Meeting God on the Cross: Christ, the Cross, and the Feminist Critique

Meeting God on the Cross: Christ, the Cross, and the Feminist Critique

Meeting God on the Cross: Christ, the Cross, and the Feminist Critique

Meeting God on the Cross: Christ, the Cross, and the Feminist Critique

Synopsis

The past thirty years have seen the emergence of a broad-ranging feminist theological critique of Christology. Speaking out of a range of Christian traditions, feminist theologians have exposed the androcentric character of classical Christology, drawing attention to the fact that women's voices in Scripture and in the history of theology have often gone and continue to go unheard. The theological consequences have been grave: Christ's liberating message of the full humanity of both women and men has been compromised by the patriarchal bias of its interpreters. Feminists have also argued that of all Christian doctrines Christology has been most often turned against women. Christological arguments have been used to reinforce an exclusively male image of God, and thus to legitimate men's superiority over women. Further, the image of Christ on the cross has contributed to women's acceptance of abuses of power, as it has often been interpreted as a model of passive submission to unjust suffering. Some feminists have argued for the total rejection of the doctrine of the cross. Others have concluded that Christianity and feminism are incompatible. In this book, the author provides a lucid survey and analysis of the full range of such criticisms, as well as her own explicitly feminist retrieval and reconstruction of a theology of the cross. She argues that there is a redemptive message hidden in the cross of Christ that is valuable to women today. Despite its potential for abuse and its well-documented history of misuse against women, a theology of the cross can also affirm Jesus as a divine co-sufferer who brings good news to all who are poor and oppressed. Such a theology, the author contends, offers women meaning and strength from a God who takes human form and enters redemptively into their suffering.

Excerpt

The important task of theologians (literally: those who talk about God) is to figure out how we can continue to talk about God in our rapidly changing world. Who said it was an easy task? Constantly faced with new challenges, theologians need to be aware of their context and the time and space they live in. Before they can even start their talk about God they need to listen to the people and know their questions. After the second world war the great challenge of European theologians was to figure out how, if at all possible, to continue to talk about God after all the horror that had taken place right there in their backyard. Too often theologians and churchbodies had simply remained silent during the war, or their responses had been totally inadequate and out of touch with what was happening.

Theologians who were left in the remains of the war needed to decide if it was at all possible to talk about a living and loving God in light of what had happened. The need to change the focus of the theological discourse was pressing. The revitalization of a theology of the cross was an attempt to respond to the situation of suffering and pain, as well as the hopelessness of those who had survived, by talking about a suffering God who is right there with those who suffer. A theology of the cross presents the cross as the locus of our knowledge of God, where God is found revealed and yet paradoxically hidden in that revelation. By presenting God known through suffering and dying, the theology of the cross reveals how the crucified and hidden God is the God whose strength lies hidden . . .

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