Hospitable Planet: Faith, Action, and Climate Change.

-an Introduction

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.”

Matt. 5:17-18

“But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped.”

Luke 16:17

In the Sermon on the Mount, as it appears in the book of Matthew, Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. The book of Luke expresses a similar adherence to the Law. What in English is translated by Christians as “the Law,” Jesus called Torah in Hebrew and Oraita in Aramaic. Genesis through Deuteronomy, the first five books in the Christian and Hebrew Bibles, comprise the Torah. [1]

Genesis opens with the story of creation, revealing that everything that exists was created by God, and Genesis 1:28 finds God granting the created world to humankind to master and to rule. We are granted dominion over the animals, the fish, and the birds, but the land itself is not mentioned. We would be mistaken to view this as implicitly included, for in Exodus 19:5 God states: “Indeed, the whole earth is Mine.”

This verse in Exodus complementing the “dominion” passage in Genesis provides just one example of the need to understand the teachings about God’s creation in “the Law” collectively, that is to draw conclusions from those verses when they are taken together. Each such verse provides its own instruction within the context of its section, and may also clarify a passage given elsewhere or significantly alter our understanding of it.

We can take this “collective” idea to its extreme when we ask how to summarize what Christians call the Old Testament. Jesus said: “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 7:12) A contemporary of Jesus, the first-century scholar Hillel said: “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbour; that is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof; go and learn it.” [2]

This book seeks first to develop a similar biblical unity, not for all of Genesis through Deuteronomy but for its teachings about the natural world. When all the environmental-related verses are taken together, what overarching perspective emerges about how we are to interact with God’s creation?

This question cries out for an answer as soon as we realize that our use of the natural world can be understood to be abusive and self-destructive. Can we find biblical cover for blasting the tops off mountains to mine for coal,[3] pouring toxins into rivers that then poison fish and corrupt drinking water, for sending toxic fumes into the atmosphere that foul the air we breathe and change the climate? People of faith strive to live in accord with biblical teachings and visit houses of worship to obtain reminders of what our sacred texts ask of us.

We are at a perilous moment in the history of humans on this planet, given the changes in our climate that are underway. The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is now at a level not experienced in about three million years, due largely to the burning of fossil fuels. Continuing increases are predicted to bring devastatingly disruptive changes to our world: to humans and non-humans, to the air, to the water, the trees, and the land of this planet. Our descendants will not forgive us if we choose expediency over preserving a hospitable planet.

I believe people of faith can strengthen their connection to God, for I believe it has been weakened by ignoring teachings about creation care. We can do this, first, because we believe that for every troubling issue we confront, the Bible provides at least guidance, at best answers. In addition, we can do this because we are so numerous: 78.4 percent of American adults identify as Christians and 1.7 percent identify as Jews, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The adult population of the U.S. (age eighteen and over) exceeds 237 million, according to the Kids Count program of The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Even if only 10 percent of that number were to consider themselves people of faith, 19 million people constitutes a powerful force for change.

If we seek biblical guidance about environmental problems, then we must return our attention to the opening books of the Bible. (Teachings about God’s creation are found primarily in Genesis through Deuteronomy, for the writers of the Gospels and the Epistles sought to convey the life and teachings of Jesus and his disciples, not to rewrite the Law.) It is reasonable, therefore, for one primarily drawn to the Old Testament to offer a perspective, for both Christians and Jews, on the environmental-related teachings in the Law Jesus said he came to fulfill, to the books Jews call the Torah.

Continued in the Book






Part I: Environmental Teachings in the Bible Jesus Knew

Chapter 1 Invitation

Chapter 2 Interpretation and Translation

Chapter 3 Noah and Biodiversity

Chapter 4 Paying Attention

Chapter 5 Treatment of Animals

Chapter 6 We Feel Their Pain

Chapter 7 Mindfulness and Eating

Chapter 8 Recycling

Chapter 9 The Land

Chapter 10 Care of Creation

Chapter 11 Beyond Deuteronomy: Clearing the Air

Part II: A Call to Action-National Level

Chapter 12 Rate of Change

Chapter 13 Societal Transformation

Chapter 14 A Call to Action

Chapter 15 Environmental Rights Movement: Extended Family

Chapter 16 Preserving Our Home

Part III : A Call to Action-Local Level

Chapter 17 The Carbon Fiber Revolution

Chapter 18 Transforming Electricity Generation

Chapter 19 Close to Home

Chapter 20 The Matter of Faith

Chapter 21 Choose Life

Chapter 22 Promote the General Welfare


[1] Torah in this instance refers to the part of Jewish Scripture in the books Genesis through Deuteronomy. Jewish Scripture includes twenty-two books divided into the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings, and the word “Torah” can refer to all of them or to the entirety of Jewish learning.

[3] One could ask, do we need biblical cover for this element of coal mining? We would like to determine if our environmental practices harmonize with Scripture, and the chapter in Part I on The Land reveals that this practice does not.


Hospitable Planet: Faith, Action, and Climate Change seeks to fill the gap in religious and secular texts by providing both a compelling biblical case for action on climate change and by identifying substantive measures to mitigate climate change and how to achieve their implementation.

Churches can massively reduce their impact on God’s good earth if they understand the Bible’s mandate to care for creation and develop practical skills to decrease their energy use. This book hits the target directly on both counts.

Stephen Jurovics’ book is an important work of witness: faith and connection to God should lead us to save and heal our planet from a looming environmental catastrophe. Based primarily on the Five Books of Moses, sacred to both Christians and Jews, this book is written with passion, wisdom, and intelligence. The author’s sensitivity enables him to speak movingly to people of faith, offering a handbook on the Bible’s greatest mandate for mortal existence – to choose life for the earth (which is the Lord’s) and all its inhabitants.

As a pastor for 30 years, a psychologist, and a civil rights activist for 55 years I am convinced that Hospitable Planet has provided a powerful objective strategy for why we all must work together (i.e. science, faith, business, politicians, community folks) to ensure that climate change, global warming, and environmental justice are the civil rights issues for this century. Read this book. Share its message. Now – get involved!! We can and must make the difference!!

Take action – it starts with you.

“The book seeks to enroll a hitherto under-represented, though large and influential, portion of the U.S. population in addressing climate change: committed American Christians, of all denominations. If members of this faith community not yet involved in mitigating climate change began demanding a forceful response, I believe it would bring the country to the tipping point of full engagement. If America engages, most of the world community not yet committed will follow and a de-fusing of the climate change crisis will be underway.” – Excerpt from the Overview of Hospitable Planet: Faith, Action and Climate Change