Integral ecology

Response of an emeritus professor to the contributions of his septuagenarian Festschrift


  • Johan Buitendag University of Pretoria



eco-theology, theogly of nature, integral ecology, ontology, epistemology, hermeneutics, cosmotheandric sophiology, axiology, definition of theology, faith and science consonance, ecodomy, public theology


This article is an edited version of the paper read by the author at the launching ceremony of his septuagenarian Festschrift of the HTS Theological Studies on 22 November 2023 at the University of Pretoria. It states the author’s view on an integral ecology as a way to a theology of nature. The exposition entails the following main foci: a definition of theology (what is in a name?); ontology, epistemology, and reciprocity; ecodomy (ethics); a Trinitarian theo-ontology; and subsequently, a vista towards a Theology of Nature, where it endeavours to bring cosmos, God, and human beings together into a cosmotheandric understanding of reality. It offers a triangulation of ontology, epistemology, and axiology, i.e., to conceive an integrated understanding of metaphysics, physics, and ethics as building blocks of an integral ecology. Where systematic theology calls for the intrinsic coherence of theology, a theology of nature encompasses coherency to the awe and wonder of the seen and unseen reality (1 Tim. 6:16).
Religion is a particular specimen of systems theory. Neither synthetic nor analytical solutions are of any help. Religion cannot be understood adequately in terms of subject/object or observer/object binaries because it is located on both sides of the distinction between the self/other reference. Religion has always included what it excludes. An Integral Ecology offers a viable view of such a construct. It unites valuable insights from multiple perspectives into a comprehensive theoretical framework.