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Published Date: July 31, 2020

Published Date: July 31, 2020

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Engaging Women with a Suffering Sophia: Prospects and Pitfalls for Evangelicals

Throughout the Scriptures, God is described as acting in the personification of Wisdom, or Sophia.1 This is the basis for Catholic theologian Elizabeth Johnson’s appropriation of the title “God,” replacing it with “Sophia.” Johnson argues that each person of the Trinity is Sophia, just as each person of the Trinity is God. Therefore, according to Johnson, it is accurate to maintain that Father-God, Son-God, and Holy Spirit-God can each be called Sophia. Under this nomenclature, theologians may speak of God-Sophia, Logos-Sophia, and Spirit-Sophia. Naming God as “Sophia” critically aligns the Divine with a specifically female concept, while also expanding the theological understanding of the character and attributes of God-Sophia.

This article will explore the ways in which God-Sophia, and specifically the person of Logos-Sophia, engages women in Johnson’s theology. First, I will describe Johnson’s suffering Sophia through her two-fold process of deconstructing male language for God and reconstructing female language for God. Second, I will enumerate the ways Logos-Sophia suffers in a manner women can identify with, according to Johnson. Third, I will sketch Johnson’s view on the suffering Sophia in the deteriorating natural environment. Fourth, I will offer a critical analysis of Johnson’s Trinitarian theology, particularly for evangelicals driven by concerns of sex-equality and eco-destruction, which are often intertwined. After these pitfalls have been identified, my conclusion will offer prospects for evangelicals to utilize the theology of a suffering Sophia.

Sophia Suffering and Women

Before Sophia can be connected to women, it is necessary to clear away the conceptual weeds of a male-described God. Johnson notes that the male-dominated language historically used to describe God—in English and in the biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek—is damaging to women on several fronts. Following from this observation, this article will use “God” when referring to the male concept of God that Johnson is writing against and “Sophia” when referring to the female concept of God that Johnson is endorsing. Of course, God is neither male nor female. Yet, the association, repetition, and reiteration of a male God is destructive for theological and feminist reasons.

Male Language and God-Talk

Gender refers to the cultural construction of physical, emotional, social, and mental attributes that men and women are expected to have. Men are expected to have a masculine gender and women are expected to have a feminine gender. Sex refers to the biological and chromosomal features of men and women. Men are called male and women are called female.2 Even though God the Trinity is beyond gender and has no sex, God—envisioned in the Person of the Father, Spirit, or the Trinity—is typically referred to as “he.”

To be sure, it is accurate to refer to Jesus Christ, who was incarnate in a male body, as “he.” However, there is no basis for referring to the other persons of the Trinity as “he.” In addition to revealing an inconvenient paucity of English language pronouns, male language when talking about God is problematic from Johnson’s perspective for the following reasons.

First, male language about God normalizes the male over the female.3 When God is referred to as “he,” androcentrism becomes ingrained into culture and reifies a language where the male is dominant. Androcentrism seeps beyond theology and into everyday language where man or male is stylized to represent all humans. For instance, while modern Americans understand that “mankind” has historically been used to mean “humanity,” whereas woman is subsumed under man, the converse cannot be said. “Womankind” never means “men and women.” The consequence of male-dominant language, whether describing God or humans, is the failure to recognize women’s independence from men and discrete existence in humankind.4

Second, exclusively male language enshrines divinity as being the same substance—homoousios,5 if you will—as men. As such, divinity cannot encompass women because of physical sex differences.6 Indeed, the argument in the Catholic Church for a male-only priesthood echoes this notion. Johnson explains the opinion of the Church as such: “men are not only more truly theomorphic but, in virtue of their sex, also christomorophic in a way that goes beyond what is possible for women . . . men, thanks to their ‘natural resemblance,’ enjoy a capacity for closer identification with Christ than do women.”7 Men, in male bodies, are more similar in form to the incarnate God than women. When the Church affirms, “men alone among human beings are able to represent Christ fully,” they are subscribing to a phallocentric construction of God.8 This overemphasizes the material importance of embodiment, which is not extended to other characteristics, such as height, weight, skin color, ability, or age.

Third, when male words are used to describe God, sexism, patriarchalism, and androcentrism are endorsed.9 When God is seen as male, it is a short leap for men to see themselves as god. After all, when Christians worship an all-powerful King and describe God as Ruler and Lord, men might forget themselves as mere mortals since they are able to identify with a male Divinity. The king or lord of the land begins to imagine himself representing God and being an ambassador of God.10 The aphorism that “every man is a king in his own home” implies that female adults and children are mere vassals within the earthly household. Therefore, it is not only the Machiavellis of the world that adopt a sexist, megalomaniac, theistic-complex, but plebian men too. Inevitably, this leads to the denigration and abuse of women, male and female children, and underclasses.

Since male language has been the standard means of speaking about God, some women have struggled to relate to God. Although men have a direct entry point into Christian imagery through their brother Jesus, women have not had a similarly tangible means to identify with God. In recognition of the problems associated with male language and God-talk, theologians—and feminist theologians in particular—have tried to “add” female qualities to a male God, or to unearth “feminine” images of God by focusing on the person of the Holy Spirit.11 These maneuvers are unsatisfactory for Johnson since the additive approach still originates from an improperly gendered male God, while the focus on a female Holy Spirit leads to an improper gendering of a different kind. Thus, Johnson proposes a third way: using both male and female images of God equivalently.12

Johnson is able to achieve this objective by expanding the lexicon for describing God. Johnson’s linguistic investigation goes beyond the typically male God the Father and beyond the typically female Holy Spirit to the embodied Christ. Metaphors are used instead of characteristics. The female experience and female epistemology are prioritized, while remaining within biblical theology. Recovering female metaphors for each of the three Persons of the Triune God places women in a context where “speech about redemptive suffering can be genuinely countercultural, and of benefit to women.”13 These metaphors include suffering from giving life and suffering rendered by confronting injustice.

Recovering Female Metaphors of Sophia Suffering

Johnson maintains that recovering the female metaphors for Sophia will help women understand—and relate to—a suffering Being.14 Johnson focuses on metaphors that highlight suffering because suffering is a fundamental part of all lives, but women’s lives in particular. Suffering links God to women because God-Sophia suffers. It must be iterated that the suffering of Sophia is metaphorical since Sophia has neither a body that can be harmed, nor emotions that can be hurt. Although the incarnated Logos-Sophia suffered physically, the suffering detailed in Johnson’s articulation of theology is not physical.

Metaphors related to procreation are especially pertinent. God-Sophia is the giver of life. Women alone give life through parturition. Furthermore, procreation connects many women to each other historically through the experience of motherhood via birth.15 Johnson comments, “In a way unique to half the human race, women labor in bearing and birthing each new generation, a suffering which can be woven round with a strong sense of creative power and joy.”16 This uniquely female experience is reflected in the account of Sophia in Isa 42:14, which reads, “For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant” (NIV). This verse in particular is a “superb metaphor for Sophia-God’s struggle to birth a new people.”17 While the metaphor of birth is relatable for many heterosexual, fertile, procreative women, it is not the only feature of motherhood, womanhood, or suffering. Rather, Johnson recovers the metaphor of a suffering Sophia through activism as well.

Johnson recognizes the pain women feel when they confront injustice as another aspect of suffering which connects women to God-Sophia. Attempting to make the world more equitable, with a determined pursuit of justice, has been a noble feature of women throughout time. Johnson acknowledges, “women suffer when they choose to act in situations, great or small, to bring about the betterment of human life through the pursuit of human rights, healing, justice and peace.”18 The female experience is linked to Sophia in the prophetic function, or “the engagement of the God who loves justice.”19 A willingness to suffer for justice is not merely intellectual, it is visceral.

When the initial suffering from injustice subsides, women are left with the residue of anger. In the same way, Sophia is angry at injustice. “For the wrath of God in the sense of righteous anger . . . is a caring response in the face of evil.”20 Righteous anger is directed at anything emotionally destructive, pernicious, or vicious. In sum, anger rooted in suffering resonates with women who are advocates for themselves and for others.21

Through birth, anger at injustice, and other female metaphors in Johnson’s book, She Who Is, a portrait of a suffering Sophia emerges. Women identify with this Sophia if they have given biological life or courageously stood against injustice. Both birth and social engagement cause suffering. But these metaphors paint only a partial picture of a suffering Sophia women can relate to.

Sophia Suffering and Positive Attributes

The idea of a suffering God, particularly through the scandal of the cross, is unappealing for many. Suffering is often seen as a deficiency of being. “If God can suffer,” so the logic goes, “then He can be of no help.” However, it is precisely the capacity to suffer that makes Sophia relatable, particularly for women. Johnson maintains that personal suffering can be described in a manner that is simultaneously positive and conducive to identification with the suffering Sophia.

Recognizing the positive attributes of suffering balances the painful metaphors for suffering previously identified. Johnson thus proposes three positive aspects of suffering that can communicate a suffering Sophia to women. First, suffering can be an expression of love. Second, suffering can demonstrate excellence of character. Third, suffering can be a comforting guide in life’s tribulations. These attributes affirm the experience of women as painful, but also deeply positive.

Suffering as Love

Many women identify with the word “love.” Women love in their own lives, despite suffering. Through communal, familial, and sexual relationships, women engage in love. In a parallel manner, Johnson states, “the essence of God can be seen to consist in the motion of personal relations and the act that is love.”22 God is Love. And yet, we know experientially that love can cause suffering. Relational love often has painful contours.

When Sophia reflects a suffering love, it must be in a manner “appropriate to divine being.”23 Since Sophia is perfect, metaphors of a loving-but-suffering Sophia must co-exist with immutable attributes of God. Sophia’s suffering love emerges from an ebullience of being and “overflowing of compassion.”24 In this way, the suffering of Sophia is not indicative of weakness or powerlessness, but rather “a most characteristic expression of divine freedom active in the power of love.”25 Love and suffering are explicitly demonstrated in the suffering of Logos-Sophia. Through a superabundance of love Sophia came as Redeemer. Johnson thus explains, “the crucified God freely chose to suffer with us and does so actively out of the fullness of love.”26 This love is positive and redemptive. Even so, aligning suffering love with positive characterization can be misunderstood.

Johnson warns that suffering love should not be interpreted as an imperative for women to harm themselves for the sake of others. The suffering love of Sophia was self-chosen, not imposed. Many women are pressured to emulate the martyrdom of Logos-Sophia or forced into social roles that are parasitic on women’s love.27 Johnson’s caveat is well-taken. Sometimes the suffering love that women experience can be destructive, but this is not real love. The suffering, crucified love of Sophia was for the purpose of human redemption, not self-annihilation.

Suffering as an Excellence

For humans, suffering is associated with a lack of fortitude, since it implies that one is out of control. Johnson rejects this model of suffering and suggests that, instead of being conceptualized as a negative experience, suffering can be viewed as an excellence when rendered in terms of absolute freedom. God cannot be immobilized, thus speech about God’s “suffering with and for the world points to an act of freedom, the freedom of love deliberately and generously shared.”28 Suffering is therefore a characteristic manifesting from excellence rather than demerit. Women may regard their suffering as having been chosen in freedom. In this free choice, women demonstrate a fully formed maturity that does not compartmentalize reactions to life.

It is therefore more appropriate, and more beneficial for women, to render the suffering Sophia as excellence instead of inferiority. When suffering is chosen, not compelled; adopted, not refused; accepted, not rejected, it can indicate an excellence of character through freedom. Women can thus upend the traditional acceptance of suffering and reclaim meaning in the midst of pain, acknowledging the freedom to feel pain. They do so by identification with a perfect Being who suffers and demonstrates fullness of character.

Suffering as a Guide

Finally, suffering can be viewed as a positive attribute when it is constructively used as a guide for women in times of need. When women seek a compassionate ear to listen, or a shoulder to lean on, it is not enough that someone would merely tolerate or superficially understand the situation. Rather, through identification of suffering, women find camaraderie and encourage each other. Through the shared experience of suffering, women can simultaneously identify with Sophia and gain wisdom from these experiences.

Mutual assistance in the face of adversity forms bonds of affinity. Note Heb 5:2, where the earthly priest is a representation of Christ. The priest “is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness” (NIV). Similarly, Logos-Sophia, our high priest, can relate to us, having entered into flesh and into our suffering. “The mystery of God is here in solidarity with those who suffer.”29 Sophia can hence guide women even in their darkest hour.

Just as the priest of Hebrews actually went through pain, so too can women in their pain take comfort in the sufferings of Logos-Sophia incarnate, who was like us in every way but sin. In dealing compassionately with women, Sophia identifies with them, just as the high priest identifies with the people. Sophia’s suffering speaks to women as a guide, through the shared experiences of earthly embodiment.

She Who Is establishes that Sophia suffers metaphorically in terms that many women can relate to. The female metaphors of birth and activism are theology from below, for they speak from women to Sophia. Suffering may be viewed as negative. However, through the divine positive attributes of love, excellence, and guidance, a theology from above integrates the suffering of Sophia and the lived experience of women. Particularly through the incarnate Logos-Sophia, women are offered a relatable God, who speaks to them in their own language, with their own experiences. Johnson’s both/and approach to metaphors for the suffering Sophia draws women to Sophia and Sophia to women.

Sophia Suffering and the Earth

Johnson’s intellectual work on the suffering Sophia goes beyond systematic theology and into the discipline of eco-feminism, which works to disrupt the hegemony by pointing to the minority-majority—those who are often overlooked in male-dominated, technophilic societies. Women, the earth, and the economically depressed are among those in this disenfranchised group who suffer at the hands of patriarchy, eco-destruction, and exploitive capitalism, respectively. These three systems of power are related; the domineering mentality that endorses sex-subordination is the same viewpoint that legitimizes overuse of the earth’s resources and an economic system that crushes the poor. Eco-feminist theology was built from the canons of feminism, liberation theology, and ecology, which I will review briefly.

Feminism, Liberation Theology, and Ecology: Ecofeminist Theology

The second wave of American feminism in the 1960s roughly corresponded with the first ecological movement. It was a time of groundbreaking books like The Population Bomb and The Feminine Mystique.30 The first Earth Day was in 1970 and many social issues in ecology percolated into feminism. Awareness of overpopulation and global destruction came to fore. Subjugation of the weak, exploitation, competition, and the countervailing themes of collaboration, equality, solidarity, and liberation apparated in both feminist and environmental movements. In the same time period, theology was exploring new approaches to address these modern issues.

Liberation theology developed in response to social justice concerns like women’s equality, civil rights, and environmental destruction. Grounded in Scripture and historical church teachings, liberation theologians turned their focus to the “nonperson through the praxis of justice.”31 In particular, a theology of nonpersons was funneled through the ecological movement, which highlighted responsibility to the earth and non-human animals.

Ecological theology, or eco-theology, is at the nexus of biblical theology, theological ethics, and liberation theology. Related to it, ecological feminism highlights the overlapping concerns of women, suffering, and nature. Since Sophia has been theologically linked with the feminine—and women have consistently been concerned with eco-destruction—the union of ecological theology and eco-feminism resulted in eco-feminist theology.

Linking Suffering and Ecology

Johnson’s ecological feminist theology utilizes the idea of a suffering Sophia to describe the modern concern of environmental destruction. As the Creator, Sophia is grieved by the destruction of creation. As the Incarnation, Sophia palpably feels the crumbling ecosystem. As the Sustainer, Sophia witnesses the progressive plunder of the earth. Johnson does not go as far as Sallie McFague in claiming that the earth is God’s body32 and therefore planetary harm is harm to Sophia directly. Johnson does, however, create a theology predicated on the suffering Logos-Sophia, who was incarnate in and through the world.

The suffering of Logos-Sophia in relation to the natural world is of particular importance to Johnson because of the incarnation. The incarnation was the fusion of Sophia and earthly matter, as Christ is both fully God and fully human. Indeed, the connection between nature and Christ is seen in the term “deep Christology,” which is used to “signify the radical divine reach into the very tissue of biological existence and the wide system of nature.”33 Sophia’s decision to live on earth as an embodied person speaks to the immense care for all of creation.

It is significant that Johnson recognizes the interdependence between humans and nature instead of claiming redemption only for people. Sophia showed solidarity with the earth by entering the world in which “human beings are a part and on which their existence depends.”34 Human beings do not “own” the world and thus Johnson affirms that “we share with all other living creatures on our planet a common ancestry” which leads to concern for both animate and inanimate beings.35 While many, perhaps most, people would argue that actions to remediate human suffering must always take priority over planetary suffering, theologians cannot act as if humans live apart from the deteriorating world.36 Planetary health affects human health through climate change health hazards, topographies of destruction, and the disruption of earth’s seasons.

Johnson maintains that “to be in solidarity with divine care amid creation’s groanings, believers must enter the lists of those who act compassionately for ecological well-being, enduring the suffering this entails.”37 Humans who act on behalf of environmental conservation may suffer for a variety of reasons. They may feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of ecological injustice. They may experience discomfort from changes in eating or transportation habits. They may be targets of disdain from people who do not share a commitment to reducing population growth and resource consumption. Yet, humans have a model for engagement with the earth through Sophia-Incarnate, recognizing the suffering that this activism may cause.

Taken as a whole, the suffering Sophia in Johnson’s eco-feminist theology highlights the connections between women, the earth, and the poor. In fact, “if nature is the new poor then solidarity with the poor . . . encompasses the earth and its distressed myriad of creatures.”38 The suffering Sophia on the earth, ultimately, is an additional avenue for women to connect to God, as they understand exploitation of the earth is exploitation of women, but also that a deep Love came to earth to redeem creation.

Sophia Suffering: Perils for Evangelicals

Johnson has continued to be a prolific scholar, advancing both feminist and theological goals, while maintaining a valiant concern for language used to describe God. Her innovative writings have shaped a generation of theologians, while her emphasis on language has been a contributing factor to the current consciousness theologians have in using inclusive pronouns for God and humanity. However, Johnson’s work is not above critique.

Some Protestants may inherently be wary of a Catholic theology, and evangelicals, in particular, may be hesitant to embrace either feminist theology or eco-theology due to the historical preference for masculinist theology and dismissal of conservationist social movements.39 Thus, I will identify some perils for evangelicals who wish to adopt either Johnson’s theology of the suffering Sophia or Johnson’s eco-theology, in order to address them. Both feminist theology and ecological theology are wide tents with many camps, and the similarities that unite Christians are greater than the differences that divide us. Staking out common ground is my ultimate goal in the hope that Johnson’s work will be utilized by evangelicals more often, thus bringing the gospel to women in as many ways as possible. This may be viewed through a missiological lens, or simply as a matter of deeper theological understanding.

Sophia Suffering and Women

While Johnson highlights the way Sophia suffers through the physical experiences of childbirth, emphasizing the functions of fertile women is problematical. Sophia-as-mother can harm women by setting up a normative pattern of emulation for all women. The image of woman as biologically and/or theologically bound to procreative sexuality has long been used as evidence of women’s social and physical inferiority.40 Because the “office” of motherhood is seen as natural and unchanging, women are directed towards activities that help them fulfill this destiny and away from activities that might hinder reproduction—for example, education, work, and singleness.

Evangelical theology, building on the Scriptures as the ultimate form of moral guidance, is committed to the NT Great Commission of making disciples of all nations (Matt 28:16–20), not the OT procreative imperative (Gen 1:28). Under the new covenant, the singleness teachings of Jesus (Matt 19:10–12) and Paul (1 Cor 7:7) reinforce the excellent choice of childfree or non-partnered individuals.

This commitment is liberating because the association between women and motherhood has disastrous social, economic, vocational, and relational effects, in large part because of a patriarchal structure that uses women’s physical function as a weapon.41 The sacrificial mother is the epitome of “women’s work.” The venerated sex, placed on a pedestal, masquerades over the fundamental inequality that comes when one is a mother in a patriarchal society.42 Since the procreative imperative is often tied to the subservient roles of housewife and homemaker, it should be no surprise that women have resisted these models. For many women, the image of mother—and its attendant biological processes—is ensnaring and stifling.43 Evangelical women who choose to be childfree often feel conflicted by contradictory social and biblical narratives, or are ridiculed as targets of derision by fellow Christians.44

Moreover, the womb has always been a matrix to be feared, lest a woman die in childbirth. Maternal mortality and morbidity are still present threats in the United States and other countries. As evangelical couples try to balance the imperative to take care of orphans (James 1:27), devote themselves to God and their spouse, and fulfil the Great Commission, what was once an inevitability—that a woman will be a biological mother—is now an option. Moreover, the increase in infertility means that Sophia as mother who is “bearing, birthing and nursing . . . conceiving, being pregnant, going into labor, delivering, midwifing, and nursing”45 is unobtainable for some women. Evangelicals who wish to use the suffering Sophia as a way to relate to women must move away from emphasizing metaphors of God as mother, or reclaim the metaphorical weight, acknowledging that women can and do become mothers through non-biological means, such as adoption, fostering, and step-parenting, as well as through spiritual means (1 Tim 1:18).

Sophia Suffering and the Earth

Ecofeminist theology is somewhat of an advanced intellectual discipline that relies on systematic theology to “ground and motivate the moral imperative to care for the earth,”46 in addition to deep appreciation of feminist commitments and environmental ethics. Ecology has been accused of being a mostly white, well-educated, Western enterprise. While this accusation overlooks the important outcomes of ecology which benefit all people, it does point to a pitfall in Johnson’s theology that evangelicals will recognize: the lack of contextualization.

Hispanics are one of the fastest growing groups of evangelicals. These, and other racial and socio-economic groups in the United States, are primed to embrace and disseminate the gospel. Thus, the connection between the suffering Sophia and the destruction of the earth must be made in a way that is relatable to all people. Environmental initiatives to reduce resource consumption and become more sustainable—thereby mitigating the suffering of Sophia in the world—are often couched in privilege. For instance, Johnson proposes “celebration of the Sabbath may be the best way to inculcate a Christology which promotes respect for the earth.”47 While setting aside one day every week might be manageable—even welcome—for the woman working in a high-stress job, it will probably not be feasible for a laborer who needs to work every day to survive. Likewise, farmers in the United States might be able to let a field lay fallow in exchange for government subsidization, but global workers must harvest annually. Johnson’s ecofeminism does not reflect the realities of poor and working-class people worldwide.

Womanist theologian Jacquelyn Grant has pointed out that feminism has frequently neglected racism and is often tied to the aspirations of white women.48 It may suit white women to depend on the labor of black women for childcare, domestic duties, and other household tasks under the guise of “Sabbath.” At the same time, it is convenient to ignore the wage gap of black and brown migrant farmers who produce organic food for upper-class homes.

Since womanism49 has historically been concerned with race, economics, and feminism, an eco-womanist view is more effective in disseminating the ideas of a suffering Sophia in the natural world, particularly for evangelicals who cannot ignore the changing demographics of our faith worldwide. Evangelicals can leverage the longstanding commitment to social justice and highlight environmental racism, health disparities due to systematic factors, and the fast food empire as issues of theological importance. For eco-feminism to move beyond Sophia suffering and environmental destruction, it has to be relevant for all people.


Elizabeth Johnson has succeeded in giving theologians a way to speak about God apart from a purely androcentric position. Moreover, by focusing on the suffering of Sophia in ways that women can identify with, she has moved feminist theology forward. By linking Sophia to creation care, and Logos to nature, Christians have a platform to articulate environmental stewardship. The “struggle to change the conditions in the direction of the new heaven and new earth” are achieved through our re-found metaphors of God.50 Alleviating the suffering of other humans and nature is clearly possible within Johnson’s framework. Ideally, these advances lead to solidarity among women and between humans and nature.

Though today there are some aspects in Johnson’s work that may need to be adapted for an evangelical theology—notably, focusing on women’s reproduction and a bourgeois ecological theology—the link between a suffering Sophia, women’s experiences, and the earth are clearly made. In essence, “victory arrives through the living of communion of love, overcoming evil from within.”51 Indeed, community, love, and redemption is the crux of evangelical, Trinitarian, Christocentric theology, which feminist theology and eco-feminist theology endorse. Johnson succeeds in her objectives of drawing women closer to Sophia through relatable language and highlighting the suffering of Sophia in the world. She has given evangelicals the tools to reach more women with the gospel. And that is Good News, indeed.


1. “Sophia” is the Greek word for “wisdom.” It is found throughout the NT and the Greek translation of the OT and is prominent in Proverbs.

2. Cristina Richie, “Sex, not Gender. A Plea for Accuracy,” Experimental & Molecular Medicine 51/133 (2019) 1.

3. Elizabeth Johnson, She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse (Crossroads, 1992) 33.

4. Andreas Köstenberger, “Editorial,” JETS 63/1 (2020) 1–4.

5. Homoousios means “of the same substance” and is part of the Nicene Creed’s description of the Persons of the Trinity.

6. Johnson, She Who Is, 35–36, 38.

7. Johnson, She Who Is, 153 (quoting the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood (Inter insignores)” (Oct 15, 1976).

8. Johnson, She Who Is, 153.

9. Johnson, She Who Is, 34–35, 37.

10. Johnson, She Who Is, 36.

11. Johnson, She Who Is, 47–49, 50–54.

12. Johnson, She Who Is, 54–56.

13. Johnson, She Who Is, 254.

14. Johnson, She Who Is, 34, 254.

15. Though this is less and less the case. 17% of white women in the US ages 40–44 were childfree in 2012/2014. In 2006 the percentage was higher, at 20. Gretchen Livingston, “Childlessness Falls, Family Size Grows Among Highly Educated Women,” Pew Research Center (May 7, 2015).

16. Johnson, She Who Is, 255.

17. Johnson, She Who Is, 255.

18. Johnson, She Who Is, 256.

19. Johnson, She Who Is, 256.

20. Johnson, She Who Is, 258.

21. The group M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) is an example of women displaying anger at injustice and advocating for themselves and their families. Their mission is “to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking.” See

22. Johnson, She Who Is, 265.

23. Johnson, She Who Is, 252.

24. Johnson, She Who Is, 265.

25. Johnson, She Who Is, 251.

26. Elizabeth Johnson, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God (Continuum, 2007) 62.

27. Johnson, She Who Is, 265.

28. Johnson, She Who Is, 266.

29. Johnson, She Who Is, 267.

30.Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb (Buccaneer, 1968); Betty Freidan and Anna Quindlen, The Feminine Mystique (W.W. Norton, 1963).

31. Elizabeth Johnson, “Presidential Address: Turn to the Heavens and the Earth: Retrieval of the Cosmos in Theology,” CTSA Proceedings 51 (1996) 1–14, at 4.

32. Sallie McFague, The Body of God: An Ecological Theology (Fortress, 1993).

33. Elizabeth Johnson, “Deep Christology: Ecological Soundings,” in From Logos to Christos: Essays in Honor of Joanne McWilliam, ed. Ellen M. Leonard and Kate Merriman (Wilfrid Laurier University, 2010) 163–79, at 169.

34. Johnson, “Deep Christology,” 170.

35. Johnson, “Deep Christology,” 168.

36. Cristina Richie, “Carbon Reduction as Care for Our Common Home: Laudato Si’, Catholic Social Teaching, and the Common Good,” Asian Horizons—Dharmaram Journal of Theology 9/4 (2015) 695–708.

37. Johnson, “Deep Christology,” 177.

38. Johnson, “Deep Christology,” 175.

39.Many evangelical organizations endorse sex-equality and environmental conservation. Notable examples include CBE International, at; and the Evangelical Environmental Network, at

40. Cristina Richie, “Medical Technologies, Environmental Conservation, and Health Care,” Medicina e Morale 65/6 (2016) 759–72.

41. Anne-Marie Slaughter, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” The Atlantic (July/Aug 2012),; Sheryl Sandburg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (Knopf, 2013); Cristina Richie, “The Augustinian Legacy of the Procreative Marriage: Contemporary Implications and Alternatives,” Feminist Theology 23/1 (2014) 18–36.

42. “A man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregard her physical and emotional equilibrium.” Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Humanae Vitae (USCCB, 1968) 17.

43. Rosemary Gillespie, “Childfree and Feminine: Understanding the Gender Identity of Voluntarily Childless Women,” Gender and Society 17/1 (2003) 122–36; Terri Casey, Pride and Joy: The Lives and Passions of Women Without Children (Beyond Words, 1998); Laura Scott, Two is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childfree (Seal, 2009); Ellen Walker, Complete Without Kids: An Insider’s Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance (Greenleaf, 2011).

44. Jean E. Jones, “Don’t Judge Me Because I’m Childless,” Today’s Christian Woman (Jan 2014),; Laura M. Vandiver, “So, When Are You Starting a Family?,” Today’s Christian Woman (July 2001),

45. Johnson, She Who Is, 100.

46. Johnson, “Deep Christology,” 164.

47. Johnson, “Deep Christology,” 164.

48. Linda Harrington, “Feminists’ Christs and Christian Spirituality,” in Christology: Memory, Inquiry, Practice, ed. Anne M. Clifford and Anthony J. Godzieba (Orbis, 2002) 214–36, at 220.

49. “Womanism” typically refers to feminism that is attuned to the history and experiences of women of color, especially black women.

50. Johnson, She Who Is, 271.

51. Johnson, She Who Is, 268.