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I recently had my attention drawn to an article in Christianity Today about churches which were focusing on climate change, suspending huge globes in their sanctuaries, and according to the author, slipping into idolatry, the worship of mother earth, Gaia etc. The call to return to worship of God, and refocus on issues such as abortion, was presented as a kind of prophetic call, or at least a warning to the church.

Allowing for C.T. being an American evangelical publication, this seemed to me to be outrageous, but it did and does raise the issue what the “Christian response” to climate change should be. Where and what is the church’s response? At best, it seems that we can offer the Church of England “Ecochurch” scheme, with bronze, silver and gold awards for ecologically sustainable church buildings. Well, maybe that isn’t the best.

Maybe the “Four Rs” are a starting point from a teaching perspective (with practical application — but that seems beyond the church’s reach). But I was wondering what the prophetic perspective would be? Doom and gloom? Thunderous denunciations? 

I have felt during the COP 26 discussions and emerging proposals that a good prophetic starting point would a renewed call to to love our neighbour as ourselves — in this case, the neighbour being the parts of the world, the southern hemisphere especially, where people who have done the least to contribute to climate change are suffering the worst consequences of it, and are least able (resilient) to combat it, or form “deep adaptation”. It also seems that adequate financial aid is the sticking point at COP. “The last part of a person to be evangelised is his pocket”. There may also be more informal, personal networks which could be activated to help relieve distress, as well as seeking to support those aid agencies which are already doing something about it.

As far as the church is concerned, to love our neighbour is to show we love God. We don’t love our neighbour by attacking climate change concern as idolatry. As far as a message to the world from the church — maybe its time to form more active partnerships with sympathetic climate change groups/aid agencies, to accept that we are in solidarity with the rest of humanity, and suffering humanity especially, and to keep our eye on the main thing — which is that as much as the natural world is the concern, the even more important concern is the people who inhabit it, especially those who are most vulnerable. This should drive our concern in whatever ways it may be expressed — prayer, petition (literally), protest, provision — to offer a few “Ps”?

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