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Journey with the Orthodox: Biography of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew reviewed by Harold D. Hunter

#4 – Care for God’s Creation

Pentecostals in the USA who constantly measure themselves against magisterial Protestants, need to look closely at the record of the Green Patriarch. Bartholomew has made creation care a hallmark of his tenure as Ecumenical Patriarch. Chryssavgis is more than justified to devote an entire chapter to this critical theological issue.

Media coined then conferred the title “Green Patriarch” in recognition of Bartholomew’s unique contribution. This unpretentious yet telling title was recognized in the White House in 1997 by Al Gore, vice president of the United States. True to this landmark distinction, Bartholomew in 1997 would equate abuse of God’s creation as sin. This public stand was rightly lauded by environmental activists from around the world.

The July 2006 “blessing of the waters” on the Amazon River attracted international media attention. Bartholomew was welcomed as “the Patriarch of the Amazon”. His All-Holiness responded by enlarging on the significance of the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River: “In our encounter with the indigenous peoples of this region, we witnessed and felt their profound sense of the sacredness of creation and of the bonds that exist between all living things and people. Thanks to them, we understand more deeply that, as creatures of God, we are all in the same boat: ‘estamos no mesmo barco!’”

It should be emphasized that Bartholomew sought to bring accountability for God’s creation first to the Orthodox. In 1992, soon after his election as Ecumenical Patriarch, he brought together an unprecedented Synaxis of Primates at the Phanar. All the assembled prelates endorsed September 1 as a day of “Pan-Orthodox prayer for God’s creation.” Bartholomew put it this way when clarifying the scripture phrase “stewards of creation”: “… we are called to offer creation back to God as priests, just as the priest in the Eucharist offers the bread and wine to God, who in turn transforms them into his body and blood for the life of the whole world. So, rather than speaking of becoming ‘stewards of creation,’ it may more helpful to speak of becoming ‘priests of creation’ in accordance with our donation and vocation to be part of the ‘royal priesthood’.”


One final thought

As a constant traveler who has visited more than 80 countries, I cannot overstate the contribution of His All-Holiness to my spiritual pilgrimage and to other Pentecostals fortunate enough to have been in his presence. If this review sends cascades of light on a beloved and extraordinary global Christian figure, then let the glow radiate to our triune God!

Reviewed by Harold D. Hunter


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Category: Ministry, Winter 2017

About the Author: Harold D. Hunter, PhD (Fuller Theological Seminary), is Director of the IPHC Archives & Research Center. Denominational executive positions, seminary teaching and ecumenical dialogues have taken him to over 80 countries. In addition to being the founding editor of the Cyberjournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research, Hunter has published five books and several articles including Spirit Baptism: A Pentecostal Alternative (1983, 2009), The Suffering Body: Responding to the Persecution of Christians (2006), The Azusa Street Revival and Its Legacy (2009), and The Many Faces of Global Pentecostalism (2013). As the IPHC Liaison to the Greater Christian Community and member of the PCCNA Commission on Christian Unity steering committee, Hunter actively engages the World Council of Churches, Eastern Orthodox Churches, and the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC).

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