How will these resources help you? 

The impending anthropogenic climate catastrophe is one of the greatest problems that humanity has faced. While prophets and activists such as Greta Thunberg make the headlines, everyday ethicists need coherent and workable views. For religious thinkers, climate change represents a new Fall: a resounding failure in our collective stewardship. However, they also see hope and propose new ways of connecting with the earth and getting back to our roots. The screeching voices of climate change denial have often been associated with the religious right but they have always been on the margins of theistic responses, too. These texts explore different religious attitudes to stewardship, specifically focusing on the challenges raised by climate change in the twenty-first century. My students have been bombarded with information about climate change, much of it morally loaded, in many of their subjects across the curriculum. These texts provide them with a helpful chance to step back and think about our relationship with the environment in a wider theological context. 

The end of the fall

A Political Theology of Climate Change

by Michael S. Northcott, published by SPCK Publishing, (2014), 9780281072323

This prescient book examines the way people treated climate change science in the early 2000s, seeing it as a political movement and often treating it with scorn rather than taking it seriously. In this sense, Northcott compares climate change to the apocalyptic literature of the New Testament, heralding judgement and calling people to political and moral transformation. He argues that religious believers have a particular responsibility to care for the earth as part of their role as stewards. 

A narrative of the changing environment

Climate Change and the Symbol Deficit in the Christian Tradition

by Jan-Olav Henriksen, published by Bloomsbury Publishing, (2023), 9780567705013

This text focuses on humanity’s changing relationship with the environment since the seventh century. It associates the enlightenment and its resultant consumerism with the origins of climate change. It also tracks the growth of climate change denial as a way that evangelicals tried to reshape their identity when they felt increasingly marginalised in American culture. He argues that we need to move past anthropocentrism in religion and deal with our relationship to nature more holistically. I teach this topic with National 5 students (KS4 equivalent), so tend to simplify some of these arguments and use select quotations when teaching. 

A critique of the ‘progressive dominion theology’ of the Western church

Theology and Climate Change

by Paul Tyson, published by Routledge, (2022), 9780367744014

This book presents climate change as an inevitable result of the enlightenment and, by association, Protestant theology. It tracks the modern history of approaches to climate change, and the potential pitfalls of a Christian view of history as a linear progression – this is linked to a constant desire to develop, which leads to environmental catastrophe. Tyson also examines Pope Francis’ rejection of this view and includes a shorter section on indigenous eco-theologies. 

Voices from different cultures

T&T Clark Handbook of Christian Theology and Climate Change

by Ernst M. Conradie and Hilda P. Koster, published by Bloomsbury Publishing, (2022), 9781350320390

This collection of essays focuses on international responses and people working together to address issues of climate change, including those in communities more directly affected by climate change. It has chapters on Brazilian responses, African American responses and Chinese Christian responses. This helps my students see a more interdependent perspective on this global issue. 

Further materials

Ecologies of Grace: Environmental Ethics and Christian Theology by Willis Jenkins, published by Oxford University Press, (2008), 9780195328516 Find this book
A Greener Faith: Religious Environmentalism and Our Planet’s Future by Roger S. Gottlieb, published by Oxford University Press, (2009), 9780195396201 Find this book
Sharing God’s Planet: A Christian Vision for a Sustainable Future by Claire Foster, published by Church House Publishing, (2012), 9780715142851 Find this book
Susan Woodshore is a teacher in Edinburgh. She has a PhD in Ecclesiastical History and enjoys creating new educational resources across religion, ethics and philosophy.

Text © Susan Woodshore, 2023.