Elizabeth Johnson spoke to the joint ministerium of the Minneapolis and St. Paul Area Synods this past Thursday. It was a wonderful presentation that highlighted the three major themes of the new book that Dr. Johnson has edited, The Strength of Her Witness: Jesus Christ in the Global Voices of Women.
The title comes from the story of the woman at the well found in the Gospel of John. The woman dropped her water jar, ran into the city, and proclaimed, “I have met the Messiah!” Dr. Johnson points out that the people her were most receptive to and the most powerful witness to the ministry of Jesus were women.
The book is a collection of essays written by female theologians from around the world. Each essay speaks into Christology and falls into one of three categories:
- The Liberating import of Jesus’ ministry. He came to be with the oppressed of the world. Women were, and still are, among the most oppressed within each classification of the oppressed.
- The Redemptive meaning of the Cross. Johnson names the distortion of Anselm’s satisfaction theory that has dominated the West and reduced the cross to a narrative of suffering and passivity. She reclaims the cross in the metaphor of the suffering experienced during childbirth and breast feeding. The death of Jesus is God’s birth canal for the redemption of the world.
- The Inclusive Character of the Body of Christ. The historical Jesus was the particular incarnation of a 1st Century, Jewish male. The resurrected Jesus, however, is the unity and diversity of ALL people. The resurrected Jesus said to the enraged Saul of Tarsus, as he marched to Damascus, “Saul, we do you persecute me?” This “me” included all the people, men and women, who were being arrested and killed.
I look forward to digesting this book. Here are the notes I took at the ministerium.