One of Elizabeth Johnson’s central arguments is that “the symbol of God functions.” Write an essay in which you draw upon at least two of the theologies explored in Johnson’s book (Quest for a Living God) to analyze the societal and ecclesial implications of how we view God, as well as how the these theologies endeavor to address these implications.

When analyzing the implications of theologies in this book, consider how they'd change social frameworks if they were widely accepted. For example, consider what Johnson writes about the God of Pathos, and in particular theologians who argued that God takes on suffering to redeem humans from it. If this was widely accepted it would redefine how believers approach their suffering and how they think it will end. It would also add new significance to the meaning of Christ's crucifixion.

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To draw upon and analyze the implications of two theologies, it is important that you reflect on what the theologies say about God. For example, consider what Elizabeth Johnson says about the different symbols of the God of Pathos. She explains that in post-Holocaust political theology, some Christian theologians developed the symbol of a suffering God as one that suffering people should look to for help. These theologians spread the idea that God himself let suffering enter his divine being in order to redeem humans from it. However, other theologians theorized that God does not actually suffer himself, but stands in compassionate solidarity with those who are suffering. Both symbols of God depict him as a compassionate and empathetic being, but they have fundamentally different social implications.

When analyzing the social and ecclesial implications of such theologies, consider what it would mean for them to become accepted around the world. For instance, the symbol of a suffering God suggests that God can alleviate suffering from people by taking it upon himself. This could be used to create and teach hope for people in brutal situations like war or imprisonment. At the same time, it might also be used to justify the lack of a social or political response to such situations, especially under political frameworks like theocracies, where religion is tied to the state. This idea also has ecclesial implications, as it brings new meaning to teachings of the Catechism, such as the significance of Christ’s crucifixion.

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