Human experience is defined as the measure by which people judge reality, truth and value of happenings and ideas. These experiences form and influence the different perceptions of theology. This is evident in how different groups interpret the Christian religion. However, it is worthwhile to note that initially the few that influenced the theological reflection were the powerful. The rest, commoners had no say on the Christian religion. This has changed over time due to awareness of reality and increased tolerance of diversity. Variation in opinion and views has prompted theology to reevaluate the competence of past designs of the Christian faith. This projected vibrant theological discussions such as the systematic theology which sought that sought to explain Christian faith in relation to the contemporary human situation(Hill,365).
This essay will try to expound how contemporary human experience molds the theological reflection process. It will further show how the Christian doctrines have been understood by different groups of individuals; however, it is worth noting that these perceptions are not general. They are not universal as they might vary from individual to individual. That is the nature of diversity.
In shaping the process of theological reflection, various elements of human identities are incorporated. The human identities that are to be featured are namely gender and ethnicity. Gender as an identity will go hand in hand with the experience of women. It will seek to find a place of the element of feminism in relation to God’s doctrine. As for ethnicity, the essay will try to postulate the place of the people of color relative to the doctrine of Christ.
Gender and the experience of women go on to reflect the patriarchal nature of our society that provides unequal treatment to women. Women are deemed inferior and actual subordinates to men. This has also made many women come to see they have been denied opportunities in leadership in the society and church on the basis of sex, not capability(Hill, 372). Feminism was the eventual movement of women to correct the injustice and inequality. It tries to affirm women’s full human dignity and well-being
In relation to the doctrine of God, feminism tries to introduce another dimension of God. The feminists argue that the characterization of God to be male fuels the stereotyping of women in the Christian world. They say God is the point of reference of deciphering the experience, the world and our role in it. A section of feminists have reacted to this problem by suggesting God has feminine characteristics such as compassion, gentleness and forgiveness. This was, however, faulted by a section of theologians because they still relegate women into inferiority. The powerful, law-giving and agency nature of God is deemed masculine while female, compassion, gentleness and forgiveness. This prevents full actualization and development of women due to such stereotyping(Hill,374).
Ethnicity, particularly focusing on the people of color raises a myriad of views on its relation to Christ’s doctrine. Christ’s saving work comes to sharp focus under this element. People of different races view Jesus differently. The black Christians during the days of slavery shared solidarity with Jesus in his suffering in the crucifixion. This solidarity gave them the will and strength to withstand suffering with the belief that Jesus would see them through their oppression. His resurrection was the pledge to it(Hill,384).
The issue of class and the experience poverty has also influenced the perception of different individuals to the Christianity doctrine. The church has sought to stimulate earthly progress by trying to liberalizing the poor from “institutionalized violence” subjected to them by the rich (Hill, 394). Social injustices have become a major concern for the modern day prompting even the poor demanding to be treated respectfully despite their shortcomings. This is dubbed as self-actualization where they (the poor) are more interested in justice than charity. Through justice, they believe opportunities for liberation from poverty can be presented.
Hill, Brenan, Paul F. Knitter, and William Madges. Faith, religion & theology : a contemporary introduction. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 1997. Print.