So far this week I’ve shared the first two parts of “Love: The Foundation of Hope,” a video series produced by Trinity Church in New York from the 1986 Trinity Institute Conference held in honor of the Moltmanns. Those parts were: “Jürgen Moltmann: A Theology of Hope,” and “Theology of Hope: Critiques and Questions.” This third video, “Theology of Hope: The Feminist Response,” is a special treat, because it focuses especially on Jürgen Moltmann’s wife, Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, who is an exemplar feminist theologian in her own right.
This segment, like the others, is narrated by Frederic Burnham and includes conversations between Rev Leonard Freeman various theologians regarding the life and work of the Moltmanns. In addition to Moltmann-Wendel, this session includes conversations with Letty Russell and Charles McCoy. Below the embedded video you’ll find the group discussion content from the pamphlet included with the video.
Tomorrow I will post the final installment – “Theology of Hope: The Church in the World.”
Part 3 – Theology of Hope: The Feminist Response
Ask the group which themes or ideas were most engaging to them and make a list of their responses for purpose of discussion.
For biblical reflection:
The Feminist Identity: I Am Good, I Am Whole, I Am Beautiful
Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel argues that until a person experiences self-love or self-worth, she or he cannot have hope. She expands this theme to a socio-historical level when she speaks about the role of women in the church:
In the beginning of Christianity, in the early churches, women were fully accepted – Jesus had close connections with all kinds of women. There was something of this liberating gospel working. As Christianity becomes closely connected to patriarchal society, the value of women goes down. And as we are now becoming aware, women don’t like themselves.
- Do you share Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel’s view that we must love ourselves before we can share fully in the Christian hope?
- How can we engender this kind of self-acceptance in women and men alike?
Though Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel sees Christianity as steeped in patriarchal ideas, she still has discovered from within the Christian tradition and its promise that “I am accepted as I am, without any action of my own and without any limits.”
- Do you find patriarchal or male-dominating influences in Scripture and in your parish church?
- Is this a problem? If so, how can the church, as a community, address the problem this poses for us all?
The Feminist Vision: Authority and Hope in Feminist Theology
Asked about the exercise of authority in the church – what it is and what it should be – Letty Russell said:
The prevailing paradigm of authority in Christian and Jewish religion is one of authority as domination…. Authority is established in a hierarchical pattern – God, male leaders, women, children, earth and animals at the bottom – a pattern of domination.
But she adds, “one can change image authority in community rather than over community – a rainbow of cooperation and diversity and common commitment.”
- Do you believe it is possible for groups of people or institutions to live and function by consensus without “authority figures?”
- Do you belong to a group taht operates by consensus? Does it work?
- What alternatives are there to patriarchal and hierarchical authoirty?
About the basis for authority, Russell appealed to hope in the future and said:
For feminist women and men, we don’t have images in the past to be equals. Therefore, in theology one images out of the future, and the promise of redemption is very important…. The Bible appears in most instances to be hopelessly patriarchal, but it gives us two loves and a few fishes…. Those who find that itcan be enough do so because they continue in hope in God’s promise of “more to come.”
- Do you envision future models of authority that overcome the hierarchies and divisions of our past and present and that reflect the mutual love and acceptance Russell and Moltmann-Wendel talk about?
- What are they like?