Green Theology – Review

Green Theology – An eco-feminist and ecumenical perspective, by Trees van Montfoort, January 2022. Darton Longman & Todd, ISBN: 978-1913657284, 368 pages. RRP £19.99 (paperback)

This is an ambitious book, aiming to “render theology greener and show the environmental movement how theology substantially contributes to ecological sustainability”. Each of the four chapters: Theology and sustainability; The different worldview of the Bible; Issues in eco-theology and Insights from eco-feminist theology worldwide, covers a vast territory and inevitably there is an introductory feel to the subjects.

The first chapter introduces the reader to the scope of the current ecological crisis, revealed through the climate emergency and biodiversity loss. This crisis, according to van Montfoort, is not just a practical problem to be solved but requires a shift in seeing, escaping from the sway of the market driven, technocratic world, which has generated the problems. “The ecological crisis necessitates a deconstruction of the present world view”, shewrites and it is there that theology can contribute.

This leads to an analysis of Biblical texts; reading from an ecological perspective means a shift from a preoccupation with individual salvation and personal growth. There is a lengthy look at particular scriptures, drawn from the opening chapters of Genesis, Deutero-Isaiah, Proverbs and the Psalms and some the New Testament. As the author says, an alternative world view can be found in the Bible, but equally, the status quo can be confirmed.

Next, van Montfoort addresses some important issues in eco-theology. Stewardship is closely considered, along with other major biblical themes including liberation and redemption. The divide between God and nature is examined and the reader introduced to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. All interesting, but I think that opportunities to make links with current issues are missed. For example, a hard look at what sustainability means at a time of corporate greenwashing would be useful, as would the concept of Sabbath rest as an interrupter of the pressure to produce and consume, particularly in the context of the attention economy.

The last chapter introduces the reader to the work of four theologians: Sally McFague, Ivonne Gebara, Catherine Keller and Elizabeth Theokritoff, each representing a different perspective within the Christian tradition: Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox. This was the chapter I enjoyed most, as each gave helpful insights.

The scope of this ambitious book, and its consequent introductory nature, are valuable in themselves and will provide readers with a springboard for further reflection. Its themes could perhaps be connected especially with local communities, as the author herself highlights in her concluding reflection of participating in a Harvest Thanksgiving.  

Jonathan Morris

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Author: Ed Beale | Date: 24 February, 2023 | Category: Book Reviews | Comments: 0


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