Here we go, Marc. This is what my tweet a few days back was referring to.
Warning: this is long.
One of the books I am reading as part of my Theology class this term is Freeing Theology edited by Catherine Mowry LaCugna, a book of essays by some leading female theologians who are attempting to look at theology from a new perspective – that of women in the Christian faith. These women are all of a Catholic persuasion, interesting enough since the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches take the most conservative and restrictive view of women in ministry. Out of adversity comes great strength; or maybe one could say that God uses what is of little account to confound the wise. That would be fitting with God’s economy I think.
These authors discuss a number of theological issues. The one we have been dealing with this week is the Trinity. The author discusses the historical background which gave rise to this doctrine and the heresies which they were addressing by their formulation. She gives a beautiful discourse on Rublev’s icon and states that the figures in the icon sit in a circle around the Eucharistic cup with space in this circle for the one meditating on the icon to enter into the communion of the three. She states, “This icon expresses the fundamental insight of the doctrine of the Trinity, namely, that God is not far from us but lives among us in a communion of persons.”(p.84)
Later she goes on to state, “The point of Trinitarian theology is to convey that it is the essence or heart of God to be in relationship to other persons; that there is no room for division or inequality or hierarchy in God; that the personal reality of God is the highest possible expression of love and freedom; that the mystery of divine life is characterized by self-giving and self-receiving; that divine life is dynamic and fecund, not static or barren (p.106)
As she discusses the doctrine, she also engages us in a rethinking of the creeds which describe the Trinity using very patriarchal language. It was, of course, the language and thinking of the era in which they were written but this language poses problems, namely the idea of God being masculine and of the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit being hierarchical. The early church fathers may not have intended to overlay the theology of the Trinity with hierarchy or solely masculine images for God but their language and thinking was patriarchal and so it reinforces this.
Not everyone in this class comes from a middle class, white North American culture and so there was some discussion as to the validity of LaCugna’s arguments and whether they really conformed to what has been said in the Scripture regarding the Trinity and the relationship between the three. Part of our discussion was an attempt to help this person see that disunity and inequality is more a sign of brokenness and sin than of some design by God for the way things should be.