The Clergy of CSI have been trying to bring out a Christian response to ecological issues, in the back drop of the current ecological issues in India. Five volumes of Earth Bible edited by Rev. Norman C Habel have been used by the Clergy in their study in formulating an Indian Eco theology. The important contribution of the Earth Bible is in its suggestion of six eco-justice principles that guide us in our interpretation of the Bible. They are, 1)The Principal of Intrinsic Worth- The universe, earth and all its components have intrinsic worth/value.2) The Principle of Interconnectedness- Earth is a community of interconnected living things that are mutually dependent on each other for life and survival.3)The Principle of Voice- Earth is a subject capable of raising its voice in celebration and against injustice. 4) The Principle of Purpose- The universe is part of a dynamic cosmic design within which each piece has a place in the overall goal of that design. 5) The Principle of Mutual Custodianship- Earth is a balanced and diverse domain where responsible custodians can function as partners, rather than rulers, to sustain a balanced and diverse earth community. 6) The Principle of Resistance- Earth and its components not only differ from injustice at the hands of humans, but actively resist them in the struggle for justice.
The Department of Ecological Concerns conducted workshops at different places to study the four volumes. In order to study the fifth volume the Department of Ecological concerns organised a Colloquium. The Colloquium to study ‘The Earth Story in the New Testament’, edited by Norman C Habel & Vicky Balabansky was held from 20th to 21st February 2018 at CSI Synod Centre, Chennai. Rev. Dr. Mothy Varkey(MT Seminary Kottayam), Rev.Dr.Gregory Bhasker (UTC), Rev. Joseph Samuel (KUTS), Rev Dr. Jayachitra L (Synod) and Rev. John Samuel Ponnuswamy(ECC)) served as resource persons. Rev.Dr.Chilkuri Vasanth Rao, Principal of UTC served as the Moderator. (Four New Testament Professors and two old testament Professors) . Thirty four clergy from various dioceses participated. The Colloquium was a study and response to Bible texts from the standpoint of the Earth, recognizing Earth as a subject in the text with which we seek to relate empathetically rather than as a topic to be analysed rationally.
Some of the response of the participants are: Rev Palleti S Santhi Swaroop – Rayalaseema: “Reading the ecology from the new testament perspective was a really challenging experience. The study of the book has changed the understanding of the Bible”. Rev. Prazwal Jasper – KG: “It was a first time experience for me and it was very interesting and also challenging. Reading the bible in an ecological perspective concentrating on the New Testament is something new to me and it caught my attention. I would make sure that I would contribute to the cause in one way or the other”. Rev Ninan Jacob – MKD: “Thanks for this great opportunity. It was a good programme. The task was to study all 15 articles within the stipulated limited time. Understood the methodology to read the Bible in a different perspective. All presentations were excellent”. Rev P Victor Paul, Karimnagar: “Resource persons did their best. Discussions and the summary of articles were eye opener and thought provoking. One remark is that the study book should have been given before the programme. Trip to eco issue location would have been appreciated.”. Rev Robin Prabakaran –Coimbatore. “The paper presentations by the resource persons opened my eye and mind to have more concerns to the earth. Earth story in New Testament made a great impact”. Rev J Vincent Robert – Kanyakuamri: “Well planned systematically arranged programme . Study materials are challenging and inspiring. Rev. Priscilla Rawade, UTC: “The programme was well arranged. It gave a new insight and new perspective to look at the bible from an ecological point of view. Please include more female candidates in future programmes. Revd J Rajan – DMR: “The colloquium was very informative and innovative. In this seminar I have learned how to study Bible with an ecological eye”.
Prof.Dr.Mathew Koshy Punnackad
Hon.Director, Department of Ecological Concerns