publisher, the book is “Structured in seven main parts: 1) the need for collaboration with disciplines outside of Christian theology to address climate change, 2) the need to find common moral ground for such collaboration, 3) the difficulties posed by collaborating with other Christian traditions from within, 4) the questions that emerge from such collaboration for understanding the story of God’s work, 5) God’s identity and character, 6) the implications of such collaboration for ecclesial praxis, and 7) concluding reflections examining whether this volume does justice to issues of race, gender, class, other animals, religious diversity, geographical divides, and carbon mitigation.”

The book received an endorsement from author, educator, and environmentalist Bill McKibben. 

“Christianity is a planetary religion; the climate crisis is a planetary threat,” McKibben said. “In this essential volume, theologians and scientists work with care and with passion to see how the former might help solve the latter.  Since nothing has ever more comprehensively challenged the Gospel commandment to care for the least among us, no analysis could be more necessary than this!”

The handbook is a resource for anyone interested in the relationship between Christian theology and climate change.