A journal of academic theology

Research Article

Turning toward a Theology of Transformation: Notes from the Borderlands

This article brings Chicana theorist Gloria Anzaldúa’s notion of “self” and “borderlands/mestiza consciousness” into conversation with M. Shawn Copeland’s call to “turn theology toward persons.” After tracing Anzaldúa’s critical rethinking of José Vasconcelos’s understanding of mestizaje, as well as the political implications of borderlands/mestiza consciousness as theorized in the work of María Lugones and others, the article examines Copeland’s engagement of decolonial theory in her attempt to “turn” theology. Both Copeland’s and Anzaldúa’s writings teach nos/otrx that theology can only be both transformed and transformative if the persons doing theology engage in critical self-reflection and build this critical reflexivity into the theologies they create.

A Theological Exploration: Nonviolence as Intersectional Praxis

This article offers a theological vision of how nonviolence contributes to Catholic social teaching, and offers a crosscutting, intersectional praxis related to two destructive waves in the US: the public health crisis of COVID-19 and systemic racism. First, this article will describe some basic intersections of these two waves, and then draw on a theological description of nonviolence to analyze their intersectionality. Finally, this article will illustrate how nonviolence offers a praxis for a more sustainable transformation.

Race, Gender, and Christian Mysticism: The Life of Zilpha Elaw

Drawing on the spiritual autobiography of the nineteenth-century Black female preacher Zilpha Elaw, this article argues that it should be included in the canon of Christian mystical texts because it sheds light on questions about race and gender relevant to current conflicts in both church and society. Elaw’s story demonstrates that while the grace of divine union promotes social transformation, it may not immediately free one from structures of sin. Mystical spirituality requires ongoing critical discernment.

The Nonviolent Christ at the Apocalyptic Center of Origen’s Homilies on Joshua

Christians ancient and modern have puzzled over the violence in the book of Joshua. Origen of Alexandria interprets this text apocalyptically, to give readers a sense of their own personal moral struggle as participating in a cosmic effort. For Origen, the central act of apocalypse is the cross of Jesus Christ, conquering evil through nonviolence and making religious violence explicitly prohibited. This is a compelling exegesis still today, since by using the cross to reinterpret Joshua, Origen presents a middle path between endorsing the violence depicted and excising or ignoring it.

Religious Nationalism, a Global Ethic, and the Culture of Encounter

This article sketches the global ethic proposed by Hans Küng and how Pope Francis’s writings on a culture of encounter help advance it. Religious nationalism impedes the development of this global ethic. Küng’s global ethic resists this nationalism and Francis’s approach provides guidance on whether the local or the global should take priority in concrete circumstances. The contributions of Küng and the pope are complementary and together can advance the ethic needed for greater justice and peace in a globalizing world.

Children and the Eucharist at the Council of Trent

This article examines the relationship between children and the Eucharist at Trent by studying the Acta of Sessions XIII and XXI and by historically and theologically contextualizing Session XXI. It argues that Trent’s teachings on children and the Eucharist are motivated more by concerns about what is necessary for salvation than by reflection on children’s spiritual growth or membership in the church. While the council adequately articulates the requirements for salvation, it does not offer a comprehensive eucharistic theology, which could lead to deeper reflection on children’s relationship with the Eucharist.

Catholicity and Translatability: Renewing Rahner on the World Church

Karl Rahner famously proclaimed that Vatican II marked the beginning of a new Christian epoch, that of the “world church” (Weltkirche). He also proposed that the Catholic Church develop a global pastoral-strategic plan for the world church. This recommendation needs updating. This can occur through conversation with theologians engaged with Christianity in the Global South: Lamin Sanneh and Gemma Tulud Cruz. They offer ideas regarding the translatability and emerging inclusivity involved in the concrete, localized performances of ecclesial life that constitute the world church. Combined with Rahner’s rendering of the nexus between Christology and ecclesiology, these ideas can impel and guide attempts to think through and live out the church’s catholicity today.

A Feminist Theology of Testimony

Feminist activists and women’s studies scholars have referred to moments where women understand the impact of sexism on their lives as clicks. Karl Rahner’s account of witness will help us identify why such clicks are theological. In turn, analysis of these clicks in conversation with feminist epistemology will illuminate what it will require to become hearers of the Word. A feminist theology of testimony calls us to facilitate theological inclusion and the development of theological subjects.

Beyond “The Anonymous Christian”: Reconsidering Rahner on Grace and Salvation

Karl Rahner acknowledged freely that “the anonymous Christian,” as a category, could be problematic. His interest, he stressed, was not in the term but in understanding the universality of God’s grace and the access of all people to grace. Reception of Rahner’s theology of salvation, however, has often neglected this broader framework to focus on the term itself. This article, which engages Rahner’s theology of grace in both its ecclesiological setting and its universal reach, argues that this theology can be an asset to dialogue even in the context of religious pluralism.

A Blemished Offering: Economy, Eucharist, and the Limits of Epiphanic Conversion

This article critiques Enrique Dussel’s use of the conversion of Bartolomé de Las Casas to ground his argument for a clear correspondence between Christian economic and eucharistic participation. Portraying justice as the result of an epiphanic conversion, Dussel implies a sudden and enduring ethical purity that undermines the justice he wants to call forth. I argue that a closer reading of the life of Las Casas offers a more truthful way to account for eucharistic practice under the pervasive structures of late capitalism.

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