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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919


VAN DYK, Peet J.. "Responsible stewardship" - The root of all evil in eco-theology?. Old testam. essays [online]. 2015, vol.28, n.2, pp.523-535. ISSN 2312-3621.

Responsible stewardship of the earth has often been hailed by ecotheologians as an important corrective to an exploitative dominion-orientated attitude towards the earth. The idea of "responsible stewardship" is then introduced as a possible way to soften this harsh view of dominion over nature. The Garden in Eden and especially the command in Gen 2:15 to "till" and "guard" it is often quoted in eco-theology as an argument why humans should take on this responsibility towards nature conservation. This view can either be supported by a historical or a metaphorical argument. It is however argued that Eden should not be used in either way: Eden was not located within historical times or within a historical setting and the Garden of Eden is described in terms exactly opposite to those used to describe nature or wilderness: that is, as a well-farmed garden or agricultural field. It is further argued that the term "responsible stewardship" may be problematic from an ecological perspective. Contemporary ecology has demonstrated that nature does not need constant interference and is naturally self-sustaining. The term "responsible stewardship" may therefore merely be a hidden new way to affirm human dominion, human arrogance and anthropocentrism. It is therefore suggested that the terms "reluctant interference" or "careful interference" should rather be used than the concept of "responsible stewardship. "

Keywords : Eco-theology; responsible stewardship; Garden of Eden; careful interference; reluctant interference.

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