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Elias Economou

An Orthodox View of the Ecological Crisis

1.4 The Ecological Authority.

We have to ask ourselves, who has the responsibility for tlιe contemporary human attitude towards nature? Who formed the macro-ecological causes of the ecological crisis? These questions could be answered through other questions, such as: who have the authority and tlιe responsibility to teach mankind about its relationship to nature? Theology, Philosophy or both? An univocal teaching of the truth could be very important for the solution of this threatening problem. But within the last four centuries, such a teaching has not come forth. Philosophy has been separated from Theology, going its οwn way and creating another cosmological view: one without God. That view has promoted the contempory technological and economical -and at the same time catastrophical- exploitation of the Earth.

We believe that: a) the churches have the full responsibility to confront the ecological problem from its macro-ecological aspect; this aspect corresponds absolutely to their nature and their mission. b) the appropriate activity, in questions of the micro-ecological aspect, has to be related to the macro-ecological, e.g. wholistic view, (sub specie aeternitatis).

Avoiding the old question about the relationship between Theology and Philosophy, as a separate subject, we, the believers, ought first of all to face the Ecological Problem not from its micro-ecological (see above 1.2), but from its macro-ecological aspect. The macro-ecological aspect has to be purely theological, because Christian Theology has the ultimate right to speak with authority about the relation between Nature and Mankind; This right is centuries-old, based οn Divine Revelation.

We Christians ought to realize that our conceptions about God, Christ, World, Mankind, Salvation and the Church are correlated to the present-day ecological problem, both to its creation and to its solution.

If we were to suppose that Holy Scripture and the Christian Faith, as Holy Tradition, have nothing to do with the problem because it is a new one, then we are obliged, acording St. Basil of Caesarea, to act as if the subject were a «silent» one (sesiopemenon) in the Bible. The Christian's stand towards that problem has to be governed by the following principles:.

a. The principle of freedom, according to the Apostle Ρau1 (I Corinthians 10,23): " All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify nοt".

b. The principle of responsibility for otlιers, according to the same apostle (Ι Corinthians 10,24): "Let nο man seek his οwn, but every man another's wealth'.

c. The principle of obedience to God or to others, according God's command. This last principle is conclusive, according Basil οf Caesarea: "therefore it is by every means necessary to obey God, according to His command, or others, because of His command" (Moralia 6, BEPES 53,61-62).

But, the Ecological Problem does not belong to the sillent subjects of Holy Scripture; the opposite is true; it belongs to the capital subjects of our faith. The subject of the natural environment of mankind, as natural conditions, are correlated with the others needed for it, i. e. social and divine. All three conditions are present in the three first chapters of the Book of Genesis. The biblical foundation of Εcοlοgy runs through the Bible till its last book, the Revelation of St. Jοhn, which ends with the ecological catastrophy.

Τhe ιιndivided Church formed its faith according the Bible and the Holy Tradition οn the subjects God, World /Nature, Mankind and their interacting relations. We Orthodox have as our duty to share with Christians of other Churches and denominations this venerable Holy Tradition in searching for the way to serve mankind. According to that Tradition, defined mostly in Ecumenical Councils, the teachings of our faith about God, Christ, World, Mankind, Original Sin, Salvation, Church, Eschatology are the pillars for the formation of a Christian answer to the Ecological Problem from its macro-ecological aspect and for guiding and illuminating our contribution to the world-wide community, as well.

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