Christianity and Social Systems: Historical Constructions and Ethical Challenges

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From the earliest interactions of Christians with the Roman Empire to today's debates about the separation of church and state, the Christian churches have been in complex relationships with various economic and political systems for centuries. Renowned theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether analyzes the ways the Christian church has historically interacted with powerful systems such as patriarchy, racism, slavery, and environmentalism, while looking critically at how the church shapes these systems today. With a focus on the United States, Christianity and Social Systems provides an introductory analysis of the interactions between the churches and major systems that have shaped western Christian and post-Christian society. Ruether discusses ideologies, such as liberalism and socialism, and includes three country case studies-Nicaragua, South Africa, and North and South Korea-to further illustrate the profound influences Christianity and social systems have with each other. This book is neither an attack on the relationship between Christianity and these systems, nor an apology, but rather a nuanced examination of the interactions between them. By understanding how these interactions have shaped history, we can more fully understand how to make ethical decisions about the role of Christianity in some of today's most pressing social issues, from economic and class disparities to the environmental crisis.

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Editorial Reviews

Catherine Keller
With unflagging clarity in the face of the immense spiral of human sociality and violence, Rosemary Radford Ruether again tells a gripping story. Accessible for students, handy for scholars, inspiring for activists, Christianity and Social Systems is a trustworthy and surprising resource for honest Christians or for secular critics. The Ruetheran Reformation roars on!
Carol Robb
Rosemary Radford Ruether's Christianity and Social Systems is a breathtaking, comprehensive, and accessible historical reconstruction of social systems from gender relations, slavery, nationalism and anti-semitism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, and corporate globalism through to current ecological threats. Using examples from around the globe, Ruether helps change agents understand how the current context has been shaped, and how churches can participate in constructing a new and just reality. A fascinating socio-historical treatment.
John B. Cobb
For decades Rosemary Radford Ruether has been describing the social history of human beings, especially in the West, with both objectivity and moral passion. She tells it as it is, letting the chips fall where they may. In the process, she has offended everyone, since in history no group turns out to be pure and innocent, but she has also offered hope. Since this hope is based on a realistic assessment of our past and present, it is the only kind that is truly real and useful. In this book the insights and wisdom derived from a lifetime of study and reflection are brought together. If any one book can be called Ruether's magnum opus, this is it.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742546424
  • Publisher: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group Inc
  • Publication date: 9/26/2008
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Rosemary Radford Ruether is Carpenter Professor of Feminist Theology Emerita, Graduate Theological Union, and visiting scholar, Claremont Graduate University and Claremont School of Theology. She is the author of numerous books, including Integrating Ecofeminism, Globalization, and World Religion.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Chapter 1: Social Systems: Orders of Creation or Demonic Powers? Chapter 3 Chapter 2: Models of Church and State: Historical and Theological Chapter 4 Chapter 3: Patriarchy as a Social System Chapter 5 Chapter 4: Modernizing Patriarchy: Women, Children and Slaves Chapter 6 Chapter 5: Anti-Semitism, European Nationalism and Zionism Chapter 7 Chapter 6: Racism in the U.S.: White, Black, Red, Brown and Yellow Chapter 8 Chapter 7: Social Ideologies: Sexism, Slavery and Racism Chapter 9 Chapter 8: Political-Economic Ideologies: Liberalism, Socialism, Fascism Chapter 10 Chapter 9: Economic Class in the United States Chapter 11 Chapter 10: European Colonialism: 1492-1965 Chapter 12 Chapter 11: The Global Economy: Neo-colonialism and Neo-Liberalism Chapter 13 Chapter 12: The U.S. and Global Militarism Chapter 14 Chapter 13: Nicaragua in the Caribbean and Central American Context Chapter 15 Chapter 14: The Two Koreas: Divergent Systems, Hope for Re-unification? Chapter 16 Chapter 15: South Africa: Apartheid and Beyond Chapter 17 Chapter 16: Ecology: The Context for All Social Systems Chapter 18 Chapter 17: Social Systems and the Church's Mission Chapter 19 Appendix: The Earth Charter Chapter 20 Bibliography

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