MEETING GOD ON THE CROSS: Christ, the Cross, and the Feminist Critique
By Arnfridur Gudmundsdottir
New York: Oxford, 2010, 175 pages
Reviewed by Norma Cook Everist, WTS Professor of Church and Ministry
There is a broad spectrum of views on the possibilities of retrieving and reconstructing nonpatriarchal Christologies. “Is the cross of Christ a symbol of hope or a sign of oppression?” asks Gudmundsdottir, Lutheran pastor and Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Iceland. In Meeting God on the Cross, she presents a clear, straightforward historic overview of Christology and feminist approaches.
She begins with Lutheran laywoman Rachel Conrad Wahlberg’s books, Jesus According to a Woman and Jesus and the Freed Woman. She gives overviews of the work of Daphne Hampson, Carter Heyward, and Mary Daly that encourage readers to seek out their original works. Gudmundsdottir identifies with Elizabeth Johnson whose feminist Christology serves to redeem the name of Christ from domineering oppressive uses for the healing of humankind. (Eastertide 2011, over 75 Lutheran women in religious studies, theology and pastoral ministry, including Gudmundsdottir, wrote an open letter of support to Dr. Johnson whose recent book has been criticized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.)
Gudnumdsottir goes on to give substantive and succinct perspectives of the cross as a hermeneutical tool, from Paul to Origen to Luther to Moltmann. She draws a distinction between use and abuse of a theology of the cross, believing a feminist retrieval of this doctrine must unveil the distortion of patriarchal Christology, which still exists, and avoid making suffering, particularly women’s suffering, a virtue. God participates in the world’s suffering, bringing hope into hopeless situations.
Gudmundsdottir, who so clearly presents many voices, has found her own. I look forward to her future work showing that the cross and resurrection liberate and empower women and men to share power for the transformation of theology, ministry and the church itself. This book would be very useful in a colleague study group or college or seminary classroom.