The Joseph Sittler Archives — The Expanding Scope of Grace
The Joseph Sittler Archives — The Expanding Scope of Grace
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Environment / Ecology

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“Nature is a theater of grace” is one of Joseph Sittler’s most celebrated and influential ideas. His approach to environment and ecology is strikingly original in that he makes ecology a thoroughly theological issue and relates it to God’s grace. He spoke of grace as “all that God does to crack nature open to its God, to restore it to his love and to its intended destiny” (Evocations of Grace, 2000, page 35). God cracks nature open in Trinitarian fullness: creation, redemption, and ongoing presence. Christ is central to all of Sittler’s thinking, and especially to his ideas about the environment. However, as he said in his influential address to the World Council of Churches in 1962, “redemption is meaningful only when it swings within the larger orbit of a doctrine of creation” (op. cit., page 40). In this area of his work as elsewhere, Sittler urged a radical reconceptualization in traditional theology. He did not propose a detailed agenda for action, but he cultivated the motivation and understanding that undergird all action. The richness and comprehensive character of his writing is “a good antidote to the repetitiveness, dullness, and stridency of much of Christian ecotheological writing” (Peter Bakken, Evocations of Grace, page 19).

A sample of materials on the Environment / Ecology available from the Archives

  • The Care of the Earth (First in the “Message to Our Malaise” series, Princeton Theological Seminary. Also printed in The Care of the Earth, Fortress Press Facets Series, 2004, Audiotape (7/17/61)

  • Centennial Symposium at Augsburg College: Theological Underpinnings for a Christian Ecology (Minnesota), Audiotape (2/4/69)

  • Environmental Ethics (Meadville/Lombard Theological School), Audiotape (1985)

  • Evocations of Grace: Writings on Ecology, Theology and Ethics, edited by Steven Bouma Prediger and Peter Bakken. Eerdmans, 2000, Book

  • The Greening of Theology: The Ecological Models of Rosemary Radford Ruether, Joseph Sittler, and Jurgen Moltmann, by Steven Bouma-Prediger. Scholars Press, Atlanta, 1995, Book

  • Presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Lutheran Student Movement: The Care of the Earth and the Environmental Crisis (Pennsylvania), Audiotape (2/26/77)

See also The Web of Creation




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The Anguish of Preaching by Joseph Sittler

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