Creation and salvation? : a critical analysis of South African ecotheology

Whitcomb, Michael Dean (2018-11)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The accelerated rate of global climate change has been investigated by many seeking to understand its origins. In 1967 Lynn White Jr. published a short article in Science journal entitled “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis” wherein he claimed that attitudes of domination towards nature perpetuated and legitimized by Medieval Christianity, in conjunction with the power to destroy the environment provided by the progress of Western science, were to blame for the 20th century ecological crisis. This profoundly affected theology, as a causal link had been drawn between Christianity and the environmental issues in the world. Having led to the development of ecotheology, it can be argued that all work within this field is, in a way, a response to White. Thus, this project orients itself as part of that response, as it investigates the relationship between two doctrinal loci that have been affected by White’s accusation, namely creation and salvation. This discussion is carried out by means of a critical rhetorical analysis of the interaction between these loci in the work of three theologians. As the scope for this discussion, these theologians, Ernst Conradie, Klaus Nürnberger, and Jaap Durand all write from within a South African context, and all work within the discipline of systematic theology. Each has a distinct approach to how they make sense of the complex relationship between salvation and creation, and this inner logic is explored by focusing on select publications that highlight each theologian’s theological methodology. Comparisons and contrasts are drawn between the three as the discussion asks what the implications of each is for ecotheology in developing a relevant and practical theological response to the pressures of the climate crisis and the underlying accusation by White. Furthermore, this project asks what these three perspectives on salvation and creation mean for ecotheology in a South African context.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die versnelling van klimaatverandering is al in die verlede talle kere ondersoek in ‘n poging om die oorsprong daarvan te verstaan. In 1967 het Lynn White Jr. ‘n kort artikel in die Science joernaal gepubliseer getiteld “The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis” waarin hy beweer het dat beide die Christendom in die Middeleeue en die vooruitgang van Westerse wetenskap, waarin die mens as die heerser die mag het om die natuur te vernietig, verantwoordelik is vir die huidige ekologiese krisis van die 20ste eeu. Hierdie het ‘n invloed op teologie gehad omdat White die Christelike geloof en omgewingskwessies onlosmaaklik aan mekaar verbind het. White se artikel het gelei tot die ontwikkeling van eko-teologie, en dus kan die gevolgtrekking gemaak word dat alle werk binne die vakgebied op ‘n manier ‘n reaksie is op White se artikel. Hierdie gesprek vorm dus deel van daardie reaksie, en sal die verhouding tussen skepping en verlossing ondersoek omdat díe twee geloofstandpunte sterk beïnvloed is deur White se aantyging. Hierdie gesprek sal gevoer word deur middel van ‘n kritiese retoriese analise van drie teoloë, naamlik Ernst Conradie, Klaus Nürnberger, en Jaap Durand. Al drie skryf as sistematiese teoloë binne ‘n Suid Afrikaanse raamwerk en elkeen bied sy eie unieke perspektief op die verhouding tussen skepping en verlossing. Elkeen van hierdie unieke sienswyses sal ondersoek word in die lig van uitgesoekte publikasies waar die teologiese metodologie benadruk en ontleed sal word. Daar sal gefokus word op die ooreenkomste en verskille tussen die drie sienswyses, om te bepaal wat die implikasies is vir eko-teologie in die ontwikkeling van relevante en praktiese benaderings op die klimaatkrisis sowel as op White se aantuigings. Verder sal hierdie gesprek ook ondersoek wat hierdie drie perspektiewe op die verhouding tussen verlossing en skepping vir eko-teologie beteken, spesifiek binne ‘n Suid Afrikaanse konteks.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/104856
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