The Theistic Naturalism of Arthur Peacocke as a Framework for Ecological Theology

Deborah Guess, PhD
Honorary Postdoctoral Associate
University of Divinity

Abstract: Our ecological context calls for theologies of nature which cohere both with an ecological ethos and with the Christian tradition. A framework for this is found in the theistic naturalism advocated by Anglican priest-scientist Arthur Peacocke. Peacocke’s theology is naturalistic because it is grounded in scientific understandings yet is theistic because it affirms a real, personal creator-God. Underscored by a panentheist understanding of God’s creative action, Peacocke’s theistic naturalism allows a (derived) sacredness or holiness to be ascribed to the natural world, which is paralleled by Jesus’ incarnational continuity with the entire cosmos. This allows for the world to be seen as sacramental, and for a high value to be attributed to matter, resonating both with the ecotheological assertion of the inherent value of the material world and the central place given to bodies and matter in the Christian tradition.