Christians often say that our way of looking at the world should be not centred on humanity or on other creatures, but on God, with whom we and all creation are in relationship. Our current crisis shows what happens when those relationships are distorted. How can we reflect theologically on where we are – and where we might hope to go?
This list includes the books on creation/Creator, as most of them at some point reflect on the distorted relationships that mar our world; it also includes some with a specific focus on the practical, ethical and theological nature of our current situation.
Where should I begin?
If you want to explore the current situation and Christian responses generally, you might want to start with one of the books by David Bookless or the Hodsons, Ruth Valerio’s Saying Yes to Life or the CAFOD study guide to Laudato Si’. Hannah Malcolm’s Words for a Dying World is an extraordinary compilation of short pieces which mingle reflection on the current situation from a variety of perspectives, lament, and courageous action. You might want to read them one at a time and reflect …
Why don’t you list …?
This is a list in progress. If you have suggestions, email them to us at email@example.com.
A reading list
Richard Bauckham, Bible and Ecology: Rediscovering the Community of Creation (DLT, 2010) What does the Bible say about humanity’s relationship to God and the rest of the created order? A beautifully written exploration that calls us to rediscover our place as created beings and our specific role in creation’s praise of God.
Professor R J (Sam) Berry. “The Biblical Basis for Creation Care” (JRI Briefing Paper 8) A concise, 4 page summary of the Christian responsibility to care for creation which also includes a useful summary of different creation theologies.
Dave Bookless, Planetwise: Dare to Care for God’s World (IVP, 2008) What does it mean to look at creation in the light of the whole Bible story – from creation to new creation? And how does that change the way we care for the earth? Designed to be used for individual reflection or small group study, with questions at the end of chapters. Accessibly written and engaging. There’s also a good video introducing the concepts behind A Rocha and Planetwise here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ql4mr6ykDFQ. If you like this book, you might also try Bookless’ God Doesn’t Do Waste (IVP, 2010).
Dave Bookless, “The Earthly Jesus and the Cosmic Christ” (The Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, Working Paper No 1, 2016) What does Christ’s lordship mean for the whole of the created order? An important contribution to a New Testament ecological theology. Free to download here.
Paula Clifford, Angels with Trumpets: The Church in a Time of Global Warming (Darton, Longman and Todd, 2009) One of the first books to look at the climate crisis in terms of issues around climate justice and the pastoral needs the climate crisis would create.
Celia Deane-Drummond, A Primer in Ecotheology: Theology for a Fragile Earth (Cascade, 2017) An introduction to different forms of ecotheology, with a section on the Catholic teaching embodied in Laudato Si’. You might also want to look at the author’s Eco-Theology (DLT, 2008) an academic text which goes into greater detail.
Vigen Guroian, Inheriting Paradise: Meditation on Gardening (Eerdmans, 1999) and The Fragrance of God (Eerdmans, 2006). A leading Orthodox theologian offers a mixture of personal and theological reflection, helping us to reflect about ourselves, creation and the Creator.
Peter Harris, Under the Bright Wings (Regent College Publishing, 1993, repr 2000) and Kingfisher’s Fire: A Story of Hope for God’s Earth (Monarch, 2008). Two books by the co-founder of A Rocha, Peter Harris, exploring its roots and its growth – with a focus on conservation and care for the earth. Audio excerpts from Under the Bright Wings: https://www.arocha.org/en/resources/audio-under-the-bright-wings/
Martin and Margot Hodson, eds. Environment and Hope, Anvil 29.1 (2013) – A collection of short essays by theologians, scientists and activists responding to the question – how do we define an authentic Christian hope in the Anthropocene age? Available free online: https://content.sciendo.com/view/journals/anv/29/1/anv.29.issue-1.xml
Martin and Margot Hodson, Cherishing the Earth (Monarch, 2008) and A Christian Guide to Environmental Issues (BRF, 2016, rev ed coming in April 2021). Two excellent introductory works, both of which have associated study materials for small group study.
Timothy Howles, Responding Faithfully to the Environmental Crisis: Christianity at the Time of the Anthropocene (Grove Books, 2019) – A belief that we can control the world through our technology has led us into crisis. What do Christians have to offer as a response to help us get out of it?
James Jones, Jesus and the Earth (SPCK, 2003) – What does Jesus say about creation? The former Bishop of Liverpool looks at the question, reflecting on the way in which the Gospels, as well as the Hebrew Scriptures, offer insights into the way Christians should look at the earth and their role in caring for it. Short and accessible, useful for group study.
Hannah Malcolm, ed, Words for a Dying World: Stories of Grief and Courage from the Global Church (SCM Press, 2020) A collection of theological reflections on climate grief, and the response to it, from Christians in many different countries around the world. Accessible, moving, thought-provoking.
Hannah Malcolm, “Grieving the Earth as Prayer: A wounded speech that heals” The Ecumenical Review 72:4 (December 2020), pp. 581-595.
Alastair McIntosh, Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition (Birlinn, 2008)
Alastair McIntosh, Riders on the Storm: The Climate Crisis and the Survival of Being (Birlinn, 2020)
Jurgen Moltmann, God in Creation (Fortress, 1993) One of the leading systematic theologians of the 20th century explores the relationship between the Trinity and creation. What does creation mean to God? How are the different persons of the Trinity involved? What is the relationship between creation and God’s Kingdom? Not one for beginners – but highly influential.
Michael Northcott, The Environment and Christian Ethics (CUP, 2008) A comprehensive survey of Christian thinking on environmental ethics, which explores the views of God, humanity, and the created order that underlie different ethical frameworks. Weighty, but readable – and wonderful for provoking thought.
Michael Northcott, A Political Theology of Climate Change (Eerdmans, 2013)
David Osborne, Love for the Future: A Journey (Wild Goose Publications, 2013). A beautifully written, lyrical account of a walk from Shropshire to Iona, contemplating the landscape and being led from that to contemplation of our relationship with God, the planet, and each other.
Pope Francis, Laudato Si’: The encyclical itself weaves a Franciscan sense of the ways in which creation reflects God’s love with analysis of economic, social and environmental injustices to produce an ‘integral ecology’. CAFOD’s study guide (available for download online) is an accessible way of engaging with a complex work.
Sir Ghillean Prance, Go to the Ant: Reflections on biodiversity and the Bible (Wild Goose Publications, 2008) Sir Ghillean was Scientific Director of the Eden Project, Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. His engaging and accessible book links references to creation in the Bible with stories drawn from his many decades exploring creation in different parts of the earth.
Ruth Valerio, Saying Yes to Life (SPCK, 2019) – Archbishop’s Lent Book for 2020. Uses the story of creation found in Genesis 1 as a starting point to explore the theology and practice of creation care. The aspects of creation – earth, water, etc – are explored: how does each one appear in Scripture? What is happening to each in our modern world? And how can we respond to the crises creation faces? Helpful blend of theological reflection, case studies, and suggestions for practical action.
Rowan Williams – Christ the Heart of Creation (Bloomsbury Continuum, 2018) How do we “think about the relation between God and what God has made”? A survey of thinking around the relationship between Christology and the doctrine of creation. Complex, deep and worth wrestling to understand.