Article first published online: 4 MAR 2013
Copyright © (2013) World Council of Churches
The Ecumenical Review
Volume 65, Issue 1, pages 1–2, March 2013
How to Cite
(2013), Editorial. The Ecumenical Review, 65: 1–2. doi: 10.1111/erev.12022
- Issue published online: 4 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 4 MAR 2013
Ecumenical and Ecological Perspectives on the “God of Life”
This issue of The Ecumenical Review is one of the last ones to appear before the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC), to be held in Busan, Korea, in October and November 2013. The focus of this volume is on the phrase “God of life” in the assembly theme, namely “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.”
While several of the earlier assemblies had a Christological focus in terms of the conference theme, the Canberra assembly (1991) had a pneumatological orientation: “Come, Holy Spirit, renew your whole creation.” One may say that the two most recent assemblies had a trinitarian orientation: The theme of the 50th anniversary in Harare (1998) was “Turn to God – rejoice in hope,” while the Porto Allegro assembly (2006) focused on the prayer “God, in your mercy, transform the world.”
This theo-logical approach, continued at the Busan assembly, follows the emergence of a “theology of life” in ecumenical circles in the 1990s in order to integrate the concerns expressed in the quest for a “Just, Participatory and Sustainable Society” (Nairobi, 1975) and for “Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation” (Vancouver, 1983). Such a theology of life is born from grassroots experiences of the threats to life, that is, economic injustices, violent conflict, and environmental destruction. A theology of life is, therefore, shorthand for affirming the social agenda of the ecumenical movement, inspiring a Christian praxis of resistance against the powers of death that destroy communities of life for the sake of political and economic power.
The issues of justice and peace are explicitly addressed in the Busan assembly theme, while issues around environmental sustainability are implicit in the notion of the “God of life.” The editor of The Ecumenical Review therefore invited contributions that would specifically offer ecological perspectives on the notion of the “God of life.” The question is how the phrase is understood in contemporary Christian ecotheology. This invites theological reflection on two related aspects of the provocative Christian confession, namely that all of life may be understood as belonging to the triune God and that the triune God may be understood as the God of life.
The contributors to this volume come from a wide variety of geographical contexts and confessional traditions, in most cases characterized by mobility and transition. Robert Owusu Agyarko is a Pentecostal theologian from Ghana who studied in South Africa. Sigurd Bergmann is of German Lutheran origin living in Sweden and academically based in Norway. Ernst Conradie is a tenth-generation Euro-South African reformed theologian. Celia Deane-Drummond, a Roman Catholic theologian and ethicist from England, is now based in the USA. Her co-author Barbara Rossing is a New Testament scholar standing in the American Lutheran tradition. Denis Edwards is a Roman Catholic theologian from Australia. Lai Pan-Chiuchui is engaged in Christian–Confucian dialogue in China. Sallie McFague, an American theologian currently based in Vancouver, Canada, is well-known for her contributions to feminist and ecotheology. Elina Vuola is a feminist scholar from Finland with research networks in Latin America. Gayle Woloschak, a molecular biologist from the Ukraine, is now professor at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and is associate director of the Zygon Center for Religion and Science in Chicago is a molecular biologies from the Ukrainian Orthodox tradition, now based in the USA. George Zachariah belongs to the Mar Thoma Church in India and engages with subaltern theological movements. Together, these contributions reflect the diversity and hybridity of the ecumenical movement and the vibrancy of contemporary developments in Christian ecotheology.
In addition to these contributions on a theology of life, Sue Rakoczy, a South African Roman Catholic feminist theologian originally from Poland, contributes a chronicle of the recent Christian Faith and the Earth conference, held near Cape Town, 6–10 August 2012.