Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
What might an adequate soteriology look like for a world in ecological crisis? This dissertation constructively addresses this problem at the intersection of contemporary ecofeminist theology and Patristic soteriologies of theosis or deification. I examine ecofeminist soteriologies, drawing on the work of Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sallie McFague, and Elizabeth Johnson in particular, and deification soteriologies, especially that of Maximus the Confessor, arguing that each of these trajectories offers both fruitful possibilities for a reconstruction of soteriology but that each also raises some problems. In bringing these two trajectories into conversation, I suggest directions for a constructive theology of salvation that speaks to the ecological problems of our time. Theologians, ethicists, and church leaders, including Pope Francis, have called for a more expansive and less anthropocentric notion than traditional atonement theologies of how God relates to, and saves, the world. Two responses to this have been ecofeminist theology and a retrieval in the West of the Greek patristic theme of deification. Ecotheologians call for an expansion of God’s continuing care for creation to include animals and the earth (or even universe) itself. Deification, meanwhile, expands the meaning of salvation beyond the more typically modern, Western notions of salvation only from sin. Salvation as deification encompasses the whole story of God’s relationship with human beings, and indeed with the cosmos, from creation through eschatology, to the time in which God will be “all in all.” A deeper conversation that addresses the tensions between these two trajectories will lead to an enrichment of ecotheology. Indeed, as ecotheologians, following Niels Gregersen, speak of “deep incarnation,” there are rich resources for thinking of a corresponding “deep deification,” in which the goal of all creation is divinization: the broken and crucified body of God restored to new life and invited into the life of the Trinity.
Mcnutt, Kathleen, "Deep Deification: Soteriology for a World in Ecological Crisis" (2022). Dissertations. 4000.
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