Studies in World Christianity 30.1

Creation and Climate Change

The June 2023 meeting of the Yale—Edinburgh Group on World Christianity and the History of Mission was held in Edinburgh with hybrid hubs in Nairobi, Singapore and São Paulo. The topic for the conference, ‘Creation, Climate Change, and World Christianity’, brought together a dynamic conversation which had a surprisingly strong theological and ethical tone around the two keywords: creation and climate change. The first is a theological concept, since it assumes that something or someone enacted the work of creating. Hence, many Christians declare in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed a belief in a God who is ‘Creator of Heaven and Earth’. Yet, these same Christians often appear to focus more on the heavenly realm than on the earthly realm. Furthermore, the popularity of theologies of domination over creation have led some to agree with Lynn White’s assessment that ‘Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion the world has seen.’ It cannot be overstated how essential any discussion about creation must consider the rapid climate change that challenges and disrupts the lives of humans and all other creatures which call this planet home. This demands a historical account of how we arrived at this crisis and asks what we can or should do about the situation – a matter of ethics.

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Yale-Edinburgh 2023 – Call for Papers

Creation, Climate Change, and World Christianity #YaleEdin2023
21st–23rd June 2023 ‧ In-person in Edinburgh,
with hybrid hubs in Nairobi, Singapore, and São Paulo
Proposals due 15th February 2023 1st March 2023

Yale-Edinburgh Group

The natural environment influences the perspectives and activities of Christian groups and peoples. At a time when rapid climate change challenges and disrupts the lives of humans and animals, our theme provides plenty of scope for examining the responses of Christians worldwide, past and present, to the planet.

The first article of the Apostle’s Creed asserts that Christians uphold a God Who is ‘Creator of Heaven and Earth’. However, Christianity has sometimes appeared to focus more closely on the heavenly realm than on the earthly realm. Theologies underscoring the domination of creation have overridden theologies of care and concern over the natural order. Missionaries and migrants have been at the mercy of the seas. Under the influence of romantic idealisation of pristine lands and unspoilt ‘primitive’ peoples, missionaries romanticised rural villages and communities untouched by modern vices as sites of religious transformation. Other missionaries were keen amateur botanists and geographers. How did their assumptions and knowledge influence understanding of the natural environment? What did they learn from people connected with the land, the sea, and their plants and animals? In what ways did indigenous communities around the world relate Christianity to their natural landscapes and animal worlds? In contemporary Christianity, where are the movements responding to the climate crisis or theologies developing from land rights or a reduction in bio-diversity? How, for example, are Pacific islanders responding theologically and practically to the threat of the rise in sea-levels? Or those living in the Amazon rainforest responding to its destruction? What is observed when Pentecostals do battle with nature spirits? What Christian groups are responding to the tensions when natural resources are limited or used badly? What role does climate change play in the movement of people? What does the establishment of migrant churches in cities mean for engagement with the natural environment?

The theme is vast and applicable to interdisciplinary working in planetary health and geo-sciences, as well as the familiar history, theology and social sciences. We welcome papers that focus on the observation and analysis of what is happening in World Christianity vis-à-vis the topic.

Please supply an abstract of 250 words to cswc-events@ed.ac.uk by 15th February 2023 1st March 2023 that clearly states the enquiry, method and the literature in which you situate your paper. We expect all speakers to be presenting from Edinburgh, with the exception of keynotes separately organized by one of our hubs. We anticipate a high level of interest in the conference and may not be able to accept all papers.

Further details will be released on the Yale-Edinburgh page.

Religion and Regionalism in Brazil

On November 1, 2022, our new Lecturer in Latin American Christianity, Dr Pedro Feitoza, deliver a paper entitled “Religion and Regionalism in Brazil: The Dynamics of Religious Change and the Making of Caipira Culture, 1860-1940.”

If you are unable to access the video above from YouTube, you can also try watching it from the University of Edinburgh’s Media Hopper service.