Chapter

The Decline of Nature: Natural Theology, Theology of Nature, and the Built Environment

Timothy J. Gorringe

in Without Nature?

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780823230693
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237227 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fso/9780823230693.003.0010
The Decline of Nature: Natural Theology, Theology of Nature, and               the Built Environment

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This chapter addresses the following question: If “first nature” is decisively altered by “second nature,” how should that transformation alter Christian theological reflection in turn? Drawing upon Karl Barth's critique, it is argued that natural theologies in the modern period often neglected their own inevitable social framing by “second nature.” By denying their own local context, theologies of nature devolved into a “reactionary” romanticism of the natural world that in the 20th century impaired their theological judgment. Moreover, God has God's own space, and so the space of (first) nature can never be the sole starting point for theological reflection. A true theology of creation must own up to the implication of first nature within second nature, such that nature is approached theologically only through careful attention to the “built environment,” which includes urban spatiality.

Keywords: first nature; second nature; natural theology; Karl Barth

Chapter.  7818 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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