ecofaith writings

What is "ecofaith?"

Ecofaith is a shorthand was of exploring the connection between faith and the ecos, our home, Earth. Faith includes at least theology, spirituality, and justice, so these talks and papers cover ecospirituality, ecotheology, and ecojustice.

These talks are more personal, or for specific audiences, and reflect my views not necessarily that of the wider Uniting Church. They stretch back to the beginning of my ministry, in chronological order.  The earliest papers explore the nature of church, salvation and so on more generally, and paved the way for my ecofaith work. 

This is a work in progress, the links will send you to the old version of the site.

The resources I’ve produced specifically as part of various ecoministry and Earth Advocate roles can be found at unitingearth

Blokes birthed the bible, and men mediated its meaning for many a generation. But it was also written by Homo sapiens. Humans can do what some men have struggled to do since feminism, and hear the voice of another – see God’s relationship with another – in scriptures written and mostly interpreted by them. But we need help, we need to listen to those “singing the songs” of creation. We will briefly hear from each other, scientists and Aboriginal Christian leaders to help us refocus our lens when we return to the scriptures with “ecological eyes”.  Online lecture for the Progressive Christianity Network, SA, May 2020

You can watch other mostly ecofaith related videos on my youtube channel

Stop being a stupid sheep, become part of Jesus’ mob. It’s high time the Australian church started using Australian metaphors!

Forget the Fall, worry about the Fool. Jesus was much more worried about the Rich Fool and the dangers of wealth, than the Fall. Also covered in a video sermon

“The Earth is the Lord’s, but we need more than one” A one page reflection on Ps 24 and the ecological footprint, on the global footprinting part of this site.

ABC Spirit of Things interview. An ad hoc interview with Rachael Kohn about “eco-faith” and the implications of evolution etc for the Christian story.

Ecological Peace (powerpoint). “Righting ecological wrongs, looking after shared spaces and places, How do we reconcile with our environment?” This theme was chosen for me at a conference at Rockhampton, and was real challenge! 

My thesis, Biocentric Theology: Christianity celebrating humans as an ephemeral part of life, not the centre of it is available from the Flinders Uni library, and their online thesis collection. You can also download a range of smaller, single spaced versions here.

A “green”, “progressive” baptism. A sample “order of service” and “sermon”.

Is Genesis Good News for the planet?  (Well, Genesis 9 certainly isn’t, thank God for evolution!) A contribution to The Adelaide university Student Paper, On Dit, Environment Edition 2006
Evolution and Christian Fundamentalism: United against Conservation. On Dit, Environment Edition 2006

The following short papers give a sense of the development of the ecofaith ministry idea (and how long its taken to get going), in mostly reverse chronological order.

Biocentric Theology: A contribution to Journey (Queensland UCA Synod paper- May 2006

Wouldn’t it be exciting? A story about ecoministry (2004)

(currently lost) Mission proposal: Chaplain to the Conservation Council of SA (2004)

Ecojustice (Short article for a Qld congregation 1998)

Environmental Deacons (version 2) (1996/7)

Ecojustice and the diaconate (c1997, and a response to that article in c1999)

You can even visit the South Australian UCA Environment Action Group’s 1996 website thanks to the wayback machine!


General papers

These earliest papers explore the nature of church, salvation, the diaconate and so on, and paved the way for my ecofaith work. More recently, I wrote a short response to the Uniting Church Doctrine Working Group’s discussion paper on marriage.

Archbishop Dr. Desmond Tutu and Reverend Dr. Itumeleng Mosala are two South African black theologians. Both lived through the apartheid policies of the National Afrikaaner government, and the oppression and violence which accompanied it. This commonality is in no way reflected in their theology. This essay contrasts their theological aims and starting points, then compares their attitude to, and use of several theological “tools.” The essay concludes with a tentative assessment and prediction of the effectiveness of their theology.

All theological essays have an audience in mind. Usually this is an academically equipped, biblically aware and theologically educated tutor. ln this case, however, it is a friend of mine studying the third year of a B.Sc. majoring in anatomy, who is almost totally biblically illiterate and whose theological education (God help her) is almost entirely derived from talking with me in the early hours of the morning.

One night in the pub she asked of whether God would send her to hell, given that she was basically a good person, and what l thought the minimum necessary was to get into heaven. This essay is an attempt to answer her question.

There does seem to be a gradual shift in Paul’s theology of salvation, from Galatians to Romans, as he attempts to balance the view of God’s universal wrath, and Jesus’ universal victory. Also, he balances present and future salvation.

Review of “Our God has no favourites” and what it should have said (1994)

Primevesi & Henderson argue that since Gods love- as reflected in
Jesus’ ministry and the witness of the Holy Spirit- is indiscriminate, the various church denominations must cease discriminating against one another at the Eucharist. That is, regardless ot theological differences. all denominations must be wilting to preside at, and receive at, the Eucharist held in every other denomination.

This paper shows that their arguments lead to the further, unstated,
conclusion that just as all denominations should be welcome at the Lord’s table, so should all people. The authors themselves deny this conclusion, but their reasons tor doing so rest on too narrow a consideration of the biblical witnesses, the construction of an inaccurate parallel between Jesus’ culture and ours, and a failure to consider the practical irnpossibility of their proposal.

Sharing in the Lord’s Supper should be open to all people, not just to all Christians.
Most traditional theologies ought to appreciate the value of the Supper as a means of evangelisation, once the longstanding, but erroneous, interpretation of 1 Co 11 is rejected.

Recent trends in theological anthropology lead to the conclusion that non Christians ought to be welcomed to the Meal not because of who they might become, but because of who they already are. The meal then would not be a tool tor conversion, but a sacrament of recognition.

The response of the Uniting Church to the new anthropology and its implications depends on the emphasis placed on various paragraphs in The Basis of Union.

Most members of the Uniting Church rarely, it ever, attend Sunday
Worship. Most used to be frequent attenders, but either drifted away tor various reasons, or were pushed out by the other members.

Deacons have a role in affirming the validity of nominal Christianity, whilst working to overcome some of its inherent dangers. They may also be involved in overcoming the dangers inherent in the ghettoising tendency of those who remain in the institution, and bringing recognition, or even reconciliation, between the two groups.

My cousin, Simon (not his real name), whom l hardly know, was recently imprisoned in Yatala, a maximum security prison, for a minimum of eight months. He plead guilty to stealing money  from his company to finance debts accrued through his addiction to gambling. He is married to Jane, who to this point has stayed by him. Financially, they are ruined.

Upon his arrest, Simon admitted his gambling problem, and under his own initiative joined Gambler’s anonymous, and saw a psychologist regularly. He felt that both of these were a
significant benefit to him, convincing him of his problem, and providing strategies and support to overcome it. He believes that in order to totally overcome his addiction he needs to continue
with GA, and his psychologist, but is unable to do so now that he is in prison, where there are no such services. The question for discussion is,
Was lmprisoning Simon the most Ethically Appropriate Response to his Conviction?

What is the church- really? (1995)

“ln comparison with history or sociology, Which would attempt to describe what the church actually is and does empirically, theology is somewhat more idealistic” (Haught)

l wonder whether some traditionalist theologians ever attend church? They define the church as what it should be, rather than what we experience it to be. l believe that this causes a dysfunctional relationship between church attenders on the one hand, and nominal Christians and non Christians on the other.

l suspect that the false self-perception is maintained because, although traditionalist attenders comprise only a traction of the world’s population, they only listen to their own ecclesiologies, which implicitly equate the church with attenders, especially through their use of words like “gathering” and “community”.

They thus exclude trom the church the overwhelming majority of people who identity themselves as Christians, but do not attend Sunday worship.

The second problem revolves around the relationship between attenders and the rest to society: nominals and non Christians… the traditionalists compare an ideal model of the church to their concrete experience of society. Inevitably, society fares badly.

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