Book. A New City of God: Faith and Climate Change

City of God by Augustine of Hippo
Our book A New City of God: A Christian Response to Climate Change is scheduled for publication in 2020. The themes of the book are:

  • We are running into limits, of which the best known is climate change. But other limits include resource depletion, over-population, biosphere destruction and excess debt. These limits are not problems, they are predicaments. Problems have solutions, predicaments to do not.
  • To date there has been virtually no leadership at national or international levels. We continue to consume the earths’ resources at a record pace, and we continue to fill up the environment with our waste products — particularly greenhouse gases.
  • Dire as this situation may be, it does present a wonderful opportunity for the Christian church and for individual Christians to provide much-needed leadership.
  • Part of this leadership will consist of developing a theology for our times.

The title of the book is taken from St. Augustine’s City of God, written early in the early 5th century CE. Augustine lived at a time when the superpower of his time — the Roman Empire — was slowly, but inexorably declining. Indeed, one of the defining moments of his life was the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in the year 410. He recognized that all human institutions will eventually fail (look at all the “failed states” in the Hebrew Bible). Only one institution was permanent, he argued, and that was the City of God. So he and other church fathers set themselves the task of determining the nature of that “City”. In other words, he and other church fathers developed a theology for their times — a theology that would provide structure and organization during the coming Dark Ages and the early Middle Ages.

Other church leaders who worked out a response to changing times were Martin Luther and John Wesley.

The latest Table of Contents is provided in .pdf format here. The current chapter titles are,

Chapter 1 — The Author’s Apology
This chapter provides an introduction to the book and an overview of its themes and messages.  A video that provides an overview of this chapter is available here.

Chapter 2 — City of Man
Discusses the dilemmas that we face to do with climate, resources, the biosphere and many other issues. This situation provides an opportunity for us to create a new type of City of Man here on earth.

Chapter 3 — Hubris and Nemesis
The development of science and technology has led to many extraordinary achievements. However, this success is also our hubris, our over-weening pride. Hubris is always followed by nemesis — a downfall. Also discussed in this chapter is the opportunity to bring two cultures, science and the liberal arts, together once again.

Chapter 4 — Truth
The predicaments that we face are extraordinarily complex and difficult to understand. This chapter discusses some of the issues to consider as we attempt to figure out the truth as to what is going on. Also discussed are the various types of denial.

Chapter 5 — Predicaments
This chapter provides detailed discussion to do with the predicaments that we face. It also explains why many of the proposed solutions, such as alternative energy sources, will not be as effective as anticipated.

Chapter 6 — Theology
Before deciding on how to respond to the dilemmas that we face, we need to develop an intellectual framework — in religious terms, that means that we need a theology for our times. This chapter provides some suggestions as to what such a theology may look like.

Chapter 7 — The Church’s Response
The final chapter outlines how people of faith, and how the church overall, can respond to the dilemmas that we face. Although we are entering a new and rather scary world, the situation does provide an opportunity for the church to provide leadership.