Why an eco-reformation?
There are voices across the ELCA calling for a reformation of the church to encompass care for all of God’s good creation.
We have spent centuries rightly nurturing our relationship with God (Love God) and one another (Love your neighbor). However, we have neglected God’s relationship with creation, our relationship with the rest of creation, and God’s relationship with us through the rest of creation (love creation). Now it is time to turn to this task with our full resources.
God’s Earth is in great trouble—pollution of air, land, and waters, ozone depletion, loss of forests and loss of farmable land to desert, proliferation of waste, global climate change, and much more. These changes are wreaking unjust havoc upon Earth, especially the poorest and most vulnerable humans, and on innumerable other creatures and plants of the entire natural world.
The overwhelming majority of scientists believe that these conditions are due in large part to the accumulative impact of human activity since the industrial revolution. To stop the destructive activity and to embrace practices that restore Earth, we will need sweeping changes in our society and our world.
Let’s begin with ourselves as a church. This will involve more than modest reforms such as adding a few hymns or using green cleaning products. This issue is not an add-on or simply a cause for those so interested. It involves all of us together. We need a transformation in our life and mission as a church, individually and together. We need to reform our worship, our theology, our ethics, our practices, and our spiritual disciplines.
As a church, we have always chosen to focus on care for the most vulnerable. We have rightly chosen as a church to emphasize feeding the hungry. Can we now broaden our commitment to the most vulnerable so as to care also for vulnerable earth and to address the connection between hunger and our ailing planet.
Our church needs a New Reformation as radical and transformative as the first one in the sixteenth century. We need to address the signal issue of our time (the restoration of Earth), as the sixteenth century reformation addressed their signal issue of that time (the salvation of the individual). We need to shift from being human-centered in our understanding of salvation to being Earth-centered in a way that seeks the well-being of all Earth Community.
We are approaching the observance of the five hundredth anniversary of the Sixteenth Century Reformation in 2017. As preparation for this event, Lutherans Restoring Creation urges us to consider embracing a New Reformation, an Eco-Reformation, as our means to rise to the greatest challenge of our time.
The Preaching Challenge: LRC invites you to take the occasion of Reformation Sunday to preach to your congregation the good news of God for all creation and to challenge your parish to respond to the love of God for creation and the grace of God in all creation so as to commit ourselves “to the care and redemption of all that God has made.”
Here are some resources for you to consult in giving thought to this invitation:
For Care for Creation commentary on the lectionary lessons for Reformation Sunday. A Reformation that acknowledges God’s presence in all creation.
For the ELCA Social statement, “Caring for Creation: Vision, Justice, Hope” and the study guide, click here.
“What’s Next for the Reformation?” Excerpts from an article in The Lutheran by Larry Rasmussen.
“American Lutherans Engage Ecological Theology: The First Chapter, 1962-2012, And Its Legacy” by Paul Santmire. A paper presented at the ELCA Teaching Theologians Conference on “Eco-Lutheranism” in August, 2012 calling for an eco-reformation of the church.
“Reflections on a Lutheran Theology of Creation: Foundations for a New Creation” by David Rhoads. A paper presented at the 2012 spring convocation at Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary.