Editorial: What does theology have to say about environmental degradation? Yen.com.gh contributor and freelance writer, Daniel Dela Dunoo explores the interesting subject in 'A Theological Response To Environmental Degradation In Ghana'
Ghana has rich and diverse natural resources. These resources are exploited to meet the growing demands of the populace. The uncontrolled manner of utilization of these natural resources has resulted in reversible and irreversible changes within the environment (Tamakloe, 2012).
The uncontrolled utilization of the natural resources (rampant felling of trees, indiscriminate bush fires, poor sanitary conditions and poor disposal of industrial waste amongst many others) in Ghana is increasingly posing a threat to the developmental agenda of Ghana; a critical look ought to be given to the environmental challenges plaguing our dear motherland and it is my contention that ecological theology can play a pivotal role in this quest.
“Ecological theology has to do with the multi-faced inter-relationship of three fundamental data of theological reflection: God, humankind, and the world of nature” (Santmire, 1985). Like God and humanity, nature resists simple definition. We will take nature as a synonym for a more concrete, theological term, rooted in biblical parlance: the earth. We consider the earth as the material-vital aspect of God`s creation, including humanity, although humanity has a unique position on earth. This is the reason why we do not speak of two data, God and nature, but of three, God, humanity and nature.In more simplified terms, ecological theology is a branch of Christian theology that concerns itself with a right and appropriate relationship between humanity and the earth as the creations of God. This relationship derives its mandate from God. God requires and demands that humanity takes care of creation (Genesis 2:15).
The creation narrative tells us that God created everything in six days. The order of creation implies a hidden ecological wisdom within the story. Humans were not created until late in the sixth day. God created everything and created us to look like him in the world. God cared so deeply for what he had created that he knew he needed a creature like him who would love it as he loves it and care for it as he cares for it; so he created us to be like him-to his creation.
Ecological theology and environmental degradation in Ghana
Ecological theology is perhaps one of the least propagated theologies in Ghana and by extension Africa. Hardly are proponents of ecological theology heard on the airwaves and in publications in Ghana. Much of the church seems to be bereft of a focus on ecological theology; hardly is a sermon preached in many churches that seeks to sensitize the church on ecological issues and its theological foundations. However, it is my contention that accurate understanding and application of ecological theology can do much good to the developmental agenda of Ghana.
Ghana, very much like other African countries is plagued by environmental problems of significant proportions; the destruction of vast forest reserves via the rampant felling of trees, the emission of poisonous gaseous substances in to the atmosphere leading to the gradual depletion of the ozone layer, severe challenges bothering around sanitation and garbage disposal.
Ghana has battled with the above mentioned environmental challenges and many others with very little success choked. These environmental challenges have existed with Ghana for decades; government after government has attempted to nip this canker in the bud without success. I submit that perhaps part of the panacea to the monumental environmental challenges Ghana has had to contend with is the promotion of ecological theology in our churches and on the airwaves. Per the recent population censures of the Ghana, Christians form an overwhelming majority in the country (71.2%). If this census is anything to go by, it should be possible to overcome the current environmental challenges facing Ghana. My contention is that ecological theology as long as it lines up with Scripture should be promoted in Ghana. Over time, the attitudes and value system of the citizenry in Ghana will be significantly shaped by an accurate understanding and imbibing of ecological theology. This change in attitudes and value systems will reflect in our behavioral patterns. By this, I mean, Ghanaians will adopt environmentally friendly lifestyles. Ecological theology will also inform the measures and strategies the government will adopt to counteract the environmental challenges in Ghana.
I wish to also state that by and large, the major religions in Ghana (Christianity, Islam, African Traditional Religion) all abhor environmental degradation in its varied forms. For instance, cleanliness (good sanitation) form an integral part of the obligations these varied religions place on their adherents.
In conclusion, it ought to be noted that we as citizens of our beloved country need to care for creation for our own sake; it is our God-given human task. When we do not care for the earth, we are depriving ourselves of something we were created for. This should not be a burden but rather a gift. God has given this gift of earth-keeping to all humans, and he is calling the church (and by extension the entire human race) to live this out in beautiful and imaginative ways by the power of the risen Christ in us. This is the essence of ecological theology and this will produce an admirable transformation in the environmental state and developmental agenda of Ghana.
Written by Daniel Dela Dunoo, a freelance writer, professional marketer, theologian, published author and the founder of Top-notch Writing Solutions, Ghana. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Blog: http://danieldeladunoo.blogspot.com / http://theroyalwordsmithgh.wordpress.com