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Tilling and Caring for the Earth: Public Theology and Ecology

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This article examines the task of public theology in contributing to the public debate by drawing from theological resources for ethical orientation and at the same time explaining why this orientation makes good sense for all people of good will. From a concrete example, the different factors involved in political decisions on ecologically relevant issues are revealed. Three fundamental types of defining the relationship between human beings and non-human nature can be identified: a utilitarian anthropocentrism that radically subordinates non-human nature to the interests of humanity; a nature-centred approach that sees humanity embedded in nature, equal with any other part of creation and, finally, an anthropocentrism of responsibility that affirms the dignity of nature while acknowledging a conflict between humanity and nonhuman nature. The article further develops the third approach as most appropriate for public theology and highlights the minimization of human violence as its consequence for political decisions.


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