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Title: In the World but not of It: A Critique of American Evangelical Views of God and the Material
Author(s): Hudson, Rebecca
Supervisor(s): Jasper, Alison
Fitzgerald, Timothy
Keywords: Body Theology
Christian Feminism
Martin Luther
John Wesley
Jonathan Edwards
American Evangelical Christianity
Simone deBeauvoir
Karen Lebacqz
Appropriate Vulnerability
Issue Date: 4-Jul-2012
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis concentrates on normative Christian male conceptions of God and the physical realm embodied by women and sexuality especially as they relate to attitudes toward women and sexuality in contemporary American Evangelical Christianity. As a result of the work of feminist and body theologians, it can be seen that the normative framework surrounding God is one of complete disembodied hypermasculinity and the result is one of systematic exclusion of embodied humanity – specifically women and sexuality. In this thesis, I will be exploring how this duality has been negatively reinforced and perpetuated through significant historical theologians from Saint Augustine to the influential twenty-first century American Evangelical writer, theologian, and pastor, Joshua Harris. In this process, we will see that the situation of woman is perilous, as described by feminist philosopher, Simone deBeauvoir in The Second Sex. I propose that this situation is reinforced by the image of God – as a hypermasculine ideal – which is prevalent in normative Christian thinking. This idealised image is produced when the male theologian projects his discomfort with his own masculinity in terms of its unresolved relationship with both body and divine disembodied spirit onto God while simultaneously idealising woman so that he can see reflected in her subordination to him, his own subordination to the hypermasculine God. Through this thesis, we will look at how this began to occur with Augustine and his conceptions of the physical realm as clearly distinguished from the disembodied God. From there, we will see how this dualistic ideal has been carried through to present times – although uncritically examined – by American Evangelicals. Finally, drawing on the work of Karen Lebacqz, I will propose an alternative to this normative understanding of God and woman. In this alternative feminist and body oriented theology, there is an assumption of a kind of mutuality in the divine/human relationship where the characteristic inviolability of the hypermasculine God is inconsequential. The approach provided by Lebacqz’s appropriate vulnerability, which I will expand and enrich, improves on the normative construction of divine human relationships so characteristic of contemporary American Evangelical Christianity by demanding self-reflection from both men and women in a way that allows God of the hook of hypermasculinity and gives women a voice in theology-making and relationships.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities
Literature and Languages

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