The Greening of Protestant Thought

By Robert Booth Fowler | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

The story of Protestant environmentalism over the past several decades in the United States is a remarkable one. I have argued in this study that it is the story of a major shift toward environmental concern within Protestantism, especially within Protestant thought. In fact, from grand theology to everyday churches, the cause of saving God's creation increasingly shows up on the Protestant agenda. The future direction of Protestant environmentalism in both theology and politics, of course, remains open, and the struggle over that future will represent a process as intriguing as it is important. Perhaps the journey this book describes will one day be no more than the first chapter in a much longer and inspiring account of green Protestantism as it entered the twenty-first century.

My argument has been that at all levels of Protestantism there is now a considerable consensus on the necessity of action by Christian people to address the environment. At the same time, we have seen that this consensus has its limits, especially among some fundamentalist Protestants, and that disagreements frequently occur over how to conceptualize and act on a Christian ecological agenda. As it faces the environment, Protestantism has proven once again that it deserves its reputation as a study in both unity and diversity.

While some are disappointed that Protestantism is not more united on environmental concerns, the degree of unity that exists is actually impressive given Protestantism's divergent doctrinal, organizational, and political tendencies--as well as similar tendencies in American culture as a whole. Moreover, division within Protestantism on this matter may not be entirely a bad thing. It is a testament to the continuing reality of Protestantism as a place for religious dissenters and a source of vitality, or at least controversy, that in its way energizes people. In any case, divisions are not likely to disappear soon.

Struggle has been a dominant motif in Protestant environmental thought from 1970 into the 1990s. One struggle, of course, has been over the Bible--how to understand its ecological teachings and how to assess their importance for Protestantism's response to environmental concerns. We have seen that there is abundant disagreement on these questions--

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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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