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Happy? A critical analysis of salvation in Ellen Charry that portrays human flourishing as healing, beauty and pleasure

Nadia Marais

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 36, No 1 (2015), 10 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v36i1.1359

Submitted: 27 May 2014
Published:  25 March 2015


Happiness and human flourishing has increasingly, especially in American and German theological writing, become a focus in systematic theological research on creation, salvation and eschatology. The doctrine of salvation has particularly interesting (including etymological) connections with the notions of well-being and health. This paper proposes to do a critical analysis of well known American happiness theologian Ellen Charry’s portrayal of salvation, who engages with classical theology, Christian doctrine and positive psychology to reposition the notions of ‘happiness’ and ‘human flourishing’ within theological reflection. The art of happiness has, for Charry, to do with knowing, loving and enjoying God. In this article it will be argued that Charry’s portrayal of salvation as being ‘happy’ shapes an understanding of flourishing that entails healing, beauty and pleasure.

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Author affiliations

Nadia Marais, Department Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


Happiness, human flourishing, salvation, Christian doctrine


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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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