Following Jesus in a Warming World – Kyle Meyaard-Schaap

Following Jesus in a Warming World: A Christian Call to Climate Action by Kyle Meyaard-Schaap
Published by IVP on February 21, 2023
Genres: Ecological Justice, Non-Fiction
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Have you ever looked at the effects of climate change and the apathy of so many around you and wondered, What are we missing here?
Climate activist Kyle Meyaard-Schaap understands this feeling from personal experience. But in his years of speaking to and equipping Christians to work for climate action, he's seen the trend begin to shift. More and more young Christians are waking up to the realities of climate change. They want to help, but they're not sure how.
Through stories from the field, theological and scriptural exploration, and practical advice, Meyaard-Schaap offers hope to Christians paralyzed by the scale of the crisis, helping us turn our paralysis into meaningful action. Following Jesus in a Warming World is a field guide for Christian climate action--one grounded not in a sense of guilt or drudgery, but in the joy of caring for creation.

Growing up as a conservative evangelical, I knew we were supposed to be suspicious of global warming. There were two reasons for this: First, God wouldn’t let the earth be destroyed until it was his time to destroy it. Second, Al Gore. In the decades since then, Gore’s warnings have proved prescient and the scientific evidence is nearly insurmountable. We live in a warming world. Following Jesus in a Warming World: A Christian Call to Climate Action blends a how-we-got-here history and a where-do-we-go-from-here activism that results in a clear and practical blueprint for enacting ecological justice.

Kyle Meyaard-Schaap is currently the vice president of the Evangelical Environmental Network and formerly a spokesperson for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action. He’s been in the trenches of both evangelicalism and ecological justice, understands them both, and is able to bring the two to reconciliation. Of all the things I expected in Following Jesus in a Warming World—a discussion about evangelicalism/fundamentalism’s questioning of science, the irrefutability of climate change, etc.—the thing I did not expect was that the book would be so theological.

Meyaard-Schaap knows his audience. So he grounds his plan for ecological justice in Scripture, showing how Adam’s “dominion mandate” is best interpreted as a responsibility to care for the earth and everything in it. He positions this ecological responsibility as part of the imago dei—that because we are made in the image of God, we have a duty for Creation care. This theological background helps break down the sociopolitical barriers that some Christians might have when it comes to creation care.

Following Jesus in a Warming World also presents combating climate change as a pro-life issue, discussing how life of all kind—but human flourishing in particular—is harmed by the changes wrought by the warming world. By focusing on the theological and moral aspects, Meyaard-Schapp is able to get heads nodding and agreeing before turning to more controversial elements. He also advocates that we use the method of storytelling to combat antagonism to climate change rather than trying to simply quote statistics, scientists, or Al Gore. Learning the real-life human cost of climate change—the qualitative, rather than the quantitative cost—can help change the narrative and make people more amenable to change in their own lives.

Following Jesus in a Warming World offers several simple and practical actions that individuals can do to combat climate change. However, it’s also clear the climate change is a systematic problem that requires a systematic solution. Christian action is two-tiered: First, we change our personal behaviors to enact ecological justice where we can, even if our individual actions are imperceptibly small. Second, we use our ability to advocate for change in corporations, governments, and the ultra-wealthy who account for most of climate change. Meyaard-Schaap grounds all of this in a Christian ethic that you’d be hard-pressed to disagree with. Following Jesus in a Warming World is a call for Christians to reflect the image of their Maker and care for the world that has been entrusted to them.