This world and the next – eschatology and sustainability

The concept of sustainability is so much on my mind, that I found myself interestingly confusing about a quote of C.S. Lewis in The Tablet, May 12th, 2007, p. 18: “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who tought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this”. When reading it first, without paying much attention, I interpreted the “next” as: the world of the next generation – reflecting the idea of sustainability: those Christians who do most for the present world, are the ones that thing in terms of sustainability … Of course, it became clear that C.S. Lewis refers to the “other” world, the beyond this world. But it leaves me with the interesting question of how the idea of sustainability is linked to eschatology and a vision of the Reign of God.

In a theological perspective, lifestyles are sustainable when they take into account the future, both as a gift coming to us from the part of God in our children, grandchildren etc, ánd as an effort of ours born in the awareness of the necessities of those who will dwell on this world after us. Sustainability, as trust that the coming generations – and that ultimately all of us in the future and, therefore, in a sense already now – will enjoy full life together, empowers a positive and pro-active outlook that helps us to design sustainable lifestyles today, even if an effort is required.

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