Analysis: Christology and Patriarchy

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Rosemary Radford Ruether (R.R.) takes a position in her work “Christology and Patriarchy”, which calls for a modernization of the Church’s leadership structure. R.R. explains that the Vatican refuses female ordination because it does not adhere to Christology, the belief that Church leaders should maintain the “image” of Christ.

The “image of God” that R.R. discusses is the result of many factors, beginning with the Greek concept of “logos”, attributed to men as being the characteristic of rationality. Because rationality was only a trait granted to men at the time, it was assumed that God was a male figure, seeing as Jesus was a man. R.R. claims that this is derived from Aristotelian biology, which demeans women to a level less than human. Although even the Church has since discredited this ancient theory, Christology remains the patriarchal chain of command in the Church. R.R. lists some more gender-inclusive aspects of Christology, like an androgynous God, Jesus’ “ben Adam” title which involved male and female characteristics, and Jesus’ close relationship with women that lasted through to his death. She identifies two types of Christianity, patriarchal and mystical/millennialist, which both work off of the assumption of patriarchy’s legitimacy. R.R. argues that Christology must be recast to integrate modern, egalitarian anthropological beliefs, and a perception of Jesus as the paradigm for a collective Church.

I admire Radford Ruether’s argument for female inclusion in Church leadership. Her citation of historical factors that led to the conception of a patriarchal line of command works to nearly discredit the Church’s stance. I think she attacks an issue that is holding the Church back from gaining legitimacy in the modern world: their utter dismissal of women.
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