Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 5-5-2023


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Daniel Scheid

Committee Member

Anna Floerke Scheid

Committee Member

William M. Wright IV


interreligious, theology of religions, video games, play, anime, comic books, graphic novels, Xenogears, Dragonball, Ubuntu


How can a Christian theology of religions navigate the interreligious dialogical problems of 1) the inability to fully articulate faith, 2) the lack of persuasive religious language, 3) the reality of violence among religions, and 4) the liquescent “truth” of modern times? This dissertation answers this question with a theology of religions considered through the lens of play theology. Contestant theology navigates these problems as 1) a space of cooperation and contest which 2) incorporates assertiveness (exclusivism), compassion (inclusivism), openness (pluralism) and free participation (Trinitarianism) to 3) hold together enriching and diminishing relationalities among diverse religious peoples with a view toward 4) affirming God’s glory and humanity’s goodness in traditional and surprising contexts.

The methodology of contestant theology is a mixture of biblio-theological, religious, and popular culture studies that is grounded in the five movements of Paul’s speech to the Athenians in Acts 17:28. The first movement (“in God”) considers the “serious” theologies of religion, whose “dead” seriousness encounters dialogical problems. The second movement (“we live”) grounds play theology’s “revival” of the Christian thought-world, spirituality, relationality, and epistemology from the “dead” seriousness that hinders the Christian response to the interreligious encounter. The third movement (“and move”) grounds the vision of “breathing with” other religions; the fourth movement (“and have our being”) grounds the practices in which this “conspiring” occurs. The fifth movement (“For we too are his offspring”) grounds the relationality of simultaneously pulling at and moving with other religions according to the wind of the Spirit, who “breathes where [God] will” (John 3:8). These movements of contestant theology prevent any religion from dominating the earthly sphere of faith, by situating the interreligious encounter in the game that one wants to play forever – discovering one’s God-given self with the other, who is also discovering their God-given self.