Middlesex University Research theology of the Orthodox theologian Dumitru Staniloae in relation to the

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    Bates, Dana (2013) The glory of God is humanity fully alive: exploring Eastern Orthodoxy as a resource for human development in conversation with the capability approach. PhD thesis,

    Middlesex University.

    Final accepted version (with author’s formatting)

    This version is available at: http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/13709/


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  • ‘The Glory of God is Humanity Fully Alive: Exploring Eastern Orthodoxy as a resource

    for human development in conversation with the capability approach’

    Dana Bates

    OCMS, Ph.D


    This dissertation argues that Eastern Orthodox theology is a framework for multidimensional

    social change or improvement and can inform, and be informed by the multi-disciplinary social

    science field of development studies. This claim will be examined by analyzing the Trinitarian

    theology of the Orthodox theologian Dumitru Staniloae in relation to the writings of Nobel

    Economist Amartya Sen and his ‘capability approach’.

    The argument begins by justifying EO’s interaction with development studies based on her

    anthropological optimism. Critical is that supernatural revelation stands very close to and builds

    on natural revelation. A Trinitarian theological anthropology then provides a rationale for, and

    integration of, three key concepts in the social sciences: agency, solidarity, and structures.

    This analytical framework is then used to assess the challenges of post-Communist contexts,

    where most Orthodox live. The Communist downfall, it is argued, involved a failure to

    incorporate each of these dimensions in human development. This analysis then serves to test

    the adequacy of, and reveal weaknesses in, Amartya Sen’s freedom-focused social evaluation

    framework known as the capability approach.

    The dissertation proceeds with examining Orthodox salvation as movement from Being, to Well-

    being, to Eternal-being where Well-being is, notably, the exercise of agency to develop the

    potentials given in Being. Agency is not individualistic, but is structured into the virtues of

    solidarity and incorporates the related notion of phronesis (practical reason). The virtue tradition

    is then postulated as a promising link between theology and development studies. The virtue

    tradition is analyzed in its classical background, modern human development, as well as both

    Protestantism and Catholicism to facilitate a comparison with Eastern Orthodoxy. This analysis

    shows that Orthodoxy offers a theological framework for human development in that she gives

    priority of practical reason to contemplation, makes virtually no separation between grace and

    nature, and provides a relevant method for synergizing salvation history with action on behalf of

    human development.

  • ‘The Glory of God is Humanity Fully Alive: Exploring Eastern

    Orthodoxy as a resource for human development in conversation with

    the capability approach’


    Dana Bates

    B.A. (Gordon College)

    M-Div (Gordon-Conwell)

    A thesis submitted in fulfillment of the degree of

    Doctor of Philosophy

    in the University of Middlesex

    May 22, 2013

    Oxford Centre for Mission Studies


    This work has not previously been accepted in substance for any concunently submitted in candidature for any degree.

    degree and is not being

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    This thesis is the result of my own investigations, except where otherwise stated. Where correction services have been used, the extent and nature of the correction is clearly marked in a footnote.

    Other sources are acknowledged by midnotes or footnotes giving explicit references. A bibliography is appended.


    I hereby give consent for my thesis, if approved, to be available for photocopying by the British Library and for Inter-Library Loan, for open access to the Electronic Theses Online Service (EthoS) linked to the British Library, and for the title and summary to be made available to outside or ganizations.





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  • ii

  • iii


    This thesis was envisioned, obviously in a much more primitive state, at the Capabilities

    Conference in Pavia Italy, September 2004. There I first saw the basic connection

    between the image-likeness (Eastern Orthodoxy) and capability-functioning (capabilities

    approach) distinction that sparked this study. It was also there that I met one of my

    supervisors, Severine Deneulin, who has not only been a fantastic academic advisor, but a

    wonderful friend and support. I also want to thank Roland Hoksbergen of Calvin for his

    encouragement over the years, as well as my supervisor for Staniloae, Silviu Rogobete.

    Thanks are due to Young Life for allowing me to pursue this, as well as Northwestern (and

    especially Dave Nonnemacher’s work along with Doug Carlson) and other colleges such

    as Calvin (and especially Jeff Bouman there) and Gordon who have sent their students to

    our Romania semester abroad, trusting that I would finish this project. I would also like to

    thank the many volunteers who have worked in various capacities with our organization,

    but especially the semester-abroad program administrators: Janelle Vandergrift, Daniel

    Heffner, Kadie Becker, and Alice McFarlane. I would also like to thank the SG

    Foundation and Patricia Beville for funding the first and final years of this research.

    Thanks are also due to OCMS and the staff there for their support.

    This PhD was built largely on late evenings, weekends, and vacation-time at the beach.

    Thanks and deep gratitude are due especially to my wonderful wife Brandi, daughter

    Briana and son Gabriel for their sacrifices and patience as this process endured much

    longer than any of us hoped. I promise to make up for it in the next few years by taking

    many real vacations together.

    Heartfelt thanks are also due to my colleagues at New Horizons, especially those that have

    been the long-term pillars, Diana Certan, Maria Neagu, and Ilie Popescu. The leadership

    team has kept me from a lot of busy-work and demonstrated remarkable independence of

    judgement and leadership, without which this research simply would not have been

    possible. This has been such a gift to me personally, and to our family life, and is the

    actual lived theology of “Bearing one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ”.

    I hope and pray this investment in academic research will advance the youth development

    we all believe so strongly in.

  • iv

    Table of Contents

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ................................................................................................................. III

    LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS .............................................................................................................. VI

    1. INTRODUCTION: EASTERN ORTHODOXY AND DEVELOPMENT STUDIES ................................. 1

    2. JUSTIFYING THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN EO AND DS (METHODOLOGY) .................................. 17

    2.1 EO Natural Theology ......................