Apocalypse and climate change: a terrifying or hopeful discourse?

On August 23, at the KU Leuven's Didachè-Studiedagen Bijbel 2023 event themed "De Bijbel als bron van hoop en vertrouwen in donkere tijden," Caroline Vander Stichele gave an academic presentation titled “Apocalyps en klimaatverandering: een angstaanjagend of hoopvol discours?” which translates to "Apocalypse and climate change: a terrifying or hopeful discourse?

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Heatwaves, forest fires, floods... Apocalyptic images are the order of the day. Climate change is invariably cited as the cause of these alarming phenomena, but what does the Apocalypse have to do with it? In the first part of this presentation, attention is paid to the Biblical book of Revelation of John, also called Apocalypse after the first word with which this book begins. This scripture belongs to the literary genre of apocalyptic writings, in which certain secrets are revealed or made public. The structure of this book and the main themes covered are introduced. The purpose of the book as a whole is also discussed. Subsequently, the role of the book of Revelation is examined in two documents written in light of the current ecological crisis. The first document is the encyclical Laudato si’ (2015) in which Pope Francis calls for care for the earth, our common home. The second document is the book "Green Theology" (2019) by Trees van Montfoort, in which the Bible is approached from an ecological perspective. Finally, some examples are presented that show that there are different ways to speak about climate change from a Christian perspective, and that the way it is discussed does indeed make a difference.