God's Wounded World
American Evangelicals and the Challenge of Environmentalism
Although evangelicals and environmentalists at large still find themselves on opposing sides of an increasingly contentious issue, there is a counternarrative that has received less attention. Since the late 1970s, evangelical creation care advocates have worked relentlessly both to find a common cause with environmentalists and to convince fellow evangelicals to engage in environmental debate and action.
In God’s Wounded World, Melanie Gish analyzes the evolution of evangelical environmental advocacy in the United States. Drawing on qualitative interviews, organizational documents, and other texts, her interdisciplinary approach focuses on the work of evangelical environmental organizations and the motivations of the individuals who created them. Gish contrasts creation care with mainstream environmentalism on the one side, and organized evangelical environmental skepticism on the other. The religiopolitical space evangelical environmental leaders have established "in-between but still within" is carefully explored, with close attention to the larger historical context as well as to creation care’s political opportunities and intraevangelical challenges.
The nuanced portrait that emerges defies simple distinctions. Not only are creation care leaders wrestling with questions of environmental degradation and engagement, they also must grapple with what it means to be evangelical and live faithfully in both present-day America and the global community. As Gish reveals, creation care advocates' answers to these questions place moral responsibility and cultural mediation above ideology and dogmatic certainty. Such a posture risks political irrelevance in our hyperpartisan and combative political culture, but if it succeeds it could transform the creation care movement into a powerful advocate for a more accommodating and holistically oriented Evangelicalism.