Original Research - Special Collection: Theology and Nature

Religious diversity, ecology and grammar

Hermen Kroesbergen
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 1 | a6064 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i1.6064 | © 2020 Hermen Kroesbergen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 April 2020 | Published: 04 September 2020

About the author(s)

Hermen Kroesbergen, Department of Dogmatics and Christian Ethics, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


We do not need ‘the earth’ as the space for encounter and cooperation between world religions in the way Moltmann suggests. Firstly, this fails to do justice to the contemporary situation concerning religious diversity: people from different religions have no problem in working together either for promoting ecological goals or for fighting them together. Within religions, there are often greater divergences between eco-friendly and anti-ecological adherents of that same religion. Secondly, Moltmann’s proposal misguidedly confuses boundaries of beliefs and boundaries of grammar concerning religious diversity. Paying attention to religions as grammar provides a more accurate picture of the reality concerning world religions from an ecological perspective. In the final section of this article, I present some suggestions on moving forward in the debate about ecology from within this new perspective. We need to keep in mind that it is not religions but people who have opinions about ecology. The dialogue that needs to take place is not a high-level bureaucratic one between officials of different religions but one between people. In this grassroots-level discussion, it is important to listen to the other person rather than to consider him or her as a representative of his or her religion. We should not allow people to claim an entire religion for their position, dismissing others as revisionists. Religions are grammars that can express both eco-friendly and anti-ecological messages.

Contribution: This article contributes to an in-depth understanding of religious diversity; it proves the usefulness of the distinction between grammar and beliefs in the study of religion and demonstrates this using the case of ecotheology as an example.


Religious pluralism; John Hick; Ecotheology; Ludwig Wittgenstein; Nature religions


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Crossref Citations

1. Muslim views on other religions: With special reference to Buddhism
Jaffary Awang, Ahmad F. Ramli, Zaizul A. Rahman
HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies  vol: 77  issue: 4  year: 2021  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v77i4.6608