As the question of how we set about tackling climate change increasingly becomes not just an economic and political issue, but a moral one too, a new paper from Christian Aid draws inspiration from the Biblical prophets.
Song of the Prophets: A global theology on climate change reflects the views of theologians from the global south where climate change is having its greatest impact.
The paper says that the manner in which a number of Biblical prophets confronted opposition in their own times, gives hope in a demoralized and demotivated world.
It coincides with latest synthesis report on the impact of global warming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which warns that time for effective action against climate change is fast running out. The IPCC report came out Nov. 2, six days before the anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan which devastated parts of the Philippines last year.
The paper’s author, Rev Dr Susan Durber, said: “We all need those who will help us to see the truth from which we might be tempted to turn, to face things we can hardly bear, and to find a source of hope that is real. We have often called the people who can do this for us ‘prophets.’ They help us to discern the truth and to act upon it.
“Prophets are sometimes unpopular, especially with those who have much to lose if things change,” she said. But they consistently, and without fear, speak out. Sometimes people think them mad. Sometimes they are indulged as though they are naïve. All this happened to the prophets in the Bible, and it happens still to truth-tellers in the world today.”
Durber continued: “Prophetic voices, whether from the Scriptures, from climate science, or from people living in poverty today, sing a powerful song. We need to hear the challenging voices and the calls to repent and change, for the sake of those who are suffering now and for the sake of future generations.”
But, she added, “we also need to imagine a redeemed and restored world, one marked by justice and hope and built on new foundations, for such a vision will overcome our fears and give us strength to change.”
It takes courage to listen to voices that go against our immediate and pressing self-interest, Durber said, “but if we shut down in the face of the challenge to ‘repent!’ we shall also shut down the possibility of receiving the gift of hope for a renewed earth. It is this gift that we need above all, a gift that faith can offer, in humility, to the world. Prophets are the ones who can reveal that ‘it doesn’t have to be like this.”
Over the weekend of Oct. 18-19 hundreds of churches around the UK took part in a weekend of prayer and action urging Members of Parliament to tackle climate change and praying for their sisters and brothers around the world.
As Christians around the world increasingly begin to grapple with the moral questions raised by climate change Christian Aid hopes that this paper may prove a useful tool in shaping a theology of climate change full of justice and hope.