Couple Have Own Slant on Theology: They See Big Gains from Joint Effort

Article excerpt

The image of Protestant theologians as ponderous men who labor in ivory towers was swept aside last week by the visit of a husband and wife theological team to Wesley Theological Seminary in Northwest.

During the United Methodist school's spring convocation, world-renowned German theologian Jurgen Moltmann and his wife of 44 years, Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, presented papers.

"I have the masculine way of thinking, and she has the feminine way of thinking," Mr. Moltmann said. "We meet halfway."

He said a Christian should develop an individual identity and faith, and then broaden it with a spouse or a community.

"The theology of the future, in this respect, will be couples theology," Mr. Moltmann said in answer to a question. "This will happen to more and more theological couples. At least, I hope so."

In the battle of the sexes within Christianity, prominent husband-wife teams have not yet played a major role. Men have been the primary theologians, and new women theologians have tended to group in feminist camps.

On the international stage, only the Moltmanns seem to be doing male-female theology as a conjugal task. Together they wrote, "God: His and Hers" and "Humanity in God," and each addresses faith, social justice and ecology with distinct slants.

"Grace coming from above is typical male thinking," Mrs. Moltmann-Wendel said in a discussion, adding that women see divine power coming from within, as in the body healing itself.

"I help my husband a lot," she said. And in her quest to be homemaker and scholar, "My husband has supported me very much."

Perhaps the only other theological couple recognized in Christian academe today is Francis Fiorenza and Elizabeth Schussler-Fiorenza, Catholics who teach at Harvard University.

Far more common is the husband and wife ministry team. Yet few couples share equal national prominence, as in the case of the Rev. Tim LaHaye and Beverly LaHaye, who are conservative evangelicals. He is a pastor and author; she founded Concerned Women for America, the nation's largest women's organization. …