Christians Have ‘Responsibility’ to Tackle Environmental Crisis

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa (Oct. 19) Christians need to become stewards of the environment as the world struggles to agree about how to tackle the environmental crisis, a prominent Christian leader has argued.

Speaking at Cape Town 2010: The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization in Cape Town, South Africa, this afternoon, Las Newman, president of the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology in Jamaica, called the crisis a, “stark reality that compels us to act.”

He said: “We are believers in a Creator and a Redeemer God and hence have a great responsibility to act on God's behalf in our world today.”

Newman was speaking at a Multiplex session of the Congress alongside Ken Gnanakan, president of ACTS Group of Institutions in Bangalore, India, which includes primary and secondary schools, colleges and a private university.

They said that acting on God's behalf must include giving people the right knowledge and skills to combat environmental problems, as well as advocating alternative energy sources and seeking to ensure that each locality was an “ideal eco-habitation.”

They pointed out that the impact of environmental change will be felt most keenly, and potentially catastrophically, in the poorest nations of the world. The hundred of countries most at risk have a combined population of almost one billion people, but produce only 3.2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

This means “we must set up or support poverty alleviation projects of all kinds to help decrease the gap between the rich and poor,” said Newman and Gnanakan.

The climate is changing, said Newman during a follow-up press conference. Some say it is cyclical, some say it is man-made.  Those of us living with the reality of it are “impatient of the debate.”  As Christians, we have a moral responsibility to care for creation, he said.

Arguing for Christians neither to assume the sceptical position and dismiss it as a non-issue, nor to join the “prophets of doom who have exaggerated claims for their own personal agendas,” Newman and Gnanakan pointed out that Christians had been presented with a real opportunity.

“In the face of the failure of global leaders to come to any clear arguments, the role of the Christian community becomes even more urgent,” they said.

“We must mobilize community awareness, education and action in our immediate communities. And we must set up or support poverty alleviation projects of all kinds to help decrease the gap between the rich and poor.”

Newman and Gnanakan were speaking on the second full day of the Third Lausanne Congress for World Evangelization.

Carl Laferton 

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