A Political Theology of Climate Change

By O'Brien, Jill | Theological Studies, September 2014 | Go to article overview

A Political Theology of Climate Change


O'Brien, Jill, Theological Studies


A Political Theology of Climate Change. By Michael S. Northcott. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013. Pp. x + 335. $30.

In this wide-ranging tome, Northcott provides just what his title promises. He has a very impressive grasp of the science of climate change, the national and international policies that are related to its human causes, the political maneuverings that underlie such policies and impact their efficacy, and the historical trajectory of climate change in various regions. Drawing on the writings and cultural impact of such disparate thinkers as Augustine, Francis Bacon, and Alasdair MacIntyre, he both acknowledges the role that Christianity may have played in the development of climate change and points out the secular forces that have contributed to this development in the past and continue to do so even now. His reasoning culminates in an examination of "the political as messianic" and the hope of a "new covenantal community" (267) that can prevent a modern exile of humanity from the planet.

As he untangles the myriad influences and factors that led to climate change, N. incorporates thoughtful and compelling exegetical commentary on many Scripture passages (in addition to the creation narratives in Genesis and the lament of the earth in Romans 8 that tend to be the most popular passages in ecotheological scholarship). …

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