Research Project The Climate Crisis and the Christian Virtue of Hope

As the effects of global warming and its devastating impact on human and non-human beings becomes more and more apparent, it is increasingly important for Christian communities to engage the climate crisis. This project will draw on the Christian virtue of hope as a rich and promising resource in this regard. The Christian hope for a new heaven and a new earth has been – and sometimes still is being – misunderstood as an appeal for quietism; close reading of the Scriptures, however, reveals that this hope is meant to empower Christians to be involved in this world, with care. Explicating this message can help in the crucial task of energizing Christians towards ameliorating the climate crisis. Furthermore, the Christian account of hope offers an alternative to the pervading sense of despair, or hopelessness, in a lot of ecological literature. While understandable considering the magnitude and seriousness of the climate crisis – a ‘wicked problem’ –, messaging centered on despair works counterproductively – it does not motivate people towards changing their behaviour in ecologically friendly ways. For people to be motivated, it is necessary to – on the one hand – be realistic, while – on the other hand – to offer a hopeful perspective, which emphasizes people’s agency in bringing about change. This project will endeavor to show how the Christian tradition of thinking about hope as a theological virtue can help navigate these twin challenges.

It will lead to a high-level academic publication, to be published in Open Access format. Furthermore, the results will be valorized towards a larger audience through either a YouTube video or a podcast.

This project is generously funded by the Susanna Wesley Foundation, based at the University of Roehampton in London (UK).