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The Sea Is Eating the Ground: A Theology of Sea Level Rise

Mick Pope


Sea level rise is a direct result of anthropogenic climate change, the disruption of the climate system by the burning of fossil fuels. Modern sea level rise can be understood through the functional ontology of the Old Testament. The creation account of Genesis 1 represents a demythologized account of God constraining chaos into an ordered system. The Noahic flood of Genesis 6–8 is the result of human sin releasing the forces of chaos to undo the ordering of creation. This language is taken up in the rest of the Old Testament to describe acts of judgment against Israel’s covenant violations. Modern sea level rise may be understood as the release of chaos due to a violation of our role as image of God to represent the God of order to the rest of creation.

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