While forcing myself to take a sabbath today, I read an article by Jon Cobb Jr., “Ecojustice and Christian Salvation”. In this essay he lists alternatives to treat the world in terms of a sustainable approach.

He first mentions viewing the world in terms of regions. This approach would want to let each region fend for itself, and its population would be dependent upon that regions economy resources for survival. In this way, each region’s population will eventually balance in sustainable numbers.

Second, a global view would focus on the maximum carrying capacity of the planet. In this way, regions with more resources would pass some of those resources along to resource poor regions in order to raise the global standard of living, and keep it in line with a globally sustainable number.

Thirdly, he presents a view between these first two, in which the affluent would have to do less work towards sustainability. In other words, there would still be a rich class of people (like Americans).

A fourth possibility listed is for Christians to take responsibility for seeking out a sustainable lifestyle. In this view, Christians should recognize that not everyone can be counted on to live a lifestyle that will promote sustainability. Therefore, Christians should pick up the slack as a sacrifice to Christ.

This is an oversimplified view of what Cobb says, but it gets the point across. My question is: “Do we really have to choose something this extreme?” My first guess is that the answer may be “yes”. I haven’t fully thought this one through though. I’m trying to decide if the Christian idea of simplicity that was so central until the rise of Protestant Capitalism in Europe and America, needs to be revisited. If Christians were committed to living a simplistic lifestyle it would certainly help us to live “in this world, but not of it”. I’m just not sure what this would look like yet.

Let me know what you think, and if you can see an alternative that Cobb has not mentioned.

2 comments on “Ethical Sustainability

  • Many Christians in America do choose to live simply, wearing the cheapest clothing available, using old cars, when necessary, and foregoing jewelry and expensive personal products.

    Then there are the (few, to be sure) Amish, etc.

    I couldn’t say what percentage, but some use their savings to support missions to the poorest and least taught, such as Gospel for Asia, etc.

    What a different country we would be if even 50% of American Christians did this.

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