Climate change and the Christian gospel

David Atkinson


By any measure, climate change is one of the most urgent challenges facing our planet right now. Pope Francis' new encyclical about care for 'our common home' is directed both to the churches and humanity as a whole. In recent years, Christian communities in different parts of the world have started responding practically and theologically to the alarming picture being presented to us by climate science. That is encouraging. But as Bishop David Atkinson points out in this timely paper, there is a need for much more action. Care for the earth, which is God’s gift, should be a primary concern for Christians, people of other faiths, and everyone of good faith. Politicians need to be persuaded to act more decisively by the example of people across civil society, not least in the churches. This is not a Christian 'add on', but a core Gospel concern. Church communities across the British and Irish isles are called on to act with thoughtfulness, commitment and urgency.


1. Preface: beyond denial and apathy (Simon Barrow) – p1.
2. An urgent call to action for the churches – p2.
3. Looking at the science – p4.
4. An hour of opportunity? – p5.
5. God–Humanity–Earth – p6.
6. Questions for Christians – p8.
7. Looking at St John’s Gospel: dialogues – p9.
8. Conclusion: towards transformative action – p23.
The author – p23.
About Operation Noah – p24.
About Ekklesia – p24.

"Politicians need to be persuaded to act more decisively by the example of people across civil society. At present climate and environmental concerns are still seen by too many in positions of political influence as ‘minority issues’ or ‘for those interested in that sort of thing’ – something that someone else should be attending to.

"This could not be further from the truth of the situation we face. Environmental concerns should shape and inform everything else we do, particularly in the area of economy and industry. Now is not the time to be letting up or feeling satisfied. Even countries that have set comparatively better carbon emission reduction targets, like Scotland, are still not doing nearly enough when measured by what the experts are saying and warning us of.

"Here is a real opportunity for Christians and others to lead by good example. Climate change may have been ignored during the election. It must not be overlooked by those who have been elected. If it is not to be, that is up to us.

"Meanwhile, the message of this excellent paper by Bishop David Atkinson is that concern for the planet is not a Christian ‘add-on’, but intrinsic to a credible understanding of the Gospel today."

(Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow).

Read and download the full paper, which is 24pp, here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/sites/ekklesia.co.uk/files/climate_change_and_...