Eco-Theology and Environmental Leadership in Orthodox and Evangelical Perspectives in Russia and Ukraine
2. Background for This Study
2.1. Global and Local Assessments of Ecology
2.2. Orthodox Christianity and Evangelicalism in Russia and Ukraine
3.1. Questions and Sampling of Individual Interviews/Focus Group
- What value does nature and animals have for humans and for you personally?
- What can you say about the ecological situation in the country, in the world?
- How do you feel about what is called the modern environmental crisis?
- What can you say about the attitude of contemporary Christians towards nature and the environment?
- How do you understand the idea of creation care?
- Can you share what you personally do to care for creation?
- Knowing that you are familiar with the Bible, can you tell what it says about nature and the animals?
- Religious practitioners—active members of Evangelical or Orthodox churches;
- Aged 18 years and above; and
- Lived in Russia or Ukraine.
3.2. Data Collection and Analysis
4. Analysis and Findings
4.1. Review of Relevant Documents and Specialized Literature
4.2. Analysis and Findings from Interviews and Focus Groups
4.2.1. The Value of Nature and Animals
4.2.2. Perspectives on the Ecological Situation
4.2.3. The Attitude of Contemporary Christians toward Nature and Environment
“Christians mainly deal with spiritual matters like the Gospel and saving people. But as for the environment—I haven’t noticed that the Church pays much attention to this”.(Evangelical)
“Most Christians, 90% of them, don’t think that ecological problems have relevance to Christianity and the spiritual sphere. Even 95% of them don’t think about it”.(Evangelical)
“I haven’t heard that this question was ever raised in the Churches. We, I think, are not ready for it yet”.(Evangelical)
“I think that Christians have many other concerns. First of all, caring for the ecology of their souls”.(Orthodox)
4.2.4. Perspectives on the Concept of Creation Care
“To care about what is around us. Birds, animals, water, ground, etc”.(Orthodox)
“For me personally, care for the Earth is when you give something, not only receive”.(Orthodox)
“Creation care begins with us, yet we also should make some impact to motivate other people”.(Evangelical)
“The Lord says: ‘Cultivate the paradise.’ What does it mean? To take care of it, not simply benefit from it”.(Orthodox)
“Care of creation is God’s command, and we have to take this responsibility before God. We should do everything to help creation fulfill the plan of our Creator”.(Orthodox)
“This is the biblical truth that God initially gave to Adam when he placed him in the garden of Eden. He gave him the command to not only be fruitful and multiply … but also to take care, improve, cultivate. Cultivation has to do with improvement. After all, it is about caring for the place where God put us”.(Evangelical)
4.2.5. Personal Environmental Leadership
“From my position as a teacher, philosopher, Christian … I try to contribute to the public discourse the following idea: if I think in Christian categories, it should be natural for me to think in categories of care for the environment”.(Orthodox)
“As a priest, I regularly say in my sermon that a person’s lifestyle and attitude toward nature is the evidence of what is in his or her soul”.(Orthodox)
4.2.6. Eco-Faith and Eco-Hermeneutics
Theology of Creation and Creation Care
“When a human-like creature came to the realization that it was no longer an animal but was similar to God and began searching for God, at that moment we read their names mentioned in the second chapter of Genesis…. Only those people who realized their intelligence, who had a choice, have names. If we have separated ourselves and become the pinnacle of creation, then we will always be part of the animal world and part of the Divine world. If a man achieves holiness, he transforms his part of the animal world, inspires it, and thus accomplishes deification. Through this deification the whole animal world will be transformed”.
“When the Fall happened, everything turned upside down…. Sin changed everything completely (even things that seemed to be under humans’ submission) and came to the world through a man. And that is why everything should be fixed by a man. Because of this, Christ is the new Adam who came to set us free from sin, curse, death. Indeed, he set us free”.
Eco-Theology in the Old Testament
“I will refer to the story of Noah. The Bible demonstrates that when it comes to salvation, this also implies care for various animals, their salvation, because they live in the same world with humans. This means that the well-being and life of humans is impossible without the lives of other living creatures. We share the same creation and, in a sense, have the same future…. The question of the salvation of people touches the issues of how we can preserve and continue the happy and safe existence of other creatures”.
Eco-Theology in Jesus and the Gospels
“I know that the whole creation groans and waits for the revelation of the sons of God…. The redemption of the whole creation will take place when humanity is redeemed…. Most likely, it is about the Millennial kingdom because the earth and all works will be burned up by that time”.
“As for the texts that say that all works on earth will be burned up, I think that they are imagery and not suggesting that the earth will be destroyed by fire at the end of times. The passages that talk about the new heavens and the new earth do not imply that everything will be brand new. What we have now will be renewed in the future, which is why we should care for it with the understanding that it will be renewed”.
“I admit that God’s wrath will be on those who are careless about nature and destroy it”.
“The making of the new heaven and new earth will be completed with the transformation of the old creation into new. Ecology and other things will work as they should on the new earth. And we should do everything we can to accelerate the fulfilling of this prophecy”.
Bible, Tradition, and Eco-Hermeneutics
- Can/should eco-theology become part of mainstream Orthodox and Evangelical theology in Russia and Ukraine? Or should Evangelicals and Orthodox accept that ecological issues will remain on the periphery of their theological thinking and community service?
- To what extent can anthropocentrism be avoided in the ecological hermeneutics and eco-spirituality within Evangelical and Orthodox traditions?
- Can/should environmental leadership of Russian and Ukrainian Evangelicals and Orthodox be considered/developed as an integral part of God’s mission and the mission of the Church?
- How can/should Christian eco-theology equip Evangelical and Orthodox believers in Russia and Ukraine to be effective and ethical leaders that take seriously the task of environmental responsibility in their communities and beyond?
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
In this article, we use the term “Orthodox Christians” to refer to the religious adherants of the existing independent Orthodox Churches in Ukraine and Russia. The term “Evangelicals” is used to denote those who belong to various Russian and Ukrainian Baptist, Pentecostal, and charismatic congregations.
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Negrov, A.; Malov, A. Eco-Theology and Environmental Leadership in Orthodox and Evangelical Perspectives in Russia and Ukraine. Religions 2021, 12, 305. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050305
Negrov A, Malov A. Eco-Theology and Environmental Leadership in Orthodox and Evangelical Perspectives in Russia and Ukraine. Religions. 2021; 12(5):305. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050305Chicago/Turabian Style
Negrov, Alexander, and Alexander Malov. 2021. "Eco-Theology and Environmental Leadership in Orthodox and Evangelical Perspectives in Russia and Ukraine" Religions 12, no. 5: 305. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050305