April 2002
volume 14 (1)

  Previous   Next  


Why is Francis of Assisi the Patron Saint of Ecologists?

Jan J. Boersema
Pages: 51-77


In 1967 the historian Lynn White proposed St. Francis as a patron saint for ecologists. In this article I subject his recommendation to a critical analysis. I set out by reviewing the arguments presented by White in favour of Francis as ecology’s patron saint and go on to consider whether White’s portrait of St. Francis is accurate. This takes us back to the medieval setting of St. Francis’ life and to written sources of that era, and brings us to a consideration of the difference between saints and ecologists/ environmental scientists. My conclusion from this comparison is that this medieval man’s outlook on the natural world is realms apart from that held by practitioners of modern ecology and environmental science, but perhaps less far removed from the perspectives of self-styled ‘deep ecologists’. Has Francis then rightly become the patron saint of those for whom ecology (in the sense of the environmental issue) has become a new religion, but wrongly for ‘ordinary’ ecologists and other environmental scientists? Can St. Francis still serve as a source of inspiration for the latter, or are they not in need of a patron? Finally, the question of whether this is more than merely a historical or terminological issue is addressed.


Eschatology and the Nature of Humans: a Reconsideration of Pertinent Biblical Evidence

Joel B. Green
Pages: 33-50


Among persons holding to some form of anthropological dualism, a crucial piece of evidence has been the presumption of the centrality to biblical eschatology of a disembodied intermediate state. The question posed in this essay is whether the biblical materials do in fact anticipate a waiting period of disembodied existence, experienced by the dead person, between death and resurrection. Focusing on three strands of evidence typically viewed as pivotal in the discussion – the concept of Sheol and the nature of the ‘shades’ that inhabit Sheol, the significance of the Lukan Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus and account of Jesus’ exchange with the criminal on the cross, and Paul’s concerns in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 – I demonstrate the fallacy of this presumption and suggest that an eschatology, in which a disembodied, intermediate state plays a central role is poorly supported by the biblical evidence.


Changing Portraits of Human Nature

Malcolm Jeeves
Pages: 3-32


Research in neuropsychology underlines the ever tightening links between mind and brain. A recent President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Robert Kendell, writes ‘Not only is the distinction between mental and physical ill-founded and incompatible with contemporary understanding of disease, it is also damaging to the long-term interests of patients themselves’2. At the same time advances in evolutionary psychology, revealing so-called ‘mind reading’ abilities in non-human primates, seem to reopen questions about what is unique about humans. Taken together neuropsychology and evolutionary psychology offer portraits of human nature that question some of our traditional Christian beliefs and have implications for Christian living. As in some earlier dialogues between science and faith, we are prompted to re-examine some traditional interpretations of familiar biblical passages. There are no easy answers but it is suggested that we need to return to a more holistic view of human nature that links our uniqueness to the God given capacity for a personal relationship with our Creator.


Editorial: Globalising Science & Christian Belief

Denis Alexander
Pages: 2-2


Editorial: Globalising Science & Christian Belief

Denis Alexander
Pages: 2-2


Book reviews

View book reviews

God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution

John F. Haught (Arthur Jones)
Pages: 93-94

The Human Person in Science and Theology

N.H. Gregersen,W.B. Drees, U. Görman (Eds.) (Graham McFarlane)
Pages: 94-95

Hallmarks of Design: Evidences of design in the natural world

Stuart Burgess (Oliver R. Barclay)
Pages: 95-95

Can we believe Genesis today?

Ernest Lucas (Bennet McInnes)
Pages: 96-96

Babel’s Shadow: Genetic technologies in a fracturing society

Pete Moore (Dr Ken Mickleson)
Pages: 83-84

The Future of the Universe – Chance, Chaos, God?

Arnold Benz (Evan Cockshaw)
Pages: 84-85

On Dying Well

Board for Social Responsibility of the Church of England (Alun Morinan)
Pages: 85-87

A Monk and Two Peas: The Story of Gregor Mendel and the Discovery of Genetics

Robin Marantz Henig (David Burbridge)
Pages: 87-88

The Dating Game: One Man’s Search for the Age of the Earth

Cherry Lewis (Robert S. White)
Pages: 89-91

Many Worlds: The New Universe, Extraterrestrial Life & the Theological Implications

Steven Dick (Ed.) (John Jefferson Davis)
Pages: 91-93