Original Research - Special Collection: UP Faculty of Theology Centenary Volume One

Ecological ethics and creation faith

Ulrich Körtner
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 72, No 4 | a3296 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i4.3296 | © 2016 Ulrich Körtner | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 December 2015 | Published: 31 August 2016

About the author(s)

Ulrich Körtner, Institut für Systematische Theologie und Religionswissenschaft, der Evangelisch-theologischen Fakultät der Universität Wien (University of Vienna), Austria; Institut für Ethik und Recht in der Medizin der Universität Wien (University of Vienna), Austria; Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa, Austria

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Over past decades a concept of ecological ethics has taken root, which is often equated with environmental ethics. Church and theology have also responded to the environmental crisis. In the last third of the past century an intense discourse about the concerns and extent of a so called creation ethics was conducted. In connection with the question of a creation ethics, and the global responsibility of humans for the biosphere of our planet, the topic of creation has also gained new attention in dogmatics. In this way, ecology has also become a topic of systematic theology. The article focuses on the debate in the German speaking context. Occasionally, a quasi-religious elevation of ecology to the status of a doctrine of salvation is observable. Because theology always also has a function of critique of religion, it must also critically engage the sometimes open and sometimes hidden religious contents and claims of eco-ethical concepts. For this purpose, the first step of the present contribution is to more precisely determine the concepts of creation and nature. Thereafter, the problem of anthropocentrism is analysed. In a further step, the concept of sustainability is analysed. In conclusion, the main features of a responsibility-ethics model of ecological ethics are outlined.


Ecological ethics; creation; nature; systematic theology; anthropocentrism; sustainability


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