God And The Victim: Traumatic Intrusions On Grace And Freedom

Hardcover | October 2, 2007

byJennifer Erin Beste

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Christian tradition holds that an individual's ability to respond to God's graceto love both God and neighboris not wholly vulnerable to earthly contingencies, such as victimization. Today, however, trauma theory insists that situations of overwhelming violence can permanently damage aperson's capacity for responsive agency. For Christians, this theory raises the very troubling possibility that humans can inflict ultimate harm on each other, such that some individuals' eternal destiny can be determined not by themselves but by those who do great harm. Jennifer Beste addresses the challenges that contemporary trauma theory and feminist theory pose to deeply-held theological convictions about human freedom and divine grace. Do our longstanding, widespread beliefs regarding ones access to Gods grace remain credible in light of recentsocial scientific research on the effects of interpersonal injury? With an eye toward the concrete experiences of trauma survivors, Best carefully considers the possibility that one can be victimized in such a way that his or her receptiveness to Gods grace is severely diminished, or evendestroyed. Drawing on insights present in feminist and trauma theory, Beste articulates a revised Rahnerian theology of freedom and grace responsive to trauma survivors in need of healing. Her thinking is characterized by two interconnected claims; that human freedom to respond to Gods grace can infact be destroyed by severe interpersonal harm, and that Gods love can be mediated, at least in part, through loving interpersonal relations. Offering crucial insights that lead to a more adequate understanding of the relation between Gods grace and human freedom, Bestes important theoryreconfigures our visions of God and humanity and alters our perceptions of what it means to truly love ones neighbor.

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From the Publisher

Christian tradition holds that an individual's ability to respond to God's graceto love both God and neighboris not wholly vulnerable to earthly contingencies, such as victimization. Today, however, trauma theory insists that situations of overwhelming violence can permanently damage aperson's capacity for responsive agency. For Chri...

Jennifer Erin Beste is Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics at Xavier University
Format:HardcoverDimensions:176 pages, 6.3 × 9.29 × 0.79 inPublished:October 2, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195311094

ISBN - 13:9780195311099

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Table of Contents

1. Challenges of Interpersonal Harm for a Theology of Freedom and Grace2. Karl Rahner's Theological Anthropology3. The Vulnerable Self and Loss of Agency4. The Fragmented Self and Constrained Agency5. Response to the Challenge6. Ethical Directions

Editorial Reviews

"This is a highly original study of the viability of any strong version of a theology of freedom. It challenges one of the most important of these theologies--the one proposed by Karl Rahner--by juxtaposing it to descriptive analyses of severe psychological and physical trauma. Beste attemptsan important revision of Christian theologies of freedom and offers pastoral recommendations for communal healing of post-traumatic syndrome. This is an extremely significant contribution to our understandings of human freedom and our vulnerabilities to damage at the heart of our capacity for freechoice." --Margaret A. Farley, author of Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics