Original Research

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 | a1359 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v36i1.1359 | © 2015 Nadia Marais | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 27 May 2014 | Published: 25 March 2015

About the author(s)

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


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.


Happiness, human flourishing, salvation, Christian doctrine


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