Ecologies of Salvation: New Roots for Environmental Ethics in Three Christian Traditions

Jenkins, Willis Jackson, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Childress, James F., Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

This dissertation describes major normative strategies within Christian environmental ethics by mapping them onto major traditions of grace. In two parts, it investigates the way Christian ethics frames and addresses environmental problems, and how those problems in turn challenge theological traditions. The first part surveys the several distinct strategies by which Christian ethics makes environmental problems intelligible to Christian moral experience by drawing on soteriological concepts and narratives. The second part tests that interpretive hypothesis by putting the practical questions and theoretical problems arising from the ethical strategies to major theologians of grace. Christian environmental ethics follows major normative strategies in non - religious environmental ethics, but by deploying theological concepts it also transforms those strategies, constituting and addressing environmental problems in distinctive ways. After describing practical philosophical approaches to environmental problems, the first part outlines three Christian strategies correspondent to three major notions of salvation. Stewardship theologies tend to follow the obedient discipleship themes in redemption. Eco -justice theologies tend to rely upon the way sanctification forms persons by God's presence in creation. Ecological spiritualities appropriate themes of deification, so that communion with creation becomes part of union with God. The second part offers critical reappraisals of three soteriological traditions through readings of Thomas Aquinas, Karl Barth, and Sergei Bulgakov. To each representative of a major tradition of grace I put the problems and questions arising from the corresponding environmental strategy: Thomas for eco - justice, Barth for stewardship, and Bulgakov for ecological spirituality. Each offers further resource for developing and critiquing Christian environmental strategies. By appreciating how grammars of grace guide its major forms, Christian environmental ethics can more adequately engage both the practical difficulties of environmental issues and the lived faiths of Christian communities.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: