(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

In Life Abundant, Sallie McFague, one of the preeminent theologians of the early twenty-first century, addresses middle-class North American Christians. She sums up the theology developed through some of her previous books: Metaphorical Theology: Models of God in Religious Language (1982), Models of God: Theology for an Ecological, Nuclear Age (1987), The Body of God: An Ecological Theology (1993), and Super, Natural Christians: How We Should Love Nature (1997). Life Abundant reinterprets many of the classical themes of Christian theology for the contemporary world.

The need for theological reinterpretation arises from the interrelated problems facing the world: poverty, increasing disparity between poor and rich, and ecological devastation. To be relevant, theology must respond to the needs of its particular context, thus it changes for each age. Theology also plays a part in one’s perception of and response to reality by shaping a worldview.

Worldviews are humanly constructed frameworks for seeing and interpreting our context. Although we are largely unconscious of our worldview, it largely determines our attitudes and behaviors by defining the ideals by which we live. According to McFague, the dominant worldview offers an impossible and contradictory interpretation of reality by ignoring (even causing) poverty and ecological devastation. Therefore, an alternative worldview is needed to redefine our ideals and values and address the problems facing us all.

McFague articulates a new theology...

(The entire section is 647 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Daly, Herman E., and John B. Cobb, Jr. For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy Toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future. 2d ed. Boston: Beacon, 1994. An economist and a theologian suggest a new approach to economic problems whereby the economy is at the service of the community. Offers a biocentric worldview compatible with Christianity.

Gebara, Ivone. Longing for Running Water: Ecofeminism and Liberation. Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 1999. Connects poverty to ecological destruction and reinterprets Christian themes as a basis for redefining relationships among humans and with nonhuman beings.

Knitter, Paul, and Chandra Muzaffar, eds. Subverting Greed: Religious Perspectives on the Global Economy. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 2002. Practitioners from seven religions offer analyses of the global economy and religious responses to the problem of poverty.

Ruether, Rosemary Radford. Gaia and God: An Ecofeminist Theology of Earth Healing. New York: Harper Collins, 1992. Constructive theology suggesting a reinterpretation of creation, judgment, sin, and redemption geared toward healing ecological and social damage wrought by domination legitimated by traditional Western Christianity.

Santmire, Paul. Review of Life Abundant. The Christian Century 118, no. 26 (September 26-October 3, 2001): 33-37. Reviewer finds McFague’s main argument to be that people should free themselves from assumptions about economics and theology so that they can appreciate nature and take care of impoverished people.

Tatman, Lucy. Knowledge That Matters: A Feminist Theological Paradigm and Epistemology. Cleveland, Ohio: Pilgrim Press, 2001. Contains some discussion of McFague.