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THE TRINITY AND FEMINISM * GREGORY RoccA, O.P. Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology Berkeley, California SPEAKING THE CHRISTIAN GOD is a substantial and fundamental theological response to the basic assumptions and conclusions of the burgeoning feminist movement within Christian theology. Its opponent is clearly theological feminism, not that egalitarian feminism which seeks justice for women within church and society. Noting the " paucity of critical response from the theologians of the church " to the challenge of feminism, the editor states the book attempts " to substantively and critically engage specific feminist thinkers " about the doctrine of God and God-talk, and " to offer constructive discussion and analysis of the crucial and often very complex theological issues." With only a couple of exceptions, the individual articles succeed admirably in the second aim, though only about half offer a substantive engagement with specific feminist thinkers (the most frequent debate partners are Sallie McFague and Rose~ mary Radford Ruether, and the single most cited line is Mary Daly's " If God is male, then the male is God ") . The editor also warns us that polemic has often not been avoided, for " when the gospel of Jesus Christ is at stake, passion also must enter into theology." However, again with only a couple of exceptions, I found the individual essays to be models of rational criticism and controversy which avoid the kind of emotional attack that delights in sarcasm, personal vituperation, and ad feminam arguments . *Speaking the Christian God: The Holy Trinity and the Challenge of Feminism. Edited by Alvin F. Kimel, Jr. Grand Rapids, Michigan/Leominster, England: Eerdmans/Gracewing, 1992. Pp. x + 337. 509 510 GREGORY ROCCA, O.P. The book's eighteen contributors (thirteen men and five women) share the fundamentals of Christian belief and span the various Christian confessions, though the great majority are from the Protestant traditions. This collection does not entirely escape the anthological bane of uneven quality (though almost all the essays are excellent), repetition, and lack of focal unity (the common target is feminism but the responses to it are varied) . As an aid in discerning the focal unity behind these diverse rejoinders to feminism, I will synthesize the essays under four basic questions : How do we speak the Christian God? Why do we speak the Christian God as Father? What does speaking the Christian God as Father teach us about God and ourselves? Why does theological feminism have trouble with speaking the Christian God as Father? First Question: How do we speak the Christian God? According to different essayists-by simile, metaphor, analogy qualified by negative theology, and personal name. Some point out the differences between these various ways of speaking God and then try to show how, in at least one of the ways, Father is God's ineradicable and eternal name. Thus, they defend Father as the Trinity's nomen primum and critique the feminists for conflating the distinct ways by which we speak God. Roland Frye, Garrett Green, Colin Gunton and Janet Martin Soskice all focus on Father as a metaphorical name for God. Frye maintains there is an essential difference between simile and metaphor, and that Father is God's most fitting metaphorical name. While God is a few times compared to a mother by illustrative simile (mainly in Second and Third Isaiah), he is never named mother or addressed as mother; more positively, the appellative and predicative metaphor Father is said of God directly or vocatively about 250 times in the Old and New Testaments. One might wonder, however, whether the division between metaphor and simile is so airtight. Are not all metaphors immediately translatable back into similes? The answer is No, according to Garrett Green, who explains how contemporary thinkers see metaphor not as atomistic and substitutional (the classical view) but as contextualized and THE TRINITY AND FEMINISM 511 unique. Thus, Father is God's unique metaphorical name which transcends mere simile. Still, one might counter that metaphors are protean and plastic: if Father can be said uniquely of God, then why not also Mother? Gunton addresses himself to this objection in dialogue with Sallie McFague, contending that a realist theological epistemology shows that divine metaphor cannot be totally protean but...


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