Following Jesus in a Warming World: A Christian Call to Climate Action

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


Following Jesus in a Warming World: A Christian Call to Climate Action


Kyle Meyaard-Schaap


InterVarsity Press

http://InterVarsity Press

Publication Date:

February 21, 2023




192 pages


Kyle Meyaard-Schaap wasn’t sure what to think in college when his old brother announced he’d become a vegetarian. His journey to understanding what environmental issues led his brother to make this choice created some surprises. The journey eventually led him to become an advocate for environmental causes, and helping evangelical Christians understand what they’ve been missing in the climate change conversation.

His case for why evangelicals should get involved in environmental causes addresses questions like:

  • How did evangelicals become pro-fossil fuel industries no matter the cost, even in cases (like Appalachian strip mining) where it’s clear fossil fuel companies are damaging communities?
  • Does the New Testament’s discussions about eschatology (the new heaven and new earth), mean this planet is essentially disposable?
  • Can investing in environmental solutions become a way to care for the next generation, allowing us to be truly and consistently pro-life?
  • How can Christians make small practical changes to care better for the environment, and have graceful conversations with Christian family members about what they’re doing?
  • Does spreading the gospel end with verbally sharing one’s testimony, or can actions (caring for communities, caring for the planet) become a way to share the gospel message?

Meyaard-Schaap does a great job of summarizing where evangelicals have gone lost in the environmental discussion. Bits and pieces of what he says have been discussed elsewhere. For example, Jeff Meador discusses in his book In Search of the Common Good how the New Testament’s use of kainos for “new heaven and new earth” means the writers are describing a renewed earth, not a completely new one. Sky Jethani makes similar points in Futureville. However, Jethani and Meador both focus more on what this eschatology means for creatives and communities (what we make now will become part of the renewed earth, so let’s learn to make things well). Meyaard-Schaap gives a more detailed look at kainos in New Testament writings, and weds that discussion to a look at how the rest of the Bible describes physical things. He makes a compelling case that God’s words to Adam about taking care of the earth mean something more holistic than just using its resources and that the fact Jesus came as a human being means we can’t take Gnostic solutions where we treat all matter as disposable. Many theologians have pushed back against the “God will nuke this earth in 20 years, so don’t care about it” theology espoused by Hal Lindsey in The Late Great Earth (popularized further in the Left Behind series). Few do it as thoroughly as Meyaard-Schaap does, or with the empathy of someone who used to believe that vision.

For many readers, the discussion about how evangelicals became unapologetic supporters of fossil fuel industries, and hostile to any critiques of the industry, will be the most eye-opening. Meyaard-Schaap shows how the conversation among evangelicals wasn’t always this way. Yes, the “wildcat” oil well entrepreneurs of the early twentieth century were anti-regulation and many belonged to the fundamentalist movement that preceded evangelicals. However, it wasn’t until 1979, when Ronald Reagan ran on a pro-fossil fuel campaign and reached out to Christian leaders for support, that evangelical Christianity, rightwing politics, and unfettered fossil fuel exploration fused together to create the Christian Right we know today. This vision had defined so much of how evangelicals talk about politics, but it’s only two generations old. This section proves tough to read but ultimately hopeful. It pushes evangelicals to realize the political narrative has been unhealthy for the last few decades… but there was something else before. That means there’s a possibility for crafting a new vision that combines healthy conservative politics with a healthy environmental vision.

Other discussions about a way forward contain the same honest yet hopeful tone. Meyaard-Schaap shows there are many more green technology solutions available than we think, making it genuinely possible to cut out most fossil fuels within the next generation. Furthermore, he shows that cutting out fossil fuels would simply mean humans doing what humanity throughout history has done: try one technology, use it as long as it worked, then pick up the newer and better one. He doesn’t pretend getting evangelicals interested in green solutions will be easy. He’s honest about how tough it can be to have conversations about the environment with other evangelical Christians. He makes it clear how readers how important it can be to have that conversation, and how often it’s not quite scary as we think.

Exceptional book about changing the Christian conversation about environmentalism.


Rating (1 to 5 stars):

Five stars

Suggested Audience:

Evangelical questions come a particularly once you grew up in a conservative background that generally didn’t discuss climate change and other environmental issues

Christian Impact:

Meyaard-Schaap does an excellent job of grounding his arguments in theology, showing how a careful reading of how the Bible describes the earth motivates us to tend it rather than exploit it.

He also crafts an interesting vision of spiritually-balanced environmentalism. He talks about practical solutions (political activism that gets genuine results without being dismissed as an agitator, etc.) but also shows how community and spiritual disciplines can keep environmental advocates centered. One recent healthy shift in Christian writing has been recognizing that acquiring information isn’t enough. As James k Smith puts it in You Are What You Love, humans are not merely “brains-on-a-stick.” We have minds and bodies and are designed to have those elements work together. We need to not just tend our minds by getting information. We need to tend our bodies by cultivating healthy habits (devotional time, community connections, exercise, etc.) that keep us spiritually and mentally centered as we live countercultural lives advocating for change. Meyaard-Schaap details how understanding these practices enable healthy, humble, even joyful environmental activism.

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Following Jesus in a Warming World: A Christian Call to Climate Action

3 Responses to “Following Jesus in a Warming World: A Christian Call to Climate Action”

  1. Ooh this looks excellent!!


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    […] writers (such as Skye Jethani in Futureville and Kyle Meyaard-Schaap in Following Jesus in a Warming World) have highlighted the Gnostic overtones of such evangelical End Times stories. If the Lord was […]

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