We are Earth creatures, made from the dust of creation, given breath by a gracious God.
Christianity shares this understanding with Judaism, its parent religion. Indeed, many of Christianity’s understandings of the Earth/human relationship are rooted in the Hebrew Bible. That the Galilean prophet, Jesus, became the primary symbol of Christianity—the Word Made Flesh—demonstrates an earthly reality grounded in Christian self-understanding.
Both branches of western Christianity, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, share core beliefs about the Earth/human relationship.
Creation As Gift
All of Creation—and thus Earth—is a gift of God. Earth is good in and of itself. Yet Earth is also good because it provides for human flourishing. Our human flourishing arises from the gifts of Earth in many ways: we depend upon the Earth for sustenance and joy, for nourishment and beauty.
Christians believe that a Holy Book reveals God. Yet Christians also believe that God is revealed through the Book of Nature, that the presence, purpose, and promises of God may just as easily be read in the splendor of Creation.
The intelligence that brought Earth into being is engagingly apparent in the Book of Nature —what God has shown in all of creation. The Book of Nature is read by attending closely to what we can learn from the natural world.
The Divine Spark
All creation bears the divine spark. Godself is thus present within each aspect of Earth: rock and river, microscopic particles, humans, and their creaturely cousins. This is a radically sacramental concept, and while it is historically more prevalent in Roman Catholicism, its presence in Protestantism has also been quietly persistent. Because the divine spark resonates through all reality, Christians believe that to love God is to love Earth; to love Earth is to love God.
For Christians, the relationship between Earth and humanity is necessarily mutual. Humans spring from and are dependent upon Earth. Yet humans also have an impact on the Earth—for good or ill. To seek the healing of a wounded world is perhaps Christianity’s greatest challenge.
- The Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology explores the growing “ecological influence on Christian traditions”