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Book Explores Relationship Between
Christianity and Caring for the Earth

Posted September 17, 2001

HOLLAND -- Dr. Steven Bouma-Prediger of the Hope College religion faculty has written "For the Beauty of the Earth," which explores the relationship between Christianity and the natural world.

Subtitled "A Christian Vision for Creation Care," the book is part of the "Engaging Culture" series published by Baker Academic, a division of Baker Book House Co. of Grand Rapids. The book is divided into eight chapters, and covers topics including ecological literacy, the damaged state of the earth, whether or not Christianity is to blame for the degradation of the planet, the connection between scripture and ecology, and why earth-care matters.

"[I]n this book I intend to put Christian theology and contemporary ecology (broadly construed) into dialogue," Bouma-Prediger notes in his introduction. "My central claim is simple: Authentic Christian faith requires ecological obedience. To care for the earth is integral to Christian faith."

Of the volume, H. Paul Santmire, author of "The Travail of Nature" and "Nature Reborn," has written, "This accessible and engaging but theologically sophisticated book will rightfully command the attention of parish pastors, church lay leaders, and Christian university students, as well as academic theologians."

Bouma-Prediger is an associate professor of religion at Hope, where he has been a member of the faculty since 1994. "For the Beauty of the Earth" is his fourth book concerning ecology and theology, and his second in as many years. He is co-editor, with Peter Bakken, of "Evocations of Grace: Writings on Ecology, Theology, and Ethics," published in 2000 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. of Grand Rapids/Cambridge. His other books are "The Greening of Theology: The Ecological Models of Rosemary Radford Ruether, Joseph Sittler, and Jurgen Moltmann" (Scholars Press, 1995) and, with Virginia Vroblesky, "Assessing the Ark: A Christian Perspective on Nonhuman Creatures and the Endangered Species Act" (Crossroads, 1997).

For many years, Bouma-Prediger led wilderness backpacking and canoeing trips, a practice he continues for a Hope May Term course focused on ecological theology and ethics that he co-teaches in the Adirondacks in upstate New York. He is a member of numerous professional societies, as well as the Evangelical Environmental Network and the Christian Environmental Council.

He is a member of the planning committee for the 2001 Critical Issues Symposium at Hope. Scheduled for Tuesday-Wednesday, Oct. 2-3, this year's symposium is focusing on ecological issues and is titled "Earth Matters: Daily Decisions, Environmental Echoes."

Bouma-Prediger was elected the recipient of the college's Hope Outstanding Professor-Educator (H.O.P.E.) Award by the graduating Class of 1999, and invited to deliver the college's Commencement address by the graduating Class of 1998. In 1994, while on the faculty of North Park College, where he chaired the philosophy department, he was given the Student Association Service Award and named to the "Chicago Tribune's All-Star Professor Team for Chicago-area colleges.

He has also taught at Fuller Theological Seminary, Toronto School of Theology and Western Theological Seminary, and in the Global Stewardship Study Program at Jaguar Creek in Belize. A 1979 Hope graduate, he holds an M.Phil. from the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto, Ontario; an M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary; and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

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