Theology

"As a theologian, Luther began to ask questions through the radical wager of justification by grace through faith. In a similar fashion, feminist, womanist, and mujerista theologians ask questions through the radical wager that women and girls in all their multiplicity are fully human — equally created, equally sinful and equally redeemed." — Mary Streufert, "Transformative Lutheran Theologies"

Theology matters. It matters because it expresses faith and it shapes people. What we think about God, Jesus Christ and creation, including humanity, influences how we live, sometimes for good and sometimes for ill. The centuries-old Christian theological tradition is rich with multiple voices, contexts, struggles and answers. In its emphasis on God’s grace given for all, without distinction, Lutheran theology distinctively supports the full humanity of all people. From this conviction, many feminist, womanist and mujerista Lutheran theologians contribute to the ongoing re-formation of the church and society to express humanity’s equality in Christ.

As equally created, equally sinful and equally redeemed, all members of the body of Christ are set free by God’s grace to live our baptismal identity. In baptism and the Eucharist, Christian identity does not dwell in individual, particular selves; rather, our identity in Christ is beyond ourselves. However, this does not mean that our bodily differences are changed or that diversities of ideas and cultures are flattened into sameness. As Paul’s pivotal claim in Galatians makes clear, difference is different in Jesus Christ: Christian unity is located beyond our differences, whether those differences are biological, social, cultural or ideological.

When the ways in which we live give privilege to and oppress people based upon these differences, Christians are called to seek change toward ways of thinking and acting that support the full humanity of all people. Two central themes in the Lutheran theological tradition empower mutual responsibility to address the causes and effects of sexism in church and in society. First, Martin Luther extolled Christians to be “theologians of the cross.” Part of the task of such theologians is to “call a thing what it is” (Heidelberg Disputation). Patriarchy and sexism harm all people, so we name this.

Second, Luther placed justification by grace through faith back in the center of Christian theology. He urged the church to move away from thinking and acting as if what we do redeems us. Rather, God’s grace through Christ heals our relationship with God — and with each other. Through baptism Christians are set free to work for the well-being of others by seeking justice.