Since many of the comments on my last post expressed interest in my dissertation topic I will use my next couple of posts to talk a little bit more about my work and research in that area. When we talk about theories of the atonement we are trying to describe a narrative structure of what took place within the Christian cross event. Generally speaking, Christians believe that atonement serves at the reconciliation between God and humanity and that this reconciliation is realized through the person of Jesus Christ. The three primary theories that try to explain this event are Substitutionary/Satisfaction, Moral Influence, and Christus Victor.
The Substitutionary/Satisfaction theory of atonement suggests that Christ takes on the guilt and punishment that humanity deserves because of our sinfulness and so becomes our substitute, paying the debt we owe for our sins. Because of humanity’s sinfulness we deserve death, but instead of giving us what we deserve God instead offers God’s son as a sacrifice to pay our debt, to atone for our sinfulness, and to save us from the eternal punishment of death.
The Moral Influence theory of the atonement focuses primarily on the life and ministry of Christ rather than on his suffering and death. This theory is centered on the belief that God loves God’s creation so much that God would hold back nothing from us, God would even give God’s own Son in order to save us and remain in relationship with us. As a result this theory encourages Christians to live as Christ lived and focuses on imitating his life and ministry in order to bring about justice in our own world.
Continue reading “A Beginning: Atonement Theology and the Feminist Critique by Katie M. Deaver”
Last weekend was a special one for me. After many years of study and dedication I graduated with my Ph.D. and am now, officially, Dr. Katie Deaver. The weekend was filled with celebrations to mark the completion of a milestone that I have spent years working toward. The amazing outpourings of love, support, and care that I have experienced throughout the last few days is quite humbling. The happiness and pure joy of my family, friends, professors, mentors, and multiple church communities have left me in awe. As I reflect on this love and support it helps to heal the wounds and scars that have accumulated throughout the process of earning this degree.
The undertaking of a Ph.D. program is significantly more difficult than anyone tells you. This difficultly lies not necessarily in the course work or the dedication to constant reading, writing, and learning but rather in the personal growth and vocational affirmation that takes place within the process. My dissertation explored the primary understandings of the doctrine of atonement and addressed how this doctrine can, and has, been used in ways that perpetuate, and in some cases even encourage, domestic violence.
My own fascination with the topic of atonement and its links to domestic violence was brought about at the suggestion of one of my undergraduate professors at Luther College, Dr. Jim Martin-Schramm. From the moment that Dr. Martin-Schramm explained the links between theologies of the cross and domestic violence I knew that I had found my new passion. Writing a dissertation on the topics of domestic violence, theology and women of faith was an extremely personal, and intimate experience for me. This topic forced me to accept my own lived experience. To claim myself… out loud… as a survivor of domestic violence. As a result the writing of my dissertation was particularly personal, and painful, as well as extremely life giving.
Continue reading “Becoming Myself by Katie M. Deaver”
I went to the movies with a group of friends last Friday to watch the final Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. It was a great movie, fun and action-filled, and the energy of opening night only made it better. Afterward we all went out to eat and exchanged notes on our favorite scenes – talking about every little detail. At one point, one of my friends commented on the strong role women have in the Harry Potter movies/books. She said the story is carried by the women – that if it wasn’t for them Harry Potter would not exist. She made specific mention of Harry’s mom as having sacrificed her life for him. Lily dies so Harry can live.
This of course is when my brain comes to a screeching halt.
Women sacrificing their lives for others – I become suspicious and my defenses go up. Sacrifice = suffering. Suffering must not be glorified. Sacrifice must not be sacralized. I see red flags everywhere. Wait, though; haven’t those of us who are Christian-identified heard the opposite affirmed a million times? Jesus suffered and died – was sacrificed – for our sins. Further, Christians’ most sacred ritual, communion, includes reference to Jesus’ broken body and spilt blood. So, isn’t that what people do for love, sacrifice, as Harry’s mom did?
No. I don’t think that’s actually what people (or God) do for love. Continue reading “Loving Harry Potter By Xochitl Alvizo”