The College Theology Society

 Serving Church and Academy Since 1954


Annual Convention 2021


Thursday June 3 - Saturday June 5

Registration available here

Program Draft

The College Theology Society holds its Sixty-Seventh Annual Convention

June 3 through June 5, 2021

College Theology Society 2021 Convention Theme

The Human in a Dehumanizing World: 

Re-Examining Theological Anthropology and Its Implications

Co-chairs: Jessica Coblentz and Daniel P. Horan, OFM

There is abundant evidence that we live in a dehumanizing world: Colonialism. Inadequate access to healthcare. Exploitative capitalism. White supremacy. Cisnormativity. Xenophobia. Ecological devastation. Sexism. Political and ecclesial corruption. Disproportionate access to vital natural resources. Heteronormativity. Glorified individualism. The violence of war. The violence of our homes, our workplaces, and our church. Sexual assault. Sexual harassment. Sexual abuse. Mental health stigma. Sizeism. Ableism. The systemic neglect of the poor and other vulnerable populations.

Now more than ever, we are inundated with local and international reminders of how these and other cultures and structures compromise the flourishing of human life. Recognizing these multiple and intersecting realities that belie the will of God, Christians are called to resist them in word and deed. As mediators between local realities and the Church Universal, theologians are positioned to offer a contribution to the response of the Christian community. Grounded in the fundamental affirmation of the goodness and dignity of human life, theologians are equipped to explore how Christian teachings and practices can inform and animate the struggle against these dehumanizing cultures and institutions. Theologians are likewise positioned to bring the complexities of injustice and the insights of interdisciplinary analysis to bear on Christianity, exposing inadequacies in and exhorting reforms to Christian thinking and living.

The CTS 2021 convention invited papers that exemplify this critical and constructive work in all areas of theology, ethics, scripture, liturgy, spirituality, and pedagogy, among others. We sought papers from across the theological disciplines that address diverse contexts of dehumanization with an eye toward how we continue to seek greater understanding (fides quaerens intellectum) of the faith Christians profess. Together, we will explore (1) how the resources of the theological tradition can speak to modern contexts, (2) how ongoing developments in various sources of human knowledge and discovery can inform our theological understanding of the human person, and (3) how the classic loci of theological anthropology can be clarified and articulated for the contemporary world.

Plenary Talks:

Sin and Suffering Revisited: A Conceptual Exploration

Karen Kilby, Bede Professor of Catholic Theology, Durham University

Abstract: How should we imagine the relationship between sin and suffering? This paper will explore patterns of thought embedded in the theological tradition and in contemporary philosophy of religion, and test them against the dehumanising realities of our world. My hypothesis is that the language of sin, tainted and troubling as it is for many, is more likely to retain its value if brought into the appropriate relationship with suffering.

Love for the Annihilated: A Black Theological Reading of Angela’s Memorial

Andrew Prevot, Associate Professor, Boston College

Abstract: This paper belongs to a burgeoning field of scholarship that addresses current social issues by drawing on Christian mystical sources. In particular, it argues that Angela of Foligno's struggle with an inner sense of personal nothingness resembles the psychological burdens of many suffering under anti-blackness and other dehumanizing regimes. It further contends that God's loving response to Angela points to the sort of love that is needed to address such injustices. Instead of merely identifying with the lepers to whom Angela ministers or the “darkness” that she attributes both to the divine and the demonic, black readers of her text can identify with Angela herself and receive the grace that is offered to her. Such a black theological engagement with Christian mystical texts offers a promising alternative to Afro-pessimism, while taking seriously its account of the annihilative power of anti-blackness.

‘The Power of Anger in the Work of Love,’ Revisited: Feminist Anthropology and Emotion

Cristina Traina, Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ, Chair of Catholic Theology, Fordham University

Abstract:  Although Catholic theology holds that humans are rational, emotional creatures, theological ethics at times has difficulty integrating emotion of any kind, let alone negative emotion, into its vision of human reason.  In 1981, Beverly Wildung Harrison made anger an indispensable feminist virtue. In 2018, Sarah MacDonald and Nicole Symmonds argued that riotous anger may be a contingent Christian virtue, a suitable way to pursue human flourishing in some oppressive situations. In 2021, a mostly white and male crowd appeared to make the same case when it stormed the United States Capitol to overturn the putatively illegitimate results of the 2020 Presidential election. If we are to consider retaining the possibility of moral riotous anger without endorsing this instance of sedition, we must continue to parse the moral and theological differences between legitimate and illegitimate riotous anger.  I will take up MacDonald and Symmonds’s argument along with those of Harrison, Laura Alexander, Diana Fritz Cates, Martha Nussbaum, Brittney Cooper, and others to describe riotous anger's contingent place within a feminist theological anthropology that integrates reason, emotion, imagination, and aesthetics.

For fuller info on the speakers, click on their name.

Please feel free to contact the convention co-chairs with any questions: Jessica Coblentz ( and Dan Horan (

[As we explore “The Human in a Dehumanizing World” in 2021, we invite members to look forward to the 2022 convention theme as well: “‘Why We Can’t Wait’: Racism and the Church.”]


Scholars who are invited to present their work at a national convention of the College Theology Society must be current members of the CTS in order to appear in the program.  No person may submit more than one proposal for consideration nor will submissions to multiple sections be considered.  Failure to observe these policies may result in the scholar's disqualification to present a paper at the Annual Convention.

The National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion will once again be joining us this year.

Further questions about our 2021 Annual Convention taking place via Zoom can be submitted by email here.

The College Theology Society is a registered, non-profit professional society and a Related Scholarly Organization of the American Academy of Religion.


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