Faith in an Age of Limits

City-of-God-1-300
Augustine’s New City of God

Welcome

The purpose of this site is to provide guidance for people of faith as we enter an Age of Limits. My name is Ian Sutton — my brief autobiography is provided here. The core messages of this site are,

  • We have entered an ‘Age of Limits’. The limits include resources, environmental capacity, over-population and financial debt. We are learning the hard way that infinite growth on a finite planet is not possible.
  • The issues that we face are not problems — they are predicaments. Problems have solutions, predicaments do not. When faced with a predicament we can respond and adapt, but we cannot make it go away.
  • Time is not on our side.
  • There has been an absence of leadership at the national and international level. This vacuum provides an opportunity for people of faith, and for the church as a whole, to lead the way.
  • But, before we can do so, we need a new way of thinking, a new theology.

In 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul said that, “we see through a glass darkly”. None of us knows what the future holds in detail. But we can see an outline, and that outline is daunting, even scary. But it is that future that presents an opportunity for the church.

Please share your thoughts with us, either through the comments feature of the blog, or at the contact page at Sutton Technical Books.

New Product Releases

We have recently released two publications. The first is a video summary of Chapter 1 of the book A New City of God: Faith in a Changing Climate. The second publication is an ebook An Age of Limits — Part 1.  Information to do with these two products is provided below.

Draft Chapters from A New City of God

We have released drafts of the first two chapters of A New City of God: Faith in a Time of Climate Change. They are available as .pdf files.

  • A New City of God: Faith in a Changing Climate — Chapter 1 The Author’s Apology. Available here.
  • A New City of God: Faith in a Changing Climate — Chapter 2 The City of Man. Available here.
  • Table of Contents here.

    Please provide your comments at this Contact Form.

Chapter 1 Video

John Bunyan (1628-1688)
John Bunyan (1628-1688)

We have prepared a 21 minute video that provides an overview of Chapter 1 — The Author’s Apology. It can be downloaded here.

Age of Limits — Part 1

Age-of-Limits-Title-Page

We have released the ebook Age of Limits – Part 1. This 82 page ebook supplements the forthcoming book A New City of God. The chapter titles are:

  • Introduction
  • Alice and the Red Queen
  • Rearranging the Deckchairs on the Episcopalian Titanic
  • Denial
  • The Green New Deal
  • Jevons Paradox
  • Personality Types
  • Thermodynamics
  • Stoicism
  • References

The ebook is in .pdf format and is priced at $9.99 (U.S.).Add to cart button for New City of God ebooks and videos

Resources and Current Events

Information to do with current events is provided at our Events page. Background information is provided at our Resources and References page.

Theology

Whenever society has gone through wrenching changes the church has developed a theology that is appropriate for the times. The example that provides a basis for the title of this web site is Augustine’s City of God, written 5th century CE as the western Roman Empire was declining into what we now refer to as the Dark Ages. Other examples of men who developed a new theology in response to the events of their times are Martin Luther and John Wesley.

As theologians, seminarians and ordained clergy develop a theology that speaks to an ‘Age of Limits’ I suggest that the following three points can provide guidance.

  • Understand and tell the truth.
  • Accept and adapt.
  • Live within the biosphere — materially and spiritually.

1. Understand and Tell the Truth

Pilate Questioning Jesus
Pilate Questioning Jesus

At his trial, Jesus says,

. . . the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.

To which Pilate replies,

What is truth?

 John 18:37-38

The situations in which we find ourselves are extraordinarily complex and difficult to understand. No one can fully grasp all the issues — there is much uncertainty. However, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “we see through a glass darkly”. We do not know what the future holds in detail, but we can see an outline. It is our responsibility to understand the truth as best we can, even if the future looks rather scary.

2. Accept and Adapt

As we have already seen, we face predicaments, not problems. When faced with a predicament we can respond and adapt, but we cannot make it go away. We should not be fatalistic, we should make every effort to slow down the changes that are taking place. But we need to recognize that there are no technical solutions, there is no deus ex machina that is going to save us. Christians, in my view need to offer realistic hope, which lies between fatalism and hopium.

Fatalism – Realistic Hope - Hopium
3. Live Within the Biosphere

Genesis 1:28 says,

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Well, we certainly aced that one. Now we need a theology that stresses the need to live in harmony with the earth, not to “rule over” it.

The following two passages from John’s gospel may provide better guidance for the future.

When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

The following words from Ecclesiastes 1 may also help us as we transition from a theology of linear progress to one of living within a cycle or rhythm.

The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.

The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.

All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.


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