More Information
ISBN: 9781783685301
Imprint: Langham Monographs
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152
Publication Date: 30/09/2018
Pages: 236
Language: English

Women and Pride

An Exploration of the Feminist Critique of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Theology of Sin


Reinhold Niebuhr is largely regarded as the leading twentieth-century theologian of sin. However, many feminist theologians criticize Niebuhr’s view of pride as the primary sin, arguing that it fits only with men’s experience. In this detailed study, Dr Luping Huang engages with Niebuhr and his feminist critics to provide a response to the feminist critique of Niebuhr’s theology of sin.

Dr Huang provides a thorough analysis and examination of both the Niebuhrian and feminist understandings of sin, highlighting the strengths and limitations of both arguments. While some aspects of the feminists’ opposition to Niebuhr’s doctrine of sin are valid, there are weaknesses and limitations within its own framework. Through her research and interaction with women’s testimonies, Huang’s argument bridges these two competing views of women and sin resulting in a more accurate understanding and application of the theology of sin, particularly in reference to women.

Author Bios

Luping Huang

LUPING HUANG holds a PhD in Christian Studies from Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong. She is Associate Researcher at Sichuan University, Chengdu, China. Dr Huang’s main academic interests focus upon Christian ethics and patristics.


[This] book is based on sound research and is well-written. I find it interesting, informative and stimulating. I also think it has made a significant contribution to the theology of sin in this contemporary pluralistic world.

Kai Man Kwan, DPhil
Head of the Department of Religion and Philosophy,
Hong Kong Baptist University

This book is a Chinese female scholar’s challenge to, and reconstruction of, the feminist perspective of Reinhold Niebuhr’s doctrine of sin. Dr Huang takes women’s experience into account seriously while revising and developing Christian theology departing from Niebuhr. An excellent example of doing theology from one’s experience!

Zhibin Xie, PhD
Author and Professor of Christian Philosophy & Ethics,
Tongji University, China

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgments
  2. Introduction
  3. Chapter 1
    1. Reinhold Niebuhr’s Theology of Sin
      1. 1.1 A Profile of Niebuhr’s Thought
        1. The Defense of Transcendence
        2. The Defense of Relatedness/Immanence
        3. Conclusion
      2. 1.2 Meaning and the Myth of the Fall
        1. Limitations of Social Sciences
        2. Coherence, Meaning and Myth
        3. Human Beings’ Dual Nature and the Origin of Sin
        4. Freedom and Responsibility
        5. Conclusion
      3. 1.3 Pride, Sensuality and Grace
        1. The Sin of Pride
        2. The Sin of Sensuality
        3. Collective Sin
        4. Divine Grace as Power in and over Humanity
        5. Christian Realism
        6. Conclusion
  4. Chapter 2
    1. The Feminist Critique and the Reconstruction of the Doctrine of Sin from Women’s Experience
      1. 2.1 Reconstructing Theology: A Paradigm Shift
      2. 2.2 Women’s Experience and the Sin of Pride
        1. Valerie Saiving
        2. Judith Plaskow
        3. Daphne Hampson
        4. Susan L. Nelson (Susan Nelson Dunfee)
        5. Conclusion
      3. 2.3 The Re-Visioning of the Doctrine of Sin
        1. Celebrating Womanhood
        2. The Horizontalizing of Sin
        3. Conclusion
  5. Chapter 3
    1. A Niebuhrian Response to the Feminist Critique
      1. 3.1 The Two Dimensions of Pride
        1. Conclusion
      2. 3.2 “The Self ” Revisited
        1. Niebuhr’s Dialectical Understanding of the Self
        2. Self-Realization, Self-Love and Self-Worship
        3. Conclusion
      3. 3.3 Love, Justice and the Family
        1. The Relation between Love and Justice
        2. Does Niebuhr Promote Private Idealism?
        3. Conclusion
  6. Chapter 4
    1. The Problems with the Feminist Critique: Methodological and Worldview Considerations
      1. 4.1 The Methodological Problem with the Appeal to Women’s Experience
        1. Historical Conditioning of Women’s Experience
        2. The Role of Experience: An Epistemological Reflection
      2. 4.2 The Presuppositions of the Feminist Critique
        1. The Idea of Women’s Innocence
        2. The Spirit of Secularity
        3. Conclusion
      3. 4.3 Women and Pride
        1. Self-loss and Secret Pride System – Karen Horney’s Analysis
        2. Far from Angels
        3. Conclusion
  7. Chapter 5
    1. Women and Transcendence
      1. 5.1 Sin, Transcendence/Immanence and the Divine
        1. Sin as a Theological Concept
        2. An Immanent Conceptualization of the Divine
      2. 5.2 The Critique of the Model of Radical Immanence
        1. Theoretical Inadequacies
        2. Transcendence and Immanence – Mutually Exclusive?
      3. 5.3 Retrieving Transcendence from Women’s Experience
        1. Experience and Faith
        2. A Return to Transcendence
        3. My Sin Is Forgiven: Several Christian Women’s Experience of Theological Sin
        4. Conclusion
  1. Chapter 6
    1. Toward a More Balanced Understanding of Sin
      1. 6.1 A Critical Reception of the Feminist Critique
        1. The Strengths of the Feminist Critique
        2. The Threat of Dilemmas
        3. Conclusion
      2. 6.2 A Preliminary Exploration of a More Balanced View of Sin
        1. Niebuhr’s Model of “Equality of Sin and Inequality of Guilt”
        2. The Dialectics of Sin
        3. Conclusion
  2. Epilogue
  3. Bibliography

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