The meaning of relational theology has changed, and not for the better.
Over the last couple of years, I started to notice “relational theology” crop up in what I considered unlikely contexts. I had previously associated the term primarily with the feminist and womanist work of Carter Heyward, Catherine Keller, Rita Nakashima Brock, Katie Geneva Canon, Karen Baker-Fletcher, Kelly Brown Douglas, and Sharon Welch, as well as the gay/feminist work of Gary David Comstock. In each of these thinkers, the pursuit of relationality as divinity was always linked to a profound wrestling with suffering and oppression. Furthermore, a clear diagnosis of individualism, transcendence, and other forms of disconnection as manifestations of patriarchal/hierarchal forms of subjectivity was central to the rationale for doing relational theology. As I experienced it in the 1990s, relational theology was simply a dimension of feminist theology. Forging through the searing pain of oppression to the roots of problems in order to propose radical solutions to real social evil, not general ruminations on divine being, was the first step. Continue reading “The Cooptation of Relational Theology: Another Example of the Erasure of Women’s Contributions to Theology by Dirk von der Horst”