Proprietors or Priests of Creation?


Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon

This keynote address by Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas, Metropolitan of Pergamon, for the Baltic Sea Symposium of Religion, Science, and the Environment is an excellent example of the extent to which different Christian traditions can learn from each other. Zizioulas focuses on the different types of language used to describe the relational posture humans are meant to take towards creation. Through an exposition of the rich biblical language, he reveals our calling as priests of creation as opposed to simply stewards of creation. Primary to the difference between the two is a shift from a “functional” perspective to an “ontological” perspective—from what we do to who we are. This shift in perspective allows us to adopt a progressing and dynamic view of nature rather than a static view, enabling us to fulfill our role despite ecological shifts. Introducing a view of humanity as priesthood gives ecology what Zizioulas describes as “a cultural dimension,” which in turn allows us to approach ecological issues from a cultural perspective in addition to a scientific perspective. Overall, the major contribution of this article is its focus on understanding our relationship to creation before addressing the issues we see in creation.

Source: Religion, Science and the Environment

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