Theology, Gender, and Individualism in America

Ann Taves

Article Type: Article

Publication Date: 10/1/1988

Issue: Feminism (Vol. 8, No 4, Fall, 1988)

To get at the role which theology has played in the social ecology of the dominant culture at the point when de Tocqueville was writing, and thus indirectly at least to raise some issues for contemporary theologians, this essay examines the image of Christ which emerged during the early nineteenth century and which dominated popular Protestantism until well into the twentieth century and suggests that this conception of Jesus was shaped by the very dualisms that the authors of Habits of the Heart decry and, further, that any attempt to renew relationships between religious individualists—including many, if not most, religious feminists—and the churches will need to take seriously the complex social ecologies within which theologies are developed and take on meaning. More specifically, given our history, such theologies will need to take into account the asymmetrical impact of orthodox forms of Christian theology on men and women.

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