The Future of Creation: Foundations for a Just and Sustainable World

by David Rhoads

To live faith in today’s world, we need to face today’s problems. This course will address the challenges that environmental degradation poses for the near future. We face numerous ecological crises: climate change, ozone loss, overuse of natural resources, loss of species/ ecosystems, proliferation of waste, and over-population, among others. What are the basic scientific understandings of these problems? How much of this ecological state of the world is due to human activity? And how can this scientific information serve as a basis for humans to make wise decisions about our future?

Furthermore, we know that there have been great human costs and consequences to the human degradation of creation, especially upon the most vulnerable people in society and on the poorest nations. How can we find an earth ethic that takes account of the interrelationship between human injustice and the deterioration of the environment? How can we address specific instances of ecological injustice and environmental racism? What transformations in our systems—political, economic, social, and religious—do we need to make in order to turn away from our destructive patterns? In addition, we know that our thinking about life informs the way we treat earth community. In what ways have our biblical interpretations, our theological formulations, and our patterns of spirituality either disregarded or contributed to the human exploitation of people and earth? What new biblical studies and theological constructions are leading us to think in an earth-friendly way that can lead to environmental restoration?

The course includes a strong scientific component, with guest lecturers from the science faculties of Chicago-area universities and research centers. It also integrates theological responses to science, presented by theology professors from local seminaries, in order to help participants make connections between the knowledge of science and their faith traditions. Class discussions will prepare participants to be conversant about the problems of theodicy and ethics related to environmental issues. The course will offer practical suggestions for personal and congregational actions and transformations. Consultation with community organizations will orient participants to the collaborative network that will facilitate congregational action.


Topics to be addressed:

• The relationship between ecology and ongoing evolution

• The concept of ecological sustainability; organisms and their habitats

• The importance of species diversity; population and extinctions

• Pollution of air and water; radioactive contamination

• An ethic for earth community; ecological justice/environmental racism

• Theology of Nature

• Biblical resources for the future of creation

• Interfaith resources for human/societal transformations

• Spirituality of place; practical applications at home, in congregations, and with local communities


For further information:

If you have questions, suggestions, or comments, please send them to Gayle Woloschak ( or David Rhoads ( For questions regarding registration, contact Chris Heisser (

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