The Greening of Protestant Thought

By Robert Booth Fowler | Go to book overview

1
PROTESTANTS FACE THE ENVIRONMENT

This chapter considers several important background elements to the greening of Protestant thought from 1970 to 1990 and thereafter. It tells part of the story of the shift by institutional Protestantism as the denominations moved toward encountering the environmental problems of the age. It reports the pattern of Protestant public opinion on environmental concerns. It discusses the two central assumptions that have greatly affected Protestant changes: the sense that the earth is in crisis and the perceived hostility from the larger environmental movement toward Christianity. Finally, it identifies some of the limits of the greening of organized Protestantism and of Protestant opinion--especially among fundamentalists. In short, the goal of this chapter is to explain some of the dimensions of the greening of organized Protestantism, and of Protestants as a people, to provide a context for the Protestant intellectual debates on which this book concentrates.


The Whirl of Action

Environmentalism has increasingly secured a place among the leadership, formal institutions, publications, and intellectual centers of Protestantism. The greening of institutional Protestantism is a fact, and its reality has quickened over the past decade. Denominational elites, clergy, and bureaucrats led the way. It took time: sometimes ecological concerns were peripheral to other agendas at denominational headquarters, often just part of one busy staffer's assignments. Sometimes they loomed more important to Protestant elites than at other times--for example, in the 1970s and in recent years as opposed to the early 1980s. But although it has not satisfied those who want far more attention given to the green cause, change over the past twenty-five years has been real.

Thus, while there has been a sharp rise in the amount of attention given to environmental education at Protestant colleges, critics complain that

-13-

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The Greening of Protestant Thought
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Protestants Face the Environment 13
  • 2 - The Bible as (contested) Foundation 28
  • 3 - Dissent and Protestant Fundamentalism 45
  • 4 - The Argument Over Christianity 58
  • 5 - Stewardship 76
  • Toward Eco-Theology 91
  • Process Environmentalism 108
  • 8 - The Ecofeminist Challenge 123
  • The Protestant Environmentalist Agenda 141
  • 10 - Politics and the Means to Change 159
  • Conclusion 175
  • Notes 181
  • Bibliography 207
  • SCRIPTURE INDEX 237
  • GENERAL INDEX 238
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