A New Heaven and a New Earth: Orthodox Theology and an Ecological World View

By Chryssavgis, John | The Ecumenical Review, July 2010 | Go to article overview

A New Heaven and a New Earth: Orthodox Theology and an Ecological World View


Chryssavgis, John, The Ecumenical Review


   The world is a burning bush of God's energies.
   St Gregory Palamas (14th century)
   The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
   Gerard Manley Hopkins

Introduction: The Hallmark of Humility

We have come to appreciate that the crisis we are facing is not primarily ecological; indeed, it has less to do with the natural environment and more to do with spirituality and icons. It is a crisis concerning the way we envisage or imagine the world. We require a new worldview if we pray for "a new heaven and a new earth" (Rev. 21:1). (1) Ironically, if we are honest about the task that lies before us, then the Earth, too, will celebrate; the Earth, too, will cooperate. As His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew declared jointly with the late Pope John Paul II in Venice (2002), "It is not too late. God's world has incredible healing powers. Within a single generation, we could steer the earth toward our children's future. Let that generation start now." (2)

Therefore, our concern for the environment does not result from any superficial or sentimental romanticism. It arises from our effort to honour and dignify God's creation.

It is a way of paying attention to the mourning of the land (Hos. 4:1-3) and "the groaning" of creation (Rom. 8:22). This is the reason why the Ecumenical Patriarchate has organized, among other initiatives, a number of international and interdisciplinary symposia (3) over the last decade: in the Aegean Sea (1995) and the Black Sea (1997), along the Danube River (1999) and in the Adriatic Sea (2002), in the Baltic Sea (2003), on the Amazon River (2006), as well as in the Arctic (2007) and on the Mississippi (2009). (4) For, like the air we breathe, water is a source of life; if defiled, the very essence of our existence is threatened. Tragically, however, we appear to be caught up in selfish life-styles that repeatedly ignore the constraints of nature, which are neither deniable nor negotiable. There will unfortunately be some things about our planet's capacity for survival that we will discover only when things are beyond the point of no return.

Yet, even as, over the past two decades, perhaps no other worldwide religious leader has persistently proclaimed the primacy of spiritual values in determining environmental ethics as Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has done, during that same period the world has witnessed alarming ecological degradation, increasing failure to implement environmental policies, and an ever-widening gap between rich and poor. This is why it would be fair to say that the hallmark of the Patriarch's initiatives--as, indeed, the efforts of any of us--is not success, but in fact humility. I believe that a sense of modest realism is what ultimately connects with creation. Yet, in its own distinctive way, the earth unites us all: beyond any individual or collective efforts, and certainly beyond any doctrinal or racial differences. We may or may not share religious convictions or political principles. But we do share an experience of the environment: we share the air that we breathe, the water that we drink, and the ground that we tread--albeit neither always equally nor always fairly. But by some mysterious connection that we do not always understand (and sometimes choose to ignore), the Earth itself reminds us of our interconnectedness.

This is surely the deeper connection also between religion and environment. For the Ecumenical Patriarch recognizes that he stands before something greater than himself, indeed something greater than his (or any) church or faith. Religion is what suggests a sense of permanence here--seeing and making sense of things beyond ourselves and our needs. This is why healing a broken environment is a matter of truthfulness to God, humanity and the created order. Patriarch Bartholomew was the first to dare to broaden the traditional concept of sin--beyond individual and social implications--to include environmental damage. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

A New Heaven and a New Earth: Orthodox Theology and an Ecological World View
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.