Climate Change – an inter-faith dialogue

Do different religions have any common ground when it comes to climate change? When  the Climate Institute invited Australia’s faiths to join in a discussion about climate change sixteen contributions were received and published under the heading Common Belief: Australia’s Faith Communities on Climate Change. Statements were received on behalf of

  • Aboriginal people
  • Anglicans
  • The Australian Christian Lobby
  • Bahá’í Believers
  • Baptists
  • Buddhists
  • Catholics
  • Evangelical Christians
  • Greek orthodox
  • Hindus
  • Jewish people
  • Lutherans
  • Muslims
  • The Salvation Army
  • Sikhs
  • The Uniting Church

In my role as Director of Public Theology I was the principal author of the statement approved by the Board of the Australian Evangelical Alliance which represented Evangelical Christians in Common Belief.

The full statement of the Alliance can be found here and the whole Common Belief document with all 16 contributions is available.

And my commentary on the whole Common Belief document which was published as “God and Climate Change” in BriefCACE: Public Morality Monthly, (December 2006) 1-8 can be found here (below).

It is not immediately apparent to everyone that climate change is an issue on which Christians have a distinctive view.  And in one sense, that is right, as it ought to be considered a matter of universal concern. Yet many Christians now believe that climate change is an issue which can be addressed very specifically in a biblical and theological fashion as a matter of significant ethical concern.  This can be seen in the nine Christian statements on climate change published on December 5 in the Climate Institute’s Common Belief: Australia‘s Faith Communities on Climate Change.

In this document there are also statements representing the views of Aboriginal people, Baha’i  believers, Buddhists, Hindus, Jewish people, Muslims and Sikhs. They all address the religious and ethical dimensions of climate change. This document is possibly a world first.  It clearly demonstrates the religious and ethical dimension of climate change. The following material provides a brief introduction to the theological and ethical position of the nine Christian papers (see www.climateinstitute.org.au for a pdf  version of the document).

Common Belief

While Common Belief expresses a clear common conviction about climate change there is no common statement.  The various groups simply present their own point of view, expressed in their own way.  The Christian statements come from The Anglican Communion Environmental Network; the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL); the Baptist Union of Australia; Catholic Earthcare, the Bishops Committee for Justice, Development, Ecology and Peace; The Australian Evangelical Alliance (EA – for which I was the principal author); the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia; the Lutheran Church of Australia; the Salvation Army and Uniting Justice, Uniting Church in Australia (UCA).

Despite their different backgrounds there is a comprehensive unanimity concerning the theological foundation for addressing climate change. The variations which exist are not contradictory and it is likely that those involved in the production of these various statements would willingly subscribe to all of the others.

The main theological emphases of the majority of statements can be summarised in four parts concerning

  • the nature of God as Creator
  • human nature, responsibility and sin
  • a holistic view of spirituality and salvation, and
  • the nature of authority.

The full text can be downloaded here: God and Climate Change

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