March 20, 2010

Background of Ecumenical Discussion on Theology of Life

By Cheon, Young-Cheol

For a long time the theme of ‘creation’ or ‘theology of life’ was not given attention in ecumenical discussions. Only in the past decade, theological attention to creation has emerged in the ecumenical movement.

Ecumenical discussion mainly focused on the understanding of Christ and his Gospel. Prof. Lukas Vischer mentioned that the ecumenical movement’s prime concern was to seek unity of the church and common witness in the world and in this its starting point was Jesus Christ, the source of salvation (Vischer, 1993).

In fact, for many years the basis of the ecumenical movement was formulated in purely Christological terms. In other words, ecumenical discussion was occupied by the building of human community in church and in society.

In connection with the root of the ecological crisis, Lynn White, Jr. contends in his article ‘The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis’, that Western Judeo-Christian anthropocentric theology is the root of the ecological crisis (White, 1967). He argues Christianity is the most anthropocentric religion that the world has seen. Christianity, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia’s religions, not only established a dualism of human beings and nature but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.

Theology of life, thus, was initiated by WCC as a reflection on such a Western Judeo-Christian anthropocentric theology.

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