Does the way of life of Christians testify to a real concern for the care of creation? , Gospel Orientation

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Climate change, desertification, energy crisis and other issues are back in the headlines as tens of thousands of people gather these days in Egypt for the United Nations Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (better known as COP 27).

Dozens of Christian organizations and movements around the world are working to give answers to these questions with a biblical perspective. But what difference does the lifestyle of ordinary Christians make in the area of ​​care for creation?

Two recent studies in Germany and the Netherlands showed interesting responses.

“Members of Christian congregations are no less environmentally conscious than the population as a whole, but they are not much more so,” says Thomas Krök of the German Academy for Christian Leadership (ACF). He presented in November 2022 the results of an online survey of 900 church members, which was combined with 13 focus group discussions in churches.

According to the German magazine Pro Median Magazine, the results showed that members of the Protestant Church (EKD) were more engaged in environmental issues than members of free evangelical churches. One reason could be that major Protestant churches are implementing ecological initiatives such as the “le Coq Vert” programwhich promotes energy saving and sustainability policies in religious buildings.

sermons and informal discussions in a religious context were also more frequent in these EKD churches.

The study found that members of free evangelical movements such as the Federation of Free Evangelical Churches (Bund FEG) and the Gnadau Federation, among other reasons, because there is “more emphasis on spiritual concernsthat is, evangelism and spiritual growth” in these movements, Krök said.

The statement “Because God is almighty, he does not allow his creation to be destroyed by humans” was accepted by about a third of national Protestant church members, compared to two-thirds sponsors of free evangelical congregations.

Free Evangelicals also expressed more concern than mainstream Protestants about the protecting the planet becoming a sort of secular religion.

But all the Christian groups interviewed agreed that the growth of the industrialized world had reached the sustainable limits of nature.

In responses to Pro Medien Storearound 40 Christians theological institutions have stated that the issue of creation care is an “underlying issue” in most of their teachings on the Bible and society.

In the Netherlands, a survey conducted by I&O Research for the Christian newspaper NetherlandsDagblatt found that there was no major differences between committed Christians and the rest of the population when it came to a sustainable lifestyle.

According to the answers collected by the European information site cne.news, four out of five Christians in the Netherlands are concerned about climate change. But in practice, their carbon footprint was very similar to that of the rest of the population.

Dutch “active Christians” interviewed fly less than average but eat more meat on a weekly basis than the rest of the population (3% of Christians said they were vegan, compared to 5% of all Dutch people).

Graph: Protestants and Catholics say they have heard sermons about creation care issues.

 

Asher van der Schelde, who conducted the study, said theology did not seem to make a big difference in the daily lives of believers in the area of ​​environmental protection, despite 73% of Protestants and 53% of Catholics say they have listened to sermons on environmental protection preached in their home church.

“Among Christians, biblical notions such as stewardship and charity play an important role, as does an emphasis on sobriety. Christians do not differ much from non-Christians in their behavior and thoughtsconcluded van der Schelde, according to cne.news.

But his research group found “a striking difference” when it came to having children. “Climate-minded Christians rarely indicate that they think it is unwise to have children considering climate change (13% of Christians with many climate concerns think so), while it is twice as common (26%) among the general population with many climate concerns”.

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– Does the way of life of Christians show a real concern for the care of creation?

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