Intergenerational Justice in the United States Constitution,
The Stewardship Doctrine:
I. Historic Overview

B. Christian Tradition

While it is true that Jesus and his apostles distanced themselves in the new testament from some of the dogma and formalism of Mosaic law, f29 they do not appear to have found fault with the old testament's intergenerationalism, or with the notion that God holds ultimate title to all the earth. The message of the New Testament continues to be that, "The earth is the Lord's and everything in it." >f30

Intergenerational consciousness manifests in a variety of church doctrines and practices -- such as prayers for the dead and the communion of saints -- that emphasize bonding between non-contemporary generations.

The most influential exponent of intergenerational theology within the Christian tradition may have been St. Thomas Aquinas. f31 To some extent, Aquinas's futurity ethic can be understood as mystical self-interest. To use William George's apt paraphrase: "[S]ince God is an eternal present which embraces the human present, the human past and the human future . . . personal union with God, entails union with past and future persons." f32 Aquinas's mystical empathy with posterity had some very practical implications. He emphasized preservation of the human species as a primary ethical value -- a factor to be weighed carefully when determining the morality of a variety of present acts and practices. >f33 He also stressed the importance of incorporating intergenerational values and protections into governmental policy:

"[L]aw should be framed, not for any private benefit, but for the common good of all the citizens. . . .Wherefore law should take account of many things, as to persons, as to [activities], and as to times . . . ; nor is it established to endure for only a short time, but to last for all time by the citizens succeeding one another, as Augustine says." >f34

St. Thomas's generalized concern for future generations merged with his special reverence for the natural world. f35 Aquinas interpreted scripture as placing a high value upon both biodiversity and environmental preservation. He argued that no individual or species could, by itself, represent God's perfection completely, because the expression of perfection would necessarily be limited by the characteristics of the manifestation in which it was contained. f36 As LeBlanc explains:

"For St. Thomas, the diversity of the universe is required in order to adequately represent God's perfection. God brought the universe into being in order that God's goodness can be communicated to creatures so that they can share and participate in it. . . . Diversity itself is a value, not only because of the interdependence of all things, but because diversity is necessary for the universe to mirror God, and thus for all possible ways of experiencing the good to be realized." f37

Aquinas maintained that animal life was not created solely for human use, f38 and that it was a sin to curse animals.

Not surprisingly, St. Thomas's attitudes towards environmental stewardship, rooted in biblical text, have been increasingly reflected in official Protestant and Catholic doctrine during recent decades.

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