God & Human Flourishing

The God and Human Flourishing Program is dedicated to cultivating and resourcing a new theological movement grounded in the conviction that Jesus Christ is the key to human flourishing.

Concern for human flourishing is at the heart of Christian proclamation. Theologians have long proclaimed that the very heart of a Christian’s hoped-for future, which comes from God, is the flourishing of individuals, communities, and our whole globe. Yet the centrality of this concern and hope has been undermined in a culture where accounts of human flourishing have been caught in secular tides redirecting interest from the transcendent God to human beings and their mundane affairs and replacing love of God and neighbor with a self-defeating concern for the self and the desire for experiential satisfaction.

The God and Human Flourishing Project is undertaken against a twofold background: on the one hand, a resurgence of the critiques of religion as both intellectually implausible and practically harmful and, on the other hand, a growing sense that secularism lacks resources to address some fundamental issues of human life (such as providing grounds for human rights). In coordination with the Life Worth Living, Adolescent Faith and Flourishing, and Theology of Joy Projects, the God and Human Flourishing Project seeks to return foundational questions regarding the shape and constitution of a truly flourishing life to the center of intellectual inquiry in the church and theological academy. More, on the conviction that right relation to God is integral to human beings’ highest flourishing, it aims to develop and promote a new cultural apologetic rooted in the portrait of humanity’s proper relation to God found in the life and person of Jesus Christ.

The God and Human Flourishing Project has been developing and aggregating the resources necessary to fulfill this mission through consultations gathering the world’s leading theologians since 2007. These consultations have facilitated generative, collaborative academic reflection on the seven subjects:

  1. Good Power—Divine and Human (2007)
  2. God’s Power and Human Flourishing (2008)
  3. The Same God? (2009)
  4. Desire and Human Flourishing (2010)
  5. Happiness and Human Flourishing (2011)
  6. Joy and Human Flourishing (2012)
  7. Respect and Human Flourishing (2013)
  8. Christ and Human Flourishing (2014)
  9. Expectation and Human Flourishing (2015)
  10. Birth and Human Flourishing (2015)

By gathering and convening groups of Christian thinkers representing not only great theological diversity but also the multiple disciplines of the modern theological academy—from biblical studies to ethics to pastoral theology to constructive and systematic theology—the God and Human Flourishing Project has sought the insights of manifold methodologies and fields of expertise in its aim to articulate the diversity and complexity of the human person and its relation to God. The project’s desire is no less than this: to construct a Christologically-rooted theological anthropology that places the basic phenomena of human existence at its very center as constituting the fundamental ‘data’ to be accounted for by any robust conception of the God-human relationship, and, therefore, of the flourishing human life. Immediate upcoming consultations will be convened on the following phenomena:

  • Expectation
  • Birth
  • Home
  • Formation
  • Call and Responsibility
  • Temptation 

The apologetic projects to which theological anthropology is uniquely suited demand such close attention to the concrete features of actual human living, and it is in this same spirit that the Project seeks to drive its insights into wider academic and church cultures and to invite them into our continuing conversation and investigation through Center publications, conferences, and educational opportunities. The God and Human Flourishing Project aims not merely to curate inspiring theological research—integral as this is to its mission. It aims to reflect on and disseminate the inspiration of Christ himself in situations of human exigency and crisis toward the end of catalyzing real cultural change.

The God and Human Flourishing consultations are sponsored by the McDonald Agape Foundation.