Theologians Who Just Happen to Be Female

This is part of the ‘Girly Girl’ Week here at Cheese-Wearing Theology.

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I’ve been trying to put together a list of female theologians to read. The thing is, levitra I’m not really interested in gender studies or feminist theology, sickness so I find that that significantly limits the number of women theologians I read.

Female theologians are not just writing about feminism. In fact, there are some amazing contributions being made in the areas of Christology, ecclesiology, soteriology and much, much more.

Here are just a few women to highlight:


Kathryn Tanner:
Dr. Tanner is Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School. She has written several books, including Christ the Key, and Jesus, Humanity and the Trinity. Ben Myers has said this about Dr. Tanner:
“In my view, Kathryn Tanner is one of the best theologians working in the Reformed tradition today – she has both a profound grasp of the dogmatic tradition and an acute sensitivity to the contemporary theological situation.” See also, Chris Tessone’s Why I Love Kathryn Tanner and Tripp Fuller’s I Heart Kathryn Tanner’s Christocentric Christology!

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Sarah Coakley:
I first came across Dr. Coakley’s writings while doing research on the Council of Chalcedon for a Barth paper. Dr. Coakley is Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge. According to her faculty page, she is working on a four volume systematic theology (Yay!). Check out her suggestions of 5 essential theology books of the last 25 years.

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Nancey Murphy:
Technically Dr. Murphy is a philosopher, but much of her work intersects with theology, and has been invaluable to my studies. Dr. Murphy is Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary. In her writings on the human soul, Dr. Murphy argues for a non-reductive physicalist position (i.e., there is no dichotomy of body and ‘soul’).

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Ellen Charry:
Dr. Charry is Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. I’ve become interested in Dr. Charry’s work on the theology of happiness. There is much overlap between Dr. Charry’s work and work that is currently being done in the field of positive psychology.

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Marva Dawn:
Dr. Dawn is a teaching fellow at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C. Dr. Dawn has written on worship, pastoral theology and much more. Her book, Powers, Weakness, and the Tabernacling of God won a Christianity Today Book Award. And of course, her book Reaching out without Dumbing Down is a must-read for anyone involved in leading worship in the Church.

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A few more that I have read:

Catherine LaCugna: God for Us: The Trinity and the Christian Life.

Elizabeth Johnson: Consider Jesus: Waves of Renewal in Christology.

Amy Marga: Jesus Christ and the modern sinner: Karl Barth’s retrieval of Luther’s substantive Christology.

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So who are you reading?

Epic Fail Pastors Conference

Isn’t that a great title for a pastors conference? Turns out it’s an actual conference being held in April in Lansdale, ask Pennsylvania.

From the website:

The idea for this conference came from two sources: A blog post from J.R. Briggs, a pastor at Renew Community in Lansdale, Pa and the wildly popular site www.epicfail.com.

A few dangerous questions were asked:

-What if we offered a space that is gutsy, hopeful, courageously vulnerable for pastors to let go of the burden to be a Super Pastor?

-What if we could hold an event that was free from the thrills and frills of other pastors conferences?

-What if we came together as epic failures and sought not successful models or how-to’s but instead celebrated faithfulness in ministry because of the reality of Jesus?

-What if we were reminded that we’re not responsible for being ‘successful’ in ministry, but we are responsible for being faithful to the calling that God has laid out for us – regardless of the outcome?

-What if we had a conference that was not led not by famous pastors who are household names, but by scandalously ordinary ministers and leaders who are faithfully attempting to join with God – even in the midst of glaring obscurity and anonymity?

That post attracted more hits than any other post that J.R. had written in seven years. People from all over the world began contacting J.R. through the blog, email, phone and text messages saying, ‘I’m in! Where do I sign up?” We knew we had struck a nerve. We were on to something significant.

This excited us and freaked us out.

Check out the website for registration and further info. (HT: A Living Alternative)

Pastors, Theologians and Academics

Gerald Hiestand has a fascinating article up at On the Square where he looks at the disconnect between pastors and theologians. He argues that prior to the 19th century, search the great theologians of the Church were pastors. Today, buy cialis on the other hand, pills there is a divide where theologians are in the hallowed halls of academia, while those with the gift of shepherding are in the pastorate.

He writes:

The drain of our wider theologians from the pastorate to the academy has resulted in a two-fold problem. First, the theological water-level of our local parishes has dropped considerably. Inasmuch as the pastoral vocation is no longer seen as a theological vocation, pastors no longer bring a strong theological presence to their local parishes. The net effect (particularly in the evangelical tradition in which I reside) is a truncated understanding of theology and its import among the laity. Theology has largely left the local church.

A few subjective observations based on my experience in ministry, as well as my current experience being in grad school:

1. The churches that I worked in did not want “thinking” pastors. They saw the pastor as the shepherd, the one who would play nice and make sure everyone got along. Above all, the pastor was the one who had a gift of administration: creating and maintaining programs. Of course, this meant that very often the programs designed to edify and encourage the church were no more than fluffy support groups. If churches are saying “no” to those who are academically-minded, where else is there for them to go but to the great halls of academia? [On a side note, I think part of this is also the shift in culture, where pastors are expected to be the extroverted-friendly people; introverts find themselves shunned].

2. I was told over and over again, by well-meaning church folk that my passion for theology and teaching and wrestling through Scripture meant that I would be better suited for a life of academics. “What good is theology when all a person needs is someone to sit with them and pray with them?” (I heard this on more than one occasion, from more than one person).

3. While it is true that some theologians in academia are “ivory tower”, it has been my experience that most theologians, particularly those in evangelical seminaries, work very hard to equip their seminary students to think practically: “What does what we are learning today mean in a church context?” is a question that comes up over and over again from almost all of the professors I know. Even this Barth class that starts tomorrow, while theologically dense, is aiming to do the same thing (see the questions that I posed yesterday).

4. The majority of the professors I know are actively involved in their local churches, denominations and beyond. Many have been missionaries or served in the pastorate. Several professors regularly preach and teach and lend out their expertise and services to churches. (i.e. One professor I know has spoken at several churches on the topic of marriage and illness; even Chuck, who is not a theologian but a psychologist, offers his services to church boards in the form of administering the “Myers-Briggs” Personality Inventory, and assisting with group conflict.)

5. I wonder if part of the problem is an anti-intellectualism in the church. Sure our pastors may go and get an M.Div at seminary, but the expectatioin will be that they will go to learn the how-to’s: How to preach. How to counsel. How to do a wedding. How to administrate. How to grow a church. I worked in several churches that promoted people into leadership positions because of how nice they were, and how relational they were. There was no active discipling for these people to help them grow, and there was no need. They had the “gifts”, and education would just ruin that.

6. We have made the pastor the one who must build community. They are the ones who must build relationships and create a sense of family. “That is why the pastor is paid the big bucks.” And while this is noble, I think that that is the role of the church body, not the role of the pastor. The pastor should be encouraging the church body to fill that role. And the church body should take up that responsibility so that it frees the pastor to focus on Word and Sacrament. How much more theologically-minded would our pastors be if they had even just a few more hours a week to devote to study and prayer?