Ontological Queerness: Toward a Liberative Ecclesiology through Queer Theory and Systematic Theology

J.J. Warren

Paul Tillich’s Systematic Theology uses a "method of correlation", in which theology functions as a response to the questions of existence. Therefore, as denominations and societies around the world continue to grapple with homophobia and transphobia, this project asks and responds to the question What could overcome the e(strange)meant between persons of various gender and sexual identities that is embedded in the general heteronormativity of Western nations and churches? The theological answer that this project articulates is the "Community of the New Being", i.e., the church. 

Accordingly, this dissertation incorporates queer theory (primarily drawing from the works of Judith Butler) into Tillich’s systematic theological method as the "critical principle". This incorporation enables a theological critique of heteronormative doctrines and praxes within Christian communities. The method also entails a constructive function, which in this project is the articulation of a liberative ecclesiology: a doctrine and praxis of the church that enables persons to actualize potentialities that were previously foreclosed (diverse expressions and embodiments of gender and sexual identities). All of this is built upon a claim that queer theory has explicitly resisted and implicitly relied on: "ontological queerness", which has heretofore not been articulated in discourse, and will occupy the opening chapters of the dissertation.

Warren-Ontological Queerness