Sage Publications: “What Christian Environmental Ethics Can Learn from Stewardship’s Critics and Competitors” by Frederick V. Simmons

In this article I distill a trio of lessons for Christian environmental ethics from the stewardship model’s detractors and rivals. I begin by delineating stewardship and explaining the model’s initial prevalence as Christians’ primary response to widespread recognition of environmental crisis and their faith’s alleged culpability for it. I then distinguish two waves of criticism that, by denouncing stewardship’s substance and method, thoroughly discredited the model among Christian ethicists. Yet, as stewardship was being rejected for its susceptibility to anthropocentrism, one of its chief competitors—the land ethic—was being repudiated for its liability to misanthropy. I argue that these developments give Christians cause to (1) affirm a hierarchical non-anthropocentrism that prioritizes human interests; (2) premise such priority in part on human embrace of non-anthropocentrism; and (3) interpret environmental ethics as more than a matter of models like stewardship.

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