Early feminist theologians criticized the Christian doctrine of sin for its focus on female sexual purity and its enabling of the marginalization and oppression of women. Others have questioned whether the entire theological category of sin should be abandoned in favor of other ways of talking about the human predicament. In this new book, Rachel Baard argues for a feminist critique of traditional sin-talk alongside a constructive reinterpretation of the doctrine of sin—one that can be life affirming for all persons. She claims that the Christian idea of sin—that tragic flaw at the core of human experience—provides one of the best tools for understanding the evils of sexism, patriarchy, and traditional sin-talk itself. She likewise provides a new rhetoric of sin-talk, one that accounts for the diverse experiences of the human family, not simply those of powerful men.
“This book provides an overview and analysis of the now classic texts of feminist Christian theology through the lens of rhetorical theory in order to remove the discourse from the staid realm of dogmatic theology and into the critical moral analysis of power relations and existing social realities. To that end, Baard centers the conversation on the feminist rejection of traditional “sin-talk” without undermining the seriousness of sin—especially dehumanizing and exploitative social sin—in an effort to expose, reject, and transcend the rhetorical distortion that perpetuates patriarchal structures built on the domination and control of the many by the few, the female by the male, and the poor by the rich. In its stead, the author offers a hopeful constructive vision of feminist “sin-talk” that preserves the socially transformative power of the biblical prophetic tradition while also affirming feminist “grace-talk” through a soteriocentric and theocentric engagement of the foundational (for confessing Christians) Christ event.”
– Rubén Rosario Rodríguez, Professor of Systematic Theology, Saint Louis University
“With theological rigor, theoretical sophistication and a sharp eye for the pathosof women’s suffering due to gender based violence, Rachel Baard demonstrates the enduring contribution of feminist discourses on sin to a Christian theology of human flourishing.